Challenge, Learning, and Changing What You Eat

Healthy eating, food allergy, coeliac, dietThis post is perhaps of a slightly more personal nature than many.  2013 has been a year of dietary change in our home.  After a couple of health scares (thankfully they were only scares and I am absolutely fine), and gaining a few pounds on a fantastic extended trip to Canada, my husband and I decided that we needed to clean up our act and choose to eat a little better.  Not that our diet was awful, but we had got used to eating a little too much, and a little too many of the wrong things.  I’ve never really made big changes to my diet before, so it was quite a daunting prospect.

It has, however, been a challenge that we have risen to.  We adopted the 5:2 intermittent fasting method, which we’ve found surprisingly easier than we had thought it would be, and we’ve lost those extra pounds and feel rather good on it.  It’s a total change to our way of eating, and one which we plan to continue indefinitely (at least in some form).

Then, a few weeks ago, after many months (and if I’m honest, years) of being slightly concerned about our son’s frequency of tummy aches, we had a bit of an ‘Aha!’ moment and realised that he might have a wheat intolerance.  We drastically cut wheat in our diet down to see what happened, and hey presto – the tummy aches have gone.  And just in case we needed any confirmation that it was wheat causing the problem, on the two occasions since then that he has had a lot of wheat based food in one day, the tummy aches returned.

This is an interesting challenge for us.  We’ve realised how heavily we rely on wheat.  And when I say ‘we’, I mean my husband and son and I, but I also mean our society in general.  How the heck do we fill the child up as he is growing and constantly hungry if we can’t send him in the direction of a loaf of bread?  He is physically really active, doing karate several times a week, and running and soccer, as well as just being a generally active 10 year old.  What will we feed him when he’s a teenager?

So this is our own personal challenge.  We have all stopped eating as much wheat.  We don’t feel it’s fair for our son to have to watch us eat bread if he isn’t allowed it.  And a few years ago I might have felt this was all too much of a challenge, and let it overwhelm me.  But right now it feels fine.  I’m getting creative with finding solutions to filling him up successfully.   I so far feel pretty good about rising to this challenge, and I feel it’s in some way down to having managed intermittent fasting successfully.

When you’ve managed one challenge, the next one doesn’t seem so daunting.

But I’ve also become aware that for many, making a change in the way you eat isn’t all that easy.  Food is such a huge part of your life, and denying yourself things you like to eat can leave you feeling quite depressed.  A random chat with a lady in the ‘Free From’ section of the supermarket highlighted this to me.  She saw me looking at the gluten free items, and engaged me in conversation.  Turns out she had recently discovered she had a gluten intolerance, possibly a dairy intolerance, and was a borderline diabetic.  She had suddenly found herself having to check the labels on absolutely everything, and having to think completely differently about food.  She was feeling utterly defeated.

My take on dealing with it is this: to get over that feeling of defeat, you have to start looking at all the positives just as soon as possible.  You have to let go of the frustration and upset of no longer being allowed to eat the things you are no longer allowed, and instead change your thoughts to what is good about this change, and what you CAN eat.  Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  Simple doesn’t always mean easy, though.

Of course, I’m sure that all of us hope that we don’t have to undergo the turmoil of having to make major changes to our diets.  But in a developed world where food allergies and intolerances seem to be everywhere, and obesity and diabetes are major problems, it is perhaps naive to think that it’ll never happen to you.

I am sure that everyone who does have to make a major change gets to the positive eventually.  But it’s rather good to think that there might be ways of making it easier.  Or maybe even making those changes into an active choice rather than an enforced one.

So how can you make it easier on yourself if you do find yourself in the position of some kind of change?

My advice, in fact, (maybe surprisingly) has nothing to do with food itself.

In fact, my angle is all about challenge, and about learning.  Challenge yourself NOW.  Learn new things NOW.  Developing a positive attitude towards challenge and learning NOW, makes facing challenges and learning new things in the future much easier.

If you put yourself in a position where you know you are able to face a challenge head on, because you choose to challenge and test yourself on a regular basis, or because you have acknowledged and congratulated yourself for facing challenges in the past, then you’ll be better equipped to face unexpected challenges in the future.

If you regard your life as a constant opportunity to learn, then you’ll be more open to the learning curve you go through when you have to make a change to some aspect of your life.  You will be less likely to resist the change, and you’ll move through the transitionary period more quickly.

Ask yourself:

What ways do you challenge yourself?  What challenges have you faced in the past?

Do you learn constantly, or do you feel you know what you need to know in life already?  How do you deal with it when you are given a new thing to try?  How can you open your mind to new things?  Is there something you’d like to learn to do?  When can you try it out?


I’d love to hear your experiences of making changes with food.  Leave your thoughts below, or email them to us at  I’d especially love to hear (on a personal level) from anyone who has any great ideas for wheat free breakfasts and snacks that we can try at home!!


©Liz Wootton, 2013.  All Rights Reserved.


2 thoughts on “Challenge, Learning, and Changing What You Eat

  1. emilythehunter says:

    I’d be very interested in hearing more about the 5:2 way of eating! I’ve heard good things and I’m interested at some point in the future (right now focusing being healthy and stable).

    Over the last week I’ve gone wheat free as a bit of a test (a couple of slip ups though). For breakfast I have berries, yoghurt and a handful of almonds and brazil nuts. On the weekend when I want a cooked breakfast I make a vegetable omelette, in fact I have just polished one off made with red onions, mushroom, fresh parsley, spinach and a small sprinkling of parmesan (I also add turmeric on to mine for it’s fab anti inflammatory properties). Good luck 🙂

    • Liz at Human Nature says:

      Hey Emily! The thing I hear consistently about 5:2 – I know quite a lot of people who do it, and I find this myself, is that it is actually sustainable as a way of eating in the long term. And people (myself included) are surprised at how achievable it is too. So I’d definitely keep it in mind.

      And the more I hear about wheat avoidance, the more I feel this can’t be a bad thing! In some ways I am quite enjoying the challenge, and it’s making me want to try lots of different healthy things.

      Thanks so much for your comment!

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