Posts tagged ‘expectations’

February 5, 2019

Preparation for Healing: Managing Expectations Begins With Setting Clear Intentions

It’s important to manage expectations in preparation for healing and that begins with setting clear intentions. Aaaaand, we’re back. I promised you a post about preparation as we begin to draw a map of the healing process. The Super Bowl is over. Most of us have either given up on our resolutions for the year or are quickly forming new habits. It’s a great time to settle down and set some intentions for healing.
quick guide
Some of us are healing from physical injury. Some of us are healing from an acute episode of a chronic disease. Some of us are healing from loss. Some of us are healing from social injustice. Some of us are healing from acute or prolonged trauma.

Others are stuck but want to heal. We can be stuck waiting for someone to rescue us. We can be stuck frozen in fear, fighting the world, running from reality, or brown-nosing for approval. We can be stuck believing we cannot move forward. Many of us believe this because we have tried to move forward before only to end up in the same spot over and over again.

I’m familiar with ending up in the same spot. I am good at setting and achieving goals. In spite of this, I spent many years choosing partners who were different on the surface, but the same underneath. I could see, evaluate, and change visible parameters, but my subconscious kept me stuck choosing the same sort of man.

The first time I managed to get it together enough to choose differently, I got dumped after two years. That was 10 years ago. It took years after that for me to hear the inner voice that had been telling me all along I didn’t deserve this kind, dependable man. That deep-seated subconscious belief crept into my behavior.

That rejection, painful as it was, happened to be the impetus for real change – the kind of change that comes from healing very old, very deep wounds. Healing I had searched for through church, therapy, and marriage without making any real progress.

Like many people, I could successfully meet the benchmarks required by those institutions while feeling defective, unloved, terrified, and depressed. I started and managed a successful business, created lasting friendships, raised two boys, traveled the world, and became a pilot while I was still part of the walking wounded. If you’re struggling, you are not alone. You are surrounded by other people who are struggling whether you can see it or not.

I am also proof positive that healing can happen and change can be lasting. I suppose it begins with awareness. I can’t tell you that in the beginning I was aware of much that I now know, but I knew I needed to sit still. I began with that intention.

Managing expectations for healing begins by setting clear intentions. If you intend to heal the symptoms of diabetes with the least medical intervention possible, you will walk one path. If you choose to follow whatever regimen is recommended by your doctor, you may follow another. Improving your life by getting a more meaningful job will lead you one direction while healing the effects of childhood abuse and neglect may lead you another.
In order to set clear intentions, I ask myself:

What do I hope to accomplish?
I try to find a goal that’s doable and specific. When I stated my intention to sit still in a room with no stimuli for 30 minutes per day, it seemed to fit the criteria. Then I found out I was wrong. For me at that time, it wasn’t immediately doable.

As it turned out, I had to break that intention into hundreds of smaller pieces over a significant period of time in order to be successful. I was willing to do that, and now I have the ability to comfortably sit still.

That experience taught me that no intention is too small. Sometimes my only intent for a conversation is to stay present, feel my feelings, and end the conversation when I reach the point I feel too much discomfort.

How do I want to treat other people?
You don’t have to ask yourself this, but one of the reasons I choose a healing path is to become my best self. I can’t be that if I am not treating people well.

I’m a pretty nice person generally, but if a conversation triggers an emotional flashback, I can find myself feeling terror or rage so quickly it’s hard to get ahead of the situation. What I need in that moment is to process through the flashback. I do not have the emotional strength to do that while having a civil conversation. I do everyone a favor by ending the conversation at that point and coming back to it later.

How long am I willing to commit to these intentions?
When I decided to go gluten-free, I committed for a year. My agreement with myself was that if I did not see improvement in a year, I’d go back to a regular diet. I saw improvement within weeks and major improvement in months. Long before the year was over, I amended this intention to remain gluten-free forever.

How will I measure success?
When I was preparing to start my first business, my attorney told me most businesses fail because those in charge don’t know where they are. For example, they may know they have money in the bank today, but they may not be aware that they have not sold enough to have money in the bank for the rent next month if they pay their other invoices on time. This piece of common sense for business translates to life in general.

In order for you to remain on course, it is important to have a general, realistic idea of where you are. It’s also important not to become attached to a specific result as a measure of success. If you plan to improve your life by buying a larger house but use the money you saved for a downpayment to pay unexpected medical bills, it isn’t helpful to view yourself as unsuccessful because you’re still in a small house. You adapted to changing life circumstances and made a responsible choice. I view that as a disappointment and a change in timeline, but also a successful adaptation.

