You Know Better Than “Nigger”

I’m pretty fortunate to be a Black woman that has never been called the “N-word” in my life (well, at least never to my face). Someone DID once use it in social media conversation with me, referencing the darkness of one of my pancakes in a posted photo. When I didn’t respond, they were extremely apologetic at possibly having offended me, and entreated that I should call them a “cracker” as a means to get even.

I did not.

Now, I’m sure the day will come where “my person” will actually be on the receiving end of the ugly word. And when that day comes, I’m not going to be offended because you’ve somehow hurt my self-esteem, or I feel attacked.

I’m going to be annoyed.

One, because let’s not act like name-calling isn’t something we tell our five-year-olds not to do. So I’ll automatically assume you’re in a childish mindset at the moment.

But also, I have zero shame in being born of the African-American race. I love the color of my skin and my culture. Someone thinking they can hurt me by calling me the derogatory word for Black, as if I should feel bad for being born Black somehow, is ridiculous.

I am not a nigger.

And you calling me one, would in no way reflect upon myself, my values, or my accomplishments. It would reflect upon YOURS.

And THAT would be the annoyingly upsetting part. Because unless you’re some old white man in the deep south of Confederate country on a generational family farm descended from slaveowners, who never embraced the advent of the Internet and scarcely comes across a “free Black man”, then there’s no excuse for your ignorance.

Everybody knows.

Everybody knows at this point that it’s a heavily racist, degrading term. So when you still choose to use it, your intent behind it is to shame someone for being born a race. You want to be mean, nasty, and verbally drive a screwdriver into a wound with the easiest thing your eyes lock onto because you aren’t mentally swift enough to form an intelligent criticism that addresses a legitimate action on my part that I do have control over.

You’re choosing not to exercise self-control, which is a weak personality trait in itself. You’re choosing to take the lowest blow, because for some reason this will somehow make you feel better about yourself if you attempt to spit on someone’s heritage.

That’s not even ignorance. You know better.

Especially when those who don’t even use the word to be malicious, use it jokingly. Tossed around on the internet, even by Millennials and Gen Z-ers. It’s fun to be pretend-racist. To sling the N-word around like it’s trendy to others who find it amusing as well. From some, you gain clout; from others, derision. Either way, you’re getting attention, which still fuels you.

It was interesting to digest when my boyfriend recently told me some of his gamer buddies, mid-twenties, almost thirties even, volley the word around as an insult to rag on each other in their group chats. As if it were any other playful jab. Asshole. Motherfucker. Nigger.

They ain’t even white.

But just the act of existing as a Black person, is that much of a joke to many. Those who selfishly abandon the concept of empathy. That is what I find offensive.

That you can’t care, for somebody else.

Wanna hear a story?

I used to throw out the term “Jap” when I was younger, with no deprecating intention whatsoever, but just because it was the shortened version of “Japanese” and it was quicker to say (if you know me, you know I adore Japanese culture, so I still look back with shame at my ignorance). Once it was pointed out to me that it was demeaning and REALLY offensive (not by an actual Japanese person, thank God), EVEN though I wasn’t even saying it to any Japanese individual’s face, I CUT THAT SHIT OUT. I didn’t argue my right to free speech to use the word, mope about how the extra two syllables would be longer to say, feel ridiculously inconvenienced at the fact that this was an offensive slur, or even continue to use it in secret within my circle.

It was SURPRISINGLY easy.

But to some, simply not saying a hurtful word for the sake of others’ feelings is a really difficult thing. So, when the inevitable day comes that a childish mind will call me the N-word, my feelings won’t be hurt. Why should they? You’ll be the one showing me that you’re beneath me. Immature. Weak. Egotistic. And I won’t feel the need to lower myself to that level to fire back a retaliation slur. Because I’m not interested in using ethnic epithets for easy ammunition, or for the “lulz” online.

And I know I’m not a nigger.

But you do know better.

