Watching The Mom go through her new staving off diabetes diet has been amusing to say the least. In fact, just generally watching her experience the aches and pains that come with old age – the same ones L’il Sis and I have been enjoying for over twenty years with our arthritis – has also been fairly amusing. Not that I’m pleased to see anyone, let alone my family, in pain, but rather it’s funny in that The Mom is not taking to it well. And I suppose I find it amusing that she’s now having to deal with something we got over in our twenties.
But the diet. Oh, the diet. All I have ever known is a restricted diet. To be forbidden food to me is normal. ‘You can’t eat that’ was one of the phrases more frequently uttered during childhood. The Mom thinks the worst thing about it was being the weird kid, but let’s face it, diet or no diet, we were already the weird kids. Me probably most of all. I am unapologetically weird, and sometimes I do it on purpose when I’m bored.
Back to the diet. When the Crohn’s flares up, as it’s doing now, I go into lock down mode of a sort. I don’t bother opening my fridge because there’s nothing in there I can stomach. When it flares up, not only does that mean I’m going to spend a lot of time in the bathroom, it also means I lose my appetite and get a bit nauseous. Thankfully, there are a few things I can eat. White rice, miso soup, and sometimes a very plain half a piece of chicken. Don’t worry, this sort of restricted diet usually only lasts a week, and then I can go back to eating most things but not all of them (which to me now just seems decadent, I mean, a person who eats everything? Ridiculous in this day and age.) I made my peace with a weird, restrictive diet long ago, and have the approach to eating that is: I don’t have to like it, I just have to eat it. I don’t make meals based on what I fancy, I make them based on what’s most likely to stay in me for a reasonable period of time, and what might actually do me some good. So my meals can look a bit… odd.
During the worst flare I’ve ever had, the year I was living at The Mom’s, a meal might be a slice of roast pork with any and all fat surgically removed, and a small bowl of white rice. Maybe a small bowl of chicken soup with minimal veggies, and a packet of Premium Plus saltines. Now, I happen to like all of these things, but you know, I’d also like to eat a lasagne now and again. But I’ve given up worrying about it because it’s not likely to happen.
I tried to explain to The Mom what I’ve done in my more desperate hours. In high school, I had been studying for my exams. Thus, sugar and wheat were strictly forbidden. We’d grown a bit lax in those days you see. So The Mom let me buy whatever it was I wanted to eat – all manner of cakes and cookies and other sugary delights, and we put them in a box in the freezer. I’d go and look at them, the packaging, the colours, and imagine what it would be like to eat them. I was planning my bender. A month later, when the exams were done, I was to be allowed to eat everything in my box.
Thing is, or was, that by the time it came for me to go on my bender, I’d got over wanting to eat any of that stuff. I’d been looking at it for so long, and imagining how delicious it would be, that I knew the real life experience would never be as good. and I’d kind of lost interest in the things.
So I told her to do the same. Put all the things she wanted to eat in a box, and then one day, go nuts. The Mom looked at me as though I were insane.
She’s stuck on this idea that her food ought to be delicious at all times, and that she should want to eat every morsel. I feel bad for her, I really do. I grew up not knowing any different, so now a restrictive diet is easy enough. I know how to look at labels, what I can and can’t eat, and how to make sure I get enough nourishment from what I do eat. Sure a meal of one sweet potato, some frozen peas, and a piece of chicken is not the heigh of haute cuisine, but I know I’m getting protein, B vitamins, iron, and a bunch of other things. So I suppose over Christmas I shall have to teach The Mom a new way of eating: one must look at the component parts and go from there. Taste and visual appeal have to go out the window.
You learn to like these new diets eventually. It’s like Stockholm syndrome, you don’t have to like it, you just have to do it.