Sunday, July 4, 2010

I "heart" Food

So, I can admit it. I love food--I love fresh ingredients, I love interesting combinations of taste and flavor, I love preparing a home-cooked meal for friends or family, I love eating a tasty meal or treat. I love food.

I especially love cheese. And pastry. And a really great salad with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.

But now all my perspectives on food are being forced to change. And I am not having a particularly easy time with that.

Essentially, my dr. has ordered some massive dietary changes which are most likely lifetime changes. Why? Well, although no one can really see it, there are some internal system, off-balance, hormonal issues going on in me and I don't want the consequences of those things. Changing my diet is one way to combat both the problems and the symptoms. So, I will do that, as well as take the prescribed supplements (which i have been doing pretty good at)

What are the changes? First, I am casein-free. Casein is the protein that is in dairy products like milk, ice cream, yogurt and cheese. Honestly, I have avoided most of those products for a long time. Ice cream and milk don't make me feel very good. But, my Dr. said, if I cut all of them out for a few months (think 4 months) I should be able to reintroduce cheeses, particularly hard cheeses and goat cheese. Yum. Thinking about that light at the end of the tunnel actually causes me to hope. So, for now I learn to live with out cheese and sour cream. I have been using soy as a replacement for my milk and yogurt. And I just discovered coconut ice cream. I can't wait to try that!

The second change, which is more likely a lifetime ban, is on gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that makes bread springy and glues it together. Usually, when I make a loaf of fresh bread, I add gluten to give it the soft texture we all love. Except that gluten exacerbates the times when I am already tired, or irritable or PMS-ing. Reading the current literature on this, it seems that we have so inundated ourselves with so much gluten (because it is in everything!) that for many people, there is a growing intolerance . Statistically, doctors and scientists estimate about 1 in 130 people have some sort of intolerance to gluten. Many will never know, most everyone can benefit from reducing their gluten intake. And it is hereditary.

So a ban on gluten includes some of the things I would expect--anything made out of wheat--bread, buns, pastry, cookies, baked goods. But also some things that you wouldn't expect--beer or malt liquor, pasta, most mass-produced foods (like french fries), and breaded chicken, some meats, a lot of vegetarian meat replacements, and a lot of sauces like soy sauce or babebeque sauce or salad dressing.

One dietary change would be manageable for me. I feel as if I only had to deal with one of these two changes, I would be okay. But trying to deal with both at the same time is pretty hard.

This has been a tough week for me. First trying to wrap my head around the enormity of the lifestyle change is depressing. I have been mourning food. Sounds a bit silly, doesn't it? But food has an emotional and social role in all our lives and in my life, that has to change or I remain unwell. Here's an example: sometimes after a long day, Eric and I will share an order of dessert from a local restaurant and eat it on our couch while sharing some wine. We can't do that anymore because this dessert is made out of bread and the others on the menu all have cream or cheese on them. This makes both of us sad.

So I have a lot of learning to do: learning to read every label of everything I buy, learning what is okay and what is not okay, learning to say no to something that would be so tasty but not feel good, learning to cook again with new and unfamiliar ingredients, learning what those ingredients are, learning to shop and budget differently.

As I walk this journey, you should know two things: first, I know I will be okay--these tough times will pass, I will adjust and ultimately I will feel great. I know that. But this time will be tough. Thanks for bearing with me.
Second, as people who love me, don't feel bad--for you or for me. I am happy that you can eat food that nourished your spirit and fills your belly. Your prayers and encouragement are what I need. If you have a great recipe, feel free to send it my way.

And in four months, we're having a cheese party!


Amy said...

Rob was diagnosed with dermatitis petaformus about a year ago. Gluten causes him to break out in hives which are tens more itchy than mosquito bites. We've cut A LOT gluten out of our family's meals and Rob hardly eats any. If you want some recipes or how we made some dietary changes, let me know. We're still looking for a good bread alternative for sandwiches besides tortillas. If you find something you like, let us know.

Skooks said...

Aw Sammy . . . this is a real bummer to hear. It's a blessing you have a Dr who could give you the diagnosis and show you how you could feel well, but all those foods you named would be so hard to quit. :(

I'm *pretty* sure the Dinner Diva would have some great ideas and recipes for the gluten free cooking. And check out I'm almost positive all her stuff is gluten free, if not she gives lots of suggestions of alternatives. Pretty sure on that one.