BBQs, Wedding Cake, & Easter Pie…Oh My!

15 Apr

Now that Spring is in full swing, I have lurched into the world of social functions that revolve around eating.  Some days my attitude is better than others towards this verdict.  Up until recently, I successfully dodged most communal munching opportunities.  I have yet to eat at a restaurant in 2012.  It’s too complicated and risky.  Processed food is a witch’s brew and figuring out exactly what’s in your food is an exhausting quest.

Following a vegan FructMal diet is one that requires planning galore.  Two weeks ago I spent almost an entire day preparing a bunch of meals to get me through the upcoming social functions.  I made tempeh bacon to throw on the grill for BBQs.  I made “cheesy” broccoli (before knowing better) potpies with chickpea gravy and homemade barley buckwheat crusts to get me through Easter.  I learned to enjoy black coffee (to avoid wasting any of my daily sugar allowance).

BBQs on a diet: When we grill at our house, it’s easy to control the types of foods that are prepared.  Derek would make one batch of potatoes with onions and a separate onion-free batch for me.  The first BBQ I attended this year at a friend’s house was a little rough.  Someone brought homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Even if I decided to let down my vegan guard for a cookie, my FructMal diet wouldn’t allow the wheat & brown sugar surely lurking inside.  Instead, I ate a concotion of dill, lemon juice, and lima beans with ruffles potato chips for dessert.  Not my first choice by any means but still tasty.

Easter on a diet:  I went to my grandma’s for Easter.  This was my first full-blown family oriented function of my food intolerant year.

When it was dinner time, I surveyed the assortment of prepared dishes to scope out any possible “safe” foods.

Not A One!

Laid out before me: turkey, ham, gravy, mashed potatoes made with sour cream, cream-based broccoli salad, fresh pineapple (a small amount could be considered safe but I wasn’t going to have any room in my daily sugar allowance for such a luxury), applesauce, & wheat buns.  Hmmm….

I purposely sat back while people piled their plates full of things I couldn’t eat.  Then I coyly took my pot pie out the freezer and popped it in the microwave.  I sat at the “reject” table as I labeled it this year.  In the past, it was known as the “kid’s table”.  Kids… rejects… same thing! 😉  Really it was just a small table set at the end of the larger table for overflow purposes.  All of the “kids” have grown up, so its modern inhabitants are based on luck of the draw.  I had a mixture of emotions in this position.  On the one hand, I felt even more disconnected from most of my family.  I couldn’t share the food or dining experience.  On the other hand, I was grateful to be separated from the larger group in the interest of avoiding a question and answer session in relation to my special food.  This year the “reject” table consisted of me, my grandma, and my uncle.  My grandma was very troubled by my inability to eat anything that was offered.  Well of course!  She’s a grandma, and that’s her job!  More often than not it’s those who are trying to feed me, rather than myself, that I feel sorry for.  She saw me eat my pot pie but worried that I would still be hungry.  Here’s where I had one of those aha moments.  On any other day, if someone watched me eat a pot pie for lunch, they wouldn’t fret over my lack of overindulgence.  But you only ate 1 pot pie!  How will you make it until supper?!  How privileged we are to feel deprived when only allowed to eat a reasonably sized meal while others stuff their faces.

My uncle asked me if I ever made sure that the diagnosis I received requiring me to eat this way was accurate.  Wow I thought.  Why can’t more people in my family read my blog so I don’t have to explain myself all the time?!  Anyway, I went on to explain that no doctor ever told me that I had to eat in a certain fashion and that I was in the midst of an experiment.  My ally told me that she gets tired of having to explain her condition to people all the time.  After about 3 1/2 months of special diets, I can attest to this one!    Everyone wants to know why you are/are not eating a certain way.  Not that I can blame them.  I am as guilty as anyone in this regard.  Food is intimate and alluring.  Sharing meals is an integral part of family/friend/significant other bonding.  Think of how many memories you have that involve specific foods intertwined with happy days.  I think of the pancakes and bacon my dad would prepare for me at 2 in the morning after a band gig, the pecan pie I shared with my mom for breakfast on Christmas, and the homemade chicken dumpling soup and rolls of my grandmothers.  These types of memories have the potential to be tarnished by food restrictions.

I was feeling particularly vulnerable on Easter towards dessert.  There was one thing I decided that I MUST have.  That one thing was a chocolate covered peanut butter egg.  Holiday themed Reese’s peanut butter treats are a vice of mine.  In theory, a person with fructose malabsorption could probably tolerate one Reese’s peanut butter egg as long as other fructose sources were carefully monitored for the remainder of the day.  Reese’s peanut butter cups do not contain any high fructose corn syrup and even have a bit of dextrose (that glucose that helps the body to digest fructose).  However, there are milk derived ingredients involved, so on the vegan front I was screwed.  It is milk chocolate afterall.  I solved this by preparing a homemade vegan dark chocolate version to bring along.  I was happy to have my dark chocolate peanut butter egg, but there was blueberry, pumpkin, and pecan pie to tempt me.  Pie is my other vice.  (Okay, maybe I just have a vice for sweets!)  Anyway, there is no ending to this story really.  I didn’t eat any pie, and I wasn’t happy about it.