If I had been married to the goal of sitting still on the couch without distraction for 30 minutes per day, I would have ruled myself an unmitigated failure at the end of a month. I didn’t even manage to sit down and stay there more than once in that month and not more than three times in the first year!

Instead, I recognized that I was gaining insight each and every time I failed. To me, that meant I was on the right path. I was failing, but I was failing up. That didn’t feel like failure. It felt like success even though I was not close to the particular goal I set. I let that goal morph into an intention to feel whatever feelings bubbled up when I sat still that I believed I needed to do something, anything, to avoid.

For me, there is a natural flow to assessing and reassessing. It’s something I do without much effort like an app constantly running in the background. That’s not true for everyone. If you need scheduled reviews, timing will be a consideration. Setting a scheduled meeting with yourself or with someone else you trust can help you feel accountable to review your progress.

Do I need feedback? If so, how much?
Feedback can be useless, helpful, or detrimental. Choosing the right type from the right sources is important. Sometimes we gravitate toward feedback that reinforces what we already believe. If we are hoping to change, that’s probably not helpful.

Some people will feel like giving feedback that’s not positive is a form of confrontation. Many people avoid confrontation like the plague. These people are not a good source for feedback because they will withhold the information you most need. As you grow, this will create an atmosphere of distrust.

Feedback can be used by others as a tool to retain or regain the status quo. When you change, everyone around you will be forced to adjust to the differences. This can feel threatening and produce resistance. Such resistance can take the form of feedback that is intended to make you stop changing.

The healing process often involves letting some relationships go in favor of others that are more in line with the direction you’re going. It may be that you opt for no feedback for the first few months while you get your sea legs.

Any feedback that causes you to doubt yourself is not productive. It’s okay to question whether your approach is the most efficient, maximizes health, or is consistent with the results you’re hoping for, but anyone whose input undermines your sense of self or trust in your body will be detrimental to the process.

If that is a therapist, feel free to change. If that is a family member, feel free to set different boundaries. If that is a colleague, limit conversations to work topics. If that is your minister, find someone else to confide in. If that is your physician, get a second opinion and/or find one who will work with you instead of against you. This is your process and it is always okay to make choices that best support you whether anyone else agrees with those choices or not. You, whether you like it or not, can be your own best advocate!

How will I celebrate success?
We expect physical healing to tax our bodies. We don’t often anticipate that emotional and spiritual healing will also tax our bodies. I prefer to celebrate success with activities that energize or inspire me, but sometimes I celebrate by taking a nap or mindlessly binge watching.

Am I willing to improve my boundaries?
Most of us will answer yes without a second thought, but the first time we are faced with telling our mother we’ll be missing an implied mandatory family gathering, we may reexamine that answer. Thinking this through in advance while setting intentions will help solidify your determination to improve boundaries that support your intentions.

Will I practice gratitude even when the process is painful?
This could be considered a separate intention, but I incorporate it as part of the primary thought process because committing to a gratitude practice enhances my chances of feeling positive during difficult times. From experience, I know practicing gratitude will automatically shift my focus in a positive direction.

Can I be kind to myself and still make progress?
Healing requires a delicate balance of self-kindness, accountability, patience, gumption, truth-telling, and bravery. Without kindness, you’ll wear yourself out and give up. You can’t white-knuckle yourself through anything forever. None of us are that strong. Factoring in kindness from the beginning will leave you less tempted to chuck accountability in favor of relief.

I am highly motivated and rarely have to push myself even during difficult, painful times. The Universe brought the lesson of self-kindness to me by bombarding me with so much over such an extended period of time that I got worn out from the sheer relentlessness of every day. I literally hit the wall and had to go to bed for a few days.

This kind of exhaustion was new to me. If I meditated, I had to lie down and let the floor hold me. Sitting up was not an option. I could not muster the energy to plan a getaway. I slept 10 – 12 hours per night. I completed every task as it came to me because I knew if I didn’t it would never get done. I was in no position to be strategic. Now I pay attention to a feeling of tiredness long before I reach the point of exhaustion.

If you think of healing as a marathon rather than a sprint, it will be easier to be kind to yourself along the way. Self-kindness includes eating well, sleeping enough, and making time for vigorous activity on a regular basis. It also includes speaking to yourself in a kind manner, pausing to receive and absorb compliments, leaning into hugs, adding beauty to your environment, allowing your feelings to flow, and making time for moments of simple pleasure.

