I was chatting with a friend of mine on Sunday who is about to start a 40-day sugar fast. He was terrified about it. I was trying to assure him that it really wouldn’t be that bad, that after the first few days his body would adjust. He said, yeah, I was right, it probably wouldn’t be that bad…he was just worried because he drinks pop (soda, for you people in my motherland) like water and eats a danish in the afternoon. And suddenly I realized, he’s gonna die.
I realized I was listening to him as I am now – somebody who can quench a sugar craving by popping a prune in her mouth. I eat so little sugar that a sugar fast is almost a non-event. When he said the thing about the soda, I realized I should be listening to him as my old self – the one who had 3 Diet Pepsis a day and thought that Red Vines were a legit food group. And then I was like, holy shit I’ve come a long way.
My history with food is a piteous tale. My mom could cook, but she hated to, so every once in a while she’d make about 30 gallons of soup (you think I’m joking) and freeze it all in our industrial-sized freezer in the garage. We would thaw and eat soup for months on end. It wasn’t bad soup, but the very thought of Hearty Brunswick Stew induced a gag reflex by the time we were getting to the back of the freezer. Then she discovered Costco stuffed shells, lasagna and stir fry. These were great, because we kids could make them ourselves. This was pretty much all we ate for the next few years. These, mind you, were the good old days.
When I was in high school we entered a period of houselessness wherein we had no kitchen and almost no food budget. That was the era of the 99-cent whopper (it once occurred to me interject and order one of the $2.99 items on the menu in front of the cashier – hoping my mom might let it slide out of shame – but one look of icy cold death had me quickly recanting and saying I would really love to eat a whopper). This was also when my Dad discovered that the day-old lunches at the prison where he worked could be bought for $1 each, so that was our other standby. By the time they got to us, the pickle juice had bled all over the mystery-meat-and-american-cheese sandwich as well as the weird little maple bar thing that was always in there. At first go, they were probably palatable, but after a day sitting in my dad’s hot car, they made you contemplate what you might do to actually go to prison and at least get them fresh.
This only lasted for about 6 months, but it was the beginning of the end, for it was during that kitchenless era of woe that my mom made the unfortunate discovery that one doesn’t actually have to cook to sustain life. It was pretty much fast food from then on out. My idea of “healthy” was diet soda and the fiesta menu at Taco Bell. (It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me how my siblings and I continued to be rail thin through all of this…I suspect by this time we had acquired a revulsion toward food in general.) I continued to eat mostly crap throughout college. When I graduated, I lived in a communal house and ate food bank food. (This was before hipsters, fyi – I just couldn’t afford anything else). I mostly remember eating a lot of high-end truffles and day-olds from Starbucks. (I could do without another maple scone until I die and be just fine.)
Um, this is all very long and perhaps less interesting for you to hear than it is for me to tell. What I’m driving at here is I was about as far from being a health nut as a gal can be. When I started dating my husband, who is far more normal than I in almost every respect, he was severely appalled by all the fast food I ate. Even after years of trying to wean me off it, he’d find tell-tale McDonalds cups in my car and double-decker taco wrappers of shame shoved behind my passenger seat.
I always planned on marrying a cook to solve my problems, but since I married a consultant – and one who was unwilling to subsist on the 99-cent menu – it became clear that there would have to be at least a marginal amount of cooking in this relationship. I wanted it to be 50-50, in keeping with my egalitarian gender sensibilities, but I quickly realized cooking got me way more mileage than almost any other nice thing I did for him. Don’t know what it is – some kind of primal need to be cared for that is met specifically through cooking. So I began to learn to cook. And since I was learning for the first time, I figured I may as well learn to cook healthy stuff. So I kind of bypassed cooking with processed, fatty foods and went straight to veggies and lean proteins – with fairly regular binges on Nachos Bellgrandes and cheetos. All or nothing, baby.
Then endo entered my life, and I began to bit-by-bit eliminate more things from my diet, learning substitutes, amassing recipes and developing new habits. Because these changes have been so gradual, I don’t think I’ve realized how significant they’ve really been. It was only in talking to my friend about his sugar fast (haha! And you thought I wasn’t going to ever bring this back around) that I realized I have actually learned quite a lot and might actually be able to help people find some shortcuts on this whole path to getting healthier, particularly as it pertains to endo.
I have neither the patience nor the photography skills to reproduce all the recipes I use on this blog, so I’m in the process of transferring my go-to recipes to a Pinterest board and adding other ones there that meet the guidelines I’m trying to follow. As I try new stuff, I’ll let you know how it goes and let you know what substitutes I used. The goal is to have a decent-sized index of tested, no-brainer food that is tasty and endo diet conscious. I focus largely around eating foods that will reduce inflammation in my system. I avoid dairy, wheat, refined carbohydrates and sugars, soy, coffee and red meat, and I eat lots and lots of veggies.
I also want to talk about juicing, general shortcuts and household staples for cooking on a restricted diet. This will probably be old hat for a lot of you, but hopefully there will be some useful resources, and I’m guessing there are some newbies out there who could use a leg up on this whole thing.
Without further ado, here is my Endo Diet Pinterest Board.
Also, I’ve written a general disclaimer to cover pretty much everything I write and suggest. Please review it before taking anything I say too seriously.