Have you ever given up something voluntarily? For three weeks I dedicated myself to eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar, wheat, eggs and dairy, all common dietary allergens. It seemed a big  undertaking, but I decided to give it a try. What happened? I felt better. I mean really better. My body felt like it didn't have to try quite so hard. Like I had given it a respite from the day to day toils and troubles that went on as the blood cascaded through my veins and the digestive juices ground up what I've given them. It rested and recuperated, and it was given time to repair and restore. My colleague told me that in Indian culture, it's quite common to fast, whether it be full abstinence from food and water, or fasting from something in particular. Fasting allows the body to recharge what it might have lost through the taxing process of living.

But it was hard. Really hard. Despite how good I felt, I'm so glad that there was a time limit. After three weeks, I had a glass of wine or a little dessert, not every day, but from time to time. I haven't yet reintroduced coffee, but I had some green tea. Eliminating so many foods isn't something I want to do every day. But isn't this how most "diets" work? Don't these plans dictate what we put in our mouths from this day forward? Then who the heck wants to diet? And there the conundrum lies.

What this has taught me is the power listening to my body. Without a sense of what I'm eating, I might introduce one small vice, maybe dessert. Then maybe an extra drink when I'm out with friends. Little pebbles become bigger rocks - a small bite of dessert becomes the whole piece of cake. Pizza as a treat becomes more regular - and my stomach pays for it. By noticing just how good I feel when I eat what my body needs, I can make more informed choices - or not. I can choose to usually eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full, and give myself the richness that nutrient-dense food can supply, but I can also choose the piece of chocolate mousse pie to share with friends. And I did.

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