Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Two Journeys 2

I'm in Haiti! If you think of it, send up a prayer for me and our team. While I'm traveling, I wanted to share another, slightly less exciting, journey with you. I found out I was gluten-intolerant a few years ago and, while this may not seem like a particularly compelling journey, I've learned some interesting things about myself along the way.


Yesterday, I talked about how great it was, when I went to my naturopath and she told me that I wasn't crazy and certain foods were making me sick.

But it was different when I walked out the door. My naturopath gave me a list of foods to avoid that was, I’m not joking, 6 pages long. I never realized how much I took eating for granted until nearly all of my food sources disappeared. Where do I find agar agar or xantham gum in a city of 7,000? Seriously, the nearest Trader Joe’s is 3 hours away. I don't cook and you’re saying I can never eat fast food ever or anything that comes from a box or can at Safeway…oh and none of the produce either because it is all coated with whey (yeah, can't have that either).

It takes about three weeks for an inflammatory substance to work out of your system so, when you radically change your diet like this, it is a while before you feel the difference. The frustrating thing is that, if you have several things triggering a reaction, even if you weed out most of them, if you slip up on one, it knocks you back to the beginning of that three week period. And with six pages of triggers, you have a lot of opportunities to slip up.

It’s a slow climb up a steep learning curve and I’m not one for endurance, I’m a sprinter. To be honest, I'm a quitter.

I also tend to make decisions on the fly, and that does not work when you have to scrutinize your food. You have to start planning for food, you can’t just grab something to eat somewhere along the way or decide what you want when you get to the restaurant. At the very least you have to have an emergency meal bar with you at all times. and this seriously changed the way I lived my life and I didn't like it. Worrying about where or how I was going to find food would me in this horrible state of anxiety and I hated it. Worse, I felt weak. Like I needed the world to stop what it was doing and cater to me because I couldn't handle life like normal people. Then I’d feel weak for not being able to maintain my diet restrictions.

It was worse when others were involved, I felt like the big whiner ruining everyone’s plans. How was I supposed to explain to my friends when we want to go to the Olive Garden that I literally can’t eat anything? That we can’t just swing by Subway “on the way” (Have you ever tried one of those salads? You need to eat like 7 to be full and they charge you more for them! Fail, Subway!). “Sorry guys, you have to change all of your plans because I can’t eat convenience food,” it's loads of fun being that person.
“Thanks for the dinner invitation! Can you make me a gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free meal without raw veggies, citrus fruit, avocado, peanuts, pork, kidney beans, chicken, corn, tomato, carrots--what? No, I’m not allergic to carrots, they’re just nasty.”
“No, sorry, you can’t use anything that comes from a can or box in that meal because it will have gluten, whey, maltodextrin or soy lecithin in it. Welcome to 1920.”
“No, I know its whole wheat. It’s still…wheat.”
“Thanks for making rice instead of pasta, that was sweet, but I can’t have chicken or the awesome homemade tomato sauce you made special for me. Sorry”
“No, no, it’s cool I’ll just have some brown rice and a Larabar. “
Forget that! So I started downplaying my issues, saying things like, “No I’m fine. I mean, I won’t die if I eat it, I’ll just feel better if I don’t.” Say “I’m fine,” enough when you’re not and you’ll really start getting confused. You'll start thinking you really are just overreacting and maybe you do need to just get over it.

I am an incredibly proud and independent person. The fact that I was facing an issue that was too much for me to handle on my own, one that made me feel physically weak, no less, was overwhelming. I really don't know if other people play these kinds of mind games with themselves, but I believe this has a lot more to do with my own issues with being weak and asking for help than with my diet.
To keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, 2 Cor 12:7

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