Fantastic lesson in Relief Society and personal victory

I am grateful for wonderful lessons in Relief Society. In fact, I do not think that there has ever been an awful lesson in Relief Society. The Lord truly knew what he was doing when he instilled the divine inspiration and direction to build this wonderful organization of women. It is a wonderful opportunity to go and be uplifted every Sunday and to be around people who share common values and sometimes common goals.

it is true that you may not share everything in common with the other women in the room, but the values and faith that you have is your common foundation and it is a blessed and unique thread that knows no boundaries and where love is endless. If we are doing what we are supposed to be doing, what we get out of the lesson can be shared with anyone in the room and we can all be touched by the lesson in some way or another no matter what the lesson topic.

Today we had a lesson on the “Word of Wisdom” and it was a wonderful lesson. It is not a lesson that many of us in the room struggle with directly, but it is one that is always that is good to listen to and learn from. We may not have a problem with the “do not” portion of the Word of Wisdom, but how many of us struggle with the “do” portion of the Word of Wisdom? That very point was brought up in the room today. It is true. We may not struggle directly with alcohol, drugs, coffee, or even tea but how many of us stay up too late or do not eat correctly? If we are not doing the “do” portion of the Word of Wisdom to the best of our ability, we are as much in violation as we would be if we were doing a “do not.”

It was not directly a lesson on addiction, but it did touch on addictions. Many people in the room quietly or not so secretly admitted to their own addictions. To admit to one is the first step to overcoming one. An addiction can be anything that we have in access and cannot live without. It does not have to be a bad thing, necessarily. It may not be bad, but in excess, it may not be a good thing either. That is a point that the “Word of Wisdom” tries to drive home, that all things should be done in moderation. It does not restrict us from the use of certain things, but it does warn us to use things sparingly. It is these words of caution that we should heed and pay attention to. Moderation is our warning that somethings are just fine so long as we do not overtly over indulge.

It was a reminder that I am approaching my four month anniversary of being Diet Coke free. Speaking of addiction, I would say that at the point that I decided to give up Diet Coke, I was probably pushing addiction. If not addiction, it was a desperate source of comfort. Unfortunately, my source of comfort was no longer working for comfort and turned out to be something that was no longer done in moderation either.

I had the okay from my neurologist to drink Diet Coke as it was my only bad vice and caffeine in moderation is actually good for treating headaches, especially migraines. However, I had to accept the fact that I personally had reached a level that exceeded moderation. I had progressed past one or two cans of Diet Coke a day. I was more like four, five or even six cans a day. That was pretty bad. It made my stomach feel better was my excuse and I stuck to it, but then it did not even make my stomach feel better and I had to admit to that. I was desperate to feel better but when the thing that you desperately cling to for comfort is not helping, you have to admit that and move on.

Against the advise of my neurologist, I went off the Diet Coke cold turkey. I was warned that I would probably have extreme caffeine withdrawals. I was actually quite surprised that I did not. I did not have the rebound headaches that I expected and that I had been warned about. My thinking and purpose at that point was that if I was going to have to go to another specialist doctor for more tests, I was going to remove the one bad vice in my life that they were going to make me remove so I could avoid more wasted time. There was no grander purpose or reasoning. I was frustrated with my stomach and all the digestive problems I was having. Nothing else was working and if I was going to need more tests and if I was going to have to resort going to yet another doctor that was going to tell me to do something, I was going to cut out the things they were going to tell me to do. Diet Coke is known for causing stomach pain and reflux. I knew that. It never had caused problems for me, but then again I had never ruled it out either. It just never made it worse since I was not a heavy drinker, until then.

I started my Diet Coke withdrawal process on April 4, 2012. That was over five months ago.

I will not say that it was easy, but it was something that I was determined that I was going to do. I made it eighteen days before I cracked. The headache killed the streaked and I gave in and drank one. My headache eased up within about thirty minutes. I started again. I made it two days. That was not going well. Another headache. Another two days. Another headache. Then I made it a full week. Then I had another headache. The headaches were going to do me in I thought, but then I made it sixteen days before my next headache and I had another one. This time, it would mark a change…it would mark the last one I would have…

I have been Diet Coke free since May 18, 2012. It has been almost four months.

I still crave it sometimes. I do not give in. I found that my craving was not so much the Diet Coke itself, but the carbonation. That was what I learned in my process of going off. I learned to completely go off all soda entirely. I have been soda free for almost three months.

