Sarah Carman gave up bread for a couple of days…and it’s not because bread is bad (#hellyescarbs), but rather, it’s that “giving up” can occasionally be good.
For a couple of days last week, I stopped eating bread.
I’d like to talk about why.
Objectively, I know bread isn’t bad for me. I know that for the majority of the population, the gluten-free paradigm is an unnecessary dietary constraint. I also know that the most extreme version of gluten intolerance – coeliac disease – occurs due to an abnormal immune response to gluten, which is the protein in wheat.
I’m not coeliac. So come at me, bread.
Yet, something about not eating bread made me feel better.
Maybe you know what I’m talking about.
So it goes like this…
You’re doing fine. Things are flowing as they should, your job is going well, kids are doing great, the weather’s nice this week… etc.
Then, you disappoint a friend. You miss the turn off and rock up late to a meeting. Your child acts out and you don’t respond in a way of which you are proud. You wake up too early one morning because the neighbours are making noise and then you can’t get back to sleep.
So you think, “Well, shit. Life really isn’t going well right now and I’m not comfortable with it. It’ll all be ok though, if I just eat healthier, I’ll feel better and everything will work out.”
You begin making changes. Missed desserts, carbohydrate cutbacks and advocacy for the “I Quit Sugar” movement become the focus. Everything that was going wrong seems less dire, because at least “I’m doing the diet bit right! Go me!”
Over the past couple of years, I’ve had lots of appointments with highly qualified people who have helped me unpack behaviours like this. I have found it extremely helpful overall, but there is one thing that never works:
The bit where people, in trying to fix me, accidentally lead me to believe that something is wrong with me.
Let’s look at this more closely.
I have had anorexia. This is no secret. At its worst, my life was in danger and if someone else hadn’t intervened, I wouldn’t have lasted much longer. Extreme cases of diet control warrant serious treatment, and clearly, doing something for me then was critical.
Thankfully, I’m much better now. I eat regularly and normally (whatever that means), I’m not afraid of friands and I genuinely enjoy life most of the time.
However, I do have quirks. Residual effects. Behaviours that come out when I’m stressed, angry or upset. I don’t look forward to them. If they do surface, I’m the first to notice, and it doesn’t take me long to figure out that they can’t promise me the life I want.
Here is the important bit.
Regardless of whether I was sick, well, or somewhere in between, dietary control was never “wrong”. To label it as such is unhelpful (in my opinion), because to the person who is controlling their diet, control gives them something in return…so it is therefore the right thing to do, according to them. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it. They’d be off eating a delicious toasted cheese sandwich.
Last week, if I had told myself that cutting out bread was wrong, bad, and stupid, I would have felt wrong, bad, and stupid too.
So what can we do about this?
I can’t really say; I’m not a psychologist and what I think might not work for you, because we’re different people.
Here is what I do.
At the same time.
To me, doing something means being aware. It’s noticing when stress bleeds into completely separate aspects of my life and it’s brushing up on things that help me let go of behaviours that aren’t “me”.
Doing nothing is just as important. I try not to read into things to the point where it becomes destructive in itself. I owe it to myself not to panic. I’m not dying. I’m not in hospital. I don’t completely loathe myself. I’m just not eating bread for two days.
There is nothing more I need to do except to keep on being me…and know that this is enough.
To celebrate being a year old, we want you, the readers, to help us decide the articles you loved best during our first year and to encourage you to participate, we are giving away three prizes!
All you have to do is look through our archives of content and email us your favourite article and also if you want, the one you weren’t so up with. From the submissions, we will assess the most-loved content from our first year and republish it at the end of our birthday month.
Both writers and readers are encouraged to enter (No, Paris, you cannot nominate your own articles…#justsaying), so please email us at [email protected] by 30th November to enter! Please include your name, address and mobile number.
And the prizes are…(did we mention there are prizes…?)
First prize: A brilliant acting course based in Sydney and hosted by Darlo Drama worth $550!
Second prize: A gift pack from our friends at Booktopia
Third prize: Four movie passes
(Plus watch out for a couple of of other competitions during our birthday month!)