Food Freak

I’m warning you now. This post will not contain anything at all about books, boys, RWA, or even cats. It’s going to focus possibly obsessively on food and inflammation. But the take home message for those of you who have been following my pain struggle over the years? The byword of the moment is “cautiously optimistic,” but I may very, very well have found myself a way out. It’s both very easy and hideously impossible.

Consume purified fish oil daily. Do not eat refined sugar/flours. Avoid dairy. Avoid the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, and alas, eggplant). Avoid peanut, soy oils. Avoid processed everything as much as possible.  And then, entirely unrelated but my body’s stubborn new leaf since August: no meat. None. NONE. Not unless I want to feel like I have lead weights in my gut. The dairy is part of the same thing too, somehow, and I just don’t go there at all, because it’s always a horrible mistake.

Yes. This is really crazy hard. But it really crazy works.

I’m only a few days into it and helped along by sterroids, though I’ve stopped those now. The result is huge. I mean, unbelievably huge. Within two days of the fish oil (Yeah, I drink it. Yeah, it’s skeevy. Yeah, it really fucking works!) and being absolutely rigorous about sugar and flour, 80% of my chronic pain is gone, and a lot that remains is reminiscent of a few years ago before things got very horrible. I’m so clear in my head I sometimes just laugh for no reason. I’m bouncy. I bounce all over rooms, partly because I can, because when I land on my feet it doesn’t hurt. I’m awake. I don’t feel like I’m flagging out all the time. I don’t have nervousness and paranoia from feeling too foggy and having to cope with the world. I drink less coffee because it makes me feel too wound up and I’d rather have tea. I’m chugging water like they buried gold in the bottom of every bottle.

I go through moments where I’m so happy I cry and then moments where I’m uncertain and terrified and then angry about all the things I can’t eat again, maybe ever. I worry this is just a right now fix and it will go away. I worry how I will ever eat out with anyone ever again. I worry how every time I’m in a social setting I”m going to have to be the one who has The Food Problem, how either I’ll have to not eat while everyone else does, or they’ll resent me for having us have to eat at a place they don’t want to go. I’m petrified about all the travel I’m doing and how in the world  I will ever eat at conferences.

Because all of a sudden the world is full of food I cannot eat, and the things I can are stuff I’ll have to make at home or be lucky to find. Even a bowl of processed cereal with soymilk is poison. (Sugar in the cereal. Refined flour. Sugar in the soymilk. Soy oil/fat in the milk.) This morning I wanted Life cereal with soymilk so bad, and I couldn’t have it. Well, I could, but all I could think about was how good I felt, and what if that changed if I ate it? How much is too much? Right now I’m kind of in this detoxing state, so I figure I should be an angel about it.

But sugar is in everything. Starbucks. Everything at Starbucks. Bakeries. Even the great vegan cupcakes at Wheatsfield have sugar and flour, refined to pleasant textures that apparently make my body swell up and go crazy.

There’s also looming stuff like, “How the hell did this happen?” I don’t even know if I’ll ever know the answer even if this does turn out to be the fix. I have a feeling that later I’ll be able to indulge a little in the things that are poisons right now, but every couple hours it hits me that I’m probably eating like this for the rest of my life. It just blows my mind.

It doesn’t make me angry anymore as much as panicked and sad. I confess, I feel very left out. I feel like everyone else gets to go to a party of food and I can’t come. I feel like just as with shoes (never in my size) and clothes (ditto) I now am Other in food as well, someone who will watch other people blithely enjoy whatever they want while I quietly just don’t. It’s not true, because I’m already finding great food, and I don’t miss dairy at all, not at all. And raw chocolate? COME TO MAMA. But yeah, there’s a sadness, because it’s this huge loss. And it’s going to make my life hard and the life hard of anyone trying to eat with me.

Except of course I’m not the only one. You start to talk about this too much, and there are a zillion of us, all with different allergies and issues keeping us from different tables.

