Monday, December 12, 2011

What I Eat

It's been 13 1/2 months since I received my food allergy diagnosis....a long bit of time that's had many, MANY ups and downs.  I've tried to steer clear of discussing my allergies on the blog very much because the topic has generated some rather ugly comments.  I've been accused of making things up, have been told that I'm wallowing in drama, and have often had my allergies brushed aside as not being all that important.  The fact that I've truly struggled with the diet - which is considerably more difficult than I initially thought it would be - has only compounded the problem.

I'm quite happy to report, though, that my diet has been clean for 42 days now...a record...and it looks as if this time it's truly going to stick.  (Trust me, there will be a party when I hit 100 days and 1 full year!)

For the time being, I've postponed the idea of doing a separate blog because it's honestly a bit more than I can handle right now.  Having said that, there are a few issues I'd like to discuss publicly, so the topic will occasionally come up.  How I feel does have a huge influence on my creative life, so I feel that it is an appropriate addition. 

The first thing I want to talk about is what I actually can eat!  (Reminder:  I am allergic to dairy and to yeast.  The first is straightforward, but the yeast allergy is very complex, requiring me to cut out all sugars/sweeteners, obvious sources of yeast like bread and pastry, grains, vinegars, fermented anything, and foods that may carry mold.  Easier to say what I CAN have: meats, most whole fruits (no juice or dried), veggies, eggs, beans.)

Typically, when I first tell people about my allergies there is a rather shocked, "Well what on earth DO you eat?" response.  So I thought that I'd go ahead and answer that post.

It's pretty simple:

Breakfast:  is usually leftovers from the night before - a ground turkey or beef burger, chicken breast or bowl of soup.  Sometimes I have eggs, which I always enjoy.  My new favorite is a big bowl of mixed greens with a couple of soft cooked eggs on top with a pinch of salt.  The eggs slightly wilt the greens, and the yolks stand in for salad dressing.  Sometimes I add a piece of fruit, but it's usually just the protein because I'm normally in a huge hurry.  I've found that I MUST have a fairly large protein breakfast to make sure the rest of the day goes well.

Lunch:  Same as breakfast!

Dinner:  Roast or steamed veggies with a meat source.  I can spice up whatever it is IF I have the fresh spices growing in my wee spice garden.  I try to alternate the meats - turkey, beef, chicken and seafood - as much as possible so as to not create any new allergies.  Likewise, the veggies are rotated, but are frequently dependent on what has come for the week in our fabulous Bounty Box.  I figure the more we can stick to local/seasonal food the nutritionally better off we are anyway.  I try to make sure there is a root veggie - potatoes, parsnips, etc - in the meal because that helps prevent late night munchies, which have been a problem for years.  I'm very fond of making vegetable soups with either beef or turkey thrown in for both flavor and protein.  Soups also are the easiest thing to get down for breakfast, so sometimes I make them a couple of times/week.  As you can imagine, I do fix separate meals for myself sometimes so that I can feed my family the things they love but I can no longer enjoy. That is happily getting easier to do. 

Snacks:  Potato chips are my real 'sinful' treat.  So long as they are only potatoes, salt and oil I can have them.  The Terro root veggie chips are my favorite, but our grocery store carries a cheap brand of organic chips that I also enjoy.  I make fresh humus often, which I eat with either a small protein source (tastes great on top of turkey or chicken!) or raw veggies.  Oddly, I've come to love celery with hummus...and I hadn't eaten it for years before this.  Roasted garbanzo beans are a great take-along treat.  Leftover meats and hard boiled eggs do when I feel the need for something that will stick with me for a while. 

The BIG Treat:  seasonal fruit!  This summer it was local peaches from the farmer's market, then we had honeycrisp apples - so big they were a meal unto themselves, and now I'm enjoying Clementines by the bag full.  In the spring I imagine the strawberries will be my new favorite! 

And a few last comments:

Sometimes I have a meatless day - which for me means eggs for breakfast and a steady source of beans for the rest of the day to get in the protein.  I don't do it often, but it does give me a break once in a while. 

The big benefit is that it's pretty darn hard to eat too many calories/day on this sort of diet, so I can eat as much as I want of anything that I'm allowed.  Bonus! 

Yep, it's a bit boring at times.  I just have to deal with that.  It's still also VERY difficult around holidays and when at parties/gatherings.  Packing my own meal/food to take with helps.  I tend to eat by myself for a lot of those occasions sometimes.  It's not ideal, but it's what I have to do. 

Planning ahead is an absolute must.  I get in trouble if I don't have allergy-friendly food easily available. 

It's also not as bad as people think.  After the first few weeks your taste buds do adjust.  You'd be surprised at just how amazing that seasonal fruit tastes now!

The best part is that once I hit the one month milestone any cravings I have are about what I need nutritionally.  I'll find myself really wanting an oily piece of salmon if I've not been getting enough fat or Clementines if I need some vitamin C.  I finally understand what all those experts talk about when they tell you to listen to your body for what it really needs. 

So that's that!  If you have any questions, I invite you to ask me in the comments and I'll answer them at a later date!


Shelda said...

Congrats on your 42 days! That's pretty awesome. In the hospital, I've been feeling like I sorta have to eat whatever is there, so I've been eating dairy again, and it's quite clear that it doesn't really agree with me.

We had Chipotle a night or two ago, and I went ahead and had cheese and sour cream. And found, to my utter astonishment, that I prefer it without the dairy! I can taste everything more clearly. With cheese and sour cream, that's about all I do taste.

A lovely discovery, that! I look forward to getting on with it after I'm home again.

margene said...

You eat much the same foods I do, although I can have rice and nuts. It's a rare day I wish to eat something that would be a problem. I love feeling good! s

A Day That is Dessert said...

I have wondered the specifics of how you manage what you can and can't eat - thanks for the update.

tparker said...

I just started on this same journey yesterday as a matter of fact. I had already cut out sugar and white flour but I was hoping to keep some grains in the mix. I am still a bit in shock as to what I can eat and what I can't. Some things just don't totally make sense to me like no cinnamon and pepper. Not sure about that. And why fruit but no fruit juice? I think I may need to write down my questions for the allergy doc!

Any advice to a newbie would be appreciated.

KPiep said...

We're at 48 days and counting! Thanks to all for your thoughts and comments. I've had great response to this post both here and on FB. To tparker - I'll be answering your questions to the best of my abilities in a post I'm writing in a few minutes!

Rachael said...

Way to go! I have been feeling really sorry for myself the past few days, but when I ate gluten I felt so dreadful that it was not worth it. Your health and immune system have got to be amazing- I know mine was when I ate that way. You 'almost' motivated me to give up my gluten free bread. Almost. ;)
Blessings to you and your family!