I had a medical procedure done this week, one of those “preventive maintenance” tests that should be done every so often – in this case, every ten years – once we reach a certain age. Preparing for it required following a low-fiber diet for five days. I could eat plenty of white bread, rice, and potatoes, but no whole wheat products or high-fiber cereals. Canned fruits and cooked vegetables were okay, but fresh fruits and raw vegetables were not.

This was very unsettling to me. I am not a fanatic when it comes to healthy eating, but I do pay attention to the recommendations and guidelines – and I follow most of them, most of the time. One reason is that heart damage I sustained years ago as a result of chemotherapy forced me to be extremely careful about my diet. Another is simply that I feel better and look better when I’m eating healthier food rather than junk.

Being told to follow a low-fiber diet for five days should have felt good, as I was being given a special dispensation from the “rules” I follow the rest of the time. But it didn’t. Instead, it made me feel nervous and uncomfortable, as if I were engaging in risky behavior that I knew I shouldn’t be doing and that would probably have dire consequences later on. That’s a big exaggeration, I know, but you get the idea.

As I was processing these thoughts and feelings, something new and comforting occurred to me. It was the fact that what I used to think of as restrictions and requirements in my diet were now just part of my everyday life. And it was bothering me not to have them in place, even temporarily and for a very good reason. I was delighted to discover that I not only missed, but actually craved, things like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, apples, and broccoli.

I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I live on cauliflower and quinoa, and never indulge in a sausage pizza or Big Mac. But what I’m realizing now is that I usually obsess and beat myself up over the times when I eat “the wrong things,” but rarely congratulate myself, or even notice, when I eat the right ones, even though that’s what I do most of the time.

I think many of us are like that, not just with regard to food, but with pretty much everything we do. We focus on our failures and not our successes. The places where we slip up, and not the ones where we shine.

Take a few minutes right now to think about all the good and healthy things you do – with the foods you eat or avoid, and also with the work you do, the habits and routines you practice, and even the way you interact with others. Enjoy the discovery of all the things that you’re good at, that you enjoy, and that make you look and feel terrific. Celebrate them and make sure you never give them up.

Not even for five days, once every ten years.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on March 26, 2015.
©Betty Liedtke, 2015

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