I think I mentioned a few posts ago that I'm doing a three week food sensitivity elimination diet on doctor's orders, right? Well I am, and so far have survived. I am allowed to eat the following things: rice, vegetables (but no tomatoes) and fruit. I can eat fish and chicken and 'game' meats during weeks one and three, but not during week two. I am not allowed any alcohol or caffeine. No soy product or gluten of any kind, no legumes, no dairy. Also, no fun. I have however, lost 5 pounds, which sort of makes up for the hassle.
It's been a little bit of a slog at times. Gone are the staples of my diet. (Alas, poor yogurt, I knew him well. Oh, oatmeal, how I miss you so. Lentils! I am having a hard time living without you. And wine, dear dear wine... there are no words.) But all in all, the great surprise of this diet is not how hard it has been to stick to it, but how good I've felt while on it, and how easy that has made this process seem. No doubt, the first few days were an agony of self-denial, especially when I went to a potluck dinner where people had outdone themselves. The orgiastic moans coming from everybody's faces as they ate nearly killed me as I sipped my water and nibbled on a rice cake. Nonetheless, it turns out that, yet once again, my mother was right. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, she always told me, and it's true. Making it through that potluck was tough, but it forged my steel, and I've managed quite well ever since.
Today is day 13 of the diet, and as I sit here eating my breakfast (half a papaya), I am reflecting on a few things I've learned and observed and wondered about.
1. No gluten, just glutton. First of all, good god, I can eat a hell of a lot more food this way. I never realized how much space breads and beans and tofu take up. I am hungry all the time. Yesterday for lunch I had a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal (mushy, slimy) and then a bowl of rice and vegetable stir-fry (yum!). This amount of food is mind-boggling for me. Normally I'd have a hard time just making it to the bottom of one bowl of normal oatmeal, but two bowls of food? TWO?? And the weirdest part - I was hungry four hours later. Really, really hungry. Last week I ate an entire quarter of a watermelon, by myself. For a snack.
2. Quitcher bellyaching. The other day Handsome and I were lounging around and he went to put his head on my tummy. I immediately tensed up because, ow, that always hurts. Except, you know what? It didn't hurt. It didn't hurt AT ALL. This was something of a revolutionary moment for me, the moment in which I went from resenting the hell out of this diet to thinking, hey, maybe there's something to all this! Because my belly is always sore. Not hugely sore, not even painful - just tender feeling in a not-so-good way. But no more! My tummy feels lovely, thank you very much, and Handsome may rest his lovely head upon it any time he wants.
3. Summer here, summer not. Thank God I'm doing this in August, and not in the dead middle of February. If my only options were winter vegetables and frozen fruits, I'd be much much much grumpier. As it is, I'm eating my weight in plums and papaya and watermelon and strawberries and peaches. The Hatch green chile festival is around the corner (yes, I'm counting the days), and the summer greens are robust and delicious. "Oh, how I suffer!" I moan while watermelon juice dribbles down my chin. "How I long for pound cake," I cry out, stuffing handfuls of sweet blueberries and raspberries into my mouth. I try to beg Handsome for some ice cream, but he can't understand me through the mouthful of fresh cherries. Oh well, I shrug, and reach for the bucket of sweet peas by my side, fresh from the garden.
4. Ze Qvandary. For the first half of this 21-day epic food journey, I couldn't even let myself think about the end, for fear I would break down and cry. Now, however, I'm over the hump. I'm on day 13, which means....(doing complicated mathematical equations in my head)... 8 more days! In 8 more days I am to begin the process of reintegration and elimination, and believe it or not, I've worked myself up into quite a tizzy over the prospect.
This is how it's supposed to work. On day 22 I pick one food substance I've eliminated it and aggressively reintegrate it into my diet. Say I choose tomatoes, then I would eat tomatoes for breakfast, tomatoes at lunch, tomatoes with my dinner. I do this for two days, and if I notice absolutely no difference in how I feel, then I move forward onto item two, whatever that might be.
However. (There's always a however.) If the food item does cause me problems of any kind (stomach ache, headache, rash, hives, or, I don't know, tuberculosis, for example) then I have to go back on the diet until I feel clear and easy again. Normally three days, and then I tackle the next food item. As you might imagine, this is causing me some level of anxiety. What do I want to integrate first? Because I don't want to have to go back on the diet for three days, I just want to chuckle through this list, leaving the irritants for last. On the other hand, how great would it be to dive face-first into a huge bowl of ice cream on day 22. Then again, don't I want to choose things that, if I am not sensitive to them, will greatly expand my current menu selections? Should I choose soy? I do love some tofu with my stir fry. Or bread? How about breads?! Spaghetti!!
Oh, sigh. At least I still have 7 days, 13 hours, and 6 minutes to think about it.