I grew up on a Spanglish Sugar High, complete with too much sugar in the coffee I should not have been drinking as a child (you know, to go along with my pan dulce, which also happened to be bathed in sugar.) This was probably my elderly aunt's idea of a nice way to relax in the evening after a busy day at the primo's birthday party where we had cake, ice cream, more pan dulce, treat bags full of candy, and no limitations on the amount of sweets we could beat out of the pinata or consume. It was a birthday party, after all and fun was meant to be had by all. Most notably? Our dentists.
None of it seemed anything but ordinary when I was living it. And the leftover cake for breakfast? Yeah, that seemed normal, too. Experts and articles on trans fats, childhood obesity, cholesterol levels, HFCS, and mom blog debates on the subjects were not in my parents' faces telling them how to raise their kids or providing the knowledge to make more informed decisions. So we stayed sugared-up. And then I grew up.
That's when I realized there might have been a problem. I was holding Buttercup on my lap at a cousin's birthday party (he is 12 years younger so it was a sugar-coated trip down memory lane) and was doing everything in my power to keep my jaw from dropping to the ground as I saw the party as an adult. Hot dogs, chips, pop, cake, ice cream...and that was before the pinata and the after party munching. I remember thanking God Buttercup was too young to notice what she wasn't getting and told The Husband that I couldn't believe I didn't go into a diabetic coma when I was four.
Halloween was the same. Since there were five of us, the candy bowl was never lacking. And except for packages that looked like they had been tampered with or were otherwise suspicious, nothing else was thrown away. There may have been attempts to limit us on "just a few" pieces after our trick-or-treating fun, but once we were tall enough to reach the top of the fridge, it really wasn't that hard to say "yes, mom" and then pocket a few pieces for later.
No one thought about the cavities. The fat. The empty calories. We simply focused on what tasted good and having more.
But I grew up, right?
I've had plenty of hurdles and wrong turns into a quart of Ben & Jerry's but now I am eating cleaner than I ever have before (no gluten, no grains, no dairy, and only maple syrup or raw honey for sweetener) and noticing differences I never thought possible. My PCOS symptoms were beginning to seem less sever, which might not sound like a big deal...unless you have PCOS. The bloat in my stomach has disappeared. My hips and thighs feel...thinner.
And? I've lost 7 pounds in the four weeks I have been gluten-free. (Sure, I might gain them back in my sleep, but I am focusing on the right now; a survival tactic to keep me from going insane.)
In a few weeks I will slowly begin reintroducing grains and some dairy into my diet, but the gluten and the sugar are gone for good.
When I started this crazy diet, I could only think of what I would "be missing" when these holidays began to roll around. See, even though I began eating clean in July, I was still allowing myself a Dorito when packing The Husband's lunch. I was taking "just one" nibble of a brownie or a piece of cake at a birthday party. I was saying "what the hell" when out for dinner and allowing myself a bread stick or five at the Italian restaurant. But now? Because I went gluten-free, it's all off limits. I'm out of excuses. And strangely? I'm totally okay with all of it.
I didn't miss the Halloween candy tonight. Instead, I enjoyed a shrimp cocktail with homemade organic cocktail sauce while I sorted Buttercup's candy. For my sweet tooth I had a few handfuls of homemade organic trail mix with a bit of dark chocolate chips (no processed sugar, people. It's all good) and called it an indulgence.
And when I end up in Buttercup's bed in the middle of the night because she called for me, her arms wrapped around my neck and her face buried in my cheek, I'll smile and remember that what I have now is sweet enough for me.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I do not play on one this blog, so make sure to discuss any major lifestyle changes, like going gluten-free, your doctor. I do, however, believe that every woman needs to be their own health advocate. So ask questions, do research, and make informed decisions.