Shakespeare had it right when he wrote this line in The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark in 1602.
To be or not to be…that is the question.
To exercise or not exercise…
To eat healthy or not eat healthy…
To organize or not to organize…
To clean or not to clean…
To buy or not to buy…
And the list goes on and on….
My Shakespeare moment came over the Thanksgiving holiday. The question was: To eat gluten or not eat gluten. Two weeks prior I had started a quest to see if gluten was affecting my thyroid as I am one of the many who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Disorder. As with most things I have received conflicting opinions on the effectiveness of changing diet to combat this illness. As a vegan who works toward a whole food plant based, unprocessed, oil free diet I feel like I make wise choices when it comes to the foods I eat. I began researching how my food choices could affect my thyroid and decided based upon what I learned to try to remove gluten from my diet along with continuing my current *WFPB lifestyle for one year and see if I can help or correct my Hashimoto’s.
At home for the first two weeks of this experiment things were going great. I love to cook and the adjustment wasn’t too difficult. I was sad to lose out on some of my favorite meals (I don’t like gluten free bread) but it was going to be just fine.
Then our annual Thanksgiving trek to Florida happened. My amazing sister in law brought me my daily breakfast of gluten free oats, almond milk, berries, apples, raisins, turmeric, cinnamon and bananas. She even brought me lemons and ginger for my morning water ritual. I could do lunch at the hotel because they had the Impossible Burger (very high in fat and oil - so not a great choice) but I could have it on a lettuce wrap and it was delicious. Because of the high fat it was definitely not a daily choice so lunch proved to be slightly difficult and then there was dinner….There are lots of gluten free options on menus these days and you can find vegan options. But…whole food plant based, no oil, nuts, avocado gluten free options, let’s just say your choices become very limited. Dry potatoes and stemmed broccoli just didn’t seem to cut it for my dinner for a week. This realization brought me to a cross roads.
Not choosing vegan would never be an option for me, so I decided to go back to gluten for the week. And honestly, it lifted a weight. I felt burdened by adding one more step to an already frustrating situation and I know that the 15 other people at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table felt either frustrated or discouraged for me.
I learned a lot from this experience. The first is that next year we are having Thanksgiving at my house in Colorado. The next was that I was able to jump back on the bandwagon when I returned home. This is a proud moment for me because it can be difficult to muster up the excitement you originally had for a new endeavor once you’ve been sidelined. But on my first day back in Colorado I went immediately back to my WFPB - *GF diet. I must say I contemplated eating some Ezekiel toast with vegan butter and peanut butter but I took a minute to think about it, a true moment to contemplate the bigger picture and decided that I am more interested in my health then I am in a moment of food enjoyment laced with guilt and disappointment in myself.
I also learned that you really need to be deep into your change before you step out into the world. It was foolish of me to think that I could navigate this additional choice having only just started. I needed to get comfortable with my options, do some research before going somewhere new and make the necessary arrangements for all my meals like I did with breakfast. And when making these arrangements I need to remember the trade off can be not going to meals with my family, which is not a choice I want to make. So, I have to set aside time to eat beforehand with foods that fit my agenda by going to the grocery store and selecting items that are easy to put together in a hotel room and then enjoy some fruit or salad at the table. I once heard Lindsay Nixon “The Happy Herbivore” speak. She said when she became vegan friends stopped inviting her to events because they didn’t know what she would eat. She finally told them “I don’t come for the food, I come to be with you”. I think that is a wonderful statement. The connection over food is strong, so we all have to remember that the food may bring us together but the people and conversation make us want to stay.
Do you have a To Be or Not To Be that you want to accomplish? Have you thought it through to figure out the obstacles? Where can you be wiser? What do you need to do to be successful? And most importantly WHY do you want to do it? Your WHY is the most important piece to keep you strong when it’s hard to say no or yes depending upon the goal or intention.
I’d love to hear from you - let me know your WHAT and WHY. Writing it down may be the difference between accomplishing your desire or giving up on what you truly want.
Wishing you Grace, Peace & Healthy Living,
WFPB = Whole Food Plant Based. GF = Gluten Free.