At various points we all face the challenge of pain: do we make desperate attempts to escape, endure with a stiff upper lip, or work towards healthy change? Even when it’s uncomfortable, most of us tend to stick with the status quo until we simply can’t anymore. Today’s guest post might be that dose of creative courage someone needs to make transformative, life-giving change.
re:create recess #3: Cara Meredith
It all started with a question, an unknown, a search for answers.
“Do you think sugar is the cause of your inflammation?” my best friend asked me. I’d been off gluten for eight months by that point, convinced following the Whole 30 diet that gluten was the cause of joint inflammation in my back.
But an intolerable ache had returned. For nearly three years, I’d woken up almost every night with back pain – and I was done being sleepless in Seattle. Done with heating pads and moving to the couch and popping Ibuprofen at 3am because the pain kept me from sleeping.
So, I stopped eating sugar the next morning.
Like, cold-turkey stopped eating almost all processed foods (because, y’all, sugar is in everything), stopped slurping down a daily glass of wine, stopped adding a spoonful of sweet goodness to my coffee in the morning.
And for the first time in a long, long time, I slept through the night.
“It’s sugar!” I shouted into the phone, to my sister, my brother, my parents and every other family member who’s struggled with inflammation due to arthritis.
“It’s sugar!” I said to the rheumatologist, and she shook her head vehemently: that was NOT the cause of my pain.
“It’s sugar!” I texted and tweeted and whispered to anyone who’d pay heed and give me the time of day.
This new journey of living a sugar-free life has been the new normal for two months now – so much so that eating this way has sparked a world of creativity within me. I read every label. I fill my grocery cart with whole, natural foods. And unlike before – when I dieted to lose weight, when I ate a certain way to avoid gestational diabetes, when I cooked according to doctor’s orders – this time in the kitchen has shaped and formed me in a new way.
Because this time, the impetus for eating this way is entirely mine. I’m not eating differently because someone else tells me I should, but I’m eating differently because I want to – and somehow, when the onus is on me, it’s easier and better and maybe, just maybe, more sustainable in the long run.
And it’s like I’ve been born again, but with wooden spoons and coconut oil and a handful of snow peas as my spiritual companions.
I look forward to Sundays, when I sit down with a stack of torn pages from magazines and cookbooks and online food blogs, and create the week’s meals. I look forward to heading to the grocery store in the afternoon, and filling my card with spinach and yellow bell peppers and a pound of fresh jumbo shrimp to boot. And I look forward to creating a holy mess in the kitchen, as I prep Mason jar salads to eat every day that week for lunch and a feast of sugar-free goodness for dinner that night.
Creating is no longer limited to the time I spend in front of the computer with my words, even though that is oftentimes one of my most creative spaces.
But now it extends to my hands and to my mouth and to my stomach – when I hold the knife, chopping, dicing, slicing, and when I extend a bowl of steaming broccoli cheddar soup to my lips, and when my insides smile at healthy food consumed.
Because for the time being, I have answers to the questions I’ve been asking.
And that, I declare, is good.
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and musician from Seattle, Washington. She is passionate about theology and books, her family, meals around the table, and finding Beauty in the most unlikely of places. A seven on the Enneagram, she also can’t help but try to laugh and smile at the ordinary everyday. You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.