I realize I may have just made setting intentions sound like an arduous task. Once you’ve done it a time or two, you’ll realize it’s not that hard and I believe taking the time to be clear on where you’re going and how you want to get there will give you the best chance of arriving. It certainly works for me!

March 31, 2013

What Can You Expect From a Gluten-Free Diet?

Now that you’re ready to go gluten-free, what can you expect?

Physical Effects

Some people feel a remarkable difference in a few weeks, but it takes a year to a year-and-a-half to heal much of the damage gluten has caused, so don’t expect a miracle cure.

If you suffer from dermatitis herpetiformis, you may continue to have outbreaks for years after eliminating gluten. As time wears on, the outbreaks will itch less and will not last as long. Iodine can trigger these outbreaks so be aware of your iodine intake from food or supplements.

As your body heals, you may feel better for a few weeks and then feel worse again. This can be because you have not eliminated all sources of gluten and need to review lists of foods to avoid. If you have reviewed and don’t think gluten is the culprit, take note of what you’ve eaten. You may discover that there are other foods you cannot tolerate well. Once you’ve identified those, you will feel better if you eliminate them too. A pattern of feeling better then worse can also be a normal part of the healing process. Have patience and stick to the plan. Keep a journal so you can review your improvement over a year’s time. If you are gradually feeling better and better, then don’t worry about momentary setbacks.

By the time you begin a gluten-free diet, your intestinal tract may have suffered so much damage that it needs to digest only monosaccharide carbohydrates in order to heal. If you continue to suffer from diarrhea and/or constipation after several months on a gluten-free diet, a change to the Paleo or Specific Carbohydrate diet will give your body a break and facilitate quicker improvement. You can follow one of these more restrictive plans for a few months, a year, or more. These diets eliminate all starchy foods that are difficult to digest and give your body the best chance of killing off any possible overgrowth of bacteria or yeast that may be complicating the healing of your gut.

When you begin the Paleo or Specific Carbohydrate diet, you may run a fever, have a headache, and feel bad for a week or so. This is normal for those who have excess yeast or bacteria. These organisms want to stay alive and you are starving them out. Essentially there’s a war going on in your gut. Fever tells you that your body is fighting to kill off the invaders. This is good. If the fever persists more than two weeks, visit your physician to make sure there’s nothing else going on.

You may notice that you no longer feel “tight” in your own skin as inflammation begins to disappear. Your achy muscles may stop aching. Your sleep pattern may improve. Your food cravings may lessen. Your stomach pain may lessen. Your bowel function may return to a normal pattern. Your strength may return. Your emotional state may improve. Your hair may stop falling out. It may become easier to gain or lose weight. You may have more energy.

Food Choices

You will still be able to eat delicious, healthy and traditional foods. Sometimes a substitution or two in a recipe is required, but that does not mean you should settle for substandard, tasteless, or unpleasing food. This is true even if you consider yourself a foodie!

Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese













In the beginning, old habits may cause you to feel a need for “replacements” for foods such as cereal, bread, crackers, cookies, and pasta. In order to keep things simple, you may choose to buy prepackaged convenience foods. These are readily available in the supermarket or online. It is good to be aware that gluten-free prepackaged convenience foods are still processed foods and may not be optimum for achieving your best health. As you get more comfortable with the gluten-free lifestyle, you can gradually phase prepackaged foods to a minimum. Your body will adjust and the desire for these items will diminish accordingly.

Prepackaged gluten-free foods are more costly than their gluten-containing counterparts. As you begin to feel better and have more energy, you may feel like baking more for yourself. This will allow you to have more control over both the ingredients and the costs.

Some gluten-free flours are more costly than wheat based flours. Shopping in ethnic grocery stores or online can help minimize these costs.

Gluten-free foods tend to be more dense and often contain more carbohydrates in one serving than wheat based products. If you need to minimize your carbohydrate intake, it is important to be aware of this difference.

Remember that meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, herbs, spices, and milk are gluten-free as are most yogurts and cheeses unless gluten has been added in processing. There are infinite numbers of delicious, satisfying combinations that can be made using these items. In addition, many of you will be able to tolerate other foods made from corn, rice, tapioca, arrowroot, or mesquite.

