January: Entering the Homestretch


Day 22-ish…

Lately, a few of you have asked for more details about what I’ve been eating and how I’m managing to eat a severely limited elimination diet while traveling almost weekly. A few others have asked what my next Challenge will be, and even more have asked me to drinks. I miss drinks. More than I miss tacos, curries, and spicy food, I miss drinks.


But this isn’t about what I can’t have, this is about what I can have, what I can do, and how I’m starting to think. Focusing on what I can’t have doesn’t help, I’ve tried that in the past and it only leads to frustration. Instead, by focusing on what I can have, how I feel and making sure I don’t feel like I’m going without, helps me remember that my ultimate goal is to heal myself.


This became abundantly clear this evening as I sat alone at a table tonight, with only a small pan of fresh-baked bread and butter across from me.


Tonight I came back to the hotel after work and spent nearly 30 minutes trying to find a restaurant nearby that looked like they would work with my food allergies and restricted diet. I’m in San Francisco, a city with amazing restaurants and healthy inhabitants, it shouldn’t have taken 30 minutes, but I explored blog posts, articles, and Yelp, before settling on a nearby farm-to-table restaurant that had gluten-free options. The dairy-less pear salad and bun-less burger were fantastic. Since I failed to say the specific words, “gluten-free”, a unknowing waiter set a small pan of fresh-baked bread and butter on my table.


It’s funny, I’ve become so desensitized to seeing food I can’t eat, most food I can’t eat doesn’t look appealing. Essentially, for foods I have eaten and experienced adverse and severe reactions to, my mind has replaced the cause with the effect. When I see bread, or other gluten-y substances, I see myself having asthma attacks, struggling for breath. It definitely isn’t worth the pain.


Smells on the other hand, the amazing aroma of a fresh pizza, for example, are my Achilles heel and require me to strengthen my resolve. Smells have the power to make my mouth water, evoking memories and make me truly mourn for foods I can no longer eat.


Tonight’s dinner was easy to order once I made sure to remove cheeses, aioli, buns, and avoided the fries, but it isn’t always that easy. I have a strict “three item” rule for restaurants. If I need to ask for them to remove more than three items, it isn’t worth ordering. At that point, whatever the chef was trying to create has been deconstructed beyond good taste.


So what am I eating on my traveling days? My “typical” travel days basically include:

  • Breakfast and snacks: apple, cinnamon coconut chips, and/or beef jerky, this time I made scones of sort which turned out okay. And if I can find a way, I add coconut milk (from a can) to my coffee.
  • Lunch/dinner: Salads, lots of salads. Also burgers, fish if I can find it, and any other simple, clean foods.
  • Beverages: Sparkling water, regular water, coffee, tea

It’s just as exciting as it sounds. Luckily I’ve been able to find a lot of online resources to help me add variety to everyday meals. Even making a quick cilantro chimichurri sauce yesterday added fresh flavors to my chicken and roasted vegetables. Ordering compliant nightshade-free foods means I no longer have to stress about returning home from trips to an empty refrigerator, I now have back-up options in my freezer.


The goal of this month was to help me start the healing process, and learn what other foods might be effecting me. The byproduct of it is that I’m actually improving my cooking skills.

I guess I should have seen that one coming.

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