This week’s Soften Saturday is from my friend and fellow blogger Tina. She is also one of my culinary coaching clients and has recently been diagnosed with several dietary intolerances. In speaking to her about the necessary changes, I quickly said Pollyanna things like, “It’s going to be ok. No biggie. You can do this!”
And then I remembered that it wasn’t easy in the beginning. I remembered having a meltdown in the doctor’s office parking lot, mourning the loss of donuts, getting mad at the world. I’ve had four years for this to get easier. So I encouraged Tina to share for Soften Saturday what these dietary changes look like for her and how it’s possible to cope, how we all can be a little softer to ourselves in making these leaps to a different way of eating. I relate to what she has shared. You may, too. I’m pretty sure anyone new to making changes will get this. –Johnna
Finding a New Normal with Dietary Changes –written by Tina
I went to the doctor recently. I went to the doctor to get some results from some simple blood work. She wondered if MAYBE some food was upsetting my digestion, causing some pain, and making me feel blah. It’s an easy test. A little blood. No big deal. FINITE results.
I was all for it. Went ahead with it, and thought HERE IS MY ANSWER! I will FINALLY find out if there is anything to this “food intolerance” stuff I had considered.
So I bled for her. Several vials. And four weeks later I went in to get the results. And I thought I was prepared.
She said “Tina, we have some things to talk about.” And she was serious. “It looks like you are exhibiting some intolerances to some foods.” And she went on to name gluten, dairy, eggs, pineapple, soy, cranberries, blueberries, and COFFEE!
I heard a buzz in my head. I held back tears. I felt sheer panic. That is freaking BREAD! EGGS! CHEESE! YOGURT! MILK! ICE CREAM! EVERYTHING!
She was all slow and deliberate, and in my head I was like “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I LOVE CHEESE!?”
So I walked out of her office and I called my husband, and I cried my freaking eyes out in her parking lot. And then I drove home. Numb.
We were leaving for the weekend to go to Milwaukee. The land of cheese and beer, and I could have NONE of it. I had no idea how I was going to handle this.
My first inclination was that I wouldn’t bother with change until after the weekend. After all… it was a TRIP. I was going to eat out every meal. I’d start later. But then I realized that I would continue to travel, and these problems weren’t going away.
So I decided I could do this. I could change everything about my eating life and make it work. I’m a trooper. It’s what I do.
So I traveled. And when I sat in the restaurant eating a breakfast buffet with my family, and I realized there was nothing but BACON on that buffet that I could eat, I freaked out. I sat and stared at the menu and cried quietly to myself. It was at that exact moment that I realized how incredibly TICKED OFF I was at the whole world. How DARE anyone tell me that I COULDN’T have something. It was at that moment that I realized that my relationship with food was so much more than one to sustain myself. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I froze.
I LOVE FOOD. And this woman is telling me I shouldn’t have some of the things I love anymore.
I feel like a kid whose mom took away her wubby. My security is gone. And I am Sad. Sad to the core. I have cried REAL tears over this. I have had REAL anger over this. I HATE THIS. I HATE having to think about everything I put in my mouth. I feel like I will NEVER be able to eat anywhere ever again. I’m sad.
I know I will get through this. I KNOW I will figure it out. But when I am in the grocery store searching for food I can eat, and trying to get what my family wants, and trying to make ends meet, I GET MAD. I get mad at everyone who doesn’t have to think this way. I get mad at companies who sneak things into food that makes it hard for me. I hate the whole damned thing.
But I can do it. I know I can. And I am discovering the funny in it a little at a time. Like today when I put Veganaise on a HAM sandwich. (on lettuce of course.) I laughed OUT LOUD at myself at the irony of me using vegan mayo on a HAM sandwich. I have discovered that Vanilla Coconut milk tastes like a pina colada. And I have discovered that Earl Grey Tea with coconut milk creamer can sort of replace my morning coffee.
It hasn’t even been a week. I’m adjusting. I feel like a member of my family is somehow gone. But I am trying. In between bouts of depression, anger, and tears….I am trying to find the normal in this. I have amazing support, but am amazed when the wave of crap hits me how hard it is.
This story has a long way to go. But I know….at least this……I like coconut milk. I have great friends. And my husband…who found me food in an airport when I thought I was going to have to live with a hungry tummy.…is a saint. I am trying to find the normal in this.
Thanks to Tina for sharing her thoughts on making dietary changes. You can find Tina online here. If you’ve got suggestions for her on moving forward, leave a comment. We’ll all benefit from the input! –Johnna