Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Marisa's Menu: The Continuing Saga of the Deadly Nightshades

As part of The Gluten Free Health Challenge, Marisa will be sharing her journal entries with you the first 3 Tuesdays of every month from now until December. She'll be receiving free health coaching from Eryn McEntee, a naturopathic student in her final year of study, and Iris Higgins of Your Fairy Angel during this period. To learn how to join us from home, click here

Problem + solution = new problems.

Have you ever stopped to consider the areas of your life where you may be putting forth too much effort, leading to exhaustion, frustration, feelings of resentment, and even just brain overload?

My session with my amazing health coach, Eryn, has brought me to this point where I am pondering these things. She is also working with me on my desire to be more self-encouraging. My only dietary change thus far has been merging my food diary (previously only on an Android application) to a Google drive document so that I can share this with Eryn in the hopes of gaining more insight. She also gave me a good suggestion of switching up my high dosage probiotic from first thing in the morning to before bed. And my online order of fish oil from Amazon just arrived yesterday, which she also suggested that I include in my daily routine. 

I recently realized how much of my mental energy and even my very valued time has been dedicated to things I did not even used to have to think about before I started connecting the dots between my diet and my health.
I am talking about something as simple as what time I eat. My blood sugar needs to be in constant check. And if I don't eat the right balance of protein/fat/carbohydrates, I still have bad results. And it scares me to ever allow that to happen because one of the worst symptoms is that I go into fight or flight. My entire body is on high alert, and once that panic strikes, it can sometimes take an entire day or longer to calm it down, even once I have eaten and with the full knowledge that I am fine. I know it is a huge strain on my body, so I am now diligent about my "feedings." But the thing is, having to do that is a stress in itself. I feel like I traded one stress for another.

I used to have this stress with the daily anti-seizure medication I took. I had to take that every 12 hours - or else. I was terrified of what would happen if I missed a dose. So I lived in that constant state of fear and control. I was never able to fully relax. 

Having to nourish myself in a "safe" way has become almost an art form. It's very calculated, and measuring intervals is tiring. I do feel like a few years into it, I am actually pretty good at it. I don't resent having to do it as much as I used to. But I wonder at times...how much of myself am I giving to this process? And is this effort also somehow negatively affecting my ability to heal due to the stress of it?

That is just one of the many things that I do out of a sense of survival...but I'm concerned it may also be contributing to or creating stress. Do any of you think some of your rituals (those that you are doing to be sane, healthy and/or happy) may ALSO be inadvertently draining you at the same time?

What do I need to do to turn some of this energy around so that I am feeding off of it, instead of being drained in the process? I know that practicing yoga has and will continue to be my biggest saving grace. I also know that having a loving, supportive partner by my side has been the biggest blessing of all.

This week has been full of ups and downs, as to be expected. Some of the absolutely BEST ups included some of the most beneficial and healing yoga practices I have had in a long time. A new yoga den/hair salon opened up recently called Hagoyah, and it is pretty much my safe place. I also had an outstanding dining experience at one of Kansas City's Farm to Table establishments in the City Market area. So we were able to have a delicious meal - complete with some insanely good house-made vegan cheese - and then walk over to the market to pick up vegetables and other food items for the week from local farmers. 

Then, shockingly we had another good experience at a locally owned restaurant where the owner has always taken care of me. We had not been there in a long time because it really is tiring - and taking a risk, as Shannon mentioned in her recent post about being your own advocate. If I am not on top of my game on any given day, it really is not advisable that I eat any place other than home. If I can't communicate properly to advocate for myself, the consequences are simply not worth it. On this particular visit, the owner was not even there. But the staff remembered me from past visits and made sure to thank me profusely for coming in, while assuring me that they love taking care of requests like mine and they totally understand. I was floored. It felt so good to not be made to feel like that pain in the ass patron who is just picky and demanding. That isn't me. I just have these special needs for health reasons. So it warms my heart when establishments are so kind and helpful.

Another positive is the fact that I ended up making a dessert for a party. The ever-so-supportive Daily Dietribe Gluten Free Challenge Facebook Group offered me some great suggestions. I ended up going with the Almond Goji Berry Truffles. This leads me to the "downs"...

