So… I have some dietary restrictions. I have some food allergies, several intolerance’s, and quite a few sensitivities. It certainly affects the food choices I make, the way I cook, and the recipes I develop.
(Beware: entering Too Much Information Zone.)
I don’t digest many raw veggies well, including raw vegetable juices which I tend to expel. I am allergic to the whole curcumvitae family of fruits and vegetables (squash, melons, cucumbers). I have a shellfish allergy. Since my daughter was born I have become intolerant of eggs . I have oral allergy syndrome and so my body sometimes, but not always, thinks certain foods are pollen and attacks them. I am allergic to almonds and sesame. In the last few years I have become completely intolerant of gluten. I am allergic to soy. Cruciferous vegetables are extremely challenging for my body and the last time I ate beets I inexplicably couldn’t keep them down. Who knows why. You may think I sound like a hypochondriac but one thing I have learned above all else during my puny life as here on earth is that NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE THIS WAY. So if someone says they are allergic to something and could you please make a substitution to a menu item the very best thing you can do is happily agree. I promise it will make their day if you are able to accommodate them rather than call them a lunatic or imply they are a challenging customer. I guarantee you they already feel like one.
My first year without soy or gluten I struggled with surprisingly severe depression. Bread was my first food love and baking was one of the reasons I got into cooking. Learning to live without gluten was very hard. Fighting off cravings was hard. A friend of mine who went through a similar transition about a year before me used to get “the donut shakes” and would pace her house trying to quell a severe need to eat donuts. I was never a huge donut fan before going gluten free but I got “the donut shakes” a few times after quitting gluten. It is such a crazy thing to have to live without all of a sudden. Your body basically has decided that the most common food in your life is poison. You know it hurts you so so badly, but all you want to do is eat a loaf of bread. The whole loaf. Everyone else is eating the bread and they’re all fine. But to you the bread is now poison! It is crazy, you feel crazy, you wonder if it is worth it, and you resist committing to stopping for a long time.
After consulting an allergist and a gastrointestinal specialist and not getting very many clear answers about why all this started, what were allergies vs. what were intolerance’s, or if I could ever hope to eat these foods again I decided to cut out all potential allergy triggers from my diet and work towards reincorporating what I could, where I could.
I am extremely thrilled to have gone through this process at a time when so many gluten free options are commonly available. It made the whole thing immensely easier and significantly cheaper than I imagine it would have been even 5 years ago.
I feel like I have not come a super long was towards reincorporating foods since then but looking at the variety of what I can prepare for myself and order in restaurants I am now content. It is occasionally still challenging, but I feel SO much better physically that I regret those times when I fall off the wagon (which certainly does happen) and happily hop back on it again. Because, to be honest, chronic diarrhea is no body’s friend.
My food goals for this year are pretty simple. I want to keep adding or reintroducing foods to my diet (working on the ones I classify as sensitivities), I want to continue to focus on developing recipes that my body can handle, I want to add a greater variety of foods to my diet, and I am consciously trying to eat at least 1 L or so worth of well cooked vegetables a day (mineral balancing recommendation). I hope to move back towards having a normal gut, but have also realized that my circumstances have forced creativity. I also have a deeper appreciation that people face all kinds of challenges everyday and all we can do is try our damn hardest to practice kindness towards each other. You just don’t know how another persons shit might be messing with them. Like literally.