This morning it was bugging Dan, both his food issues and mine. His are more subtle, more about weight and heart health, and there isn’t the pain thing as a motivator, so it all becomes emotional. I have to say, pain is a big motivator. Yeah, I’m sad about no more french vanilla granola and soy yogurt. But I’m more excited about being able to empty the dishwasher. About not spending the weekend in a near-coma from pain, so drugged I can’t even take my kid on the outing I’d promised her. I think about that Life cereal and soymilk but then think about how I could probably clean the house this weekend and not hurt for three days after. It’s less about wanting to clean the house and being able to. The other night I cooked and did the dishes to boot largely because I could. Because cooking didn’t exhaust me. Because I felt good.

I cannot tell you how amazing it is to feel good.

So I guess I’m hoping this is just the start of a new wild journey that takes me further and further from chronic pain and into health I haven’t even let my self dream of having again. I”m hoping you start seeing me blog about how much I’ve enjoyed my food today and how good it made me feel.

And I hope if you have chronic pain, if you have a food issue — I hope you find your answers too. And if you’re now a food freak like me, let’s go to lunch. We’ll annoy the waitresses together.

13 Comments on “Food Freak

  1. (((heidi))) you are inspiring me on my journey to give up processed foods. I don’t have your food issues, but your tips and struggles are inspiring me to try to eat only real food as often as possible. I’ve lost 17 lbs since October 1 by doing this and running a couple times a week.

    xxx
    Bubz

  2. I can definitely relate, though for me it’s gluten rather than all dairy/meat/sugar. And if I eat something with gluten, I pay for it.

    There are places to eat, though it’s tough. Most coffee shops are right out; they often don’t have anything GF. I can imagine how much harder it is to find something free of sugar and dairy.

    I am glad you’re feeling better though 🙂 That bouncy, energetic feeling is awesome.

    • I know a LOT of gluten intolerant/celiac people. And actually, I think that’s helped prepared me for this, watching them master it first.

      • I didn’t really know any when I had to change my eating habits. It’s been a steep (but manageable) learning curve. I do mourn not being able to have sushi (unless I make it myself) because there’s too much cross-contamination with soy sauce. And I really miss mac & cheese. Oh, and croissants. But aside from that, I’ve learned about tasty new flours (sorghum, anyone?) and became more dedicated about taking time to cook.

        • Have you tried rice pasta? I used to make awesome mac n cheese with rice pasta. Tinkyada is my favorite brand. Texture is really important to me, and Tinkyada feels a lot like wheat pasta. It is really starchy, though, so I always cook it in lots of water and give it a quick rinse before adding sauce or mixing it into a casserole.

          • I have tried Tinkyada, but I wasn’t very fond of it. However, I did come across a quinoa and corn flour pasta in the bulk section of my natural foods store (and even shaped in ‘elbows’) that is a reasonable facsimile. 🙂

  3. I would be happy to eat with at any kind of table or restaurant that will accommodate your diet. I certainly have my own verbotten foods (and I haven’t been brave enough to give up the dairy after all the gluten and other food groups that I have), but eating with you would be an honor.

    If you come to Los Angeles, you might try Cafe Gratitude: http://www.cafegratitudela.com/

    Holly

  4. I really think that, upon adoption of a radical new eating lifestyle change (because calling it a diet doesn’t really cover it), we go through the stages of grief. It’s hard. But it gets easier!

    Hmm. Sounds like when you’re in Minneapolis, we may need to eat at Ecopolitan, hmm?

    • Oh GOD, that looks yum. Yeah!

      I thought of you and of my gluten-intolerant friend when I started this. I thought, if they can do it… But you’re right. It is mourning.

  5. Heidi, I really encourage you *not* to add back the forbidden foods if you find that this is working for you long term. I went gluten-free for a while, and saw some real improvement. And then I got complacent. Gluten slowly worked its way back into my diet, and my health got worse. Eventually eating gf was too expensive and too much work for not enough results, and I dropped it. Would it have worked for me long term if I’d stuck with it? Who knows. I may even try it again someday. But I know for me there’s no doing it half way. Gluten has to be out of my diet completely or there’s no point.

  6. Only in marking it 0/10, that would make water this even for
    “Worst Song” in a crowded field, yes?Dispiriting if it feels equal I’m putt you on the
    spot, just nerve-wracking to hear you elucidate your scaling title is entirely.LikeLike

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