Susan's Blog

Saturday, September 8, 2007

From Autism to Zealous Dieting

I think it was the Greeks who said, “Moderation in all things.” I have never been a moderation kind of gal; even in high school my biggest fantasy was to be making out with my best friend’s older brother, while listening to Yes’ And You and I and eating deep dish pizza and chocolate. all at the same time. (Never happened; and aren’t we glad now, Larry?) That is a lot of sensory indulgence.

So with moderation, suddenly I am seeing the light. It has a subtle power. “Fiat lux,” as the Greeks’ Roman successors would have said. I have seen the light, and the light is this: a little self-control goes a long way. It feels like for so long, this whole blasted year, I have been struggling with wanting things and needing things to go exactly one way. I gave myself overly simplistic rules: eat as few carbs a day as possible, but fat is okay to eat. Or: stay away from that person, he/she is bad for you. Or: do another special needs book because the first was so successful. Or: run little behavioral programs to teach Nat how to do things, and take data to mark the progress.

All of these instructions are extremes, in one way or another. They don’t allow for the reality, the complexity that life demands. All the behavioral attempts to control, stem, sublimate, or repress Nat’s difficult interactions could do nothing but frustrate him further. Nothing really worked until I turned around and embraced the “problem,” only to find that it was all about his need to engage with me. His way of engaging is not typical, so it takes some patience and getting used to. (So what must my way look like to him??) But now that I know, he just wants to talk and talk about certain people’s routines and meals, I can do that. Or I can try to moderate it a little, by telling him I’m only going to talk about it a few more times and then I’ll be all done with that conversation.

I have been trying too hard to be like a 12-Stepper in terms of diet, and some relationships, too. But the fact is, denying myself certain foods only turns them into forbidden fruit for me. It elevates them to a level of desirability that is way out of kilter with what they really are. If I feel that chocolate is bad, because it will be a slippery slope and I can’t just eat a little, then that is how I will act when presented with chocolate. The other day, interestingly enough, Nat took the bag of milk chocolate chips away from me; he felt that something was out of whack about my eating a bag of chocolate. Mommy just doesn’t do that. So I was able to stop, thanks to Nat. Yesterday I was not as lucky. So I ate just salad for dinner and danced for a half hour to try to help my body burn some of that away. And today I am aiming for a sweet treat in the late afternoon, but nothing after dinner. I already ran/walked 4 miles to prepare. It’s only reasonable. As long as one doesn’t become an Exercise Bulemic.

The hard-and-fast Atkins style of eating any fat (other than Trans, the All Evil One, the one my town banned from restaurants, and yes, I was one of the elected officials who voted for that!), as long as you eat less than 20 carbs, ended by pushing my cholesterol up dangerously high. Way up, firm and high, as Bob Seger would say. My HDL (is that the good one?) was pretty good, but still, the other numbers were deplorable. You can’t just consume Sat Fat like it is gum. Especially with my tight genes. So for the last two weeks, I have been eating quite a bit more chocolate, but almost no other fat, while still avoiding carbs like flour and most sugar. And I’ve lost (a small but satisfying amount of) weight!

The example of my hair springs to mind, too. Instead of always fighting it and straightening it, now I often just let it dry in its weird curly-wavy configuration and I say, “The hell with it! This is how I look!” Always is not always a good thing.

The extreme rule of continuing my non-fiction trajectory also proved problematic. I have found that I am just now coming out of a difficult time in my family life, and I know I will have a lot to write about in the sequel to MPWA, but for now, I am just processing it. And I have gone back to fiction, my first love. But this time, I am writing what I know: an autism mom with three boys, facing middle age and challenging relationships. (But remember, readers, She is Not ME!!!)

So now I am trying not to push away from anything that is troubling, but instead to confront it and see if there is a way to live with it, work with it. From Autism to Zealous Dieting, I am going to try moderation. In moderation.


Yes it’s a complicated stage of life, well, for me at least. Moderation sounds like a good way to go.
Best wishes

— added by mcewen on Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Brava! Besides, I find that all those extremes can get utterly exhausting — for both myself and those around me.

— added by Niksmom on Saturday, September 8, 2007 at 1:36 pm

First, I can relate to the writing thing…I am writing my first book right now…and I see myself writing fiction thereafter (well, kinda).

Second, the struggle.. oh that struggle! I can relate!! And the hair and the… it’s all about acceptance, really. Instead of trying to be like something/somebody else, we learn, mostly as we age, to be ourselves. And it’s all exquisitely beautiful.If only we can believe it.

Keep writing.

— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Sunday, September 9, 2007 at 8:17 am

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