I don’t want to write about food really. Unlike many folks, I am required to think about food often. My life and health depend on it. (Hmmm…could this secretly be true for us all?)
My puzzling relationship with food started in junior high school. Food seemed to be an enemy. The doctors informed me I was simply a Type A person who had a similarly Type A gastrointestinal system. This fabricated diagnosis was (and still is) known as IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome. After several decades of suffering a bevy of physical ailments, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac disease. Research from recent years has revealed the pathophysiology of Celiac and how its damage is not restricted to the GI system. It is serious business and I would not wish it on anyone. However, my day of diagnosis was a joyful one. It was a victory. I told my family – “See! I told you it wasn’t all in my head!” I was vindicated, validated.
Next month marks my 9th year eating gluten and dairy free. In the past several years, I have continued to eliminate more food, following a no-FODMAP diet and eliminating most gluten-free grains and many carbohydrates/sugars as well. I am a surgeon – removing specific foods from my life with careful, studied precision. It is not easy. Moreover, I have watched countless others struggle with a modified diet to never integrate fully it into their life. Observation and nearly a decade of restricted eating has taught me a few things
1. You can drastically change your diet.
2. You are the biggest obstacle to this – not the food, the taste, travel, your family, work or friends.
I admit it – unless you’ve been placed on a feeding tube and enteral diet, I likely won’t feel sorry for you because of a restricted diet. If you want to successfully modify your diet and stick with it long-term, you must evaluate your attitude first. Those who choose to feel sorry for themselves inevitably remain paralyzed or backslide into old habits. My journey has included continual rounds of stripping food from my “approved” list. To keep moving forward I changed my attitude. There is always a choice in how we respond to a situation. For example, if I had to eliminate an old food, I taught myself to like a new one. Into my late 20s I despised mushrooms, tomatoes and beans; however, I grew to love all three after gradually introducing them into my diet! Mind over matter! (Next up fish – ugh.) This brings me to another finding:
3. You can improve your relationship to food by making it a minor focus, and not a primary.
We are obsessed with food. We think about it all the time. It is an outlet, and enjoyment and I think that is healthy. However, should it be a primary focus of our lives? I do spend more time than preparing and planning meals. But in spite of the time required, I can choose to keep food in perspective.
4. Food does not define me.
5. My life is no less fulfilling because I cannot eat certain foods.
Get perspective people. Stop the whining and start the process of loving what is available to you. (Side note – you do get some time to grieve, that’s okay. But don’t remain in that place for long.) Now it’s time to move on to the fun stuff – the actual food itself.
So, drumroll – I’d like to introduce my newest series – Start with Bacon.
I search recipe books and blogs to find meals and snacks that fit my diet. I generally support Paleo, but many Paleo recipes have too much sugar for me, or FODMAPs. I see a snack recipe laden with dates or honey and think “Really? Are we missing the point?” A recent addition to my library has been Grain Brain. I highly recommend this fascinating read which examines countless studies to illustrate the effect gluten and carbohydrates are having on our brain and overall health.
My new series will share food discoveries and recipes, whether poached from another blog or modified by me. My hope is that I might encourage other restricted eaters and add a few more snacks or meals to their rotation.
Watch for the Start with Bacon series soon! And happy, simpler eating!
Oh – and as a reminder or introduction to those who don’t know my story – My diet and therefore recipes, will follow a combination of Grain Brain/Paleo protocol. See formula below 🙂
NO gluten + no dairy + no gluten free grains + no FODMAPs no sugar or sweeteners + no artificial ingredients + low carb
(yes there is still yummy food that fits this list!)