~Tael

Fuckboys Over 40 – A Story

You said you weren’t a playboy.
But I guess that’s what they say.
I don’t deal with them too often, so I missed flags straight away.

We crossed paths overseas, in the “loveliest” of ways.
In a sea of Spanish speakers, your English cleared the haze.
No interpreter necessary; I felt comfortable to play.
Touch escalated quickly, as you sought to mark your prey.
Your hands up my shirt; the way your fingers strayed.
And “water on a rock” put your commitment on display.

Hours passed of tennis banter, hand in hand down empty streets.
Awkward silence never showed while the world whizzed by our feet.

“Lover of women.” “Translucent redheads are my type.”
Phrases that seemed innocuous, when I had you for the night.

There was no doubt I would kiss you; Chemistry a violent fire.
Our melded lips became a match.
My will burned with desire.
Your fingertips traced smolders down my flesh and took me higher.
You gazed into my eyes as if my being was a pyre.

“It feels nice to be wanted too.”
So I tried to make sure you knew.

And though we didn’t consummate, I saw you once more.
You spent time just to chat,
as if I was good company, as if sex wasn’t foremost,
though I was shiny out the wrap.

Before our time was up, I asked was this goodbye.
You promised that it wasn’t; that we’d reunite in time.
That you’d come visit my city, resume pleasurable sighs.

Perhaps I should have realized then, that it was just a line,
since as soon as we were separated, I was out of sight and mind.
I wondered why you didn’t even text unless I tried.
But when I called you out on it, you assured me it was fine.
“There’s no Internet here, so it takes me a long time, but I’m thinking of you darling.”
SOUNDED genuine and kind.
Till you took days to answer, disrespectful of my time.

“I’m not good with online communication.”
“I just don’t check my phone often.”

(WhatsApp and IG status updated though,
so that one’s purely grime).

This what you meant by let’s keep talking? I thought you wanted to know me.
So maybe if I went to YOU, impatiently re-ignited that chemistry brew,
maybe THEN you’d show me?

But thrice the universe said “Nope” and then sent forth a plague.
Solidifying her message to me: “Thou shalt not get laid.” (By him).

I thought this meant we should keep building,
until our inevitable reunion.

I genuinely showed interest in your day to day life.
But my name escaped you 4 months in (you claimed you found names trite).

You never asked anything about myself, though I longed to bond over dancing,
video games and nerdy things, and shared fitness passion.
But you just seemed more attuned to would-be bedroom action.
Though you reached out for favors to eyeball your work
and my mind felt appreciated; my heart went berserk.

So much in common you didn’t bother to notice.
“I’m emotionally distant and work is my focus.”
But every time I asked if you wanted to keep talking,
you always said yes, so I pumped the breaks on walking.

How could I not open my heart more and soften?
Okay, he did a gay short once; #actors do those often. (Yeah?)
He has a belly button piercing… well, his stomach’s taut and…

Why do I cry tears for being just an afterthought then?

You said your heart was once broken, that you were sensitive too.
Yet you’re unable to empathize with another in your shoes?

You said your heartbreak wasn’t crazy, though you wouldn’t indulge me.
But you’d indulge a public podcast, for the whole world to see
you’d like to hate-fuck your ex, and other wicked fantasies?

Tiptoed around my feelings, so as not to overwhelm you
but why hold on when you equated me to just a shell who
could easily be replaced by your revolving harem options
when all I wanted was to feel I was special in your clock and
instead you just saw fit to pull a vanish and just drop in
when you felt like I was worth your time, “Oh have a crumb, my OPTION.”

Because dance is the gift of seduction.
Acting, the gift of pretense.
Public speaking, when you can’t actually communicate personally?
A mask of fraudulence.
An inauthentic mirror of immoral decadence.

You log your sexual conquests on a spreadsheet.
I write poems of catharsis for emotional relief.

I showed my vulnerability and stripped bare,
only to realize I’m standing alone out there
and the hardest pill to swallow is…
After 5 months, you don’t care.

To say…
I could have contracted Covid and passed away
without your notice is fair.

