When Food Dictates Your Life

When I said I’d be taking a few days off after my “Countdown to 60” Stories and 60th Birthday Post on Instagram, I had no idea I’d literally be off of social media for a few days. Thanks to my food allergies for that! Of course, hubs likes to think it’s due to food poisoning, such as undercooked meat, and he could be right. But I have a feeling that my poor food choices, since I started working back in May, may have a lot to do with it. Over time, eating fast food for at least three to four days a week has caused me to be less energetic and more exhausted with every passing week. However, I have to agree with hubs on the food poisoning part but believe it was due to a much longer and more subtle kind of poisoning.

Me going strong at 60 years of age despite considerable and lifetime food allergies.

And that’s what happens with food allergies. It can be slow and insidious, taking years to learn what are the food culprits and how to eat better. After years of my own food war, knowing something isn’t good for you and staying away from it entirely are two different things. You know it will make it you sick if you eat too much. But that little part of you that misses the taste of salsa or the crunch of a good chalupa says, oh, one little bite won’t hurt. And then a few bites turn into many. Before you know it. the deed is done, and you feel miserable. Or I do, anyway.

Finding A Solution

So, what is the answer? Staying away from the culprit. And after this setback, I plan to be a little more diligent. Of course, I say this every time I have a setback. But this time, I’m certain I won’t be eating out anytime soon, and I’ll be getting back to taking my lunch to work again. Not only is it easier on the pocketbook, but it helps with less indigestion, less brain fog, and more energy. You might think I would have learned by now but, truly, it isn’t easy. When a person has over forty basic food allergies, and those are mixed in with other foods, the limitations multiply. For instance, my allergy to whey means no cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and many desserts. Plus, adding in allergies to wheat, corn syrup, vanilla, tapioca, soy, and yeast, means no breads and most grain products, limiting desserts even more.

And so, when on my birthday, I decided to just enjoy the day and not worry about whether I could eat something or not, I paid the price. I have spent the last three days recovering from system-overload. What tasted delicious became torture to my body. I was incapacitated for a good part of two days and recovery is still taking place. I will spare you the details, but let’s just say it’s the equivalent of a bad flu, cold, and virus all mixed together. If I were to go to the doctor (as I have in the past), I would be told there is nothing wrong with me. True that. And sad. But that’s what food allergies do to a person. Or at least to me.

My birthday brunch. How can anything so delicious and healthy looking be so full of danger for me?

So, what is the answer when a person cannot – or shouldn’t – eat, fast-food, processed, frozen (unless no additives or sauces, etc., as in naked peas), or foods cooked in unknown oils (as I’m allergic to corn, soy, and peanut oils)? Then, there’s seasonings to be concerned about as I cannot have turmeric (which is purported as a health benefit for many people, just not me) or onion or garlic powder. Bottom line, my focus is and should always be on what can be eaten.

I can eat salads. I can eat most vegetables but no asparagus, Brussel sprouts, radishes, parsley, corn, carrots, tomatoes, or kale. I can eat most fruits in moderation (due to metabolic syndrome – a precursor to pre-diabetes) except no pineapple. Thankfully, I can eat potatoes, rice (no barley, corn, oat, quinoa, rye, or wheat), shrimp and most fish (no trout or red snapper), pork, and beef (no chicken). The list goes on, but you get the idea.

Now, to recover fully. And how? By only having safe foods and drinks. I can drink water. Lol. Okay, I can drink teas. I can drink milk. And I can drink most other drinks as long as they’re made with cane sugar – and are not coffee-laden. My deal is too much sugar is bad for a person in many ways, like being a breeding ground for cancer (no I’m not being paranoid, just realistic – plus, think of the weight gain), eventually causing a crash in energy, causing cavities, and so much more. Alright, enough of that, lol. Again, you get the idea.

Mindset is Everything

Choosing a new way of eating simply means being aware of what can be eaten and what foods must be a thing of the past.

Okay, so back to how to eat healthy when a person is allergic to so many things. Well, one is being regimented, stubborn, allergic to being ill (seriously!), and the ability to give oneself grace. Not for necessarily messing up all the time and eating what one shouldn’t, but for being human. I didn’t ask for this body with all these allergies. But it is the one I was given. So now, resolving that it hasn’t changed or improved in the last sixty years, and that it won’t do so in the next, that I must try harder to focus on what I can safely eat.

And what would that be?

A good breakfast would be two boiled eggs, one cheddar cheese stick (all other cheese is off limits), and a cup of strawberries, a medium banana, or apple slices.

A good lunch would be one porkchop, half a cup mashed potatoes (butter and cheddar cheese allowed; no sour cream or chives), and small salad or half a cucumber (lime juice; no vinegar).

A good supper could be grilled shrimp, half a cup of rice or small baked sweet potato, and a small salad or stir-fried squash (butter only).

My ever-faithful Sammie-girl keeping me company as I recover.

See, I can do it if I set my mind to it. The problem is I’ve never had a desire to be a cook. You know that from previous posts if you’ve been following along with me. But, perhaps, I just need to take pencil to paper like I do with anything else and write out a few options that will work for me. Eventually, it may become a habit. Just like doing my Countdown to 60 IG Stories became a habit, right?

What’s Up Ahead

Okay, so now that I have a plan and am feeling almost back to normal, I can start concentrating on other things. For instance, as the days have gone by and life has kept on happening, I have come across other areas of concern. One being cybercrime. Remember my last blog post about email scammers? Well, it’s time for another post on that, so keep an eye out for that maybe next week. I have two doozies to share with you. And all I can say, at this point, is we need to become smarter that those characters!

Another subject I’d like to tackle again is slowing down to the speed of life. I cannot say enough about the importance of taking time for rest. It’s funny as I can see this as a double-edged sword. I just told my daughter-in-law in a text yesterday that I find it difficult to be ill as it’s such a waste of time for me when I have so much to do. And yet, being ill is about the only time I do really take time to just rest. Any other time I’m just going, going, going, even if I’m taking time to meditate, to walk, to just stand and soak in the sun. Really, all I’m doing is pausing in an otherwise cram-packed life. What I’d like to see is a return to what once was a normal way of life – less of everything. What the answer is to that is most likely very individual but an answer I am and will be aiming for as winter approaches with a focus on keeping it up once spring arrives.

And last, but certainly not least, I plan to write about what it’s like to be a letter-writer in a cyberworld life when everything comes crashing down, and letter-writing which can be so meaningful isn’t getting done nor is connecting through the use of technology like email, texts or other social media messages – not because the electricity in my house went out but the energy in my body drained away. So, stay tuned for real talk from this over sixty writer who continues to write despite not being fully recovered from whatever it was that knocked her in the dust. Thank goodness, I got my photo shoot done before it happened! And I say that as it was bound to happen – food poisoning or not – the way I was not eating properly. Sad face. I know. But life goes on. And for those who believe we have a specific purpose in this life, well, we keep on trying.

Thank you for reading. It means a lot to have you along with me on this, another trip around the sun. Until next time, y’all keep on smilin’, keep on being kind, and keep on doing you. We got this.

P.S. I’m thinking my memoir title will go something like this: “Slow Poke: How Food Kept Me from the Best Version of Myself.” What do you think? It’s getting closer to being on point, right?!

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