Social Adjustments

Some changes in routine may be required in order to maintain a diet that is free of gluten. Reading labels on packaged foods is a necessity. In the US, there is no standard for the amount of gluten allowed in a product that is labeled gluten-free. Rather than rely on that designation, it is imperative to read the ingredient list on any packaged items you purchase. You will find that this allows you to consume many products that are not specifically labeled gluten-free. Because formulations change, it is important to read the label each time you purchase a product. Once this becomes a habit, you won’t even notice that you’re doing it routinely.

Eating at fast food restaurants will be more difficult, but there are gluten-free options. Nutrition information can usually be found on the restaurants’ websites and some franchises will have the information available in the store. A shift to small locally owned restaurants can often fill this gap. Local proprietors often allow you to read the ingredients on the packaged food they use, and local chefs are able to adjust recipes to accommodate your order. While it is true that there is always an inherent risk of accidentally ingesting gluten when someone else prepares your food, there is no need to imprison yourself in your home in order to be healthy. Communicate well; use tools like our Server Card to assist you; frequent establishments where you feel comfortable, and when in doubt – leave the food on the plate.

Happy hour out may require an adjustment. If you’re a beer drinker, you may have to switch to wine or hard liquor. Few bars or restaurants stock gluten-free beer. Playing a tasting game until you settle on your new drink of choice can be a fun adventure.

To make things easier, you may want to carry your lunch to school or eat a snack before an office party. This will help keep you from being tempted to grab a piece of cake or a quick finger sandwich when those are the only things offered. Carrying fruit, nuts, vegetables, cheese, boiled eggs, or gluten-free protein bars with you will mean you’re prepared when plans unexpectedly change. Knowing you’re prepared can ease your anxiety and let you focus on making gluten-free choices while enjoying all your regular social activities.

You will learn to strike a balance that allows you to be respectful of well-meaning friends or relatives who try to get you to consume “just one bite” while refusing to harm your body. You will find ways to gracefully negotiate holidays and celebrations in a manner that leaves important traditions intact. Because traversing these negotiations can feel like navigating through a minefield, we offer numerous tips to help you here at Cooking2Thrive.

You may be concerned that maintaining a gluten-free lifestyle will take too much time. It is realistic to expect to spend more time planning meals, reading labels, and shopping for specialized products. This is usually balanced by additional energy and less time spent in the doctor’s office. When you no longer suffer daily physical pain, exhaustion, or distraction from the need to remain close to a bathroom, you’ll be amazed how much more you can do in a day. You’ll reap the benefits of feeling better at work, with your family, and in your social circle.

Once you discover that your child needs to be gluten-free, you will need to communicate with grandparents, extended family, teachers, and other moms in order to both educate them and to devise plans that accommodate your child’s needs without making the child feel like an outcast or other moms feel resentful. Compassion for both your child and for those whose assistance you need is a great starting point.

If your family is like mine, there will be some ribbing about your new eating habits and the implication that your disease is all in your head. Just let this annoyance roll off your back. You and I know that there’s a genetic propensity for gluten-intolerance, so rest assured that some of the current taunters will be eating their words instead gluten soon enough – or they’ll be suffering the consequences of their defiance.

Unless you live alone, it will be necessary to determine whether you will all eliminate gluten from your household, or whether you will continue to stock some gluten-containing items in the cupboard or refrigerator. I don’t feel a need to require others to follow my lifestyle, but this means we must be careful about sharing jams and jellies, washing baking pans, and keeping food prep surfaces separate. If you decide to have a mixed kitchen, it is a good idea to establish rules right now that will ensure the gluten-free items do not become contaminated in the future.

Emotional Adjustments

Facing the necessity of going gluten-free is important because a lengthy denial of your condition can lead to dangerous health consequences. A study of 9133 people over a period of 45 years cited in “Gastroenterology” in 2009 concluded:  “During 45 years of follow-up, undiagnosed CD was associated with a nearly 4-fold increased risk of death.” (1) A separate study cited in the “Journal of the American Medical Association” in 2009 found that those with intestinal inflammation, but not Celiac or latent Celiac, had a 72% increased risk of mortality. In the same study, the increased risk for diagnosed Celiacs was 39%.(2) A third mortality study published in “Lancet, Vol. 358, 2001”, observed the following: “We compared the number of deaths up to 1998 with expected deaths and expressed the comparison as standardised mortality ratio (SMR) and relative survival ratio. Findings: 53 coeliac patients died compared with 25·9 expected deaths (SMR 2·0 [95% CI 1·5–2·7]).”(3)

