So I am entering my second week on the AIP, and it’s still a bit of a novelty. Certainly a novelty to my gut, which is letting me know in the plainest terms that it is freaking out.
I am continuing to zhoosh my foods to try and calm my gut down as much as possible (at this stage I have a horrible suspicion that coconut milk is off the menu, at least in large amounts). In the meantime my mind has been occupied with planning the week’s meals, something I traditionally do on a Sunday, and making advance plans for those moments when you would otherwise think, ‘Oh well, I’ll just grab some toast.’
Many, many people have successfully gone through this before me, so I am confident that it can be done.
Even so, there is an adjustment period. Before I started, a friend of mine urged me not to go into mourning for the foods I would not be eating for the next few months. ‘Live in the moment!’ she said. I took her point. It is fruitless (‘fruitless’, tee hee) to go into an elimination diet with the mindset that you can’t wait to start eating [food] again, because a) you’ll feel deprived the entire time, which is not fun, and b) the whole point of doing the elimination is that you may not be eating [food] again at all if it turns out to be one reason for all that pain.
With that great wisdom in mind, here is my list of the foods I’m not currently eating, rated by how much I miss them, least to most. (Do I look like a saint to you?)
Foods I miss, least to most
Off they go, bye-bye
No. 8: Alcohol
You know, I like a drink – especially gin – so I thought this would hurt more.To be honest I’d like to eventually go back to the odd glass of wine, and my traditional martini on my birthday and at the start of a holiday. But if not, my world won’t be over. Meh. Moving on.
No. 7: Sugar
My mother loves to talk about how I’ve never been a serious sweet-tooth, even as a child. Don’t get me wrong: I love a lot of sweet things, especially rhubarb-and-custard sweets, good chocolate and black forest cake (also a birthday tradition). But I never wanted these things often and so sugar isn’t something I’m missing much. I’ve learned that nibbling a Medjool date crushes my occasional sugar cravings. Next!
See you on the flip side, baby – or not, whatev
No. 6: Grains
I was a bit sad to give up my breakfast porridge, because it’s comfort-food for me. And being of English extraction, grains have a lot of cultural impact on my life and identity.
On the other hand I was already finding myself eating fewer and fewer grains. Not for any huge reason, but mainly because I’ve always preferred the sandwich fillings to the bread. I suppose pasta and rice are my main regrets at the moment.
Also, I love baking and had recently been working on improving my bread and pastry-making skills as a form of pain management therapy. Kneading is really, really good for putting the brain into a pleasant state of neutral while keeping the hands busy.
But I suddenly realised that there is no reason I can’t keep baking for other people. Just because you make it, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Problem solved. Lalala.
No. 5: Nuts and Seeds
Here is where the struggle actually begins. I have been eating nuts daily lately. I am a protein-driven person: fruit and veg can barely touch a real hunger while a small handful of nuts does the trick for me instantly.
There are few protein snacks as convenient as nuts. Convenient, and also socially-acceptable. I can grab a tin of tuna, but there is at least one person in my office who would not appreciate the aroma. If I get a protein-hunger at work, I have to skulk in the kitchen.
Seeds I thought I could give or take: I’m allergic to pumpkin and sunflower seeds anyway, and poppyseed is nice but fussy. But then I thought: sesame oil.
No. 4: Dairy
I am a bit dairy-intolerant, and haven’t had cow’s milk for years. But I had been happily eating butter in cooking, occasional cream (always regretted later but hey-ho), yoghurt (lovely, lovely Greek yoghurt) – and cheese.
Cheese. Cheese. Cheeeeese. Along with some gourmand friends, the Captain and I are serious cheese-fans. The fussy, the stinky, the runny, the crumbly, the expensive … we were even the type of merchant-bankers * who sourced cheeses and ate cheeses that came from the milk of bizarre animals and scared poor innocent restaurant staff by asking annoying questions about it and and … (actually, I was quite happy to eat most types of cheese, including mass-produced table cheese).
Yes, I miss cheese. Keep going …
No. 3: Nightshade Vegetables
Potatoes are potatoes. I identify as English. This was never going to go well.
Plus, when I found out that tomatoes are nightshades, I nearly cried. I could give or take shop-bought tomatoes, but once for my birthday somebody gave me a big bowl of their own home-grown tomatoes, all different shapes and sizes, fragrant and sweet and flavoursome: this was one of my favourite birthday presents. **
I am very keen on Mediterranean food which is full of nightshades. Tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, chillies … makes my frequent birthday demands for Greek food tricky. (Hmm, as an aside, i never realised before how food-centered my birthdays are. I guess this is why I love birthdays.)
Depressingly, I have a suspicion the nightshades may turn out to be one of the problematic foods for me. Curses!
No. 2: Legumes
This one was a surprise to me. I knew I loved lentils and dried peas, but I was unprepared for my grief when I realised that broad beans (my favourite vegetable! My favourite!), green beans and peas, edamame (food and toy, what’s not to love?) and soy products would be off the menu for at least six weeks, if not longer.
I mean, seriously. Green beans? They are … like … the MOST innocuous, harmless little vegetables in the world. And no soy sauce? Isn’t that considered a bit inhumane?
But this all pales into nothing in comparison to …
No. 1: Eggs
Oh, god, no. Eggs are in everything. Eggs ARE everything. Lovely, lovely fresh, comforting, cosy googy-eggs, laid by happy backyard hens whose names I know, and who I sometimes pat.
Soft-boiled eggs when you feel a bit sad. Hard-boiled eggs as an office snack when you want revenge on that person who can’t tolerate the smell of tuna. Eggs swirled into a Japanese-style hot soup. Omelettes with fresh herbs and goat cheese. Fried eggs and bacon. Quiches with fragrant brown mushrooms. Frittatas full of whatever veg was lurking in the fridge. Buttery scrambled eggs.
Eggs … (wipes away tear)
Of all the foods I am longing to be able to reintroduce, eggs qualify as number one. Sod’s Law dictates that these will probably be the single problem food I have, right?
How did my relatives cope in England during the war and post-war rationing? I can’t imagine. I suppose they were doing it for Blighty.
I’m not sure even dear old Blightly could comfort me if I can’t eat eggs again. ***
* It’s rhyming slang: you can work it out.
** If you are one of my friends or family members, that one present you gave me that time is definitely my other favourite.
*** If you’re reading this, Mum, I don’t really mean it.