But the honesty of your true intentions could have spared me. (It’s called stringing).

Mixed signals are the devil, and your follower cannot read
where to step next in the dance when the leader doesn’t lead. (It’s called breadcrumbing).

But maybe it’s better to be the loser…

Because why choose cold and distant over caring and kind? And close-hearted aloofness over glowing warmth in brine.
And clinging to angry ex memories that keep you stagnant in time.

And anyway, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find
another slender, gaming badass, awesome locks ran down her spine,
with a chain around her belly,
and a heart as big as mine.

~Tael

Why I Deleted My Dating Apps During The Quarantine

Yes, during the very time that more people are flocking to them than ever.

I was over “dating” a long time ago. Like, before there was online dating. It was a fresh new “sport” to try out back in college but then I quickly realized people suck, and I don’t like perusing through them romantically the same way I once did library books.

Something about dressing up and presenting yourself in the best artificial manner possible comes across as very job-interviewish, and I’m not the biggest fan of those either but they’re necessary to survive.

Dating is not.

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I’ll admit i’m not very good at it because I hate it. Looking back at my track record, i’ve mostly slipped into relationships the “normal” (non-dating-app-initiated) way, with very serial monogamist tendencies. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy being alone; I live alone, enjoy the hell out of it, and am one of the least romantic women you’ll encounter. I never had girly dreams of a fancy expensive wedding (the cost of which could be a down payment on real estate) with a glamorous white dress, kids and a house outta Martha Stewart Living. I’ve only dabbled into the online-dating world in the past 3 years or so, and I wouldn’t call the experience pleasant. I’ve met gamers I didn’t click with, psychos who I’ve fled their apartment, friends-with-benefit failures who couldn’t even be counted on to show up, ONE actual relationship I don’t think I should have been in, and an incredibly disappointing sexual encounter that I had to try twice just to confirm the first was not a mistake. And this was after weeding through incredibly dull conversations, dudes who unmatched me after I said I wasn’t into orgies, dudes who fall off the face of the earth because they were the ones you might have actually been interested in, and a guy who just wanted to be friends but not meet up to hang out with me as friends and continue to solicit me for sexy pictures (???).

When the lockdown began, I saw the uptick in notifications from my dating apps. Strange, seeing as how I hadn’t matched/liked someone on my end since like 2 months ago. That should give you an indication as to how often I actually use them. In 4 months, I’d gone on a grand total of one whole date. Where were these “matches” coming from? Then I realized…OHHHH EVERYBODY IS BORED AND HORNY NOW!!

I let them build and build and build, because I got tired just thinking about reading through the assortment of incredibly non-witty intros and messages that would clearly show up front we weren’t a good fit. You know, like “Good Morning, how’s your day going?” NEXT. I’m sorry, this is perfectly polite, but I’m savage.

When I finally got around to reading through the…SHIT, my eyes glazed over. And I wondered, why subject myself to this if it’s not even fun? Why follow this trend if I see it as a chore?

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I find it incredibly exhausting…to get to know a person. I don’t like just talking to anybody, I DESPISE small talk and “pleasantries,” and can find socializing exhausting if i’m not especially clicking with the socializers. So if I’m going to make ANY effort, it needs to damn sure be worth it. There’s gotta be SOMETHING that makes me WANT to get to know you. Usually something interesting (I know I know, EVERYBODY thinks they are DIFFERENT). When we talk, I need to laugh (actually giggle, chuckle out loud), engage in a bit of teasing, learn something. Then YOU have to feel the same shit, agree to meet up with me, STILL get along with me in person and not turn out to be an ogre (hey, same with me), try to stay relaxed and not overthink and over-expect anything, feel something REAL, and then agree to keep the shit going, OR let them down gently if you ain’t into it without feeling like a complete asshole.

That is WORK.

