Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bread and Whine

As of late I have been contemplating a good many things related to what I put down my gullet.

Since I finished the Culinary Arts Program, I've done a successful two week course of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet, which against my better instincts I liked (while making my own modifications to the suggested eating plan as I refuse to eat things like ham, cottage cheese and aspartame), went to China and willingly let it all go to hell, consuming platefuls of that nation's venerable and porcine delicacies with abandon, came back to the States, felt like crap. I laid around for three days recovering from jet lag and researching juicers, detox diets, and raw foods diets, got sick of that, and went to my sister's college graduation and ate Cheetos, Doritos, pretzels, popcorn and a Klondike Bar in an environment where whole grains and greens seemed...irrelevant, to say the least. I am now trying to gear myself up to embark on something distinctly Unfun: an Elimination Diet.

Grrroooooaaaan. Whine. Moan. Writhe.

Earlier this year on the recommendation of my primary care doctor I got food allergy testing done. For a couple of years now--since the stressful Beijing office job--I've had some weird upper respiratory, digestive and tongue symptoms. I was treated in Beijing with acupuncture, which actually worked quite well (although slowly) on the digestive symptoms, heart palps and tight cough I'd get after eating (bizarre, yes). However, the weird scalloped tongue and the funny, scrapey-burny feeling on it WOULD NOT go away and still hasn't. This last is a curious sort of symptom, I know. Traditional Chinese medicine would locate the problem in the vicinity of the spleen, liver and other digestive organs.* Anyway, back in the states I got food allergy tested and was found to be reactive to tomatoes, eggs, oranges, and....here is the horrid part: BAKER'S YEAST and BREWER'S YEAST.


Well, okay. There's no real evidence, as of yet, that I must give up ALL of these foods entirely. I'm going to eliminate all of them for a time, or at least do my damndest to, and see if there's a significant change in the way I feel. I have no major problem with the tomatoes or the eggs or the oranges (although for god's sake, no tomatoes? In summer? Injustice!)

It is the baker's and brewer's yeasts that are the hard part. It's not just that the blessed wee organisms are responsible for the chemical reactions that create, oh, EVERYTHING GOOD (bread, cakes, rolls, condiments,vinegars, crackers, pickles, etc. Oh, AND ALCOHOL. HUZZAH.) but that yeasts in some form are in most processed foods, making them extremely difficult to escape. I fear the degree of vigilance it will require to properly execute this elimination diet. Actually, at the moment I'm less fearing the vigilance than the length--I am seeing the rather flighty nutritionist tomorrow to start the thing, and I don't know how long she will recommend me to do it. What if it's months? I have three weddings and my fiance's family reunion to attend in the next three months, plus a good many get-togethers with friends of the regular sort. Of course all these things can be enjoyed without the manna of bread and the balm of sweet, sweet Kentucky bourbon (or Malbec or Champagne). IN THEORY.

Well, on the bright side, I won't be consuming any processed food at all, practically. I won't be imbibing extra calories in the form of alcohol, calories which potentially take up happy residence in my rather-too-fleshy arms and midsection. However, I am one of those people who has to have some sort of recourse, some sort of compensation, for undertaking anything gastronomically limited (no, the experience and potential results are not their own reward. It's hardly as if I'm some kind of mature, reasonable adult). Hence I have settled upon a Solution to stave off the inevitable pangs of dullness and boredom I will feel while everyone else is having bacchanal blowouts and chowing down on cinnamon rolls and I'm having lemon water, salmon and steamed vegetables that I have had to make myself because god forbid I go to a restaurant where Unknown Yeasts might lurk.

Well, the picture says it all, people. At least it's not something much worse.

*and curiously, what is apparently my spleen channel (along my inner shins) is insanely painful to massage. Uh...whodathunkit?

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