Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who needs Lent?

At the time I met my husband, every year at Lent, he would give up meat and sweets.  By that he meant red meat, chicken and pork (basically anything besides fish), and anything that would qualify as dessert.  We had many conversations about what qualified as dessert.  Not muffins--that's breakfast.  But what about donuts?  Hmmmm, tough one.  At that time, I was eating fast food almost daily, and I might give up a favorite such as diet Coke, french fries, or potato chips.

Ahhh, those were the days.  I would resentfully cook up a separate spaghetti sauce for him with no ground beef, and be mildly annoyed that he wouldn't have dessert so I shouldn't either because it would be too hard for him.  

Now I think about what I have given up this past year.  Pretty much all bread (except a few gluten free dairy free soy free varieties), all fast food, all sodas--actually all beverages except water and a glass of juice very rarely.  My first food sensitivity test showed that I was intolerant to nearly all my favorite foods--potatoes, olives, garlic, onions, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, celery, goat cheese, rice.  But none of the stuff that really bothered me, like fruit, sugar, wheat.  So I stuck with that diet for a while, eventually going on a rotation diet with everything else.

Then I was basically starving myself, so my nutritionist threw all the tests out the window and just told me to eat whole foods that didn't cause any symptoms.  Now I don't eat gluten, dairy, or soy, and limit the sugar intake.  I wish eating donuts was a choice.  Unless I want serious pain, I simply can't.  

So Lent has been a bit superfluous this year.  Well, that's not exactly true.  We've given up the Amex to see if we can work on a cash only basis.  Life's not hard enough, right?  We need Lent to really show us what a purposeful challenge can be.

Having vented a bit about all my poor pitiful food issues, I can honestly say that it's not that hard anymore.  Things are clearer.  I know that if I eat anything with bread or flour, I will suffer abdominal pain and all that goes with that for three days.  So it makes it really easy not to.  I know that if I eat cheese or drink milk or even eat yogurt, my ears will fill up and my throat will get sore.  Soy makes my throat sore too--even more than dairy.  Everything was so mixed up before.  Last summer I thought all I could eat was wheat, cheese, beans, and fruit.  Now that I've paid attention for almost a year, I can tell the difference.  I don't need to go by tests anymore.  I know what my body can or cannot handle.  I feel like I have a little more control now, and that feels good.

Saw a gastroenterologist this week for the first time (finally), and got labs to test for celiac plus a bunch of other stuff.  Seems like I'm always waiting for the next piece of the puzzle.  It's okay--I've learned patience.  Meanwhile, I'll enjoy Lent in New Orleans.  Peace after the chaos of Mardi Gras, beautiful weather, and excellent seafood, especially on Fridays!