Work for the right person? AMAZING and completely worth it! But work for countless “let’s sees” who you’ll barely remember months down the line? Draining…as…fuck.
“You should keep your dating apps,” my mom told me several days ago when I proposed the idea. “Just because you never know where you’re gonna find the guy. Just in case.”

Not when simply checking a notification from Random Joe #27 is so depleting. I can’t do it anymore. How do my peers juggle multiple potential daters at the same time when just investing in the PROSPECT of one makes me want to air-gun my cabeza?

So I deleted them. Leaving only Tinder as my “In Case of Emergency,” app (because it’s low-hassle) just in case I get really horny and need some bad-decision sex to take the edge off again. Once the quarantine is over of course.

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I’m seeing articles that the coronavirus is actually changing online dating for the better. People are having VIDEO CHAT DATES. Making plans months in advance to meet new people. Really forming actual bonds because there’s nothing else to do. If it’s helping people get through this, then I’m genuinely happy for them.

But it’s not my thing. It’s not for me. Unless i’ve met you already in person, you’re incredibly charming or witty with words (like a writer!), or you’ve shared some emotional aspect of yourself that allows me to feel connected with you, I have a hard time vibing with you over messages. I hate video chatting. And even though i’m stuck at home with nothing else to do, I don’t want to expend my energy swipe over-driving and video speed-dating hunting for a connection with someone.

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Because no matter how many similarities you have with the person, or boxes they check off from your relationship-person box-checking list in their profile, or even how good the date goes, it still…may…not…matter.

Depressing, huh?

Do I sound like a woman who’s given up? No, my babies; I promise you I haven’t. It’s just not my priority. I’m over the bullshit games that “dating” requires. Because let’s be honest: you CANNOT fully be…REAL. So I’d rather wander alone and stumble across the right soul when the universe dictates it’s my time. But until then…why weed through a revolving door of kindling what-ifs trying to force a spark?

If a spark’s to be had, it will find me.

Ninja…fucking…out.

~Tael

What Wellness Eating For CIC Sounds Like

Upon waking, consume a cup of hot tea with lemon on an empty stomach. Or warm water with lemon. Although the acupuncturist I saw recently said fuck lemon, it should be room temperature water with honey instead. But also, the Internet says you should be taking a tablespoon of olive oil/coconut oil/flaxseed oil/ blackstrap molasses on an empty stomach in the morning as well. But in what order? Oil first since it clearly takes up less space than the cup of liquid after? But also, you may/may not have SIBO even if the doctors told you that you did not, so eating a fresh clove of garlic on an empty stomach for 1-2 weeks can help. And then you have to wait at least 1/2 hour to an hour before eating anything else. And then after, it should probably be fruit because fruit should be eaten in the morning before anything else, separate from other food.

Don’t forget.

Eat like 6-9 servings of veggies a day, which sounds crazy to me because I can’t even eat that many servings of regular food I think. Don’t drink juice, even if it’s 100% fruit juice; you’re killing yourself, said the chiropractor. But you can have bacon, fatty bacon’s okay.

Eliminate gluten. But that didn’t help when I did it for a month. So while it gave others amazing results, it’s not the cause of my condition. But while on the subject of gluten, there’s a sect online that claim grains are the devil now as well. Say goodbye to soothing bowls of oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, and rice. You already know sugar is a beast and a couple of cookies will absolutely destroy your body. An ice cream scoop on a hot day is treasonous. You are not allowed to eat anything that isn’t fully healthy and natural; you will set your health back 30 years. Also, you can’t just have any kind of fruit or veggies. They MUST be organic. If not, you may as well be eating poison. Sorry.

“But you just ordered a fruit salad; did you ask if they used organic fruit?”

Don’t eat meat and starch together at the same meal, says the naturopath. Your body wasn’t meant to digest them together. This means you shouldn’t be going out to eat at restaurants because they’re going to put it on the same plate.

So, fuck a Chipotle burrito I guess. :/

A tablespoon of flax or chia seeds a day will absolutely regulate you.

