one thing i continue to learn on my digestive journey is that practicing self-care takes commitment. taking care of our bodies takes time and energy–time and energy that at times i think i will never run out of and at other times i think i’ll never have enough of.

my attempt to add things back into my diet two weeks ago went really really bad. instead of attempting to fix the problem by adjusting my diet, i shut down. i was a month into an extremely busy semester and stopped trying to find things to eat. i developed the habit of walking to the fridge, opening it, looking in, closing it, walking away. most days, all i had to eat before 3 or 4 p.m. was tea or coffee and a few almonds. the results: i had two anxiety attacks, no energy, and was a shaky mess.

so much for self-care.

when your diet is already so limited, it can feel exhausting to have to keep up with it. to have think about every thing that goes in your mouth can start to feel like a chore. there are no “fast” meals when you’re limited to cooked veggies, a limited amount of fruit, meat, a few eggs, and nuts. in order for me to have “smooth” weeks, i have to prep everything i eat days in advance: hard boil eggs, soups and stews, nuts to go. i used to stay on top of this really well. but i think 12 weeks of the detox on top of school starting threw me out of the loop.

yesterday, i was reading an essay by Alice Waters, founder of the Slow Food movement. she reminded me of what i haven’t let myself accept in the last few week: that preparing food and taking care of our selves is pleasurable. She writes:

We treat preparation as drudgery. Besides, other people are better at it than we are. Cleaning up is drudgery, too. There are more important things to do. We have been told that work is here and pleasure is there. But in fact real pleasure comes from doing. Work can feed our imaginations and educate our senses. If somebody else does it all for us, we miss out on the real juice of life.

last sunday, i spent the afternoon cooking and working with my friend michael. i made curried lentil sweet potato soup. he made roasted veggies and pumpkin quinoa. it took time. we broke from our school work multiple times to prep, stir, and watch pots of veggies morph into stews. it helped me get back on track: eating regularly, searching for new recipes, scheduling time to cook this week. it made me realize how much i need other people in my life supporting me during times of food-exhuastion. cooking with a close friend reminded me how i understand food as relational and loving. C has reminded me of this, too: making me dinner 3 times over the last week at times when i felt like i’d rather go to bed or keep working that make myself something.

accepting that my body will not allow me to eat what most people can is challenging. emotional. there are good weeks and bad weeks, good days and bad days, good meals and bad meals. what you’re not told when you are diagnosed with food allergies and intolerances is that part of the process is grieving: grieving the loss of foods that hold very important spaces in your memory in relation to family and childhood that you will never eat again; grieving the loss of not being able to share in eating and drinking socially with people you love unless special accommodations are made in advance; grieving the loss of not being able to enjoy meals at restaurants or at other people’s homes when there’s nothing served that hasn’t touched gluten or butter. 10 months into my official diagnosis and i think i’m still grieving the losses, even without realizing it.

but this is the body i live in, and it’s the only one i’m ever going to have. taking care of it might be the most important thing i ever do. even if it takes a lot of time.

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