Last week I shared my rather intimidating limitations list—foods I can’t eat due to sensitivities. Today, the happier flip side—what I can eat:
Greens, especially my fave, kale!, cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, radish, kohlrabi, carrot, brussel sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, olives, apples, cherries, berries, dried fruits.
Eggs, chicken, beef, turkey (the last three roasted in particular!)
Seeds (sunflower, quinoa, sesame, flax, hemp, pumpkin, chia)
Dark chocolate (the rumors are true—I have some at every meal), sunbutter (sunflower seed butter), oils (olive, avocado, etc.) ghee (it’s clarified butter, which resolves the dairy lactose issue.)
Rice is a grass, not a grain, thus I can have it. Thanks to the explosion of rice products, this category is a lot like the famous scene from Forrest Gump, just substitute “rice” for “shrimp:” brown, white, black, wild, jasmine, purple, rice cakes, rice crackers, rice tortillas, rice milk, rice bread, rice pasta, rice noodles…
Sorbet and “acceptable” salty-crunchies (Mary’s Gone Crackers sea salt “pretzels,” wasabi rice crackers—but as I’ll eat an entire packet at one meal, I try not to have them in the house!), and the occasional “acceptable” baked good.
Right about now, I can hear careful readers thinking, “but there are foods that don’t appear on either list.” You’re correct! You’d think that with the limitations I face, I’d be thrilled to include as many foods as possible, but no. I’m born picky eater and proud. So there’s one more category: Foods that I can eat, but won’t, because they gross me out (i.e. pork, fish, shellfish, celery, and more.)
I’ve never been (or will be) a “good eater.” As such, I field a lot of questions. Here’s a Q&A round of the most common ones:
Q: What do you eat during a typical day?
A: Breakfast: salad with homemade dressing, chocolate. Lunch: homemade soup or leftovers, salad or veggies, hot cocoa with rice milk or dark chocolate, some sort of “crunchy” (usually Mary’s Gone Crackers “pretzels.” Dinner: Protein (chicken, steak, turkey) with rice, quinoa, or sweet potato, veggies or salad, chocolate. Snacks: Slice of toasted rice bread or an apple with sunbutter; handful of pumpkin seeds or you guessed it—dark chocolate.
Q: Do you eat the same foods all the time?
Q: Does it bother you?
A: Most of the time, no. My safe foods are comforting, and well, “safe.” For the most part, food scares me. But sometimes it’s hard when everyone’s eating something that seems really fun and yummy and I can’t have it (see next question.)
Q: Do you ever cheat?
A: Heck yeah. Just a week ago or so, I had an unfortunate run-in with Parmesan pita chips. But I don’t slip up as much as I used to, maybe once every six months or so now. Currently, it seems to occur with the trifecta of being really tired, being really tired of the same ol’ same ol’ food, and something really tempting is right in front of me. For better or worse, cheating is self-correcting though—after I yak it up I recall that, “maintaining ‘feeling good’ feels way better than any no-no food will taste.”
Q: What’s your favorite meal?
A: My go-to nur-nur* meal is poached eggs on either rice toast or baked sweet potato fries with kale chips (and chocolate of course.)
Q: Do you eat out?
A: Not so much. As you can imagine, food kind of scares me. It’s even scarier when I don’t know how it’s prepared. And, yakking up food right after paying for it seems like a huge waste of money…but, when I do eat out, it is usually some form of “pollo con arroz.” Yep, every ethnic cuisine has some version of “chicken and rice.”
Q: What “best practices” do you recommend for others with limited diets?
A: –Prepare your own food as much as possible
–Make safe substitutions whenever possible (e.g. clove instead of pepper for spiciness)
–Have a “safe” snack with you at all times
–Dishes with a just few, but most nutritious ingredients, are most digestible
–Avoid processed foods as much as possible
–Avoid becoming too hungry at any time
–Special events: eat a little before attending, bring safe foods with you and have a treat (doesn’t have to be food related) picked out for post-event.
–Read labels every time (packaged food ingredients change all the time)
–Check the menu in advance then call with questions
–Bring a dish you can eat and enjoy to potlucks
In conclusion, yes, my diet is rather limited. But it’s pretty healthy by today’s norm because it’s heavy on vegetables, fruits, and healthy proteins and fats while keeping processed foods to a minimum.
*A phrase coined by my mom to denote something that’s soothing.
Next week: Swim Anxiety