(in which I swear once, which is not a lot, since I am talking about food & stuff)
Alas, it was not meant to be.
I really thought Marian might pull through, until I awoke one day to find nothing but two bare stalks. I think, this time, she truly is a goner. I am so sad. The next time I was at the nursery, I asked what I might be doing wrong for my maidenhair ferns, and was assured that I have done exactly what I should. It seems my home just might not be the best environment for them, for whatever reason. It was suggested that I try a different, heartier variety of fern. We selected this lovely sliver lace fern, which i promised to not to name, just in case…then promptly name Mathilda as I was pulling out of the parking lot. Apparently, all of my plants will be named after literary characters.
I am going to try to refrain from buying (or killing) any more houseplants for some time. Instead, I will work on trying to keep alive the ones I have.
In the interest of posting about something other than houseplants ~ ‘though I do love them ~ I thought I would share some of the meals I’ve been eating. Because no one ever does that on the internet. It’s a totally revolutionary idea.
I know. Like, half of you ~ more than half of you ~ already walked away. That’s okay. The rest of us are still here, and we like each other just fine, thank you very much.
But food. Well, you know, food and I have a storied history. I loved food when I was a kid. I loved some foods other people might find really weird. I ate stuff like butcher bologna and fried brains (no, really, y’all ~ I tell my kids I’m actually part zombie, as a result of this culinary adventure), and slim jims, and those hot sausages that came in wrappers like slim jims. I still love red beet eggs, and my mom’s ziti and shoofly pie ~ all of which I am pretty sure I am not supposed to eat, and that is a travesty, by the way. I ate crabs and scallops and lobster and shrimp, and clam chowder. I mean, I grew up in Maryland. We ate seafood. It’s kind of a thing.
First, I had an eating disorder. When you have an eating disorder, you don’t hate food. I think that’s a common misconception. Maybe it’s more of a love/hate relationship. I became positively obsessed with food. I knew everything about it. I was obsessed with what nutritional value of everything, how many calories it had, what was the fat content, sugar content, serving size… Not that any of it mattered. I wasn’t actually eating much of it. I did love to cook it. For other people. And watch them eat it.
Then, I became (and have remained) vegetarian. That’s working out okay for me. I mean, y’all can have your brains. I have to say, I am pretty much over that. I was vegan for about 8 years, and I felt pretty good at the time, but I’ll admit, it was difficult, especially when I got pregnant with my first child. That’s about the time I decided to start eating cheese again. I really like cheese.
Which totally doesn’t matter. Cheese hates me. With a passion. It turns out, I am allergic to milk protein. So, some years (yes, it took years ~ many, painful years), and many health problems later, I gave up all dairy products. I miss cheese so much it hurts ~ but you know, not as much as that feeling in my throat when I ingest it, so this is really much better. (I’m also now allergic to shellfish, which I had already given up eating, for what it’s worth, which doesn’t impact my diet, but is a weird side note considering that I ate it as a kid, I guess.)
Also, (and, well, really, I should have thrown this part in a while ago, because it originally reared its ugly head in high school), I have IBS. That’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome, in case you didn’t know, and, as is evidenced by the name, it is just a festival of fun times, as I am sure you can imagine. I won’t go into detail. I mean, it involves your bowels, being irritable. You can figure out what that means. Or, you know, google it, if you want to, but I really can’t imagine why you would want to do that.
So, here I was going along, doing my thing, trying to be healthy ~ and I was really making a concerted effort, too, because I had some long-standing terrible habits to break. Habits like not eating breakfast. Forgetting meals altogether. Eating chocolate for a quick burst of energy to get me through to the next meal, and then not taking time for the next meal. Eating things like the crusts of kids’ pizza, the ends of their poptarts, and the few green beans that were left in the pan, and thinking, “That was probably a meal, right?” Drinking a frappuccino instead of lunch.
I figured this was bad for me, bad for my body, and a terrible example for my kids, and I decided to do something about it. I started doing things like eating more vegetables and fruits. I love roasting vegetables ~ broccoli, asparagus, brussels sprouts, cabbage ~ especially with lots of fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. I love artichokes. I don’t like fruit, but berries are good for you. I ate berries, even though I don’t like them. I actually like pears, and some kinds of apples, and I can eat about half of a banana, sometimes, but only half. I was trying with the fruit. I started drinking coconut water. You hear so much about how good for you it is. Man, I really bought that. I used coconut milk in my coffee drinks, instead of soy, because I know too much soy is bad for you, and I already use some soy. I was eating whole grains. Oh, and beans. I was trying to make sure to get enough protein, but from a variety of sources ~ nuts and nut butters, seiten, quinoa, seeds, tofu and tempeh, some commercially available meat substitutes, and beans. I love beans.
