Death by chocolate
I am allergic, or sensitive, to a lot of things. All of them to do with food. I could be described as a picky eater, but mostly I just choose things I can tolerate and go with that.
I have been vegetarian for almost 30 years. I made an arbitrary decision one day in my formative youth and it stuck. That may seem like a long time, but because I know no different the smell of bacon or eggs means nothing to me. I had to muck out pig pens and chicken coops and I know what that smells like.
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, but conversely also the most challenging. Given my gluten and lactose intolerance, I’m pretty much limited to only a few things. These three highlights include: oatmeal, generally made from steel-cut oats because the chance of cross-contamination in the processing plant with wheat is possibly slimmer than regular oats (I think I am making this part up, but I generally much prefer steel-cut oats to the glue of regular oats); a smoothie (berries, banana, sometimes a fake yogurt, and a specific protein – my stomach does not like rice or pea protein and I need enough protein to sustain me longer than 20 min, which is what happens when I try hemp protein); and gluten-free waffles with a nut butter, usually almond. This last one is a standard early-morning, pre-run meal because I feel like I am eating something normal.
I’ve found that avoiding certain foods, as much as my palate appreciates them, is better for me overall. I’m feast or famine when it comes to food. I allow myself the occasional once-a-week cheat meal, but then also know I pay for it. It’s not specifically the increase in calories ingested I worry about, but the aftermath of those specific calories on my entire system.
I like chocolate. It used to be a staple in my diet; it was another food group. I especially was fond of hot chocolate, which I made myself with high-grade cocoa and maple syrup and my fake milk. It was a hug on a warm day, a bit of love (in a cup) you could wrap your hands around. My naturopath let me go a long, long time (thank you Dr. K!) before she ‘suggested’ I drop the hot chocolate. My system was just not tolerating it well and it was taxing my body.
When we eat crappy foods we tend to get used to either not feeling well (sluggish, bloated) or just develop that memory tolerance of not feeling well. As time goes on we develop a tolerance for not feeling well and continue to always feel sub-par, without really knowing so. We lull ourselves into forgetting we used to feel better because we always feel like this – the new normal.
Now that I have been avoiding certain foods for a while, my system seems hyper-sensitive to them. When I do eat food that I used to ‘tolerate,’ it now seems like I have an immediate reaction. My tolerance is so low that I notice the subtle differences. A friend recently went to Italy and brought back fine, dark chocolate squares. They were specifically made without milk. Lovely. But I also know it’s the chocolate itself that my body doesn’t like.
I saved up my strength for a few days and then decided to have one of these squares. It had been a long day, and it was only noon. I needed the break, reward, change of focus. I popped one of the chocolates in my mouth and was immediately gratified to the taste. So. Good.
Then I had an instant headache and my stomach felt off and my mouth felt weird. What was it about chocolate that I had wanted? Where were those feel-good endorphins we all crave chocolate for?
So what did I do? Like typical feast or famine, I had another. At least misery had company.
*Do you have food sensitivities or preferences?
*Do you have a favorite breakfast meal?
*Do you watch what you eat, or just eat til you can’t, regardless of what it is?