Now what?: part two

This is where I’ll delve into some of the specific concerns that I’ve had since my diagnosis.

I’ll start with food, since – if you know me you know this is true – it’s an important part of my life. I love eating. I love eating things that are good for you (in large quantities) and things that are bad for you (in, uh, moderation). I’m lucky to have always had a ‘normal’ relationship with food, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that I really need to start watching what I put in my body, since my genes are not pre-disposed to treating me well in my old age. This also coincided with my decision to start exercising regularly, which led me at long last to re-tool my diet pretty heavily. I try as best as I can to eat well, and to eat what I want when I want; I allow myself a ‘cheat day’ once a week to indulge in the food that’s not so good for me, and get back on the good-food wagon the next day. It’s helped a lot in fueling me for exercise, not to mention getting enough sleep and generally feeling well.

In general, I try to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, with my grains being whole (wheat cereal, oatmeal, snacky bars, the like), my fats coming from cooking oils and nuts and nut butters, and my dairy coming from plain Greek yogurt and the occasional cheese. Drinks are water, black coffee, occasional tea, and beer when I want it. It’s a fairly high-fiber diet, which I consume to keep myself full for as long as possible, though I eat 5-6 small meals per day to keep my metabolism going. When I was preparing for the colonoscopy, I had to go on a low-fiber diet for the week before, which more or less meant I couldn’t eat more than a handful of foods I was currently eating. Rice cereal, saltines, starchy vegetables, no raw fruits, no nuts, no potato skins – ack! I mean, yeah, it was only a week so it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, but it made me feel icky enough to notice the difference.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve got this thing which is a Thing, I have to pay even more careful attention to what I eat. Knowing that I forget something within two minutes if it’s not written down, I decided to start keeping a food spreadsheet as a Google document, so that I could have it handy anywhere I’ve got Internet access. [This does not include my phone, which is still a stupidphone of the flip variety. Hey, I have to retain one last shred of my Ludditeness, okay?] I’ve split it into three sections: Food That’s OK, Food That Causes Some Trouble, and Food That Isn’t OK. The first section should be pretty self-explanatory; here go things that have been questionable for other people (like coffee and beer) plus some things that have helped soothe stabby-pains in case of emergency (for example, plain hot tea seems to help calm my stomach very well). The second section is the one with the most wiggle room, since if a food causes me issues (not necessarily just pain, but also, say, heartburn or gas) it goes here first so that I can make notes on the degree of trouble it caused and whether or not I might need to test it again. For example, ground beef is currently on this list, because it’s not treating me well when I eat it – in chili form, or in burger form – but I’m not entirely convinced that it’s a total write-off just yet because there are so many ways of preparing and eating it. The third section is where I’m putting foods whose effects are so deleterious that I will not consider eating them any more. Brussels sprouts are currently in that section because they already caused me to make some serious, um, sounds, and I’m somewhat afraid to find out how much worse those sounds might be now. I hope this section will remain small, because there are already some foods I love on the Causing Trouble list, and I reeeealllly don’t want to see them move into forbidden territory.

Like hamburgers. I am a born carnivore, and I’d swear that my body tells me when it needs iron because I get the most insane craving for a bloody-rare burger that only that very thing can provide. I’ve tried veggie burgers, and while they’re good, they’re just not the same; I’m certainly not about to squirt ketchup on their insides to try and fool myself into thinking that.  One of the things I love doing during the summer is grilling burgers and washing them down with a beer. During NFL season, I also love going out to watch games at a local pub with friends, where we share pitchers and – yup – order burgers. Or ice cream. Maybe I just love almost anything that comes out of a cow*, but it’s my favorite summer treat… and winter treat, actually, since I contend it makes you feel warmer (especially if you eat it outside. Or does that only happen in Russia?). But, it’s part of the sugary-dairy category of things that I have to look out for. Quinoa, too, is on my watch list, which especially stinks because I’ve just started cooking with it in the last few months and  I love everything about it except its price – its flavor, texture, versatility, all of that protein goodness.

Anyway, enough complaining from me, as I’m sure the food spreadsheet will continue to present challenges for me in the coming months and years. But please, if I’m in your company and you offer me something – especially if you know I’ve had it before and enjoy it – don’t be upset if I have to start refusing it. I am not making this up when I say that it’s not you, it’s me. Okay? Okay.

In part three of the “now what?” series: Bathroom issues, because what better segué from food into anything else?

*I thought about writing “anything” there, but then I realized that there are emphatically parts of a cow that I do not like, and more parts that I have not tried that I am not sure I would like. I’m just covering my bases here in case one of you sends me a recipe for grilled bull testicles or something.


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