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.

An English breakfast

Sadly, this does absolutely nothing for me. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

A meal with milk and a croissant.

This is much better, but also entirely inedible.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

The culprit of delight and downfall.

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?


16 thoughts on “Death by chocolate

  1. I am one of the fortunate ones with no allergies. However I try to eat a vegetarian diet, but if am at a friends and they have cooked a meal, and forgot I eat a little meat. I still miss the bbq steaks I grew up eating. I do agree with you about the texture of steel cut oats over the regular type, which reminds me of paper mache from arts class in school. I try to eat as fresh as possible and avoid prepackaged foods as much as possible.

  2. We are lucky in our house to have no allergies or sensitivities. That being said, my body does not get on well with high fat or highly processed foods. But I think it’s just my body’s way of reminding me that crap like that isn’t food and if I chose to eat it, I will pay.

    • I think anyone’s body would be upset by high fat and highly processed foods. It’s whether you listen to what your body is telling you that makes the difference.
      Just because it tastes good doesn’t make it real.

      • Agreed and I think as I strive to eat better and healthier to support my level of physical activity, my tolerance for crap food has dramatically decreased. That’s a win/win in my book.

  3. I’m on a modified Paleo eating plan…I find bread, pasta and other carbs like that make me feel hung over, even though I’m not allergic. I love to cook and pretty much stick to lean meats, lots of veggies of all sorts, fruits and plenty of nuts and seeds. I also love dairy and am fortunate to tolerate it very well because my fave breakfast is a baked apple with lemon, cinnamon cottage cheese and walnuts (sometimes I’ll throw a smidge of oats in there for muesli style).

  4. I am the worst about “rewarding” myself after a really long run or race. I justify my bad food binges by the hard effort I put in. It’s not really that big of a deal, and thankfully I manage to get back on track after a few days, but my sweet tooth especially gets the better of me. I don’t have any food allergies, but I do eat pretty healthy 90% of the time. I even like 90% dark chocolate.

    • 90% of the time is good enough! I think you need to have something that rewards your efforts and hard work. Plus eating is cheaper than retail therapy and you can always go run off any excess.

  5. I just discovered steel cut oats the other day. I love them. I like especially how they last longer in the fridge than the other type, so I can heat them up and have a good breakfast even in a hurry. I add flax oil and a little agave syrup to them.
    I do want to try and notice my reactions to things..I think that the constantly-feeling-bloated thing is something that will happen to me for some days in a row. Generally it’s when I decide to eat toast. Which is so sad because I love toast!
    But yeah, I’m working on finding things that leave me feeling full without problems, and it leads to lots of fun recipes as I try to get more rice and veggies into my life because pasta also makes me feel gross. I feel like so much of it has to do with getting older too, which is sad, but I guess it’s how it goes..

    • I think as we get older our systems get more sensitive. So finding things that work is really important. I also find the feeling good is overriding foods that I like to eat because of taste/comfort/habit. It’s a process, for sure, and every day I start again.
      I sometimes cut up apple into my steel cut oats as it is cooking. Some cinnamon, maple syrup and it’s almost like a mini apple pie.

      • MMmmm I’ll have to try that apple thing! I am really in love with it, it just blows my mind how I can heat it up and it still tastes just as good (if not better) than when it was fresh.

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