Just Say No

//theascentblog

This weekend I got to spend time up in the mountains with a group of 9 fantastic women. My best friend Dani is getting married in May and it was so fun to spend time with her, my other best friend Steph, and 7 other amazing ladies. We dressed Dani up as a tutu-wearing leprechaun, filled her up with gin, and took her to an Irish pub where we had a 3-hour long dance party from which my intercostals are still really sore. The next day we spent 2 hours soaking in a natural hot springs, then rented Magic Mike (oh yes we did) and watched it while painting our toenails and eating cookies. A girl’s weekend well spent, I would say.

When all was said and done, I actually hardly drank anything this weekend, but I still feel like total crap from all the very-not-paleo food I ate. We had nachos on Friday night, eggplant parmesan on Saturday night, pancakes Sunday morning, and cookies Sunday evening, plus chips, crackers, cheese, hummus, and, ok, a little bit of booze throughout the whole weekend. And today I feel like an overstuffed pillow. Not in the comfy way, mostly in the about-to-burst way.

A few weeks ago, as we began to plan the menu for the weekend, an email was sent out asking about food allergies. I hesitated… I don’t have an “allergy” to grains, legumes, or added sugar… Surely it would be too much of a hassle to bring it up. So I didn’t say anything. Not because I was fine with eating poorly for 3 days, not because I thought that my body would be ok with just a few days of things like pasta and ice cream. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be that girl.

After dinner on Saturday night, I found myself flat on my back on the floor in-between the two twin beds in the condo bedroom I was sharing. After a delicious dinner of eggplant parmesan that I thoroughly enjoyed, my belly was bloated and rigid, my head was throbbing. And more than anything, I just felt really stupid. I was compromising my ability to enjoy the weekend, to have fun with lifelong friends whom I rarely get to see, because I was worried that they would think I was high maintenance if I requested that we have chicken tacos instead.

I am lucky because I was with friends who love me and would not have thought I was “just being high maintenance” if I had told them that I was just going to bring my food from home for the weekend. The fact that I was still uncomfortable about doing that, even around my best friends, is not a good sign. Will I ever learn to stand up for my new way of eating? Telling people that I’m “Paleo” can be such a pain. Because Paleo has been getting so much attention lately, it seems that people automatically assume that I’m just on a bandwagon and just choosing to restrict these foods because I want to be part of the fad. If they only knew.

Do I think that eating the way my body was designed to eat is a fad? Do I think I will ever go back to the way I used to eat? This weekend was a wake-up call for me (and if feeling crappy wasn’t a wake-up call, trying on my bridesmaid dress over my distended belly sure was) that I need to be ok with making my diet a part of who I am, not just something I do when it’s convenient and painless. I need to start acting like this is a permanent change, like this is just the way I eat, all the time, no matter what. Because it should be.

  • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ NJ Paleo

    It’s tough, isn’t it? I’m not “technically” allergic either, it’s been a lifestyle choice. I find it easier to say to stranger that I have an allergy. But friends? Many of them just think I went off the deep end. I try to patiently explain that I feel better now but most say, “I could never give up my ___”. You know, the “gluten hangover” is almost as bad as an alcohol hangover, isn’t it?

    • clairechapman

      Yeah the funny part is that most of the friends I was with read my blog, so they KNOW that I have cut out gluten, etc! And yes, the gluten hangover is definitely just as bad, not only am I tired and bloated but my nose is runny and even my gums are swollen!

      • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ NJ Paleo

        And we used to think those feelings were NORMAL! LOL. Wow, if your friends already know, then it wouldn’t be a shock….though my friends know too and still they like to comment, “oh, yeah, you don’t eat bread”.

  • Brynda

    My boyfriend and I struggle with this often. We tend to be a little more lax when we travel, and always regret it later. We just have to remember that it’s the way of life, and we feel yucky when we don’t stick with it. Of course, there’s always room for ice cream, but you know what I mean :)

    • clairechapman

      Haha definitely. There is definitely always room for a treat every once in a while, but letting it go for the whole weekend never ends up being as fun as it sounds…

  • Jane

    Great timing- I needed to read this post. About to head out of town this weekend for my best friend’s bachelorette party (her name is Dani too!) and I know I’ll be faced with the same dilemma. I’m packing plenty of snacks, but even doing that, I know I am in for a weekend of unhealthy eating (well, mostly drinking). Sometimes you just have to indulge a little, but my goal is to not overdo it. Challenging for sure! We can’t be perfect all the time (so I tell myself).

    • clairechapman

      Gotta love bachelorette party season! :) I guess I forgot to mention in this post that I definitely think there is a time and place for treats for sure–I have been known to demand nachos for lunch and welcome peanut butter cups when my dad (aka boss) offers them to me! But I was just thinking more about the mentality of being afraid to speak up about having special diet requests because I don’t want it to be a “big deal.” It seems silly but I was really embarrassed! Time to grow up!

      • Jane

        Totally! It’s especially tough with friends. I have brought my own dinner to family gatherings when I knew pizza was on the menu and even then I think I offended my aunt. To some people, “paleo” is just a fad diet for people who are high maintenance. Hoping one day that won’t be the mainstream perception.

  • http://twitter.com/BarrAndTable Brittany Barr

    This really resonates with me. I don’t follow the Paleo diet, but over the last year or so I’ve totally changed my diet to far healthier than what the rest of my family eats. I recently started requesting certain dishes at family gatherings and have also started bringing some food myself. I always bring enough for everyone to have some, but this way I know I’ll be able to eat comfortably.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing!

    • clairechapman

      That’s awesome! I honestly didn’t even think about the idea of bringing some to share, in retrospect it would have been much easier to just say, Hey, I’ll be in charge of dinner! and then have brought something for everyone that fit into my diet. I need to use that in the future. But way to be an advocate for yourself!

  • http://twitter.com/winetoweights Jennifer

    It’s hard to be paleo outside of normal structured life! For me, I’m so solid on breakfast/lunch, and even lately when we have things catered into work, I made good choices. But on the weekends, when I don’t prep and plan.. it’s all out the window.. pancakes at Granny’s, a donut here or there.. just bad juju.
    It’s tough.. but you are a super strong girl, so you can totally do it! :)

  • Evan;Salt, Dogs, and Duct Tape

    That’s definitely a tough situation. My partner has been a vegetarian for eight years and I eat a pretty restricted diet, certainly not the typical American diet. I think you’re right, it just needs to become a part of you. A total lifestyle, not just what you eat.

  • Erin

    I’ve only been eating Paleo for the last month and a half and have been giving myself one day off a week, but I almost always feel sick if I over-indulge on that day off. So now I tell myself that I can have one meal “off” – so for example, last weekend my sister and her husband made my boyfriend (who doesn’t eat paleo, but will when he’s with me) and I this awesome meal of shrimp stir-fry with rice that I just couldn’t say no to. But I restricted the amount of rice I ate, and then didn’t have any of the cookies they offered afterwards. It’s so hard being “that girl”, but it’s easier to look at it as doing what’s right for your own body. If people really love you, they’ll want to help you be healthy for yourself. I’m sure none of them wanted you feeling bloated and sick that weekend, so I think being honest is the best policy!

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