Day 26: spontaneity vs routine and the effect on AIP compliance

I love surprises. I love change. I love spontaneity. I guess I’ve always felt a bit of a free spirit… and a bit of a romantic. I’m easily whisked off my feet and I love the excitement of the uncertainty of not knowing what’s to come. Mostly. 

I’ve never fully understood people who shy away from change and uncertainty. Perhaps I have even looked down on them as being boring. Why would they prefer the mundanity of routine? How could they not yearn for change and excitement? What is life all about if not about trying new things and experiencing the variety the world has to offer?

I think this mentality especially suits me in my work life – working with technology startups requires me to be OK with chaos and the programmes I run are high energy with little structure where all kinds of things can go wrong and they’re different every time. It’s the way it has to be with me. I’ve found that I get bored at work very quickly. I tend to be the person who wants to spearhead new programmes and workshops, put them together and create new things. But continuously running those programmes once they’re set up? Meh. Yesterday’s news. I’m already onto the next thing.

There are benefits and drawbacks from this. I get itchy feet pretty quickly. I’m lucky I have a manager who recognises this and constantly allows me to do things that keep me interested. I’m not sure how I’d deal with a regular 9-5. But despite my natural need to be in the midst of energy and excitement, I am finding myself pulling back from interesting and unusual opportunities that I might have snapped up before I started this journey of self-healing.

I was recently offered the opportunity to travel to Kyrgyzstan to deliver a workshop for a couple of days. When on earth am I ever going to get to go to Kyrgyzstan again? Imagine the crazy stories! But I turned it down. It’s just a week before Boyfriend and I are due to fly to Chicago, the country is basically below freezing 65% of the time, the flights and airlines are less than dodgy, and I think my fear of being stranded in Kyrgyzstan for Christmas is founded – although that would be an excellent name for a sitcom.

But it’s not just the fear of missing Christmas. My instant thought was that I need to look after myself and keep my stress levels down. It’s difficult to look after yourself when you’re at a conference in your own country. The food is barely even gluten-free yet alone AIP-friendly. But in another country – one where their culture revolves around getting their guests mortal drunk – it’s going to be nearly impossible. Coupled with long-haul flights either side followed by a long-haul flight to the US the following week and the dehydration and bad food that often comes along with aeroplanes, it was just too stressful to even think about, let alone put myself through.

plane food including bread, dairy, potatoes, peas and cake

Yep – pretty much not allowed any of that…

But it’s not just big things like this that I’m finding difficult to deal with. Any change in routine is throwing me off my AIP game. Especially when it comes to avoiding sugar (as we’ve seen previously). I’ve been taking advice from Sarah Ballantyne in the Paleo Approach around trying to eat three big meals a day and avoiding snacking so that hormones are allowed to be produced throughout the day at the times they are supposed to be. For example, ghrelin (the hormone that makes you feel hungry), is actually very important in reducing inflammation. Constantly grazing and snacking stops this hormone from being produced and can throw off your hormonal rhythms. And when it comes to hormonal balance, every little helps when you’re autoimmune.

So, back to the point – three meals a day, no snacks. It shouldn’t be too hard. I have just enough time in the morning to make myself a fairly big breakfast, I can pack a big meaty salad for my lunch and we tend to eat dinner between 7pm and 8pm on an evening, which is always a pretty decent amount of food. But today, I had a meeting right at the time I would usually eat lunch, I’d forgotten my lunchbox, and I didn’t really have enough time to properly savour the lunch I bought from the salad bar. I do know there was nowhere near enough meat in it though. In the evening, I ran a workshop straight from work, which meant there were lots of AIP-unfriendly snacks all around for the entrepreneurs (cake bars, fizzy pop, popcorn, etc.) and also meant I wouldn’t be eating dinner until I got home at around 9.30pm. Way later.

It also meant that the time I was hungriest and ready for dinner, I was surrounded by a load of sugary sweets. To help me deal with it, I bought a bunch of bananas and a bag of dates. It did help me avoid the temptation of the AIP-unfriendly foods but it does mean the level of glucose I consumed today through all the fruit was higher than ideal. And I knew this would be my routine at work today, so it’s not even a true spontaneous situation. But still, it had such a huge effect on what I ate and how I felt – which was a little bit more stressed.

I truly loved running the workshop this evening as it was the first time I had put together something quite like this. I found the mental challenge really satisfying. And I guess that when you change your routine, it throws everyone off no matter what their diet is. I suppose when you’re AIP, you just notice it more because everything is magnified by the lack of convenience in your diet.

I’m still hoping my life doesn’t – and I don’t – become completely boring and stuck in a rigid routine in this healing process. I’ve already taken on other lifestyle elements of Autoimmune Protocol such as going to bed earlier to get more sleep, practising mindfulness to try and keep my stress levels down and saying ‘no’ and asking for help more. All of those things are serving to make me feel much more healthy, but further and further away from being a teenager and closer to feeling middle-aged. I just hope I can find a way to reconcile my AIP lifestyle requirements with the spontaneous elements of my lifestyle I crave… and which partly make me me.

skydiving out of an aeroplane

Me not being boring…

How do you keep spontaneity and excitement in your life in the midst of such structure, rigidity, and rules?

Food diary
Breakfast:Smoke salmon fillet with dill, with salad and honeydew melon
Lunch: Tuna salad with mushrooms and olive oil.
Dinner: Honey-garlic chicken wings with sweet potato mash
Snacks: Three bananas, and a small bag of dates

Pain level (out of 10)
Started out at 1 or 2, which went away pretty quickly (before 9am). Pain came back again after eating all that fruit at around about 8pm. It’s been hovering at about 1 to 2 all evening since then. Damn fruit.

Thanks to Jirka Matousek for the plane food image


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