I know a lot of people with rigorous food preferences/allergies/intolerances/religious restrictions/etc. I am starting to think that I should paint a grid inside my cabinet so I can track who is gluten free/dairy free/vegetarian/allergic to tomatoes and potatoes/ allergic to corn/allergic to soy…. It would be a complicated grid.
I was thinking about this as I talked to a friend yesterday who is vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free. He always causes me to think about my food choices in more detail. I try hard to do it from a consciously evaluating point of view and not from a defensive point of view.
This week he said something I found very interesting, “I’m not sure if I am actually allergic to gluten but when I eat it I have urgent, painful diarrhea that causes me to need to run to the toilet eight times a day. So I don’t eat it. I don’t care if I’m actually allergic.”
That… That made me think very hard. Huh. It isn’t normal to run to the bathroom with diarrhea eight times a day? I try very hard to accommodate my friends who have different dietary needs. It’s a big deal to me that people should be loved and fed in the ways that are appropriate for THEM.
We had some completely different friends over earlier in the week and that meant accommodating a vegan and a vegetarian with diabetes. H’okay. Guess what? The dinner we prepared for them had me dealing with violent, burning, painful diarrhea for over a day.
So uhm… Hm.
This morning I lay in bed and I got really really angry for (what I believe to be) the very first time about my food needs not seeming as important as the vegetarian/vegan/allergies in my social circle. I don’t know very many people with anaphylactic allergies. I know people who get sore butts, mostly.
I try very hard to ensure that I’m not damaging anyone else’s body. But when I go over to the home of a vegetarian or a vegan there is little consideration for how their food will effect me. It’s my problem.
All of a sudden this morning I felt lots of rage about that. I don’t think I’ve ever felt angry about this before. I don’t think I have ever seen it as an injustice before. This morning, as I lay in bed unable to sleep all of a sudden I felt violently full of rage. Why in the hell does everyone else’s ass matter and mine doesn’t!?
I have no idea what to do with this sudden burst of new-thing-to-be-pissy-about. Probably I won’t do anything. I’m not going to start demanding that vegans supply meat for me at their parties.
But I’m wondering if maybe I should stop going to dinner at their houses. Because I’m kind of tired of it not mattering that my body does not process vegetables well. It causes me terrible pain for days. Yes yes yes, they are “healthy” and EVERYONE should GO VEG!! Or obviously you are a piece of shit who doesn’t care about anyone but yourself and certainly not the POOR LITTLE ANIMALS. WHAT KIND OF MONSTER ARE YOU!?
Uhm, I’m the kind who lived with terrible malnutrition for decades and now I can’t digest vegetables. And fuck you.
I don’t think that people who are gluten free need to buy “regular” pasta when I come over. I don’t think dairy free people need to buy me cow milk. I don’t think that vegans are required to cook me meat. But when we are ordering pizzas?…. Then I feel kind of shit on. Because the pizza you will order means I either get to have horrible diarrhea for days or I don’t eat.
I haven’t felt pissy or defensive about this in the past. I’m not sure if this will last longer than today.
Having relationships is really hard. How do we all manage to be respectful of one another and the varying needs that their bodies have? I don’t know.
That said, the friend who came over yesterday has a wife who can cook the best vegan food in the world. If I could finally narrow it down to a handful of vegetables that are the “trigger” foods (I think a food diary is coming at some point) she would be able to feed me vegan food that didn’t hurt me.
I have done a lot to narrow the range of triggers for my terrible diarrhea. I get way less of it than I used to. But apparently eating cauliflower soup, pasta with tomato/garlic/basil/carrots, and salad is not ok. I knew the salad would be pushing my luck. I ate very little of the raw veggies. I ate like two pieces of lettuce and three cucumber slices. Mostly I ate cooked stuff. Supposedly cooking the vegetables should make me better able to process them. These are all food we eat on a regular basis and I don’t always have the terrible burning diarrhea.
A lot of the reason I haven’t tried harder on food diary stuff is it is very discouraging. My “triggers” clearly move around. It is much more important how much stress I am under generally. Clearly tomatoes aren’t always a problem. Clearly potatoes aren’t even usually a problem. (I have weeks where I eat potatoes daily and don’t have a diarrhea problem.) Alcohol is fine if I am under basically no stress and horrifying if I feel even a little bit of anxiety to start with.
Fuck all food forever.
It doesn’t help that I’m in a phase where basically all food is revolting and nasty and I feel sick all the time. Running is fun. I hate weather changes. My poor intestine.
I do my best (I’ve been slipping) to eat humanely sourced meat. I can afford it and I think that is the ethical choice given my financial resources and my physical dietary needs. I slip when I’m buried with every other part of life and I don’t have the spoons to deal with sourcing “better raised” meat.
I know that it is sad that animals have to die so I can live. I agree that it is not “fun”. I agree that it isn’t “nice”. But my alternative is to live with horrifying pain or kill myself. If you don’t know what it is like to have diarrhea for months in a row then you can’t really talk to me about my food choices. Also: no doctor has been useful in this process. I’ve tried going in to talk about it and I’ve tried asking for advice. I wasn’t told much useful. I was told to do my own food diary and figure out what to eliminate. When I asked about bringing in the diary to talk to them I was told that there wasn’t much they could do. Maybe I should have insisted on talking to a nutritionist? An intestine specialist? I don’t know how to advocate for myself on this issue. Doctors are not out checking on patients to find out how they can be most useful. You have to walk in knowing what to tell them to do. I don’t know what to do.
I’m feeling overwhelmed. And this one little piece jumped out at me this morning. Interesting to think about.