NOPE. My stomach has suddenly inflated like a balloon. Nope, not good. Same with those fruit/vegetable smoothies. It has worsened my condition. #FAIL

I don’t feel good.

Check your posture throughout the day, especially while eating. Mindful eating means cutting the television off and savoring your bites for proper and efficient digestion. No distractions. Also, don’t drink anything at least 20 minutes before your meal, or during it, including water, as this dilutes the digestive juices. Try to wait at least 20 minutes after as well. And make sure you’ve fully chewed your food to liquid. Should take about 30-50 chews per bite.

Also, back to the maybe-you-COULD-have-SIBO-and-your-doc-is-just-an-idiot line of thinking. Certain fruits can exacerbate SIBO, so you should probably limit fruits too. And try going low FODMAP. Apples and garlic are on the list of high FODMAPS.

PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME GIVE UP GARLIC (which, ironically, is supposed to do wonders for gut health). But FODMAP fruits contain fructose, which is supposed to SPEED up digestive transit. Why don’t I want this?

“No, it helps for constipation too.”

The fructose that SPEEDS UP digestive transit can cause constipation? Okay… *Refers to special food list printed at the naturopath’s office.*

I strictly adhere to the morning empty-stomach drink routine.

I agonize over the timing of ingesting fruit.

I count my chews of organic product with a ramrod straight back, focusing on my breathing patterns while doing so, swallowing only when I’ve confirmed it’s become liquid form.

I question everything I consume.

This is healthy. This is moderately healthy. This is slightly healthy. This is not healthy. I’m cheating here. This is not healthy. This was a good stomach day; I should stay empty. It’s like fasting right? I don’t want to lose weight though. This is not healthy.

STOP IT.

This is not healthy.

This is not healing.

Kinesiology testing shows stress. Naturopath and acupuncturist question my erratic pulse. Some herbs have helped. Sudden conversations unloading held-back truths have sent me flying to the bathroom.

Stress.

And stressing about food, is not curing me. It’s only adding to the mysterious underlying emotional stress possibly causing this condition in the first place. My mind no longer WELCOMES food into my body.

Let’s shift the focus from food.

Today I ate an apple and a ham and cheese sandwich from the bodega. I didn’t question the potential harmfulness of the white bread, the health factors associated with processed deli meat and mayo, or whether possible SIBO critters that may/may not be living in my small intestine would feast on the apple fructans. I felt empowered.

I refuse to fear food any longer.

Or Judgment. Perception. Conflict. Accusation. Discomfort.

Truth.

*–Reformatting–*

Because the world is not always right.

~Tael

What I Learned From A 21-Day Elimination Diet

(Not that much)

In my efforts to get closer to the solution of the chronic idiopathic constipation that’s been plaguing me for the past year, I’ve done a lot of shit (unfortunately only figuratively >.<). I’ve loaded up on fiber, (both supplemental and in fresh whole fruit and veggie smoothie form) which only exacerbated the condition. I’ve experimented with 8 glasses of water a day, undergone laxative clean-outs, visited separate gastroenterologists and collectively undergone an ultrasound, MRI and colonoscopy. I’ve chugged salt water/baking soda solutions, cupped warm tea with lemon in the mornings, and fasted. I’ve added every Top 20 “Foods That Make You Poop” on the Google searches to my diet. I’ve also tried eliminating certain known “trigger” categories for a week or so. Gluten, dairy, sugar, etc…But never at the same time. And I was asked the question, “Well, what if you didn’t remove them for long enough?” My thought-process (and what I’ve read from most Internet accounts) is once you get rid of the thing hindering your digestive process, you start to see results pretty quickly. Not like you’re-better-in-a-day quickly, but you DO see a noticeable change.

