My husband and I regularly get invited to his mom’s house for dinner so it wasn’t a surprise to receive an invitation a few weeks ago. However, lately I have kind of dreaded going because I feel like my eating habits are scrutinized, like I’m being judged because I don’t eat their typical processed fare. One time I was directly asked, “Well, if you don’t eat bread and you don’t eat dairy and you don’t eat pork, what DO you eat?!”
It’s not like it’s a secret – I’ve been going there for dinner for over 7 years. Yet each time I visit, I seem to have to defend myself once again. I discovered many, many years ago that the combination of dairy (i.e. cheese or cream sauces) and wheat (i.e. pasta) did not get along in my stomach. Life was BAD if I ate this combination – horrible stomach pains that, at one point, landed me in the ER! No one could figure out what was going on so I simply stopped eating these types of food. No more fettuccine alfredo or lasagna for me!
Over the years, I started to notice problems with both types of food on their own. First, I cut dairy and noticed a dramatic change in my skin, my stomach issues and my weight. For the past 5 years, I have not had any dairy (that I’m aware of) and I feel so much better. About 3 years ago, I cut out wheat (not gluten, just wheat) because a test with my ND was positive for wheat sensitivities. When I eat wheat now, my stomach almost instantly hurts and I get bloated and horrible acne that takes weeks to clear up.
Anyway, back at my husband’s mom’s house, we sat down to eat and I cringed. Laid out on the table were a big Caesar salad, garlic bread, and lasagna. It looked lovely and delicious, and I’m sure everyone else enjoyed it. But, I just wasn’t willing to eat any of it (the consequences are just not worth it). I probably came across as rude and ungrateful but my health is important to me.
Despite a lengthy cross examination into what I can and do eat, my husband’s family just invited me to another dinner at a highly-respected pizza place here in Calgary. I hear it’s great, I have no qualms with the pizza joint. However, what predominantly is at a pizza place? Dairy and wheat! Ah! Do I laugh or cry?!? I checked out the menu online – it looks like there may be a Greek salad for me. Phew – at least I’ll be eating and hopefully not judged too harshly. (I should really just get used to this, right?)
I’m not telling you this story to discourage you from turning around your own eating habits. I’m telling you this story because I am here, always, to support you, even when it feels like no one else understands. Your body is your body – how you nourish it and treat it is really your choice and your business. If you have decided to eat a certain way, never let anyone else make you feel little, stupid or crazy because, I bet, you have a good reason – you want to live a long life, have energy to travel and have fun, be there for your family, and just be happy.
The Standard American Diet is ingrained in so many North Americans that people just don’t get that what they’re eating is making them sick. If you are truly interested in improving your own eating habits and trying to reduce any illness or disease symptoms you have, you should never feel bad for refusing a certain meal because you know it’ll make you sick. Sometimes you just have to roll with these punches and pick your battles – I will probably always be the black sheep in their family but at least I’ll be happy and disease-free (I hope)!