Wedding on a diet:  Last night I went to my first wedding “on a diet”.  I planned ahead, assuming that there wouldn’t be anything there that I could eat.  I had dinner around 5:30, so I was good to go for a 6:00 wedding.  Technically, there were a few things there that I could eat, but I wasn’t interested in those options.  Appetizers that were offered that I could have eaten (sticking to my vegan FructMal guns) included: raw cauliflower, carrots, and radishes.  My digestive system is not a fan of raw veggies on an empty stomach and my taste buds are not impressed with plain veggies, so why bother?  Acceptable dinner options: yams, corn, and roasted potatoes (not sure whether or not they were prepared with butter).  If I were hungry enough, I wouldn’t have let the possibility of butter get in my way.  However, since I planned ahead, I was able to calmly observe others eating without feeling sorry for myself.  It can be hard for some to imagine passing up on free food, but I’m getting better at this all the time. A friend of mine, noticing the lack of a plate in front of me, suggested I “take a day off!”.  If I had a nickel for every time I heard that one…

If my ally decided to “take the day off”, she would have spent the remainder of the reception doubled over in pain, alone in the bathroom.  I’ll come clean right now and admit that I will be taking one day off this year.  That day is my wedding day.  Everything else is fair game: my bachelorette party, honeymoon, Christmas.  If I choose to take several days off, how far could my understanding of living with these conditions really stretch?

Near our table was a candy bar and a table displaying the arrangement of wedding cake.  My sweet tooth waxes and wanes.  When it wanes, it can ignore free peanut M&Ms.  When it waxes, bitch/cry baby alert!  Luckily, I was in the waning stage.  I was more interested in dancing.  Dancing like a crazy person makes me feel better than any piece of cake ever has.

Philosophical Blurbs: People could argue that I make this harder on myself by combining my special diet with a vegan preference, and that would be a fair assessment.  It’s true.  I am eating vegan by my own choosing, but I think it adds an interesting element to the research too.  I almost look at it as an evaluation of  the challenge of mind vs body.  How long can we fight with our what our bodies demand and what our mind has made up?  If my body refuses to accept certain things and my mind refuses to accept others, what is left to eat?  There is not a perfect one size fits all diet.  I know a girl with peanut & nut allergies who also suffers from oral allergy syndrome in which fresh fruits and vegetables make her mouth burn.  Can a die hard vegan rightfully furrow his/her brow at this girl’s decision to eat meat?  There are some people who would demand such things of themselves and others in the name of their philosophies.  I am not one of those people.

I am not against the principle of eating meat.  Some vegans are and that’s good for them.  I believe that humans have evolved to be omnivores, and that it’s very possible that animal products contain nutrients that enable us to be our most nourished selves.  My beef lies with the meat factory system.  I believe in humanity as well as survival of the fittest.  I think if other animals are on board with hunting, we shouldn’t have to feel guilty for similar practices.  Ultimately, every species is doing the best they can for themselves and their loved ones.  No one is solely responsible for being a martyr in this model.

Eating disorder?! Sometimes I worry that people will notice my refusal of food and attribute it to an eating disorder.  I won’t deny that I have a weird relationship with food (I self medicate like the masses), but I can assure everyone that I am not/nor ever would be anorexic.  I eat regular meals.  I just don’t eat recreationally the way I used to.  The only time I essentially “starved” myself (other than that 24 hour fast) was during an elimination diet.  I was having constant stomach aches and finally came to the conclusion that I’d rather be hungry than be in pain all the time.  I was afraid to eat.  This is a harsh reality of the food intolerant world and I know my ally went through something similar around the time of her FructMal diagnosis.  Some of the personal insight I hope to gain on this journey is whether or not a certain pattern of eating makes me feel like my best self.  Ultimately what I have learned so far is that food matters, BUT it’s not everything.  Sleep, exercise, stress…these factors must also be considered in the attainment of optimum health.  I am still able to enjoy a wedding, a BBQ, and a holiday with food restrictions.  When I’m in the right state of mind, I even enjoy the enlightenment these restrictions bring.  If you can’t enjoy these types of occasions without the comfort of mindless eating, you might want to reanalyze your relationship with food.

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One Response to “BBQs, Wedding Cake, & Easter Pie…Oh My!”

  1. DAD April 16, 2012 at 2:55 am #

    Hey Tine, this was a great segment. It let’s people know the difficulties those with restrictions have when dealing in a social enviornment. But I’m learning from you that the body and mind can “learn” different eating patterns and not feel..deprived. Keep it up.

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