Only time I noticed a significant digestive change was when I started a Manuka honey, black seed oil, mastic gum combo to fight what I THOUGHT might be H. Pylori, although I was later tested and confirmed to NOT have it. After the colonoscopy, which came back A-OK, and while waiting for the test results from my naturopath (doctors GALORE was my strategy) I thought, what next? My bestie had recently raved about the magical healing powers of celery juice, and urged me to give that a shot. Like for a month. And I’m like, where tf am I going to get celery juice every day for a month? Do I like…MAKE it? Do I have to buy a juicer?? The Internet (no connection to the band) told me you could simply blend the stuff and strain it through a nut-milk bag. Okay cool. Time to try this new thing to add to my exhaustive list of tried things. Especially since all these bloggers swore celery juice sent them stampeding to the bathroom with its diuretic effect. I needed that.

But then, since I can’t half-ass anything, I decided, what if I did something ELSE during this period to make it more effective? Since I’d tried eliminating one food one week, another food another week, in the past, why not do ’em ALL AT THE SAME TIME andĀ  TORTURE MYSELF EVEN MORE?

Because true healing is rough, right? And most nutritionists will say everything you eat nowadays is bad if it’s not vegetables. Everything will cause cancer. White bread? Cancer. Meat? AWFUL. Whole grains? They’re bad now. Non-organic fruits and vegetables? How dare you. Sugar? The holy grail of unhealthiness. Hell they’re even suggesting that we limit fruit now. Foods not immediately shipped to you from the local farmer McGregor’s pastures can cause brain fog and people are really seeking out these functional medicine docs and paying the $800-initial-visit and $300-follow-up-visits (that aren’t covered by health insurance) because with the brain fog, they “just don’t feel quite right.”

This is what we’re going to the doctor for now. Brain fog. Headaches. Dizziness. Although if you have all 3 of those on a regular basis, I’d be concerned if you didn’t get a CAT scan first for tumors before assuming it’s the pesticides on your apples from Key Food.

Negative bacteria is running rampant disrupting our gut microbiomes and we need to starve them out by abandoning anything delicious that we hold dear, and our bodies weren’t meant to process all the foods we eat now because Darwinian adaptation doesn’t really exist, and if you take antibiotics or eat one false thing you absolutely destroy your gut flora and all you’ve worked up to achieving it and set yourself back 1,000 steps. So no ice cream cones with your kiddies, slice of pizza with your sister, or a box of shared fries with your date. Even if it’s once in awhile.

Well then, let’s have it and see if it fixes me?

I cut out gluten, dairy and sugar for 21 days. Supposedly the 3 biggest inflammatory offenders. I had already been tested for Celiac’s, but had heard you could have a negative test and still be intolerant. Since I tend to be active (yeah, this ain’t no couch-potato constipation we’re talking about), I couldn’t COMPLETELY give up starch so I allowed for the two naturally non-gluten ones: rice and potatoes (which I’ve recently learned is actually a veggie!). Excluding rice, I gave up grains, because apparently there’s some belief going around that whole grains are now the devil. I gave up eggs because they’re kinda dairy, kinda not, and some people have problems with them. Some sites advocated giving up nightshades (which includes potatoes) but I don’t eat nightshades on the regular enough to have a need to eliminate them. No caffeine or alcohol (which induces a pretty good colon cleanout from my experience with liquor, but okay), but that was a non-issue. No processed foods or junk of any kind, which I don’t normally eat like that anyway. I skated the questionable line between beans/legumes vs no beans/legumes because they’re not part of my regular diet. I initially cut out nuts and seeds for the first week and a half or so as well, because the Internet says it’s good to, before remembering the last time I had nuts or seeds was years ago, so those definitely weren’t causing my issue. Also I was starving and needed something else to snack on besides fruit.

Yes. I was hungry. Sure there’s all these WONDERFUL VEGGIES TO INDULGE IN to replace the awful, terrible, no-good foods that you miss, but let’s get real. I ate and ate the safe foods, couldn’t tell if I was full or hungry or what for the first week. I determined that this was only because my body was craving the things I loved but couldn’t have. It cried out for more “yummies” even though it was full already. My cookies and snacks were stashed in a high cabinet where I couldn’t see them. My whey protein shakes went on hiatus. I eliminated fruit juice, and dutifully chopped up my celery stalks every morning. I added teaspoons of acacia fiber to ensure I was still getting soluble fiber.

