Put your back into it

Kind of rattling around in my house today, making sure Gert doesn’t get into trouble and counting job rejection emails (or just the silences, same thing) as they roll in. I’ve been out walking almost daily for a couple of hours at a time so if she started vomiting suddenly or took a turn I feel like that would be too long. I always take to walking when I am unemployed longer than I like.

I had a funny experience last night being out at the emergency vet. Once we checked her in, one of the front desk ladies said, “There’s coffee and hot cocoa in the waiting area.” We walked over to hang out uselessly, as you do when a little creature or child you care about is in the back room and there is nothing to do but wait.

I took in the coffee machine–it was one of those big jobs that makes one cup at a time to your specs. It spat out hot cocoa as well, which is that powdered stuff sweetened with corn syrup and probably augmented with dairy. Does it come out of the same tube as the coffee? I have no idea. I wasn’t in the mood for coffee anyway. It was eight o’clock at night and I was exhausted.

I took in the sheer array of accouterments up on their coffee prep counter. There were huge pump bottles.

“Is that…ketchup?” I said stupidly, looking around for…a hot dog machine? No, it was giant pump bottles of artificial creamer. I did not know they come in gallon bottles now. Better than the wee cups I suppose, in terms of trash. There was a vending machine next to the coffee station. The top half was a typical assortment of processed junk food–candy, crackers, chips, gum. The lower half was all soda.

P. watched me look at the machines and took a cursory glance himself. “You can’t eat anything in this building,” he said.


“Well, it’s true.”

On the way home when Gert McDirt was doped up out of her teeny walnut we stopped at Albertson’s to get wet cat food for her sore mouth and an urge struck me–I was overtired, as I mentioned earlier today, and stressed out.

“I wonder if I can eat anything here,” I said. I am unhappy to admit that I used to stress eat sometimes when things were really bad. Skittles were absolutely my Achilles heel.

I looked in the candy section…no “hippy” candy. I looked in the tiny, quarter aisle gluten-free section.

“Hmm, nothing here either, unless I want to eat a bag of date sugar,” I said.

“You may have fruit,” said P.


I love fruit, but that has never been my go-to stress snack. I suspect if it was, I would have a very different-looking hind quarter. I ended up buying a bottle of wine, poured myself a glass, crawled into bed with a book, had literally one sip, and then abandoned it when I realized I was still pretty full from dinner and had already brushed my teeth anyway before I found Goethe in trouble.

“If I ever can’t have wine,” I told P., “I am going to, like, start taking ecstasy every day. Because I cannot have anything fun anymore.”

“If you take ecstasy every day, I am going to kick you out,” he replied. This, of course, is the correct response. He thought a bit. “You’d be screwed in the apocalypse, eh? Wait, maybe not, because people would be farming and stuff….” Sigh. I think I could hang on feeling crappy and working my way through the remaining processed food until we all started farming again.

I know there’s fat vegans and fat celiacs and fat all kinds of people, regardless of how “healthy” their diet is, but I’m losing weight. (Point being you can eat too much of a “healthy” diet even.) I’m sad that this is “what it took” but at the same time hooray for living longer? (Maybe?) I was on this cycle of feeling like shit, eating the wrong things constantly (i.e. almost any processed foods), having pain and not being able to exercise. So after my diet was forced to change it just didn’t sound fun anymore to eat too much. I’m sure someone like this is out there, but I don’t really know people who put on a movie at night and snack on sweet potatoes and steak. Just saying….

Well. I realized recently that since all my weird exercise hindrances (joint pain, muscle aches, random body parts popping in and out of joint) are completely gone I might as well step it up. So in addition to my doggy death marches I am back to yoga, dancing, stretching, all kinds of stuff. Let’s see how fit I can get, eh? Every night now and I am sore and it’s all good soreness.

