Krafty's Kwickies

I've changed my diet recently. No, it's not a fad. Nor is it one of those "Oh, my goodness, look what Christmas has done to me" things. Nor because I can't get my clothes on, although that's true as well. I have discovered I'm allergic to gluten.

For over 12 years I've suffered from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Spastic Colon as it used to be called). I just thought that was something that happened to some people, and that if I avoided certain foods I would be OK. Avoiding "certain foods" was difficult because "certain foods" included my favourites. Isn't it always the way! Chocolate, bananas, bread, sponge cake, fried potatoes in any form - all these caused me discomfort (and often embarrassment). But I did try to cut them out, and if I succumbed to temptation then at least I knew what to expect.

Now, there is no temptation. I know that, because it has taken me so long to discover my allergy, my digestion is considerably weakened, and that if I don't do something about it I am in for a life-time of problems.

So, I have taken advice - something I don't do lightly as I like to make my own mind up about things, but I am obviously so ignorant about how to look after myself that I cannot do this on my own. As it turns out, the advice is based on what I have, until recently, regarded as fads - drink two litres of water a day, avoid processed foods, cut out everything containing gluten, eat fresh vegetables whenever possible. And on top of that, because I have candidiasis in the gut, for the next four weeks I was on a de-toxification routine. This means no yeast-containing foods and no sugar.

No sugar - for someone whose every tooth is a sweet one, who can demolish a whole packet of chocolate digestives in one dunking session, who is notorious in the works dining room for having two puddings (with or without a main course), and who salivates heavily at TV chocolate ads.

If that wasn't enough of a blow, the very short list of foods I would be eating for four weeks was devastating. But I steeled myself, told myself (over and over) that it was only four weeks, and that the gains of less pain, less flatulence and potentially a lot less weight would be worth it.

Because of my weakened constitution, I was advised not to drink any water for the two hours after a meal and during the half hour before. This would allow the acids in the stomach to do their job at full strength and process food more easily. I was beginning to wonder if this would leave any time for eating at all.

The first day was quite difficult. I had to go on a special shopping trip, and passing by all the usual treats gave me a crick in the neck. On top of that, I realised I couldn't (for now) have anything on toast, and not being particularly culinary in inclination I was at a bit of a loss. Getting two litres of water to pass my throat was also more difficult than I thought, especially tap water which in my area is much less palatable than could be desired. I went shopping again and bought a water filter. Heating a mug of water for a minute in the microwave also made thing easier on that front - I pretended it was coffee.

Halfway through the second day, I realised I was not hungry, I had no discomfort and my mood was pretty good. A couple of times I found myself at the coffee machines, but remembered just in time. I must have made a strange impression on passers by when, about to put in the coins, I jerked my arm back and shouted "OH, NO", and scurried away.

By the end of the first week I had lost four pounds. I also had less back ache - a by-product I had not anticipated, but which makes sense when you think that my kidneys were getting a good wash and my spine was supporting less blubber.

I have now developed a real interest in the food I eat. I'm still not interested in cooking, but strangely enough the food I eat tastes better and I am trying out all sorts of stuff I wouldn't have bothered with before. And I'm looking forward to wearing a size or two less than now.

I have used the word "less" a lot in telling you all about my new diet, but the truth is I have gained so much from what I have lost. It's a whole new adventure!

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