Art Direction: The Magazine of Yoga
Poet in Residence
Bodies and Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
I perched on the edge of the brown couch in Dr. Khosh’s office, the two walls of windows shining out to the winter landscape of snow and sun. He had done wonders for my sons, so why not me too?
My oldest son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease after he had lost almost 30 pounds and was in constant stomach agony for a long time. Daniel’s disease had reached its apex right after his grandfather died. Daniel returned home from college for the funeral so gaunt that I immediately called out, “To the scale!” There my worst horrors were confirmed.
Now after six months with Dr. Khosh, Daniel had experienced dramatic results. After giving up dairy, wheat, oats, corn, tomatoes, pickles, sugar and anything fermented for six months (which meant, as a college student, he would be eating handfuls of organic rice krispies while his pals were downing beer and pizza) he had regained all his lost weight and most of his pain had vanished. The diet included enzymes, whey power shakes each morning to keep the weight on, and generally a lot of vegetables, fruit and meat, not to mention big quantities of our friend the potato.
The youngest one, too
After Daniel’s success, it made sense to take Forest, our youngest son, to Dr. Khosh too. Forest had been suffering under the weight of mysterious agony, riddling his 14-year-old body with sudden and intense pains and fatigue so severe he would put himself to bed some nights by 7 p.m. After seeing him lying facedown on the living room floor in tears, and this after 18 months of various doctors and vast quantities of antibiotics and Advil, his pediatrician looked at both of us one December day and said, “I don’t know what to do anymore.”
Now, weeks into his diet, and with the aid of probiotics, enzymes, and various supplements to diminish the inflammation in his body, he was feeling better, he had more color and energy, and the pain only peppered him a few hours here or an afternoon there.
Learning what I already knew
Now I sat on the couch, having just recounted my health history. I knew what he was going to say before he said it, but I wrote it all down anyway, nodded as if it was the first time I was hearing this information, and in a sense, it was. No dairy, sugar, wheat and vinegar for three months, and then we would see where we were.
“Okay,” I answered, and on a heartbeat, I stopped eating those things except, every day or two, a smidgen of vinegar (I mean, a woman has to have salad dressing if she’s me).
Within a few weeks, the cravings for chocolate cake with sweet cream frosting or hot baguettes faded. Besides, although most of my naughty foods were removed from my palate, I could still have potato chips if I felt the need to indulge, and there were times I ate a small bag of chips daily.
Finding new pockets of energy
I changed my eating habits instantaneously, and soon started finding myself sick less often, reaching for less decongestant, and finding new pockets of energy. I knew for years this was how I needed to eat, and not just for three months. Yet, those 30 seconds of mouth happiness continually outweighed the hours of sinus hell for me. Now it was clear that I wasn’t choosing any longer to feel like shit for the sake of a slice of pizza, a bagel and cream cheese or a bowl of tapioca covered with whipped cream.
It’s now nine months after I listened to Dr. Khosh tell me what I already knew I needed to do. While occasionally I do have a nibble of bread, a teaspoon of cake or the tiniest taste of sour cream on the fajitas, for the most part, I’ve learned to feed myself anew.
Listening to this body, my body, I’ve found keys I didn’t know were lying around in such open view.
I discovered I do best with fruit in the morning, lunch as the biggest meal, a lighter dinner than habit and ancestry would have called for, and get this, hardly anything (as in nothing whenever possible) after dinner. Vegetables and fruit really like me, and me them. A little protein throughout the day also rings my bells in perfect harmony (and no, I’m not a vegetarian). The bean family is fairly hospitable, and when it’s not, there’s ginger and peppermint tea.
And then a miracle occurred
The odd part is that after decades of trying to lose weight — counting in my mind the weeks ahead and subtracting the pounds I was sure I would release by this week or that — I have. This summer, my oncologist came into the room for our six-month follow-up and announced, “Do you realize that you’ve lost over 15 pounds in the last year?”
Oddly enough, I hadn’t. So habituated by exaggerating to myself the weight I was sure I was losing, I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t believe myself about weight loss much anymore. Since then, most weight has melted off.
Learning to feed myself equals learning to eat without injury for me, and all of this translates into voting, with each meal, for what will make me feel good instead of succumbing to momentary pleasures and long-term pain, illness, shame and stiffness.
When I eat, I remind myself that the life force loves us, wants us to be strong and beautiful and awake in this gift of the world.
Why not eat accordingly?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.