Change is hard for many of us, especially when we feel as though we may be deprived, ridiculed, or labeled as “different”. Change is especially hard when we have suffered long-term pain. The exhaustion that results from pain isn’t just physical; it’s emotional as well. When you’re in a diminished or weakened state, you may feel as though you must hold onto as many traditions as you can to feel safe. These traditions often include family meals, family recipes, and comfort foods. The idea of changing even the most minute detail may feel threatening. If you feel your resolve to walk the gluten-free path begin to wane, keep in mind that with slight shifts, you’ll still be able to participate in family meal traditions, use your family recipes, and eat your favorite comfort foods. And the ingredient shifts don’t have to mean the food tastes inferior.

When you need support and encouragement, you can find help here at Cooking2Thrive.  We offer Essential Utensil Emotional Support Tools, Video Interviews with Experts, and videos on Gluten-Free Dating as well as Feeding Your Kids.  You can also join a local support group for those who are gluten-intolerant.

As you make good eating choices and your pain begins to diminish, you’ll begin to feel more positive about the changes you’re making. Feeling better makes the necessary everyday gluten-free choices easier and easier to make.

It is natural to have a few pouty moments during which you feel deprived. If you find that these are frequent or that you feel deprived in other ways as well, further examination of this trigger may be needed. Otherwise, embrace the feeling and allow it to dissipate on its own, then make your food choice. In the moment, it may help to write down 5 or 6 things for which you’re grateful. If you recognize you’re grateful you have a disease that doesn’t require surgery, then it’s easier to be happy about leaving a brownie on the plate. If you recognize you’re grateful that you don’t have to endure chemotherapy in order to heal, it is easier to be assertive with someone who continues to offer you a doughnut.

If you find you have a circle of friends that is not supportive of your dedication to your health, there is no need to feel guilty about minimizing time with them. You do not have to cut them out of your life unless you determine that’s the best path, but you may need to decrease the time you spend in a non-supportive environment. You will want to cultivate new friends who recognize that to be at your best you must stick with a gluten-free plan.

Sometimes the time we spend with medical professionals feeds our need for attention. If you do not currently have a supportive partner or family that empathizes with your struggles, this can be especially seductive. Somewhere down deep, you may fight eliminating gluten and allowing yourself to heal because you do not want to reduce your number of doctor visits. The best thing you can do in this case is face the truth, feel any fear that may be feeding self-destructive decisions, and give yourself a break.

All of us deserve to be healthy no matter what we learned in our family of origin. All of us matter. Each of us is an inherently important part of humanity. We all need compassion, concern, and empathy. When we begin to give it to ourselves, we put ourselves in a place to flex our receiving muscles. As we practice receiving, we will find support all around us that we never noticed before. This support helps us feel strong enough to make good decisions, and those good decisions allow us to achieve optimum health. Soon enough, our feeling of needing someone else’s attention to solve our problems will resolve itself with the best possible outcome.

Length of the Journey

Gluten-intolerance lasts a lifetime. It can require a full year of healing to repair the damage caused by a single ingestion of gluten. For maximum healing and optimum health, the commitment to a gluten-free way of living must be a lifetime commitment.

 Value of the Journey

Priceless. If you are gluten-sensitive, gluten-intolerant, or have celiac disease, eliminating gluten is critical for remaining or becoming healthy. Who doesn’t want to feel as good as possible, have as many years with our loved ones as possible, be pain free, energetic, and feel good? If these are your desires and you know that all it will cost you is occasional inconvenience, how can you make any other choice?



1 – RUBIO–TAPIA, ALBERTO, Robert A. Kyle, Edward L. Kaplan, Dwight R. Johnson, and William Page. “Increased Prevalence and in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease.” Gastroenterology 2009: 88-93+. October 4, 2011

2 – Green, Peter H. R. “Mortality in Celiac Disease, Intestinal Inflammation, and Gluten Sensitivity.” JAMA 2009. Http:// Web.

3 – Corrao, G., G. Corazza, V. Bagnardi, G. Brusco, C. Ciacci, M. Cottone, C. Guidetti, P. Usai, P. Cesari, and M. Pelli. “Mortality in Patients with Coeliac Disease and Their Relatives: a Cohort Study.” The Lancet 358.9279 (2001): 356-61. Print.

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