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PAIN ISSUES IN THE 2020s

Happy New Year!!! It’s a brand-new decade (the 20’s), a brand-new year, a brand-new opportunity to commit to change (your lifestyle, your job, your body)… again.

I hope you celebrated with a BANG! or enjoyed a nice quiet celebration with your honey! Either way, I hope you had fun!

So……What are YOU DOING different this year?

Better question…WHAT AM I DOING different this year?

So far, nothing. I made resolutions still waiting to be carried out, kept pushing the start day later in the month and changed the resolutions repeatedly.

For this first post in 2020, I thought about tradition. Every country, race, nationality, family, and even individual celebrate at least one tradition during the Holiday season. One of my favorite traditions is BAKING cookies over the holidays. Lots of cookies and sweets! In past years special cookie packages for the postman, UPS driver, neighbors, friends, and favorite retail workers were delivered with smiles and excitement. That warm, fuzzy feeling fills your heart when sharing your favorite recipes with others!

However, Rick and I haven’t met many people since moving to Savannah and our gifts of sweetness were few this year – one to our postal carrier and one to our family. But, it’s ‘tradition’ and I baked sugary goodies regardless of my shortage of friends, shortage of time or my ever-present chronic pain.

Before we get into sugar vs chronic pain here is a mini-history paragraph about the tradition of baking cookies for the Holidays.

Christmas cookie recipes trace back to Medieval Europe. The introduction and hefty price of special ingredients: dried fruits, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and ginger were added to favorite recipes by all families, regardless of social status. During Christmas celebrations the addition of sugary treats matched the excitement of the Holiday. By the 16th century cookies were baked into the different sizes and shapes of Christmas. The most famous of Christmas cookies, gingerbread, came from Germany. Although it has changed into a cake-like texture, gingerbread dates as far back as the crusades when soldiers brought spices home to Europe.

Now that we have an idea of its origin, the tradition of baking cookies seems to be more important than ever! However, not to burst the holiday bubble, sugary sweets bring their own problems to those of us suffering from chronic pain.

  • SUGAR ESCALATES PAIN AND INFLAMMATION

After baking comes eating and I did my share of eating! I noticed that my RA and chronic back pain increased lasted longer and traveled to other joints including my hands, elbows, knees, and ankles. The pic below shows how I feel inside when those flares occur.

Image by Camila Quintero Franco
  • MOOD CHANGES

Instead of being jolly, happy and almost giddy while baking, I became irritated with the amount of time it took to bake the simplest of recipes. This led to depression. Once again my ‘new normal’ interfered with those activities I loved to do before chronic pain became my middle name.

  • LEFTOVERS CAN WARP YOUR GOOD SENSE

I planned to start the Keto Diet on January 1st but instead pushed it out to the end of January. Why? Because there were still tins of cookies and candy in the house…and freaking sugar is expensive!

  • WAKE UP!

Now the goodies are gone, and I’m left with an indescribable craving for sugar and I’ve finally awakened to the fact that those ‘goodies’ increased my pain along with my weight. So, today, January 29, 2020, I’m beginning my low-carb, a whole lot less sugar, high-protein, high-fat diet!

  • UNNECESSARY TRADITIONS??

Junk food traditions do not equal a happy, family-oriented holiday. Food is an important part of the holidays, but it isn’t the central point of the festivities except for the weekend before Christmas, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – okay it IS a central point of focus. But so is enjoying time and sharing traditions with family and friends. Food definitely has a part and I need to focus on the part food plays.

For next Christmas, my baking will be limited to decorated Sugar Cookies – exactly what Rick urged me to do this past Christmas. Our new tradition of decorating sugar cookies with our grandkids fills our hearts with joy, laughter, and love. Watching their imaginations come through with their designs and color combination were priceless! And they did most of the work themselves! THIS is our new tradition—combining holiday baking with special family time.

Realizing something hurts you more than helps you is a difficult pill to swallow, especially when you think that something is harmless. Experiment and see if you feel a difference in your pain levels when you add more sugar into your diet than normal. And share your findings! We are in this pain journey together!

Thank you for taking the time to read and I’d love to hear your family traditions! Until next time,

Take care of you!

Carolyn