Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Food and Emotion

As regular readers will know, I have been 'gluten free' for a while now - since before Christmas.  I was advised to give up gluten by a nutritionist friend, and was delighted to find that my IBS symptoms all but disappeared, and my nerves also calmed considerably.

I recently went on a two week holiday with my family, and was concerned about how I would manage not to eat foods containing wheat while I was away. 

I just said 'No,' to the in-flight snack, which was a sandwich, and felt quite pleased about it when the rest of the family (including Paul, who usually eats anything without complaint - one of the reasons I married him was because he enjoyed my corned beef hash) said it was really not nice.

We arrived in France late on Saturday night, and the next day we had been invited to eat lunch and dinner with friends because the supermarkets in France are not open on a Sunday.  (We have friends in the South of France, and we had booked an apartment very near them). 

Anyway, I fell at that hurdle, because I really did not want to be rude and refuse to try the delicious home-cooked quiche my friend had made (she serves up haute cuisine food all day every day to her family.  How?)  So I ate gluten, and it was fine.  I can't remember what we had for dinner, but I know it contained wheat again, and by the next day I was scoffing croissants for breakfast and baguettes for lunch - all with no ill effects.  I continued like that for two weeks - just eating the same things as the rest of the family, and it felt really liberating after all this time.

I know IBS often gets better on holiday anyway, but I was still relieved to be able to eat freely and not to have stomach problems.  I was worried though about the effects on my nerves of eating gluten again. 

I only found out after giving up gluten that a gluten-free diet helps to reduce anxiety, and I was also having CBT at that time, so I was unsure exactly what effect was caused by what, but I was just really pleased not to be nervous for the first time in my life.  And so the not eating gluten became a bit of an obsession - I stuck to it religiously.  I think I had become a bit neurotic about it.

I hate the thought of being dependent on anything - even on eating in a certain way - so I was glad I had finally tested it and got over my fear of doing so.  I was not sure what I would do when I was back in England - eat gluten or not? - and my tendency has been to not, but I have been more flexible and one evening I had pasta and garlic bread and again was absolutely fine - no stomach ache, no symptoms at all.  As for my nerves, they seem settled, and I hope that the CBT strategies I have learned will keep me mentally well.

I watched Horizon last night - the presenter Michael Mosely advocated an intermittent dieting strategy to improve health, longevity and brain function.  It was an interesting programme, and I think I may try his methods out for myself.  I think perhaps I have some inate need to exert control over my life - maybe because I had so little when I was young (cod psychology special).  Lucky really that I never succumbed to an eating disorder.

I was in a local supermarket today - I had just popped in to buy some ice-creams for the kids on our way to the beach (yes, I am a cheapskate, but doing it this way keeps the kids and me happy).  Anyway, there was a family there causing a commotion at the checkout - shouting at each other, throwing the food at each other ('You pack it! - 'No, you pack it!').  It was a bit of a pantomine, and I was glad I had left the kids outside in the car so they couldn't witness it. 

They really were quite over the top - they had a couple of young boys with them, and at one point they were shouting about how they had to potty train one of the boys because he was starting school in September (they were buying potties amoungst lots of other stuff).  I felt sorry for these children -whose heads were completely shaven like mini-thugs in training - and I also felt bad about myself for feeling so judgemental about the family.        

I am going to give up my subscription to The Times at the end of this month.  I spend about an hour a day reading the paper, and I think it could be time better spent writing, or reading novels which would help my writing.  At the moment I usually only manage to read one book a month, and only because I have to read it for my book group.  Also, I think perhaps reading The Times is contributing to my lack of compassion and understanding - I should be reading 'The Guardian'. 

I will miss it - one of my favourite moments of the day is hearing the newspaper plop through the letterbox each morning - but I am going to give it a break for a bit - maybe just get the Sunday Times, read the other papers online, see how I go. 

We are sharing a beach hut with friends for a couple of weeks this summer - I love it!  The weather has not been great so far this week, but in a way that is good - the kids play anyway, and they won't get overheated or sunburned.  I have been surprised at how well they occupy themselves on the beach - I spend swathes of time reading, drinking tea and chatting with my friends.  There is very little cleaaring up or washing up to do at the beach, and the children are mostly living in beach wear so I don't have too much washing at home.  I feel like we are still on holiday.  (I suppose we are - it is school holidays, of course).

The nice thing is that the dog can come with us, as the hut happens to be in a spot where dogs are allowed on the beach.  I don't bring her for the whole day, just for the morning or the afternoon, but it's good to have her around. 

She must know I am writing about her - she has just snuggled up to me on the sofa and is now resting her head on my laptop.  Sweet little thing.  We all missed the dog when we were in France - but I was very lucky that a friend of mine - a lovely lady - looked after her.  She even let the dog sleep on her bed - something we draw the line at - and has said that she will have her again anytime we go on holiday or when we have a day out. 

I am - as I have said before - very, very lucky.   


  1. I was told I have IBS too but my trigger is dairy. It's annoying as I prefer eating at home now because of it and going for a meal at a friends house is a no go!

    Could you send me the YouTube link again as I accidentally removed it and can't find an undo button! Really can't wait until BT fix this mess so I can use my laptop for this!

    Garry Williams (AKA The Depressed Moose) has got his book published on Amazon today and he really wants it to do well! His Twitter name is @depressedmoose and I know he appreciates followers!!

    Anyway, my 3g service looks like it's going to give out any second so bye for now!

  2. Hi. Here's the link to the film made by a young man who recovered from 'Schizophrenia'. It really is very good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZud_Q40Vd8

    Of course I will follow the depressed moose. Sorry, couldn't resist a little joke - I love that name! I read on his blog that he was asking anyone to suggest names for his book - I do hope he called it 'The Depressed Moose' as it is very memorable. I'll take a look on Amazon later.