Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Vacation Diet

Like any person in a post-vacation blue funk, I was blaming leaving the beach and my friends and coming back to reality for my current bout of depression. As it turns out, I should be blaming my lunch.

I don't usually blog about food, because, well, I just don't. I tried it for a little while, but writing about menu planning and cooking and eating (oh my!) seems too intimate. I'm fully aware that this is a personality flaw quirk of mine, and that it looks especially bizarre on someone who talks about her vagina every chance she gets. The fact of the matter is: I love and admire food bloggers,* but I will never be able to join their ranks, because I'm too chicken. Or, more accurately, too "chicken-style vegan protein source." Besides, you all don't want to know what I eat, do you?

Of course, having already brought up my doctor's visits and elimination diet, I've written myself into a little writing-about-food corner. And now I have further evidence to suggest that managing my diet is the key to stabilizing my moods.

One of the first things I did when I got back from vacation was make toast. Wheat was the one thing I had yet to add back into my diet, and while I had suspected all along that it was the driving force behind my unpleasant physical symptoms, I needed to check. You know, for science. And also because I really like toast. I'd eaten some wheat crackers on the plane in response to low blood sugar and poor planning, and had felt a little stomach-crampy afterwards. But travel does weird things to people, so I figured toast was my real wheat-test.

It seems I was right to be suspicious. Within a couple of hours post-bread, I was bloated, nauseated, and miserable. I avoided wheat like crazy for the next few days, but continued to feel physically and mentally crappy. It occurred to me that my mood was probably up while I was on vacation because, well, I was on vacation with my friends! But I realized that I hadn't had any physical symptoms at all until the plane-crackers struck.

I reflected on my vacation diet: coffee and oatmeal with raisins and fresh fruit (and, er, breastmilk) for breakfast; salad for lunch every day, tofu once or twice, a little potato, lots of avocado; cooked veggies and more salad for dinner; homemade salad dressing always; wine, both red and white; lots of plain popcorn and tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole for dessert (because sweets and I don't get along).

What's missing from that? Well, wheat, obviously, but I was avoiding that on purpose. As diets go, it's kind of grain-less. But the biggest difference is the absence of the processed rice and soy products of which I have become so fond. Because it's dumb to buy a whole container of Earth Balance or Vegenaise or Bragg Liquid Aminos for one person for a week, the only soy I ate while I was on vacation was a little tofu and some soy milk.

When I added soy back to my diet after having cut it out, I didn't notice it being a problem. Now I'm not so sure. Soy (especially highly-processed soy) and I will be parting ways for a while. Just in time for my in-laws' potluck Labor Day celebration, where you can bet the vegan protein option won't be gluten-free lentil burgers!

It would be easy to get hung up on all the things I can't eat and all the things I choose not to eat and how I have to bring food with me everywhere I go so I'm never stuck eating bloat-inducing airline snacks ever again. But since I've started duplicating my vacation breakfast every morning (minus the freshly-pumped breastmilk, of course), I've been feeling a little better, body and mind both.

Clearly, I should eat like I'm on vacation all the time. It's not nearly as much fun as lazing around a beach house with friends, but it's cheaper than a plane ticket. And it's hard to convince myself that I shouldn't be eating two salads a day.

*Really. I'm kind of in awe of people who post pictures of their food--whether they cooked it themselves or not. My mother always took pictures of our restaurant meals when I was a child, and this seemed completely strange and a little invasive to me. Honestly, I'd rather post a picture of my postpartum pooch than post a picture of my plate.



Allison the Meep said...

I'm sorry to hear that you're sensitive to wheat, because being off it really is tough at first. I had the same reaction as you - felt like shit all the time, gave up wheat for a period to see if it did any good, felt a lot better, and then decided to re-introduce it to see if maybe it was all in my head. And the feeling-like-crap-fest began immediately after.

I've been reading of a lot of really great gluten-free vegan options for breads though. And if you have a breadmaker, I have a recipe that I'm sure could easily be made vegan that I'd be happy to share.

Interesting you mentioned the gluten-free lentil burgers, because I was just today thinking that I'd like to try making a gluten-free veggie burger. Even though I'm not a vegan anymore, I really liked veggie burgers. But they're ALL made from wheat. Now I feel like I need to do some research. If I come up with anything good, I'll let you know.

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

Hey, I don't want to be toooo nosey...but did you lose all the weight when you became vegan?

Baby in Broad said...

Allison, I don't have a bread machine, but I may need to get one. I just don't know where I'd put it in my tiny kitchen!

Amber, I actually gained weight when I went vegan, because there was all this delicious new food to try!

Rob said...

I, however, lost weight like crazy when we went vegan. Like 25-pounds-before-I-noticed crazy.

Scout's Honor said...

Wow! this makes eating sound so complicated. I'm sorry to hear about the food sensitivities. It sounds like a nightmare. I've often thought some of food issues come from these types of things, but I am too much of a wuss to eliminate wheat or dairy because I would cry if it turned out ice cream and bread was not for me.

Jessica said...

My mom has Celiac, so I know all about the wheat/gluten thing. And being vegan on top of it! Wow. I just watched a Top Chef Masters the other day and they had Zooey Dechanel on there as their challenge. They had to make a soy-free, gluten-free, vegan lunch for 20 people. Most of these "top chefs" missed the mark. It's a tough one for sure. I can't imagine it's that easy for the average joe, either.

PS: obviously you're doing the vegan thing better than most. Just about every former vegan I've ever known had to reintroduce dairy and eggs because they weren't getting the right nutrients somehow (my sister's toenails started to fall off!).

Amber, The Unlikely Mama said...

The only vegan thing I've ever tried (well labled that way) was a peanutbutter cookie. YUMMY!!!! And oh so fattening :P