Thursday, 25 March 2010

Food as frenemy Food as healer

Image from microsoft clip art

Hi long time no see lovely foodie people. As you can see Ive not been here for a very long time. Its been very difficult to talk food, as my relationship to the stuff I scoff had to drastically change. November last year I was rushed into hospital , covered in some strange and unexplainable burning and scary looking rash, on top of which I hadn't been able to eat properly for weeks on end, (months even), well I had but my body wasnt very happy with any of it & had rapidly lost weight. I was extremely unwell. I wont go all serious and uncomfortable on you here, after all this is a lighthearted and fun space to talk about food, but lets say the weeks following that Hospital day were not very pretty. I was diagnosed with various auto immune illnesses.

It seems strange to talk about food and this particular illness on this food blog , (thats been an account of mine & he the mans many luxurious & rich heavy feastings), but our relationship between how we feel in our bodies and what we feed it are very connected & now I have learnt this the hard way. I wont go too distasteful on you and have you squirming at your screens, but I will discuss with you what its meant to me.

Being told (even for a few months , I remember pregnancy very well, ahh the need for a runny egg) , you cant eat most of the food groups you've existed on since the dawn of your time is challenging, painful & for me, downright shocking : I was sent home with 3 pages of foods to remove , albeit may be temporarily for say 6months to a year. Yes I have to go to that neurotic place first before I get to the, right what do I have to do to get through this stage. I had to stop dairy, wheat, meat , crucifers, aliums, cabbages & much more, I also had a feeling sugar was doing my body in to.

I had an addiction to sugar that had known no bounds; alcohol , sweets, sugar in teas, cakes , icing, candy floss, anything and everything to fix that sweet monster call . I do however prefer dark chocolate over milk, but one too many confectionery dairy milk bars have passed my lips the last 20+ years! Every morning started with a packet cereal & milk, tea with milk , sauces with cream, cream cheese on even more processed white wheat crackers.Yes pasta & bread had been a non stop staple for me also, eating everything and anything doughy & wheaty I could lay my hands on ; rye, 50/50, sourdough, pitas , challah, wholewheat granary's,naan & on & on. My saving grace, or so I thought ,was reducing my white over processed intake & changing much of it to 50/50 mix. Little did I know the havoc I was wreaking on my guts all these years! I think I may have fooled myself into thinking I was healthy & balanced, as I had eaten salads every day, the thing was that they always sat next to salamis, cured meats, sauces and dressings, all again laden with sugar, preservatives & other nasties. Well nasties for me & my body anyway!

The portion above was written about 5weeks ago,(to the day) & since December last year Ive been researching , seeking , reading and experimenting a better way with my munchies. Unfortunately Ive had a secondary diagnoses in the last few days, (although I had a hunch it was coming months ago) & lets say, it has far wider concerns, it now makes my body think that Im still unwell, even though the previous condition is nearly stable. It needs a much more multi leveled approach than just eats. As this space is for foodyism , I think I will save those thoughts and ideas on my blog Gifted Hand - my more esoteric space for things Reiki & metaphysical flavoured. I haven't been there for 10 months now , lets say it was having a long needed rest & recuperation like me!

Whats that saying once you learn new ways, you cant go back to how you were? I followed a well know USA web site for my condition(s) Heathers help for IBS to start with & to help my endeavour, which in its essence has some great ideas & some amazingly detailed supportive information; it suggests starting all meals with soluble fibre. So I then found myself starting a meal with rice every day or gluten free crackers or some such. It suggests buying or making your own artisan breads to ensure the ingredients are kept safe. I then found that may be rice wasn't quite right for me , as I continued to not feel so comfortable. There are however reams and reams of good recipes , (theres an unbelievable amount of them there), but for my confused little head it got over complicated, mix that in with trying to sub some of the US ingredients, remove my no no foods & I found myself struggling . I think I was hoping for a one stop shop or book or site , but it wasnt to be. I think Ive realised the best thing is to bring together lots of different types of food ways; one that suits some of my old cravings, albeit in a replacement of ingredients way & many that show me theres another way.

