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Glass Houses, Stones and Post-Partum Eating

When I was pregnant, I didn't get the cravings everyone promised me I'd get.  I was kind of disappointed.  I wanted to crave deep-fried pickles and peanut butter ice cream.  I wanted to want my fajitas smothered in chocolate with rainbow sprinkles.  All the things I thought were "supposed" to happen during pregnancy didn't.  I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.  Little did I know that with my son would come an unexpected revelation.

Three months postpartum I broke out in hives.  I thought I'd been the victim of an overzealous spider who worked nights.  After much investigation I found that with all the changes my body underwent, an unexpected change had occurred--I had developed a sensitivity/allergy.  Just as my cousin couldn't stand the smell or the taste of orange juice or onions during her pregnancy, my body had developed an "aversion" to sugar--refined sugar.  Except all of this happened with me AFTER I gave birth. I googled and googled only to find that thousands of women become allergic to something post-partum. Be it almonds or peaches, it's really very common.

I thought to myself, "Okay, so my body's not into sugar.  Cool!  Instant diet!  So I won't eat sweets any more.  Ohhh, the weight I'll lose.  Goodbye cookies, hello fabulous!!!"  If only it were that easy.  I found out all sorts of things about myself.  For example, I eat a LOT of sugar at every meal.  I eat a LOT of processed, sugary fatty food.  I eat a lot of fast food.  I really didn't want to know that, but I couldn't help it.  Now that I was cutting sugar out of my meals, it seemed like I was being starved.

I felt like I'd been launched into another dimension.  Coffee without that heavenly flavored cream?  Iced tea without buckets of sugar?  No more pop tarts?  No more soaking my french toast in a cup of syrup?  I was determined to get off my pity pot and woman up!  I said, "Jessica, the truth is that RIGHT NOW when you eat sugar you break out in hives--big, itchy, conspicuous hives on your face."  I remembered everyone I knew who complained about their weight--family members, friends, classmates, coworkers.  I particularly remembered a fellow dancer who was gaining more and more weight every summer.  She'd complain that she couldn't keep the weight off, couldn't fit into her outfits, but she just kept right on eating sugary and fatty food.  Now was my chance to be an example to her and to everyone that all you have to do is stop eating whatever doesn't agree with your body.  It's so easy...I'll stop eating sugar, so I won't get any more hives.  NOT.

I lasted about 2 hours before I started craving a chocolate muffin.  Then I thought I'd have some coffee with milk and stevia because I'm not a "weak" person, I'd show those "bad, irresponsible eaters" how to eat right.   I care about my body.  Hmm...I realized that the coffee made me want a cookie.  "Just eat an apple, Jessica."  I thought to myself.  I went on like this for about 2 more hours before succumbing to 2 great big peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  The hives appeared shortly after.  Yuck.

Back to the drawing board.  I'll get some work done.  That'll take my mind off the visions of toaster strudels dancing in my head.  I began to struggle with one of my tasks.  I knew it was psychological.  Tell someone they can't have something, and it's all they want, right?  I also "knew" that if I just nibbled a little something sweet it would calm me down, and take the edge off.  I know I ate lunch an hour ago but if I munch on some trail mix that'll help me think.  "WAIT, Jessica!" said that little voice in my head.  "All the trail mix you have is full of chocolate & sugar.  Eat an apple."  But I didn't want an apple, I wanted trail mix.  "If you're really hungry, Jessica, you'll be happy with an apple.  A truly hungry person wouldn't turn away food."  

Now I'm starting to get angry.  "I want a *#$@)! double-sized cookie and if I have to jack someone at Starbucks, so be it."  WHOA!  Did I just think that?  Did I just SAY that? 

I had days where I'd catch myself thinking of ways to deprive myself of food so I could have one cookie.  I'd catch myself dabbling in thoughts that subtly morph and lead into an eating disorder.  Maybe these people I'd been judging weren't "weak" or "bad" after all.  I'm one of "these people!"  Maybe it really isn't about just not eating.  Maybe it's the way I'm thinking that triggers something in me that makes me want to eat. 

When it came down to it, I'd gotten used to eating to feel safe and secure, and to avoid any uncomfortable feelings like fear, insecurity, anger and resentment.  And I'd been eating like this for years.  The birth of my son was the miraculous catalyst that has opened my eyes, and is helping me to change one day at a time.  It's an ongoing change in my mentality that is slowly and gently giving me more insight and empathy than I've ever known.  

Do you find yourself "thinking" in unusual ways about food?  Do you find yourself "thinking" about food, weight, or calories unusally often?  Do you find yourself trying to find different ways to control food--how you eat it or how you digest it?  Visit www.RebeccasHouse.org

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