“Breakfast” didn’t exist anymore, it became leftover-safe-foods-from-last-night. The entire first week I focused on foods not commonly in my rotation like lamb, ground turkey, sweet potatoes, applesauce, spinach. Weekends I stayed close to home because I couldn’t even eat at someone else’s house and I wouldn’t be able to grab something “quick” from outside. At one point my stove broke and needed to be replaced, so thank god for emergency Chipotle (burrito bowl without the burrito, rice, beans, chicken, COMPLIANT). I berated my boyfriend for attempting to surprise me with Japanese restaurant reservations during this period, because eating out was impossible, unless we were going to JustSalads, minus any dressing or toppings. And I hate salads.

Midway through the diet, results from my naturopath came in. No dysbiosis. No helicobactor pylori or other sinister bacteria. No candida overgrowth. No parasites. No heavy metals in my blood. Nothing to indicate that I had a leaky gut or disrupted microbiome or that my diet beforehand had contributed in any sense to my condition. Nothing to confirm these fancy new diagnoses that warrant giving up pleasurable eating. But I had started this elimination diet, so I was committed to finishing it.

Two weeks in I did notice my bloating was beginning to subside. I also decided to switch back off of Miralax to magnesium supplementation instead because I hate the concept of having to stay on Miralax indefinitely. Was it the diet? Or was it the incorporation of resistant starch, the celery juicing, or finally caving and using ab machines at the gym; something I’d avoided for all my years of gymming on the basis that if I did full body workouts, I didn’t need to isolate abs.

Once I got off the Miralax, shit did get harder again (every pun intended here).

My cravings did subside…all up until maybe 5 days before the impending diet’s end. Then they came back full force, as if they could tell I’d be able to indulge soon enough. Additionally, my stools returned to little rabbit balls, even WORSE than before I’d begun the diet. :/ Eliminating grains and relying strictly on increased veggies was not healing me.

For a colonoscopy, you’re required to have a clear liquid-only diet for the entire day before the procedure. Then the night before, you take a powerful laxative to clear out all the nothing you’ve been eating (drinking?), so you can waltz in zombified the next day, lay down on the cot, have the IV inserted, and….oh shit it’s over and the nurse is giving you popcorn and apple juice in the recovery room (god damn I miss popcorn and apple juice right now). I went home that day and ordered two large pasta dishes from Seamless. Because that is what restriction can do to you.

As I write this, I crave pizza, burgers, and bullshit bodega snacks I usually don’t even notice. Shit I never even give a passing THOUGHT on a normal basis because my diet doesn’t usually consist of these things. Bagels. Wendy’s Frostys and Checker’s shakes. Lays chips and a Coke like I used to have as an after-school snack in high school (cause characters in older YA novels always had that damn snack). An ice cream with sprinkles off the truck whose jingle New Yorkers are pretty much immune to at this point. I missed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and buttered toast. This diet prompted cravings in shit I’d eat once every few months if that. Chocolate bars that I can never finish in one sitting, and usually only encounter around Halloween. My dreams involved deli cold-cut sandwiches, tortilla chips, and waffles drenched in syrup.

They say when you do an elimination diet, it’s supposed to teach you about your relationship with food. I’ve learned nothing from it besides the reinforcement that my soul is much better suited to moderation than restriction. I like snacks. I get sugar cravings. But sometimes I can go days without cookies because I DON’T always crave them. I drink 100% juice but when I pour myself a cup I pour about 8 ounces maybe, and struggle to finish it. My cousins have always made fun of me for making a 16 oz bottle of soda last for 2 days. If I get an ice cream cup, it’s always a SMALL because I know what I can finish and what I can’t.

