“I’ll have the summer berry salad without the candied pecans and dressing on the side please.”
Yes, I am one of those.
The candied pecans have gluten which I have eliminated from my diet. The cheese is goat, so I can eat that, as opposed to cow’s milk, which I cannot. I have also eliminated meat.
“I think your problem is that you don’t eat meat,” my friend Petra says. “You need the protein.”
Not eating meat is a choice that I made years ago, because I was finding it hard to digest. “My naturopath says meat and dairy create inflammation in the body. I quit because of my fibromyalgia.”
“But you still get sick after eating! You should see a proper doctor.”
“I’ve been going to doctors about my health problems for years. All they do is prescribe medicine that my body rejects. Doctors don’t appreciate the relationship between food and health. It’s not part of their education.”
“Well, something is wrong.”
I don’t disagree with her there, and I know others get frustrated by my choices, but I also know my own body and it is even more frustrating when I get sick after eating.
“You’re not celiac, are you?”
“No, I am not. After my last colonoscopy, the doctor said I have an inflamed bowel, or IBS. I took myself off gluten after reading about it. It has made a huge difference, and when I do eat something with even a little bit in it, I know it.”
“Well, I think you should be talking to someone who knows.”
Petra and I can never agree on my diet. I am also allergic to shellfish, coffee, melon and alcohol. It makes dining out a challenge.
Today’s reflection, in The Joy of Tao Every Day, by Derek Lin, is about the dangers of elimination and black and white thinking. Lin is referring more to ideals, and psycho-babble, but it got me thinking about my relationship to food, and wondering if this could be part of the riddle of my ongoing battle with weight.
When I was a kid, my stay-at-home mom spent her days in the kitchen, cooking and baking. Everyday I would return home from school to find fresh baked cookies, muffins, and usually a pie or cake. There was no limit to the sweets we consumed in that house. Ice cream was another favourite in our home. I loved ice cream so much, I remember thinking I would die if I couldn’t eat it.
At the same time, I suffered from severe allergies as a child. A trail of balled up kleenexes trailed me everywhere, and a constant runny nose and puffy eyes earned me the nickname, Snickers. Summer was the worst, and back to school always an embarrassment. I asked my allergist once if he thought there was a connection between what I ate and my affliction, but he said not likely.
Then as a young mother, I stumbled upon alternative medicine and attended a conference at which my seat mate was an allergist. A maverick, he called himself. He believed that food had everything to do with allergies, and suggested I try an elimination diet. I went one step further and found someone who could do alternative allergy testing. Bingo! I eliminated the foods that he pinpointed and immediately improved, which was wonderful, but I had to give up my beloved ice cream.
Elimination of foods has not been easy, nor has it been fun. Food is at the center of most cultural and social experiences, so participating for me is not as simple. It is yet another way in which I feel left out, or outcast.
I have been questioning, in my most recent posts, the role that food plays in my life, and why it is so difficult to not overindulge.
I suspect, for me, it has to do with all the limitations I feel. Eating was the one area as a child that I didn’t experience constraint. Eating was reward, comfort, indulgence, and satisfaction. Do I overeat now to try to recreate those feelings? Is it the little girl in me that needs that reassurance? And if so, is there another way I can give it to her, because the adult me feels awful after indulging in junk.
Lin writes: “absolutes are impossibilities, while moderation is the practical reality.”
Moderation. I like that word. I also like the concept. Forced to eliminate so much from my diet already, maybe what’s needed is an agreement to practice moderation instead of what feels like further deprivation.