Its a steep learning curve and made more challenging , as he the mans pretty much wants to continue eating the same way he always has or so he thinks! Im also not yet completely 100% well versed on how to do raw & clean & remove some of the offenders from my diet. Im probably around 50% clued up , but thats not yet enough , as I will start to miss essential nutrient parts of my diet to keep my bodies needs up, like blood sugars (mine often drop to 3.8) & aiding gut function, working in my Glycemic load. I'm also not yet quite ready to give up animal proteins like chicken & fish, Im a carnivore & I dont think I can stop eating it. Red meat is another story, Im really not yet sure what Im going to do! I did have a cheeky steak at Gaucho a few weeks back, I'm not going to pretend I'm something Im not , I think Ive said it before! I need to find a better source of red meat that's cleaner and I know more of its provenance. I dont really fancy added hormones though thanks , mine are messed up already!! For now it will be a treat rather than a main player. I must also add , that I think there are some added benefits to eating cooked food also , it does mean that certain other vitamins and minerals are released that aren't as prominent when foods are raw. I also have the layer of having to add a few more lbs on my frame! I will find a balance that suits me somehow.

Im not here to change the world , not yet anyway, its more that right now I need to support my body to heal, repair, reverse and continue feeling good. Food for me needs to be my medicine, as a friend said to me a few months ago , when I couldn't face eating another plate of steamed rice with nothing added. If anyone takes an interest and wants to try what Im making great. If not , no problem, my path is for my needs right now and hopefully my 2 girls , as the cupcake (might have to rename her?), will show much interest in what Im making & wanting to try it all.

Im hoping Ill be fairly adept at making things and satisfying & satiating appetite. Its a bit like alcoholics anon , I will have to remove all links to my old addictions, Ive cleared out every cupboard and warned the troops that there may not be the same things at home anymore, (well a little , Im not quite that radical, yet)!! Somehow I have to find recipes that replace it , so that I dont have complete and utter deprivation , thats when I know It will be the slippery slope into the arms of sweet & doughy monster! I think I will have to list all the things I LOVED to eat and then make them in a clean cleansing way, a bit like before and after!

I feel it could be quite fun to change things up in my kitchen & expand on my knowledge of a wider food world, my body will thank me for it also. I will have to find a way of getting the energy going to do it all though, as Im challenged by the current symptoms of my illness , but a drip feed of change is better for anyone looking to shift years of any life patterns. It will be a gently does it, not my previous past life of all or nothing.

Today Ive been scouring sites and researching in a big way, theres an enormous wealth of information & sometimes its mind boggling to hone in on whats accessible and quite easy to adopt. I think I may have to organise another trip back to New York next year just to go visit this exciting looking restaurant Pure food and wine , by founder of web site & book writer Sarma Melngailis . I like her way & it rolls with my aesthetic with foods. I have no idea how I missed it last year! Also today I found Selene of blog Veganlicious, (especially like the idea of the raw cinnamon pancakes),this looks really interesting and many of her recipes look quite easily doable, breakfast is one of my biggest challenges , as Im trying to stay away from mostly all the normal boxed products & oatmeal porridge with various non dairy, non soy, non rice milks , (Im on the hunt for that too, Kara coconut milk's my latest & Jury's still out on that), can become very dull every single day, even with different fruits on top. I can see that eventually I will have charts up to help me with the variations every day. Yes, I like my charts , my head doesn't work quite in the same way it used to before getting my lovely syndrome! I will work around it!

So what about my piccy at the top of my blog? Does it reflect what Im doing? I may have to change it soon to give me a new symbol & help aid my efforts. I still like a bowl or two of chicken soup , but knedlach , well I may have to find a way to make them using GF substitutes, hmmm not sure theres GF matzo , will have to look into that one. May be I need to start knocking at the door of the kosher Brands in the Uk & demand GF versions of it all & removal of all the nasties, (HVP- Hydrolysed veg protein will be my 1st, really not good for my system right now), hmmmm , now theres a project!

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