I would like to say that I feel differently for doing it, but I do not. I never felt differently. Everyone says that you will feel better when you stop drinking sodas. I did not. I did not find that my skin was better. I did not find that my stomach felt better. I did not feel that my heart felt better. I did not feel I had more energy. I did not feel differently. I did not have more energy. I have not lost any weight since I stopped drinking them. I did feel a sense of accomplishment for overcoming something that was hard for me to overcome, but outside of that nothing spectacular happened to me. Your results might be different, but I admit that I do have health issues that might skew my results and how I feel. I am sure that I have other impacts that I cannot see or feel, but physically I did not feel better or different.

I am not sure that I will stay off them forever, but for now I am content to stay off them. I am content to stay off the Diet Coke. I am content to not eat pork or tomatoes, bell peppers, peanut butter, or drink Diet Coke. Right now I am content to highly processed flour because my body has a hard time with whole grains. Right now it is helping me feel halfway decent. If it helps, it cannot be bad?

I think that is the point of the Word of Wisdom and things in moderation. My moderation is not my neighbor’s moderation. It has been a bit of a learning process for me the last few months to give up the “I will not cook two meals” and “you will eat what you are server” philosophy and actually not inflict my misery on my family. They are troopers but I know it is not fun. It is a boring meal without tomatoes, minimal onions, no bell peppers, and no pork. It is not a matter of my survival, it is a matter of my comfort. So I changed my moderation and left them to where they can enjoy their foods that they enjoy even if it means that I am cooking two entire meals. We call them regular and blonde.

After my experience last night at the Mexican restaurant, it is a reminder of why I do it. I never know when I will be exposed to something that I should not have. I do not know what I ate that I should not have. I do not know what it was in. This is what I face when I eat at peoples’ houses or when we go out to eat. Sometimes it is “riskier” than others.

The known factors were that we took Sally out to Los Cucos for her birthday for dinner. It was a lovely dinner. It was fun. I know that I ordered the Beef Fajitas for One plate. I know that the beans are typically laced with bacon, I removed the bowl from my plate. I know that the Mexican Rice is laced with tomatoes, so I did not eat it. I know that the guacamole had tomatoes in it because it had red stuff in it which is usually indicative of tomatoes. I did not consume the guacamole.

What I did consume where the tortilla chips and the green sauce/salsa. That was an unknown. Typically this is made with tomatillos, but can also be made with green tomatoes. I do not know in this case. I erred on the side of the tomatillos. I consumed a bit of this. I consumed the restaurant made tortillas. These can be made with lard. I was warned that this could be a problem with my pork issues. I had water to drink. I had sour cream and a small amount of cheese on my beef fajitas. That was it as far as my food consumption.

Of course, until last night I had never put two and two together. Within twenty minutes of finishing my meal, I was in a fair amount of upper abdominal pain. My stomach hurt. There was no way around it. Within thirty minutes I was extremely uncomfortable. Within an hour I felt like my stomach was inflating and it was going to explode. Now I will admit that I ate a lot and this is also not a good thing for me. The unusual thing for me this time, however, is that I was not refluxing like crazy. It was different this time. This was not the normal everything was coming back up discomfort. This was pain in my stomach very similar to when I eat pork. Since it had been so long since I had consumed pork in any format, it had been a while since I had felt pain of this magnitude. I took two Gas-X pills and that seemed to help a little while later, but I still had the stomach pain. My stomach still hurts now roughly a day later. It will probably be a while before I eat tortillas at Los Cucos again.

That is what I have to deal with, however. That is what was one of the driving things that lead my decision to go off Diet Coke. I was having more attacks last Spring than I am having now. I have more recently been more vigilant about cutting the problem foods out completely. I just do not eat them. I can tell you that it is not fun, but it works. I miss mint sometimes. I miss BBQ sauce and I miss Chicken Cordon Bleu. I will still make Chicken Cordon Bleu for anyone who wants it though. I just will not eat it. I even got sad over Beef Wellington but my mother-in-law made a fabulous Chicken Pate in April when she came and made Beef Wellington using the Chicken Pate.

It is a different eating style I have to live with now, but I am learning. I have not found substitutes for everything yet, but I am trying different things and I am learning to like things without the offending foods. My kids are trying things that I eat even if they do not like them, they try them. That helps make it easier.

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