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I never thought I’d see the day when Gill’s weird diet of rice,rice and more rice would be a step up in terms of dietary delights.

I have been, until now, the only person in the family able to eat pretty much everything I want.  At barely five feet tall and pressing the scales at a meagre 95 pounds, weight gain has not been an issue for me. But I’ve had a few health issues lately and can no longer claim to be the healthiest in the family. And, in my Golden Years (that are rapidly turning to rusty iron), what I can eat and drink is restricted. What a cruel irony — I have the time and money to enjoy good restaurants and fine wine but I can’t for fear that my glucose levels or my blood pressure will be in a pitched battle to decide which will skyrocket first. Gee, I don’t know…should I worry more about a stroke or a heart attack or an aneurism? I was really hoping to be choosing amongst a drunken girls’ night out, an overdose of chocolate or death by fruit. Sadly, none of those will come to pass.

I feel somewhat guilty for moaning about such petty things. In the general scheme of things, I am fortunate. Gill has had a restricted diet most of her life and bore the brunt of being ‘The Weird Kid’ at birthday parties — the one who brought the awful rye crust pizza with no cheese, no pepperoni but lots of veggies and the off-putting carob ‘cake’ floating in ‘carob sauce’ that the dog wouldn’t even eat. Over the years her Crohn’s has gotten worse and there are days when the mere smell of food sends her to the bathroom. And there are millions of people in the world for whom getting anything to eat is a challenge, so I try to keep my complaining to a minimum. The diet contortions do, however, make for some comical moments.

“So, I can’t eat my usual homemade granola with fruit for breakfast anymore,” I moaned to Gill.

“Well, to be fair, Ma, if I ate the amount of fruit you eat in a day, I’d be on the toilet the from morning to night. Perhaps if you lightened up a bit and had, say, one orange and one apple a day, you could still control your sugar levels. Although, having said that, I fear for the state of Florida and California’s economy. I suspect you’re what’s been keeping them afloat all these years.”

“Ha, ha…very funny. Just trying to get my 5 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day like the nutrition guides advise…”

“Ma, I think they mean equal portions of fruits and veggies. Not 5 to 10 pounds of fruit and one sad cherry tomato.”

“But I love fruit! I’d choose a huge orange over a gooey dessert every time. I thought it was healthy! Not to mention that Mrs. Beeton (the pink parakeet) loves sharing an orange with me. She goes nuts when she sees one. She has so few delights; I hate to harsh her buzz.”

“Again, Ma, Portion Control — a phrase I realize you take as swearing when talking about fruit. It’s your own personal ‘F (fruit) Bomb’.

“I have been trying to change my habits. I have substituted sturdy rye toast (1 slice) with peanut butter and a piece of cheese with a pathetic serving of fruit for breakfast. Then I worry about the salt in the cheese. I try to think of other things I like…but there isn’t much.”

“How about yogurt? That’s good for you.”

“Don’t like yogurt. Don’t like milk. Haven’t you noticed that I’ve been chowing down on calcium pills for two decades in lieu of? I have memories– nightmares really — of once milking a cow when I was a child. I drank some (not my own idea) and had never tasted anything so vile. And warm!! Disgusting.  That and the warm milk they used to serve us at school pretty much sealed the deal for me hating milk products.”

“How about an egg for breakfast? You used to cook nice ones for us when we were kids…boiled ones in those cute little chicken cups. I loved those!”

“I’m glad you have some pleasant memories of your childhood, dear, but I hate eggs. I  will only eat them in a cheese soufflé, or a quiche…again, the salt will make my blood pressure go off the charts.”

I was on a roll: “I would force down a poached egg if bacon came with it. But bacon will kill me. Can’t stand the egg by itself. Same thing at lunch. More sad sturdy rye toast. More peanut butter. Or I’m back to the canned salmon that Poochie and I used to share. But it has salt. The unsalted stuff tastes awful. I try to jazz it up with celery bits and arugula. But let’s face it, that does not an inviting meal make. But I must have enough fuel to do my marathon walk…the walk that used to be fun but is now a fixation to keep my body working. And the world of snacks is a nightmare! No air-popped popcorn (good for you but turns to sugar), no crackers except ones that will crack your tooth fillings, that nice cheese spread I like is filled with trans fats and the regular cream cheese will harden my arteries anyway. Chips and guacamole? Out of the question. I could have plain avocado (good for me) but I don’t like it. If it isn’t buried in garlic, lime and mashed, I want no part of it. And who in her right mind eats guacamole without corn chips? It’s just barbaric. Even though the chips are organic and low salt, they turn to sugar.”

“Well, Ma, you can always end your horrible days with a glass of wine to mellow you out.”

“Ha! That’s what you think. Apparently I’ve been mellowing myself a bit too much. Again, wine turns to sugar. Although at the rate I’m going, friends and family will be begging me to take the edge off with a glass. I’ve become a bit cranky…”

“Welcome to my world, Ma. Just be glad you made it to a ripe old age before the crankiness set in. I’ve been cranky since I was 16.”

“You said it; not me.”