Tuesday, June 19, 2012

yikes! my diet just got more restrictive

Several years ago now, in an attempt to discover what was causing pain so intense I entertained the idea of my image on a voodoo doll, I removed gluten completely from my diet. I was delighted and a bit surprised when the symptoms that had been cutting my work days short, leaving me whining in bed in the mornings, and generally disrupting my life morning to night, went away. I mean really gone. In a matter of days, I was no longer in pain. It felt like a miracle.

As many of you know if you've been through this scenario, the miracle doesn't exactly last. The intense pain didn't come back, thankfully, but other aches and discomforts started slowly manifesting. My feet were swollen or I was having new digestive issues or foods I hadn't thought of as problematic became so. I tried gluten-free grains for awhile, and while they taste good and are fun to play with in the kitchen, they just didn't work for me. Ouch! Over time, I removed more and more foods from my safe-eating list. It was scary; it was frustrating, but it helped for awhile. I no longer EVER consume dairy products, grains, legumes, sugar or sweeteners. I do still whine about a few absolutely wonderful artisan cheeses, but I wouldn't eat them on a bet.

I still love to cook and love to eat. Finding my way to a Paleo approach to food has been a lifesaver. People in this community share recipes, silly stories, amazing food pics, and encouragement. A funny thing goes along with all this support. I doubt that any of us want to say, "Hey! Something's still not working here." When we do say it, it's almost always accompanied by an apology of sorts. It seems like it should work just fine. Period. I follow a really strict program when it comes to food, so it's not that I've taken a 80/20 concept and turned it into 50/50. If I eat something "non-Paleo," it's because I didn't know it was there. Like relaxing with friends and forgetting for a heartbeat that I'm not at home where nothing crosses the threshold unless it's safe. Or so I thought.

some of this can stay
I don't cheat. Really, not ever do I eat or drink something knowing it to be something I do not tolerate. I do, apparently, miss some of the rules of the game as they apply to me. For instance, the whole autoimmune issue just kind of aluded me. I just assumed it didn't apply to me. Irresponsible as this may sound, I had not paid much attention to what that term means. Clearly, I should have, since several apply directly to me. I knew I had those issues. I just didn't know they fell under that category. I know, irresponsible and rather stupid on my part. As I spent hours last night pouring over the whole autoimmune issue and foods that are likely problematic, I just wanted to cry. Seriously. I already prepare 98% of all the food I eat, never touch anything packaged or artificial, buy local and organic whenever possible, eat only vegetables, grass-fed meat and wild-caught, sustainable fish, a few local fruits, and high quality fats.

Oh! I forgot for a moment the point of my whining here. I eat a lot of eggs and have spent unbelievably huge amounts of time over many, many months finding safe (ha!) soy-free and pastured eggs. Nuts, also, have been too big a part of my diet because I can grab a handful and eat them as I do any number of other things. And then there's our garden. We haven't had much of a garden in several years, so this has been a treat. We have at least 9 different heirloom tomatoes, 3 types of eggplant, 8 different pepper varieties, and tomatillos. They are beautiful, starting to be harvestable size, and completely off-limits to me if I want to tackle this health thing before it lays me out. Wah!
So yes, working with the autoimmune issues means just saying "No!" to eggs, nuts, tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, and both sweet and hot peppers. Crap! I'm working hard right now to do what I always advise others to do when faced with food limitations. I'm trying to focus on what I can still comfortably and safely eat. I know I still have lots and lots of great tasting options that lend themselves to creativity in the kitchen. I'm going to start working on coconut instead of almond meal. (Funny how the ingredient that replaced grains becomes a no-no.) Good meat and seafood are still appealing options. A couple more days of whining and I may be there.

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