For the last 2 months, I have been sick. It has been that sort of insidious ill health that burrows and nestles itself quietly in the membranes of your being, so it is only some time later that you realise something is not quite right. Before any assumptions are made, I’ll be quick to say: this is not cancer, or anything that is threatening my life (despite Google suggesting as much… we all know we shouldn’t Google our symptoms, but it’s always too tempting. The next thing you know, you’re convinced you have a poisonous amoeba living in your eyeball and there is no cure and you will die tonight in a ball of purple flames and curdled guts). But a lumpy, bruise-y rash has made itself comfortable residing along the length of my right shin for the last 7 weeks (I wound up in hospital – they diagnosed it as erythema nodosum). My stomach is a ball of knots and gas and cramps. My muscles ache. A throaty cough that suggests I am 27 going on 99 has lodged itself in my throat. My eyes are weary and I am tired. My body is currently one big pity party and I am fed. Up. What’s wrong? I am of course very grateful that it is nothing worse… but it could be better. I have felt better than this, and I want to feel better again.
I have an appointment with a gastroenterologist in a few short weeks, and I am curious how that will play out. I suspect I know the answer: they will find nothing, and I will be sent home with unanswered (unanswerable?) questions, as has been the case the many, many times I have wound up in hospital as a child, a teenager and now an adult with twisted, knotty gut pain. I first decided to take account of my own health a few years ago because I grew frustrated with the doctors’ blank faces and the lack of solutions. I turned to self-care: to food, to yoga, to mama nature at large, and it helped. OF COURSE it helped.
I like to think I have been looking after myself since the big move, but, on reflection, my once a day salad and *generally* healthy diet (if we ignore the bajillion cupcakes I ate during a short stint working for a cupcake shop. Ahem) is not cutting it. That, and my propensity for burning the candle at both ends… Late nights spent corralling new friends and 10-hour shifts waitressing (hello, universe, give me a job already that utilises a few of the things going on up here in my noggin, pleaseandthankyou), which start at 6.30am. I have trouble drawing lines and boundaries around the kind of life I would like to lead, the circumstances I can’t change, and knowing what, exactly, is good for me (sometimes I reach for what I think is a pawpaw, only to find it’s a prickly pear).
In an interview about the last episode of GIRLS (Close up), Lena Dunham says of Marnie’s character, “she wants things so badly she doesn’t think about why she wants them and what the reality of them is actually going to be.” It is horrible and brilliant and awkward to relate to GIRLS characters (unless you’re a Mimi Rose. What a babe), but that is of course the beauty of GIRLS and why I love Lena Dunham in ways that are probably unhealthy to love someone you have never met (oh hey Lena, I’ve mailed you my still-beating heart in a sealed envelope. With love XOXO). But I digress. Health is about ALL the things, not just the food you’re putting in yo’ belly… But that’s a start. And until some other things start falling into place for me, I will look to food as my little light. It’s time to ramp up this self-care business, beginning with a somewhat strict list of foods I will be eating, and those I won’t. As anyone who respects a healthy relationship with their food and body would say, I hate the word and concept of “diet.” So I will consider it a prescription of sorts to heal my gut over the course of a few months, and for the world to look a little brighter than it does on the days my stomach churns and spits and tells me, lady, you have got to do something about this.
And so. I am going to be eating (and not eating) foods from the FODMAP and Candida lists, which you can find here and here. I am hoping that, in order to keep motivated and interested, you’ll see a few recipes posted on here inspired by these lists in the not so distance future (that future is Thursday. Watch out for a post on a Tropical, Coconut Mess. Yeah).
And that about sums that up for now.
If you’d like to share your experience of how food has made you feel, how it has helped to heal you, or any thoughts about any of the above in general, please feel free to comment below!