After all this thought about comfort foods and big grocery stores and waiting rooms I found this Superbowl commercial today about how wussy being “afraid” of gluten is. When I first was diagnosed this kind of stuff used to really dismay me because I thought “Man we’re never going to get any respect from Big Food or ‘the public’ or even servers at restaurants….” And this commercial did super irritate me today, not going to lie. I can’t really get mad at Nick Offerman, because he’s riding the anti-intellectual American Fuck Yeah money train all the way to the bank. I saw him live a year or so ago and it was pretty terrible and I realized that thinking isn’t really in his job description. And if Nascar wanted to to hire me to mock, I dunno, otters or something, I probably would. Not gonna lie.

But I have come to realize that while I appreciate all the people who are working to not make gluten a punchline, I’m really outside the conversation. It doesn’t matter if restaurant servers and chefs “believe” me or not. I don’t really belong in their restaurants in the first place. It doesn’t matter if big grocery stories have a gluten free section or not, since what I need to get from there is whole foods only. No food is really marketed to me (when’s the last time you saw an ad for carrots?). I’m not going to stop taking care of myself and my family, but I am coming to grips with the fact that I often feel like some kind of tourist or observer everywhere I go that offers food.

I love food a lot and I miss having the choice of eating poorly, honestly. I don’t have religion. I’m not super serious about politics. “Having a career” doesn’t excite me. Food (trying new things and restaurants, doing things like mastering weird pastry) was my big hobby. Now I am trying to mourn for that and find new conversations I can be part of.

9 thoughts on “Put your back into it

  1. Not having the choice to eat junk is a total bummer. I’ve generally been a healthy eater because I like to cook and my mom was a bit of a nut about nutrition – not brown rice hippie, but no soda or junk food in the house, only on special occasions. My downfalls/stress eats are full on Coca-Cola from a soda fountain with lots of chipped ice (suck it, mom!), those goddamn Salsa Verde Doritos, and really any form of fried potato.

    I hope there will be new comfort foods for you! I’m on a kick with all kinds of beans from Rancho Gordo and we ordered a box of blood oranges from an orchard that are amazing.

  2. It gets better. I swear. You will find something that fits that craving you have when things aren’t going well. It might be toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes, I don’t know.

    I also know the huge despair of looking at a full page of food that I can’t eat. Of food I don’t even know how to ask the help about. They certainly have no idea how to help me. In the end it comes down to whole foods, a lot of protein and veg. But also getting used to navigating your way. Lastly, in time, you’ll (mostly) stop giving a shit about those foods. I don’t know if it is a survival mechanism but I actively dislike a lot of food I can’t eat.

    I’m totally down with a long, huge walk if you ever want company.

  3. My husband has adopted the Swedish tradition of “Saturday candy”, so we all get a guaranteed one candy bar each week (mine is frequently oatmeal cookies), but we generally don’t keep sodas or candy stocked at our house. That being said, there have been times when I have craved something sweet during the middle of the week and my husband has risked his life by telling me to eat some fruit–“It’s Nature’s candy!” Yeah, well, Nature can cram her candy sideways, mister. I want some dark chocolate. It would suck if that were no longer an option. I hope you find something to fill that spot.

  4. It is so weird how your mindset will change when the majority of advertised foods are not available to you. Watching TV is eye opening and disgusting…all that gross food, marketed up the yang to children, and completely bereft of any nutrition. I can’t have most of it either, and my perverse mind turns it around that I don’t want it anyway (which, you know, I really don’t, it makes me sick). Shopping is streamlined when you don’t go down any central aisles. I guess I skipped the mourning and went directly to self righteousness (shocker). Glad you are gaining your mobility, though.

  5. Poor little Gert! I hope she feels better soon. I bet she doesn’t go back on the roof for a long time.

    I was recently dx’d with diabetes. Sucks, because I love carbs. I’m starting a low-carb – high-protein diet this month, not to lose weight (although that may happen too), but to control my sugars. It’s hard adjusting to a diet that isn’t standard or what you’re used to.

