Day 11: Finding joy in things *besides* food

Just for a moment, I want you to take food out of the equation. I know that sounds ridiculous, considering that 99% of the focus on SCD is food – preparing it, finding time to prepare it, monitoring its effects, talking about its effects, feeling its effects, DREAMING about its effects – but hear me out.

During my research into SCD, before I started it, one thing in particular stood out. It was when Jordan Reasoner from said (and I’m paraphrasing hugely here) that you have to learn to enjoy things in life other than food – you have to make a conscious effort to find the happiness and enjoyment in activities and social interactions without the food element.

“Happy… whatever. Where’s the food?!”

This was a revelation for me. I’m your typical read-the-menu-for-weeks-beforehand type of gal. I’m ashamed to say that I remember more about the food served at social occasions than the actual occasion itself – who was there, what it was for, or what gift I painstakingly chose for… whoever.

Starters - amazing!

Oh, you made starters

For me, food was LIFE. I loved it and I hated it in equal measure, but the hating never stopped me from gobbling it all up (and feeling hugely remorseful afterwards). I often think this is the root of my problem: I always enjoyed my food, but when I hit the teens, I realised that it tended to stick to my belly a little more than I liked. Cue a few years of severe dietary restriction to maintain a stick-like figure (I basically starved myself), and then the ultimate surrender after I realised that eating a single ice cream wouldn’t instantly turn me into the Michelin man.

So I started eating more ice creams… and chocolates, and cookies, and chips, and cookies that fell on the floor, and chips that I didn’t even like. Even other people’s food. Slowly the weight started creeping back, and the guilt-diet-guilt-binge cycle continued. I seemed to have an insatiable sweet tooth that was constantly scavenging for sugar, and which was particularly aggressive when I was inebriated.

My poor gut. I really treated it terribly.

An average Saturday night

An average Saturday night

The cookie monster

Anyway, over the past few years, I settled into a fairly stable eating pattern, though found it impossible to resist chocolate and other moreish foods like peanuts, cookies and the colourful spreads at parties. I was always eager to tuck in, and I always did. It’s a wonder my weight only ever peaked at about 58kgs.

Don't worry honey...

Don’t worry honey…

...we've all been there.

…we’ve all been there.

So for me, it’s always been about the food. When I discovered SCD and really started to understand it, I realised that I was going to have to shift my focus drastically. On the SCD, the most interesting thing about an event can’t be the millionaire shortbread or cocktail sausages – it actually has to be the people, the conversation and the surroundings.

A family dinner with a difference

Tonight I went to my folks’ place for our weekly dinner. I took my own food for the first time – last week they made me some boiled eggs. My parents cook the most amazing food and it’s often my favourite meal of the week, but 11 days in, I realise I’m no longer feeling deprived.

And tonight, I enjoyed myself more than I have in ages. I mean, I always enjoy seeing my folks and my sister, but tonight just felt… different. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather, or the fact that all four of us bonded as our ‘original’ family unit unlike we have in ages (my sister is married but her husband wasn’t there, and K has other commitments on Wednesday nights).

I didn’t crave the food as much as usual, though it was pretty hard watching them eat the mint chocolate I brought for them. But despite all that, I really enjoyed the evening and – BEST of all – didn’t leave feeling bloated, sore and gassy like I usually do. Supper was pureed carrots, minute steak and zucchini. I skipped the post-dinner banana and voila, no bloat 🙂

A vital SCD tool

So I guess the take-out for today (oh, I’m sorry about that pun) is to find joy – and enjoyment – in other things besides food, be it people, a hobby, a pet, a sport or whatever. Shift the focus off your taste buds and what you’re shoving down your gullet, and make a conscious effort to enjoy the here and now – without food. It’s worth it and it’s a vital survival tool for the SCD.

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