I didn’t eat Chinese food until I was 18 years old. My brother took me to a place and we had the beef with broccoli. It was a revelation! Why was I so late to the party? Because my Dad always said, “Why would anyone want to eat in a Chinese restaurant? They don’t serve bread.”

And that’s pretty much my childhood food story in a nutshell… or a bread bowl. I grew up in The House of Good Bread. Loaves of Italian bread, still warm from the bakery; round or torpedo-shaped rolls, crusty on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside; Russian rye or  pumpernickel (or marbled!) for roast beef sandwiches; Diet Rite bread for everyday school lunches. A bread for every occasion, and every occasion required bread.

So it’s not rocket science that I would develop a gluten allergy. Or maybe it’s my Type O blood. Who knows? All I know is that a couple of months ago I did a 10 Day Blood Sugar Detox Diet from a book by Dr. Mark Hyman and it called for giving up all grains and sweets.

The results were amazing. Bloating? Gone. Sagging energy in the afternoon? Gone. Foggy brain? Gone. Restless energy? Gone.

I’ve pretty much stuck with the grain-free part of the detox. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, thanks to my figuring out that in order to stay balanced and regular I needed to up my fiber intake a whole lot. Hello, Sweet Potatoes!

When I gave up white sugar in 1981, dairy in 1992, wheat in 1995, and gluten in 2008, I felt really shut out of the world around me. Socializing left me feeling deprived, isolated, and sorry for myself. I experienced how food was about so much more than sustenance, how it really is about love, connection, and another kind of nourishment.

Mostly not eating grains (I have rice every once in a while) has been different than those earlier experiences. I feel empowered around my body and more self loving. I’m choosing this because it feels good and gives me energy, so I don’t really feel deprived. I’m more creative in the kitchen and open to new experiences with food, like kale in my morning smoothie. My eating has completely shifted and it’s been pretty effortless, led by how my new choices make me feel, rather than by forcing myself.  As I’m becoming more and more attuned to what my particular body really needs, which I find to be an ever shifting landscape in midlife, I need less discipline. The energy and clearheadedness I feel is a great motivator.

I’m not advocating that anyone give up grains. What I am saying is that the battle over food, for many people, is long fought and with no winners. Eating for energy, strength, clearheadedness, and calm, whatever that means for YOUR body, is a self sustaining act of self love. And it creates a lot of awareness about how you’re getting, or not getting, your emotional needs for nourishment met. Then you can find healthy ways to nourish that part of yourself, too.

I’m wondering what your relationship with food is these days? It’s a big question, I know. Is there one small way you could let your body lead you to a good decision about food today? Some gentle way to respond to your body with the kindness and friendship of the real nourishment it needs? I’d love to hear about that.