I made the truffles and I even substituted using half goji berries/half dried apricots. When I got done with my masterpiece, I was pleased. They looked a mess... I was not so good at dropping them in the chocolate, swirling and making them pretty. But I was okay with that. They tasted great! The problem started when I decided to scoop out the remaining goji berry/apricot filling and just enjoy some of it on the spoon. Good stuff. But later on, when i was cleaning up and thinking about leaving for the party, I started having some stomach pains. The feeling was familiar, but I could not place it. I just knew it was uncomfortable and clearly something I had eaten was NOT being welcomed by my digestive system. When I glanced in the mirror, I noticed some raised bumps on my cheek too. I looked at my food diary (which, in my opinion, is a MUST DO for anyone who is still questioning their food intolerances or having unexplained symptoms). I was totally bewildered. WTF did I eat? And then it dawned on me: GOJI BERRIES. There was one other time, just like this one, where I made a treat for a party. That time I made macaroons with goji berries and peppermint in them. They were quite good. But my tummy was NOT happy. And that was the familiar feeling. I had experienced this same type of random stabbing pain with discomfort the last time I had eaten goji berries - which, to my knowledge, was the first and only other time I'd ever eaten goji berries.

If I look at this situation and also consider the emotional component, I could go either way with determining if my own emotions at that time had any bearing on if I would react to those berries. As I was making the dessert, I was feeling happy and excited. If I had spent hours picking out the dessert on my own, I might have been stressed. But because the lovely ladies who are supporting me with this gluten free challenge offered up ideas, I felt liberated to just make something. And the recipe itself was so simple that I did not feel negative about conquering it either. So my first assessment of my emotional state is that I was in good spirits and showing positive energy. I also was very relaxed from an amazing noon yoga class called Enlighten Up Lunch Break.

BUT is it possible that my underlying stress of the party itself might have been causing my body (especially my poor intestines and immune system) to be on alert and unable to safely process certain foods? I knew there were some people attending the party who had hurt me in a way I still have not completely dealt with, and that was a stressor. The nervous stomach (gut/brain connection) that Marie spoke of last week is something I am all too familiar with, and have been since I was a child. So I am on the fence with how much my emotional state had to do with my reaction to the goji berries. But I suppose that even in a great mood, feeling as zen as possible, the fact that something is still nagging at you would make all of the difference in the functioning of your gut. After all, it was IN MY GUT that I ultimately made the decision to not attend the party. So did the nagging knowledge of something toxic needing to be dealt with utilize the goji berries as a messenger? I am really wondering now.

So...truffles, anyone? I have plenty. I actually plan to deliver them to one of the attendees of the party. She was one of the only reasons I was even going to the party in the first place. In the end, my gut told me there was more toxicity at that party than positivity. The bad was definitely outweighing the good. And a gut wrenching pain was enough of a communication for me to know that staying home was the only option.

I realize that I want to surround myself with others who are self-aware and at least attempting to seek and nurture wellness in their own lives. I am certain now that my gut - the same gut that I need to heal because of these blasted food intolerances - has been trying to tell me all along that I have been walking the line of letting in some false and insincere support from people who I thought were truly understanding and even right there with me on this journey of wellness. But the nagging feeling has recently led me to learn that we were really not on the same page, and I had been blinded by my desire to help and support and build a community. So with that said, I cannot express to you how incredibly perfect timing this challenge was for this particular point in my life. I feel so very lucky to pretty much overnight have more support and a feeling of community than I have ever had. And I actually believe that my involvement in the Gluten Free Health Challenge thus far is what opened my eyes to how things were really going in my life with the folks I once considered to be my potential community. So thank you to each and every single one of you out there. Please keep being kind to yourselves so you can nurture your own wellness. I am in awe of everything I am learning so far, even this early in the adventure. I am thrilled to have such a great community along for the ride.

NEWS ALERT! Lo and behold, I have officially learned more in these early stages of this Gluten Free Health Challenge than I have in the past year. Wow! Apparently GOJI BERRIES ARE A MEMBER OF THE NIGHTSHADE FAMILY. Good grief! No wonder.

So two weeks in a row, I have been rambling endlessly about my swelling, painful tummy, and skin hurting and flaring up. And come to find out, I have again had an encounter with my nemesis, the deadly nightshade. Those delicious truffles have provided me with the knowledge.

The entertaining, fun part of this whole goji berry discovery is that I get to sign my Nightshade song to the birds before bed tonight. It is sung to the tune of Nightrain by Guns N' Roses. I just make up my own words, mostly singing the chorus, "I'm on the nightshades," as the birds chirp and opera sing along.

I am glad that this happened, especially during this challenge. It points out something I sometimes forget: No matter how much research I do or how much I think I know, I need to continue to be relentlessly diligent about doing my own research every time I eat something new. Even things I have not had in a long time may warrant some caution. It also validates keeping a food diary - which thankfully I have been doing for a number of years now. 


1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Marisa, such a good post! Reading about your reaction to the berries (and other foods) makes me appreciate my own body. You have such a good (and humorous) perspective on the whole experience, a learning lesson. By the way, I love the photos of you. Your personality comes shining through. Dorothy


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