Eating to Live, Not Living to Eat

Eat to Live

“Your grandfather always says, ‘We eat to live; we don’t live to eat.'”

So my mother told me when I was 15 and became hypoglycemic. I don’t think I really appreciated this wisdom, which came from my diabetic grandfather, until last year.

I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis after a decade of suppressing my hormones on the birth control pill. Last summer, I had surgery to diagnose and remove the endometriosis (hallelujah for modern science, BTW), but I’ve been treating the PCOS mostly “naturally.” My doctors recommended that I go off gluten, dairy, and processed sugar, and what seemed like an extreme diet has become a lifestyle change.

I’ve now been on this diet for a year, and I feel so much better that I often forget how bad I felt before. I’m much less tired, my cycle length is almost always within a normal range, and my mood is (usually) better. I’ve also lost about 30 pounds.

People often tell me, “I could never give up [delicious-but-bad-for-you food].” I usually laugh and agree that it’s hard, but the truth is that when you are so improved that other people notice how much better you’re feeling, you will do whatever it takes to stay that healthy. Eating a cookie is nothing compared to having energy. Enjoying a pizza is just not as great as being able to cook on Thanksgiving without needing to rest your hands and your feet after standing up and peeling enough potatoes for 15 people. And giving up bread is … well … a piece of cake compared to knowing that my body might actually be functioning well enough that I’ll be able to have a baby with my soon-to-be husband.

I have occasionally cheated a bit on my diet. But honestly, I’m rarely tempted. I still have some foods (not to mention red wine) that I can enjoy, and I do enjoy them. But moderation is better for my soul, and the gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is better for my body. It’s easy to say, “I could never give that up!”, and it is hard sometimes to deny yourself something delicious. But when the payoff is a body that doesn’t constantly feel like it’s attacking you?

I’ll take that tradeoff any day.

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