About food, again.

Well, now, after not eating gluten for nearly four months, if I go ‘oh, fuck it, I’m on holiday’ and eat, say, a splendid bowl of seafood linguine in a nice restaurant with a spiffing view of the harbour and a distant lighthouse, my belly blows up like a Montgolfier aerostatic globe (alas without the golden fleur-de-lys at every corner). The experiment was repeated a few days later with a piece of bread and frankly, if I’d bumped into a street-lamp it’d’ve been the Hindenburg disaster all over again. So. For whatever reason, May’s intestines have Taken Against gluten. Whether this is a new thing, or whether they were never pro-gluten in the first place and are quite glad I’ve finally worked it out is undeterminable and probably, for the moment at least, irrelevant.

Meanwhile, I’d kill for a dish of lasagne and a cake that doesn’t have the texture of sand.

Things I can’t eat, because they variously make me bloated, give me violent instant and very painful indigestion, sore swollen lips and tongue, or eczema: Hazelnuts. Raspberries. Bananas. Kiwis. White wine (and champagne). Dairy products from cows (this has improved in the past ten years. I can now eat dairy several times a week without any noticeable reaction). And now, wheat. Arse.

I mean ‘arse’ as in swear-word, not as in another thing I can’t eat.

And, because I ovulated on Monday, I am cutting down on coffee, as I always, grimly, bloody-mindedly do for the two-week-wait. I think, this time, I shan’t start it back up again post-period. Too much caffeine is too implicated in too many random, poorly-backed-up studies of infertility, you see.

When I announced this to H, he expressed the concern that coffee helps me get through the day, I only have one or two coffees a day, and here I was, giving up this thing that helps me get through the day, and it sounded less like me being cautious and healthy and more like me punishing myself.

Well, yes, said I, as if this was the most logical thing in the world.

H looked at me in total, utter, 100% shiny bafflement.

OK. I have just said, and thought, and am still thinking, the sort of thing an unhinged wing-nut with a major eating disorder would say and think.

I don’t think having food intolerances is good for me. You know what orthorexia is? It’s a way of having an eating disorder without anyone really noticing you’ve got an eating disorder. I once weighed a grand total of 120 lbs, thought I was disgustingly fat, and lived on, alternately, black coffee and fingernails for a week, and binges of buttered toast, carrot sticks and Cadbury’s Creme Eggs. For which, of course, I loathed myself. Back on the fingernails! Until my body screams for carbohydrate and fibre! Cycle! Vicious!

Now I weigh, oh, fuck it, I weigh 180 lbs and eat things like salad Niçoise and bacon and avocados and roast chicken and broccoli and chocolate and cherry tomatoes and Pad Thai. And by and large, I don’t beat myself up about any of it. At all. Except maybe when I have my usual PMT break-out and eat enough chocolate to make myself feel a little sick, and then it’s usually only because I could’ve stopped three squares ago and now not be feeling sick.

Or, at least, I did. And yet, here I am, thinking it’s a perfectly logical, sane idea to give up something I love, not because to do so would be provenly healthy (though it may well be (and in fact I am using the healthiness as a justification (which is, you know, how orthorexia works))), but because I love it.



31 responses to “About food, again.

  • a

    Well, stop that. (Helpful, aren’t I?) Time for a visit to a counsellor, perhaps?

    How depressing…I love my wheat products.

  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    Some of those things are possibly due to this, yes? Which I also have and it sucks. Are you allergic to birch trees? Am currently trying to figure out if I must give up pecans (NOOOOOO!!!) as well as walnuts, etc.

    (Do please don’t give up coffee. Although I can understand the temptation to punish infertility with food craziness.)

  • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

    Okay, WordPress tried to eat my comment, I’m trying again…

    Some of those things are possibly due to this, yes? Which I also have and it sucks. Are you allergic to birch trees? Am currently trying to figure out if I must give up pecans (NOOOOOO!!!) as well as walnuts, etc.

    (Do please don’t give up coffee. Although I can understand the temptation to punish infertility with food craziness.)

    • May

      WordPress is putting a time-delay on publishing things now. It’s, it’s, it’s FUCKING ANNOYING is what it is. Sorry about this.

      Anyhow. Oral allergy syndrome? I HAD AN EPIPHANY RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. I always thought it was Plane trees I had itchy burning watery eyes and throat about, because they’re a common hay-fever trigger and there are billions of them in my area of Blighty. BUT, guess what flowers at the same time as Plane? Birch! And guess what we have a stand of right outside our house? AUGH!

      But yes, that so exactly, but EXACTLY, describes my symptoms. I am. Wow. Well. Golly. You mean I have a RIGHT to at least some of my food craziness? Wow. Did I say wow? Wow.

      • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

        At least the fruits and veggies and nuts are completely attributable to birch allergy. (I guess you could still be plane-allergic – we call them sycamores here; I had to look it up – but plane’s probably unrelated to the raspberries.) The white wine is apparently maybe related to birch?

        Sometimes cooking helps though usually not for nuts (anecdotally); I, for example, can eat celery if boiled to a pulp in soup, but last time I had it raw, I required two benadryl and a trip to the allergist.

        Ironically, I then figured out myself that I have birch-celery-carrot-mugwort-OMFG-oral-allergy syndrome…while flipping through a book in the allergist’s waiting room.

        In any event, yes, it is a real and well-studied condition. Here are a few more-or-less comprehensible studies: skin prick with commercial preps isn’t terribly accurate for this; it’s mediated by profilins and IgG/IgE ratios; skin prick with fresh stuff IS pretty accurate.

        Side note: I had an IgE blood test for celery allergy and it was negative, probably b/c their commercial antigen in the ELISA sucks, but by gum I CANNOT eat celery or I’ll try to stop breathing.

      • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

        P.S. I don’t actually know what the hell is up with you and wheat, but it is listed as cross-reacting with birch. And there was a very boring study that I didn’t link, which said that in people with OAS and apple reactivity, if they ate a little fresh apple every day they got de-sensitized, but if they stopped for a week or two it went away (i.e. apples made them feel sick and gaseous again). So that’s one hypothesis for what’s going on with wheat products. Not that it helps pasta cravings.

      • Jenny F. Scientist, PhD

        P.P.S. I am consumed by a desire to add “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on the Internet!” (Not a medical doctor, at least.)

  • wombattwo

    Can’t help with much there, except to send hugs and gin, but gluten-free cakes are do-able, you just have to make them yourself rather than buying them. I can send recipes if you like, or just provide them if you’re ever up this way.

  • wombattwo

    Also, just noticed – no white wine?! This is tragedy indeed! My greatest sympathies x

  • Womb For Improvement

    What a nightmare. Do you think the wheat thing is just the reintroduction of it into your diet in the form of a big bowl of pasta, maybe little by little will allow your body to stop getting so het up? Because, if I remember correctly you didn’t have noticeable anti-wheat reactions before but thought it might help with your Period From Hell ™) Fingernails however, should remain firmly out of your diet.

    • May

      Alas, I am a chronic nailbiter – I have been since I had both nails and teeth, to the immense despair of my parents. It’s pathetic, but there it is. Fingernails with everything.

  • Katie

    It can be both, original intolerance plus added sensitivity. I had the first, then the second, then my stomach recovered from the lining-removing-infection, and small tastes didn’t kill me any more, and I eventually didn’t have the sensitivity any more.

    • May

      Which is a nice hopeful thought to think. Especially as I have desensitized to a great extent to dairy, which used to give me eczema patches like fresh burns.

  • Shannon

    Oh god. You can’t drink champagne? Oh god.

    Come here. I’ll embrace you in commiseration. You poor girl.

    As an aside, I also badly suffer from The Bloat if I so much as head south towards bread (IBS+bread = bad). I, however, am a stubborn asshole who won’t give it up and I did a fair amount of research and found a recommendation that if you have The Bloat (it really needs caps) that drinking as your first beverage of the day a large glass of water with a lemon squeezed into it. It tastes foul, but I’ll be damned, it honestly has killed off The Bloat.

    (sorry for the assvice)

    • May

      I should have known Something Was Up when I couldn’t drink my own wedding champagne on my own wedding day. At the time, I blamed it on the corset.

      Will try lemon in water. Why the heck not? Sounds healthy, at any rate.

  • twangy

    Odd how an off the cuff remark can be so revealing, isn’t it? But really the messages we receive about food are so confused, it’s impossible to remain unaffected.
    Go easy on yourself, won’t you? None of this is
    your fault. (I only state this obviousness because it helped when the counsellor stated it with me. The obvious! Has its place.)
    Also: I don’t hear the word spiffing often enough.

  • MFA Mama

    Argh! Also if it’s any consolation at all, from the way you talk about your weight I thought you weighed quite a bit more than I did. But no, we’re actually about the same (in fact, currently my body is doing this bloat-up thing and I’ve probably surpassed you). And I…well, aside from when I’m trying on clothes I don’t really feel FAT, y’know? Therefore I no longer consider you to be fat. The end!

    • May

      Ridiculous OCD food issues are no respecters of the actual size of one’s arse.

      Also, it’s hard to stay mellow about it when the NHS is refusing you treatment based on the size of said arse. So, you know, for GENERAL purposes I’m cuddly-curvacious-but-normal.

      The bloat thing is FREAKIN’ ANNOYING. Empathy.

  • Kylie

    That just sucks, there isn’t any way around it. I can’t even profer any advice, apart from the fact that it is possible to make decent gluten free cakes (rice flour is a good subsititute as a start)

    On the white wine front, I learned from visiting wineries with my vegan brother ( never again) that many white wines are “clarified”using egg and or fish products (i don’t want to ask about the second). Any chance it is one of those that might be causing the issues?

    Oh, and have you seen the study where people who were given dessert fro breakfast lost more weight than those who weren’t (both groups on the same overall amount of calorie load)

    • May

      I eat fish and eggs all the time with no reactions at all, so I don’t think it is that. At least, I hope not that. No more smoked salmon and scrambled eggs? AUGH!

      Dessert for breakfast sounds like a WORLD idea. There was this brand of coffee-flavoured rice pudding I used to adore…

  • bionicbrooklynite

    re: food you-should-forgive-the-term craziness, i am slightly afraid we are the same person. sympathies to you.

    re: bread and zomg CHAMPAGNE??? is there no end to the cruelty of it all? sigh. i suppose we will have to drink mojitos instead of french 75s when you visit. less elan, but it can’t be helped. ooo, or juleps. have you had a julep with someone who spent her childhood gathering mint for same? her julep-country childhood? no? well, then. settled.

  • thalia

    Gluten free cake – try claudia roden’s orange and almond cake? It’s yummy, not in the least like sand. You are ok w almonds, yes?

    On coffee, even the bad studies I’ve seen don’t seem to say anything conclusive on caffeine. I have to say I went the opposite way to you and just said, I love it, it doesnt’ seem to be a big deal, 1-2 cups a day is fine. Also when I went on a big detox my endometriosis got much worse so I soon gave that up.

    Treat yourself kindly, you deserve it.

    • May

      I adore Claudia Roden, I have three of her books and I’m hoping someone will give me the latest for my birthday (H? Are you reading this?).

      The coffee news is excellent. I am feeling better already. Coffee! Whee! (You can tell I haven’t had any for days, can’t you?)

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