I also lost a good 7 pounds on this diet, an unfortunate side-effect that many would cheer for, but a lamentation for someone who has always had trouble putting on weight and whose main goal of gymming is gains. They say elimination diets are not meant to be long term (Thank GOD, but jeebus look at some of the lengths on SCD and GAPs), and there’s some interweb arguments against them. That it’s not good to just eat the same ish all the time since before the advent of Whole Foods, humans didn’t have access to fresh kale and asparagus year round and our diets rotated around what crops were in season, and what resources were available. That continuously eating the same foods can lead to food intolerances (even though that’s EXACTLY what you’re doing on an elimination diet, doubling down on the shit you CAN eat, which you’re not supposed to do, so Catch-22?), or that avoiding foods can LEAD to building intolerances based on its avoidance! ThatĀ nutritional deficiencies can come into play if you’re not properly replacing things you’re giving up like grains with different sources of the same nutrients.

And then there’s the pyschological aspect, that plants (haha) the notion that you’ve messed up by eating a “bad food” like a Pavlovian response. It creates an unnecessary stress factor when really, food should be inviting and one of our basic human indulgences. Hell my chiropractor was even against oatmeal because he believes all carbs are awful.

By the completion of the diet, my constipation wasn’t cured, my life wasn’t changed and I didn’t feel full of energy and superpowered like my chiro said I would be. My skin didn’t get clearer (although I had no real acne to begin with), I hadn’t been experiencing BRAIN FOG, or stomach pains, or headaches or dizziness or anything besides a slower gut before this to feel improvement for. My stomach did feel lighter, sure, but between Days 12-17, I felt bouts of lethargy which made me wonder if I was lacking in some nutrient I’d inadvertently cut out. By Day 18 I was so sick of potatoes and rice as a side that I started forgoing it, still bored with the meat and veggie options, but simply eating out of necessity just because my body needed it, and not out of any sense of satisfaction.

Food no longer made me happy.

My belief is that food needs some kind of balance. Being unable to eat at your mom’s house because the beans were cooked in butter or travel to far from your home-prepared safe food sources (guys, I didn’t even leave the borough of Manhattan) is a very militant and unhealthy relationship for myself to have with something that once gave me pleasure. And constant worrying over whether you’re consuming enough water if you’re not thirsty, to counterbalance your increased fiber definitely spiked my anxiety (I’m FULL but am I getting ENOUGH ahhhh!). I longed for the days where I didn’t have to THINK, but I also longed for a clear sign of improvement that I never got on this diet.

My reintroduction period has begun and it’s a bit more complicated than it seems. I haven’t binged through all the foods I’ve missed because you have to reintroduce just that eliminated group in its isolated form. So no pizza, because there’s gluten AND dairy, and same goes for other favorite delectables, like garlic bread, ice cream, cheeseburgers, cake, etc…For sugar i’ve reintroduced honey and juice, and dairy, milk, butter and cheese, to eliminate any possible reactions to these subsets before moving to gluten where I can have a bowl of cereal again, or a peanut butter sandwich….and COOKIES. When I reach dairy, since I had already done sugar, I was at least able to bring back Ensures (got a lotta weight recoup to work on), gluten free protein bars, ice cream, and chocolate milk. So the home stretch is even longer than one would think, but necessary to make sure you have no reactions to any “triggers” added back in from each group, which I fully expect to NOT have, as this diet has not revealed food intolerances. I ponder to at least take something away from this experience; some nuggets of acquired wisdom:

  1. I WILL continue to celery juice since I still think this can be beneficial.
  2. Resistant starch did seem to help out so i’ll continue to incorporate that one for awhile as well.
  3. I shouldn’t be afraid to eat more (chronic constipation can definitely subconsciously plant an avoidance to food, and less food is not the answer here).
  4. The Internet, with all its abundance of holistic/anecdotal/underground knowledge, can still get it wrong, and is rife with contradiction. Just like doctors.

I survived, and I’m glad I got this shit out the way before the delicious summertime scents take over. I proceed to move forward, this time with the exact opposite diet: low fiber, high calorie. I plan to compare how both make me feel.

Wonder which one will come out on top?

~Tael