The Holidays, Without Comfort Food

It’s nearly a month since I started my journey towards better health, but to be honest the detox/herx was so terrible the first two weeks I was barely up to snapping at people and feeling sorry for myself, let alone writing about it. 

I have felt terrible for years and at the risk of being controversial, had some pretty bad luck trusting my problems to western medicine. (which is fantastic for emergencies – not so much for mysterious fatigue related conditions, Lyme disease, Connective Tissue Disease, Joint Pain, Epstein Barr and just about everything else I have been Dx with). An elimination diet lead to the elimination of all the foods I love – who knew potatoes could trigger fibromyalgia and swollen joints. I hoped Gluten/sugar free would be enough but I only started getting better when I went to absolute basics. Which indicated major gut damage or ‘leaky gut’ syndrome. 

My will to live and recover is motivated by living 4 blocks from the beach yet not having the energy to surf nor go for runs with my dogs. I’m also starting school in January and can’t afford to be tired any more. 

By removing certain foods from my diet and keeping a food diary I have some days where I am up to 80% better than I have ever been, almost a real person with genuine energy that hasn’t been scraped out of a can of Red Bull. So it’s a worthy mission and one suggested by the GI doctor I saw when the tragic wheat = bloating/depressing/mind fog realization occurred. I haven’t got it perfectly figured out but I’m out of bed for the first time in months and I’m even starting to think about going to the gym again. It’s working, as unorthodox as it might seem. 

So 2 weeks of a nightshade free vegetable/fruit diet (basically Doug Graham’s 80/10/10 with some cooked soups from Dr Fuhrman’s Eat To Live), followed by a juice fast (the hunger took me down on day 5), and another week of mostly raw fruit and vegetables was going pretty well until I hit a minefield. The holidays. 

Christmas used to be one of my favorite eating days of the year. Free candy and cookies are everywhere you go and before I fell in love with animal rights, I would have sold my soul for more gravy. This year, I know I am allergic to grains, legumes and beans which make me tired, dairy makes me congested and cramped and sugar sends me back to square one. I don’t eat meat but that causes problems too. I actually got hives from sliders once. I knew all of the above at Thanskgiving but decided a little of the above wouldn’t hurt and oh how it did. 

Having the best intentions in sticking with my fruit & vegetable regimen unfortunately doesn’t override my lack of desire to hurt people’s feelings. Like the waitress who brought over a taro root pudding for the holidays, which I ate because I didn’t want to be rude because she has tolerated serving me plates of steamed vegetables for 3 weeks and now have had a stomach ache for two days. 

 As years of trying to eat unhealthy foods in moderation failed to turn my health around, I have learned to accept I need to do this to heal. It’s just the fact that nearly every social gathering involves really good food and alcohol. There is a real feeling of isolation when you can’t drink, can’t eat the same unhealthy grain based foods as all of your friends and stick out like Martha Stewart at a strip club when everyone is enjoying fries and you have a fruit cup.

People assume I am a health freak when in reality I am a food addict who didn’t eat a non fried vegetable for nearly 15 years. May be why I got sick but I did enjoy every single slice of pizza. I just want to live and I need to figure out how to do it and feel comfortable at the same time. 

So, although this is my first year spending the holidays with my boyfriend’s family – I’m bringing a side of plain vegetables and am looking forward to great company and a good time. I’ve warned ahead that I’m going to be one of those weirdos that can’t eat the great food offered. Although I may have to pass on a lot of things that look good, it also may be the first year without painful stomach cramps and blinding fatigue at a social gathering. Hopefully next year will be my first of feeling better, too.