For some reason, my digestive issues got worse. At first, I thought, maybe it was just that I was eating meals that were too large, so I started eating smaller, more frequent meals. Then, I thought maybe it was just that was still getting used to eating well ~ maybe my body was adjusting to digesting all those fruits and vegetables and stuff. Maybe it was too much of a transition all at once. I even thought maybe it was a medication side effect…or maybe it was a symptom of something else.
The truth was much simpler: my IBS was completely out of control.
So, after one doctor’s visit led to another doctor’s visit, which led to some labwork, and a referral to a gastroenterologist (and more labwork ~ with more to come), I find myself on a very restrictive diet. I am currently on a gluten-free low FODMAP diet, and it is the most restrictive diet I have ever had. I am forced to be obsessed with food again, which is a little bit scary, to be honest, and I have to be careful not to fall back in to old patterns. I think the key, in that regard, is to keep eating the food. That, and the fact that the goal this time is to keep the food in my body and maybe actually gain some weight, which is really weird for me. But it must all look frighteningly familiar to people who have known me through all of this, and it must be worrisome for them, too, because here I am, again, very thin (due to medication) and obsessing about food. My understanding is that at least some of this could be temporary, and then we can start trying to figure out what foods, specifically cause problems for me. For now…
Ah, well, it is what it is.
If you are interested, you can look up the low FODMAP diet. For me, it’s basically like this: Make a list of all of your favourite foods. Write: “DON’T EAT THESE” at the top. Now, start eating eggs again. What? You don’t like eggs? Fuck you. Eat them anyway. You don’t eat meat, and there are only like 4 other protein sources on this list that you’re allowed to eat. Eat the freaking eggs.
If you have IBS, or another digestive disorder, you might want to talk to your doctor about whether or not this plan might be helpful to you. I know, I just made it sound super appealing. (sorry.)
Here, to entice you are some pictures of things I have been allowed to eat, to prove that it is not actually terrible:
Vegetable curry w/ quinoa
Maple walnut oatmeal with bananas & cinnamon
Baked potato topped w/ veggie chili and avocado
Egg salad, avocado, red pepper & olives
So, maybe I make it all sound very dire, but I am eating a lot of beautiful, delicious foods. Most importantly, I seem to be getting it right, most of the time. Eating out is still difficult, because it’s a bit of a craps shoot. You know, you order the potatoes, and hope they aren’t seasoned with anything your gut’s gonna hate.
Feeding the whole family is a challenge, because my needs often require a little more creative meal-planning ~ and it does get a little bit redundant, sometimes. I’ve hit on some recipes I can make that we all like, and, at the very least, I can often make a meal from which I can easily adapt something for myself. If not, I usually have leftovers in the fridge, because I tend to cook for more than one meal at a time, anticipating that need. I am still learning, but I’m getting there.
In the end, if I feel better, am able to keep the foods I eat in my system long enough to actually process the nutrients my body needs from them, and do important things like socialize with other humans, take my medication and, you know, absorb it so that it actually works, I think that’s a vast improvement. You know, when things like that start working, the hope is that I will be able to do more of the things I want to be doing.
I would say things are looking up.
Today, for instance, I was able to get up and go with Shane to help sort Girl Scout cookie orders at the warehouse, and bring back all of the cookies Kaia intends to sell this season. I loaded and unloaded cars, grabbed a coffee, came home and practiced banjo, cooked dinner, sat down and wrote this very long blog entry. Now I intend to clean up a bit, and try to get my PT done before bed. It might not sound like a lot, but I think it’s not bad for a Saturday with chronic pain and a digestive disorder. I mean, let’s be honest: there are still a lot of days when I just want to pull the covers back over my head as soon as I wake up, but, you know, I have a Girl Scout, and those cookies aren’t gonna drive themselves home. My banjo’s not gonna play itself. I mean, come on ~ I’ve got stuff to do.