I have never had to watch what I eat. I am blessed with a fast metabolism and some very skinny genes on my mother’s side. (Thanks to the well-cushioned genes on my father’s side, however, you will never catch me wearing skinny jeans.) I love my body. It has some flaws, as all bodies do, but I can work with them, and I’d say my body’s assets easily outweigh its problems.
For my whole life, I’ve lived around people who are dieting for one reason or another, and I’ve felt varying degrees of scorn or sympathy for them. Scorn in the cases of people who were dieting to lose those 5 vanity pounds that they clearly didn’t need to be losing, and sympathy for the ones who really struggle with their weight or with health issues. I’ve looked over the meals of folks dealing with lactose intolerance, high cholesterol, celiac disease, type I diabetes, or allergies, and I’ve thought to myself, “Thank God I don’t have these problems. I would die if I couldn’t eat cheese/bread/chocolate/eggs/whatever-it-is.”
Eating is an activity I really enjoy. I began life as a picky eater, but grew out of that when I spent a year living in France. I love to taste new things. I love to experiment with what I can cook for myself. I love rich foods full of delicious, flavorful things like butter and spices and homemade stock. I want to learn to like all the vegetables (though I’m currently stumped on broccoli… it is not a vegetable that goes out of its way to make itself lovable). I’m even trying to learn to like fish, a thing that does not come naturally to my land-locked palate. (After California Rolls, the world!)
But I’ve been recently diagnosed with GERD. That’s Acid Reflux disease in fancy new medical terms. After a lifetime of eating everything with no problems, what caused this? Probably an over-dependence on ibprofun. Is there anything I can do about it? A lifetime of taking drugs, perhaps, but I’m really not into that. The alternative? Eat things that don’t make me sick.
And when I say “sick,” I mean it. GERD strikes by spazzing out the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, the muscle that keeps the contents of your stomach where they belong. My issue is not eating too many spicy or acidic foods, my issue is eating foods at all. Fun fact: eating tomatoes doesn’t give you heartburn because they are acidic, it gives you heartburn because they cause the LES to relax, loosening the barrier between stomach and esophagus. Esophaguses are not designed to fend off the level of acidity that’s very normal inside a stomach. When that happens to me, I feel like there’s a tiny little man living inside my stomach, punching me repeatedly. Antacids don’t help. All I can do is wait for the evil little man to finish digesting my food and take a nap.
So apparently there are things I can eat that will keep my LES from going on the fritz. Lots of websites out there advocate extreme measures (giving up carbs and giving up dairy completely are the most frightening propositions I’ve seen), but I’m much more interested in trying the middle of the road options that at least leave me with balanced diet options.
Even those are hard. Here’s a list of things that are straight out the window: Fruit (except apples and bananas), dairy (except low-fat cream cheese), flavorful meat (the leanest of all cuts are okay), egg yolks, garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, alcohol, anything sour, anything spicy, and cookies.
You guys, I’m going to die.
But I’m not, actually. I keep thinking I will. I love to eat these things. Cheese? Onions? Peppers? BUTTER? My favorite things. I had no idea how dependent I was on them until I had to start thinking about not eating them. I’ve spent about a week moping, declaring that all I can eat is peanut butter toast and rice. But now that I’m (mostly) done feeling sorry for myself, I’ve been finding some better options. Stir-fry is a very good option, as long as you’re careful with the amount of fat you use for the frying (hooray for a well-seasoned wok!) I had a very nice pork chop with apple marinade last night. I bought things to make low-threat sandwiches for lunch, and some rice cakes for when I get the munchies.
I take it back, I’m going to die.
No no no, I’m not. Because my goal is to keep this up for a couple of months until the GERD goes away. If I can teach my body to behave again, I should be able to add the good things back in, hopefully a little at a time. I sincerely hope that if I can retrain my body, and stay away from the ibprofun, eventually I’ll get fully back to normal without having to restort to a lifetime dependence on Prilosec. (If too much ibprofun killed my tummy, I don’t like to think about what too much prilosec would do to me.)
In the meanwhile, if you catch me casting sad puppy eyes at your slice of pizza or your giant piece of chocolate cake, you’ll know what’s wrong. And I sincerely hope I don’t lose too much weight, because I need what I’ve got, and my honey likes my soft parts.