Given that my diet was so limited because of the dual diagnoses of EoE and MCAS, I determined that I needed to look at what food meant to me. Was eating an enjoyable activity? What foods did I like? Where did I learn how I felt about food?
Eating only 4 foods was certainly boring, and having to cook everything that I ate required a lot of preparation and proper timing to ensure I started to cook meals before my stomach hurt too much to eat a meal. This focus on food was not something I was comfortable with, because I had always been able to eat something on the go without focusing much on food. I wasn’t much of a cook until my son got diagnosed with severe food allergies. My husband used to joke that when we met, I didn’t even know how to boil water. That’s not far from the truth! I became a very good baker for my son creating safe breads, cakes and cookies for him. And my cooking got better too, and far more wholesome and nutritious than anything I ate as a child.
As a young child, I remember eating a lot of packaged foods from a can or a box, and always looking forward most to dessert. Both of my parents worked and/or went to school from the time I was in grade school. I was responsible for making my own lunch for school, and it was filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Hostess cupcakes or Twinkies and the occasional orange. In other words, a lot of sugar! My mother disliked cooking very much, and we frequently went out to eat at McDonald’s or Taco Bell for dinner. It wasn’t unusual to get a dozen donuts and eclairs on Sunday morning from Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast. I loved sugary sweets, and I don’t remember there every being a limit placed on how many I could eat. I really didn’t like vegetables, probably because all of the veggies that we ate were either fried or were frozen and cooked until they were mushy. I’d eat a few fruits, but most of these also came from a can covered with sweet syrup.
Dinnertime in my childhood home was not an enjoyable meal, yet almost every evening we’d sit down to eat as a family. For me, dinnertime became the choking down of some awful tasting meal that my mother made. I wanted to get away from the table as quickly as possible and go out to play.
Once my children were born, I began to learn how to cook. I didn’t understand anything about nutrition, healthy eating and the effects on the body. With a son with food allergies, I had to cook foods from scratch to ensure his safety. I began to eat healthier, but was still a sugar addict enjoying my desserts more than the meal itself.
I feel sure that my poor diet during my childhood, in addition to eating foods that were packaged and full of preservatives, didn’t do my immune system any favors.
Once my body went over the threshold with the wasp sting, food almost became the enemy. Sadly, I felt better many days when I wasn’t able to eat. Digesting food felt like a war was going on in my stomach. Yet, I had a lot to live for, and a home with a loving husband and children.
Eating only four foods for so many years creates a very strange relationship with food. I learned that I had to eat on a regular schedule, eating the same foods, in the same amount at the same time each day, and I didn’t have much flexibility without enduring stomach pain. I had to be very organized with my foods if I was going to leave the house, and to bring all of my foods with me since everything I ate had to be cooked. Finding myself stuck in a meeting somewhere without anything safe to eat occurred only a few times before I learned to not put myself through that again. People would comment that they never saw me without a lunchbox full of food regardless of the time of day!
A friend with a MCAS diagnosis suggested that I try eating only organic, and this did help my stomach. I didn’t realize how much pesticides and/or hormones in the food I was eating was affecting my gut. I was so sensitive it was almost frightening. Additionally, my out-of-state GI doctor, Dr. M, suggested that I not eat leftovers. He said I needed to eat whatever I cooked immediately, or freeze the foods to eat after reheating them because of histamines that increase with leftovers placed in the refrigerator. This also helped my stomach to calm down. And lastly, I began to use an InstantPot to cook my chicken, which a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor suggested. This also made a big difference in my stomach’s ability to digest food enjoyably.
I worked on being grateful for every meal I cooked before I took a bite of it, even if it was exactly the same meal that I ate the day before. I was also very grateful for being able to have access to purchasing organic foods, and that we could afford to do so. I soon realized that I felt so much better eating healthy foods, even if they were the same foods every day, than I ever felt eating all the sugar and processed foods that I ate as a child.
Dinner conversations with my husband and children were always enjoyable. We laughed while sharing about our day, and loved spending time with one another. From the time the children were babies until they grew into adults, having dinner together was a capstone to the day. I learned how to serve healthy meals, which was a positive outcome from our son having food allergies.
I so want to be able to expand my diet into new organic fruits and vegetables. I dreamed of eating fish and carrots instead of ice cream and Taco Bell! This was a great improvement for me, and I wanted to learn how to make some of those dreams a reality.
To read about Healing through New Thought, click here.