Soooo...remember that Elimination Diet (From Hell--not part of the official title, but should be) that's had me doing my best to operate as a sugar-free, gluten-free vegan for the past 3 weeks? Yeah, that's still going to continue. But wait! It's not ALL bad news: I've been authorized to begin the Reintroduction phase, where I'll be "challenging" one food at a time and see how my body reacts. (Sounds like some kind of... Culinary Duel, right? Hey...you there, pepper...you wanna piece a' me? Go for it--I'll mess you up! Um...I mean..."eat you up"...whew, I think this nutritional plan is affecting my mental state, yeah?) Anyway, stay tuned for more on that shortly...
I went back for check-in with the naturopath yesterday, and we discussed what's been happening since I cut all the potentially-offending food groups from my life. (Wheat: pffft, you are dead to me. Chocolate: oh, how I miss you! And so on...) During our discussion, she revisited the questions she'd asked last time, to compare with my more recent responses. What was totally illuminating to me is that, while I went in feeling like not much has changed, with her access to the Big Picture, she noted that I'm reporting quite a bit of difference in terms of how my hand feels and functions. Along with the information I shared with her--that I lost several pounds of belly bloat while not counting calories or going hungry in the slightest--this seems to signify that the whole shebang (difficult as it may be to maintain) is working. That is, there was something, or several things, causing inflammation in my system, and now it's time to try and narrow down exactly what the culprit (or culprits) actually is (or are).
Okey-dokey, I'm on board. Let's do this thing! Er...what, exactly is involved? She initiated the conversation by asking what I've been craving, and what's been the hardest to avoid. I was going to tell her I don't like not being able to make sandwiches, but she preempted that comment by leading off with, "The most important items to stay off of are...gluten and nightshade vegetables." DANG IT! So much for my avocado/tomato toast. She tried to smooth it over by reminding me that she'd provided several gluten-free bread options...but I flatly told her that to me, they taste approximately the same as eating, say, cardboard. However, I'm holding out hope that once some of the OTHER banned ingredients (such as eggs), are permitted to creep back into my meals, I'll be able to find an alternative that actually is worth...acting as a vehicle for the guacamole.
Speaking of which, the first thing she recommended we test are those lovely products of the chicken, those versatile, healthy eggs. However...she wants me to experiment with the whites first. Then, in a few days, barring any unpleasant side effects, I can have yolks (Hmmm...egg yolk omelet...never done that one before...) After that, if nothing bad happens from the previous consumption, I'm clear to have the whole darn egg. And unlike every other food on the checklist--which must be tried and then removed again, to keep the process regulated and the results clear--she advises that I keep eggs in the rotation from here on out, to make my life infinitely easier. (After which, Imagine That gluten-free bread, from a bakery in Durham...I'm all over it!)
Next I can give corn a whirl...but only if it's in its most natural state (i.e."on the cob") and...organic. (Oy. Fine, add "trip to the farmer's market" to my Saturday tasks.) Then a few days later it's time for dairy...which the only thing I've really been noticing since it's been gone is the goat cheese I sprinkle on my salads, so that'll be an easy one. Moving forward, I get...peanut butter. Lately I've been buying the powdered kind, which seems to be the new trendy thing these days, and you can't beat it for convenience and portion/calorie control...besides which, it makes bananas so much more interesting, am I right?
Aaannnd finally, last but not most definitely not least, I cautiously broached the touchy subject of...chocolate. After hesitating for a suspicious moment, Dr. D conceded the following: "Okay...but buy it (are you ready for this?) UNSWEETENED." I sat there staring at her blankly, shocked into speechlessness, but in my head, this: "I'm sorry, perhaps I misheard you, because it sounded like you suggested that in order to satisfy the need for a chocolate fix, you'd like me to choke down a delightful spoonful of...sugarless cocoa powder? Lady, no offense, but AREYOUOUTOFYOURMIND?" I mean, c'mon, what's the point of that?
But then I remembered something; I'd "cheated" last weekend when I stopped by one of our independent coffee shops in town for a beverage and saw these locally-made, all-natural....chocolate balls, for lack of a better description, by the register. The only ingredients were ground almonds (check), ground walnuts (check), cocoa powder (not allowed, but sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, yeah?) and dates (check). I had my doubts, and the first bite honestly tasted a little...weird. But after that, my taste buds adjusted, and accepted the unusual goodies as a fair substitute for, say, a Hershey bar. When I confessed all this to the doc, she nodded sagely and proclaimed, "That'll work. You can even make them yourself; I'll send you a recipe." Score!
But first: egg whites. Looks like tomorrow morning I'll be scrambling some up for breakfast...and perhaps lunch (you're supposed to eat several servings during the day, to make it a real trial). Keep your fingers crossed that it goes well. And if so, in a couple of days, watch out yolks, I'm coming for you next!