Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0655 - Subtraction

It's been a while since I last reflected on my unwanted journey in this blog. Since beginning my calorie-reduced diet on 20-August-2007, I've lost over 7 pounds and my BMI has been reduced by over a full point. Not spectacular, to be sure, but it's definitely in the right direction.

I've been feeling better too. For all my previous frustration in not discerning patterns of behavior that exacerbated the side-effects of medication and the after-effects of treatment, I am beginning to see correlations between how I feel and what I eat.

There's nothing very scientific about what I've discovered, but observations are a good start. For instance, beef seems to cause me digestive problems and to aggravate my bowels. So too does any large meal, especially those with high fat content.

Red wine may not be good for me either, but I'm willing to take the risk!

One of my friends gave me a memorable phrase which I now hear myself repeating occasionally during the day - "Hunger is my friend."

Seriously, though, it's very gratifying to finally find myself making discoveries that might improve my overall health and reduce the frequency of bowel movements. The lesson I'm learning is one of subtraction; specifically what can I remove from my diet or behavior to improve healing and recovery.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not), my recreational reading has reinforced this message of subtraction. I've recently read again two books which have complementary messages. The first is Daniel Gilbert's Stumbling on Happiness and the other is Douglas Lisle's and Alan Goldhamer's The Pleasure Trap, both of which explicitly deal with happiness as well as the problems of our psychological and biological makeup which contribute to counter-productive behavior.

It seems we are hard-wired to to expect that the solution to our problems is to add something, whether it is food, a pill, a lotion, whatever. We need to train ourselves to counteract instinctive urges to look for what's missing by thinking about what should be taken away. Given enough time, I hope to take this lesson of subtraction into other applications, but for now, the lesson is clear. Most of what afflicts me and so many others may well be resolved not by adding another medicine, but by subtracting dietary excess, animal protein, sodium, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. Reducing my BMI may be the single most effective treatment I can offer myself as I move forward in recovery.

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