  6. First, thank you everyone for reading my indulgent whining. And I am glad I’m not totally alone.

    A: Well, I am not starving, as I am sure you’ve gathered. I’m going to post today about some recent culinary experiments. My mom was kind of a mix of a junk food junkie and a food-monitoring shitlord. In hindsight, it wasn’t so bad, though I wish she would have realized that I was bloated most of the time and not just “fat.” It was just my stomach so I didn’t get put on a diet. I think she did pretty well considering she came from a line of Southern people who fried everything. What we had in the midwest in the 80s was iceburg lettuce and mostly sad red delicious apples, but it set me on a habit of eating a lot of fruit and veg.

    Karri: Thank you, that’s very encouraging! I will keep you in mind for walks as my energy keeps increasing. I am afraid that I still occasionally have to randomly cancel due to whatever health shenanigans, which makes it hard to get “walk dates” off the ground. But that is becoming fewer and far between. I think I getting to that repulsed-by-things-that-were-making-me-sick place for the past 2-3 years. The things I have turned down shocked me, but I didn’t question it too hard. It was things like being out with a friend who wanted to go to a coffee shop and get pastry as well…I was like, eh, I’ll just have coffee. I wasn’t worried though, because it wasn’t like I was turning down veggies. :)

    Nee: I like that tradition! I found myself grazing at work on snacks from the nearby Whole Foods over the holiday and I realized it was too much. I started doing something called the No-S [http://www.nosdiet.com/] in late November and it sounds corny but it really helps me appreciate a treat as a treat. It was hard to break out of the snack mindset. Now that my girls are older I am trying to ease them out of constant snacking and being hungry for meals as well. I like the idea of the after school snack like the French do–le goĆ»ter. Strudel needs that. More and more often Franny gets home from high school at dinner time so she just has dinner, no time for a snack. I figured out she was coming home and loading her plate up with a meal of snack foods, and then would just pick at dinner a half hour later.

    Dorrie: I think the mourning comes in stages and alternates with disgust and self-righteousness. Not going to lie. I keep reminding myself I cannot really take credit for this Paul Bragg-esque level of food heroism (har har). It does make shopping easy and even on 24/7 Paleo there is a lot of variety (does this sound like the lady protesteth too much? I do, but it’s also true).

    Jesslla: I’m sorry to hear about your dx. I wish you good luck–it is very hard to change years of habits. We’re so lucky there’s so many resources and so much support online now…though ultimately it is up to us, eh? I was always fascinated to hear about MATY Spock and how he basically took himself out of diabetes range with careful eating and weight loss. Honestly my ignorant ass did not know that was possible before he told me his story.

  7. Amen sista! Why look for hard, gluten free bread when you can eat toasted nori instead – and just say, it’s a wrap!

  8. Gah, does this ever resonate with me (uh, for all that I’m reading it, like, two weeks late). I have food allergies (all birds, all fish, all eggs from fish and birds) and I can’t meet friends for dinner at a restaurant without either wallowing in self-pity when looking at the menu, or practically having a panic attack when I realize that everything is cooked in a way that will cross-contaminate me. Grill that steak on the same grill as a chicken, and don’t clean it between? Yup, that’s a first-class ticket to a surprise allergic reaction! Yay! Fun times!

    Most days I don’t think about it — we mostly eat at home and why would I cook something I can’t eat? As with you, we do mostly whole foods and almost all cooking from scratch. And if my husband and I do go out, we usually just to a place owned by a friend of mine who makes me something special, and I trust her not to kill me. But some days I’m just disgusted and mad at myself for not being able to randomly eat anything, like my friends do. And cooking shows? Can’t watch ’em. I think too much about how I wouldn’t be able to eat it, so why would I care about seeing it cooked? Or the competition shows, I always think that I’d swell up like a balloon at the first food challenge.

    Anyway, now I’m bordering on rambling, sorry — I just had to say that yeah, you are NOT alone, I feel ya.

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