I love food, I hate food!
“Mum, mum can I please bake something?!” I don’t want to use a recipe, I just want to take all the bits and bake my very own cake!”
How we look back on our lives and find the moments that showed us what we truly loved, without all the noise, prejudice and should do’s that start to drown out our heart song. From a little piggy tailed blondie I loved to be in the kitchen, whether it was helping Mum wash up the dishes, talking to her whilst she cooked, or for the greatest of moments, getting to cook myself! I still remember in my mid-teens when Kantong Chicken Tonight came out and I was so excited – all that flavor in a jar and there were multiple choices! Oh the possibilities! My Mum on the other hand didn’t enjoy cooking at all, so most of our meals were typically Australian, meat and veg, spaghetti bolognaise, even the canned variety and baked beans on toast, hence my bliss when Kantong arrived on the scene.
At the ripe old age of 36 I’ve come to realize that I use and have always used baking as a stress reliever. I am no where near an expert or top shelf baker, far from it, but I really do find my happy place when the kitchen is full of those delicious, intoxicating smells, where there’s flour all over the bench top and the anticipation of the final baked goodies creates a sense of bliss hard matched. The local farmer’s markets have the same impact, the fresh, beautiful food, bunches of gorgeous basil, mint and coriander and bright and crunchy seasonal fruit and vegetables. For an A-type personality like me being at the market provides some good old fashioned stress relief, calm, excitement and contentment all in one muddy paddock.
So how do you go from this, this place of loving food, enjoying the cook to bordering on the edge of food anger? Long term elimination diets are a good recipe for that! Its going on three years this April that we first started on the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital elimination diet to help treat a salicylate intolerance in Samuel, our youngest, who was two at the time. After a year and a half on that my instincts suggested that removing the salicylates were keeping Samuel’s health issues at bay (the aggressiveness and irritability had decreased somewhat) however I started to think that it was more of a Band-Aid solution than a true healing path. We then started our GAPS (Gut and Psychological Syndrome) journey which started with such a limited amount of food, although the difference with GAPS is that with each stage we were able to introduce rather than remove more food groups! We are now one year in and Jack and Bryce are showing great improvement in terms of energy levels, blood sugar regulation and decrease in foggy brain, which is so encouraging! Samuel and I are getting there, our blood test results are improving, zinc is increasing, copper is decreasing, but we are taking our merry time.
How impatient I get at times, wishing 36 years of ill health would be rectified in three weeks! The house move and a gut illness the weekend of the move have put Samuel and I back a little, trying to find the nasty guys again so we’re getting ready to tackle Intro again next week and we’re eliminating fruit, honey and nuts to fight candida. As we still can’t tolerate coconut this means I have very limited, and by that I mean one flour left which is pumpkin seed meal (we were doing sunflower seeds for a bit until I thought Samuel was struggling with them so I looked into it and discovered they were a histamine liberator! Meaning they go on a man hunt through the body and look for stores of histamine to release, argh!. Pumpkin seed meal without fruit or honey is not conjuring up beautiful moments of delicious baked goods emanating from the kitchen. This I struggle with. A deep seated frustrated, angry struggle.
When food is our community, our connection, being so restrictive doesn’t just put your emotional state to the test, it also tests your belonging in community. This week for example, we missed our last session of Bush Playgroup because it was a share plate scenario and no eggs allowed. Samuel is a food seeker, pretty much all day everyday he is eating or asking for food, so to put him in a situation where there are plates full of food and particularly fruit that he can’t eat at the moment and on top of that, to not be able to take his normal go to snacks because we can’t take egg products is really too much for his four-year-old brain to handle and too much stress in saying ‘No’ the whole session for me to handle. So we didn’t go and that makes me sad. And guilty. And angry. I want to cook with dairy and citrus and nightshades and STARCH! Oh beautiful, fluffy, gut healing inhibiting starch! I love food, with all my being I love food, but right now as we look down the barrel of further elimination to heal, I’m angry at it. I feel a sense of despair and frustration that is at times all consuming. Of course I can see that food isn’t the issue, its just wearing the brunt of my frustration as I love it so, so I attack it so. Pretty much the same as we do to our spouse and kids. It’s the journey of love, that which we love the most will demand the strongest reactions, good or bad.
I’ve been doing a course of late, the Gratitude Transformation and something wonderful I thought of one day when doing one of my modules was in challenging myself, how can I turn my lemons into lemonade. I can tend to err on the side of caution and glass half empty and I don’t like that side of me, so I’m really challenging myself at the moment to write down what I’m struggling with and turn it on his head. Simple, yes, corny, possibly but helpful, absolutely! My lemon into lemonade that is helping me survive the up’s and down’s of not baking and not cooking with gusto and inspiration now is that by doing GAPS and this path that I’m helping my husband, myself and our children to have the best quality of life I can give them. Yes, we miss out on many social events and café visits now, but when they’re going through teenage hood and as young men, I’d hope that the foundation we’re laying now will give them mental stability, hormone regulation, great physical health and above all a vitality and zest for life that I missed out on in my 20’s due to abysmal health. I hope to be traveling the world with them and experiencing above and beyond what we could’ve if their health, mentally or physically was compromised. So, yes right now I have a struggle, sometimes daily with food however I’m also incredibly grateful for the healing power that it is providing my family right now. This source of sustenance is also fueling our bodies towards healing and how can you not be grateful for such a gift. One day I know that I’ll be living my food bliss again, though this time I’ll make much better food choices that I’ve learnt along the way and be able to really live and love the moments of cooking and baking all my beautiful farmers market produce instead of feeling exhausted or brain fogged or bloated afterwards
So thank you food, I hate you somedays but deep down I really do love you.