Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Vacation Diet

Like any person in a post-vacation blue funk, I was blaming leaving the beach and my friends and coming back to reality for my current bout of depression. As it turns out, I should be blaming my lunch.

I don't usually blog about food, because, well, I just don't. I tried it for a little while, but writing about menu planning and cooking and eating (oh my!) seems too intimate. I'm fully aware that this is a personality flaw quirk of mine, and that it looks especially bizarre on someone who talks about her vagina every chance she gets. The fact of the matter is: I love and admire food bloggers,* but I will never be able to join their ranks, because I'm too chicken. Or, more accurately, too "chicken-style vegan protein source." Besides, you all don't want to know what I eat, do you?

Of course, having already brought up my doctor's visits and elimination diet, I've written myself into a little writing-about-food corner. And now I have further evidence to suggest that managing my diet is the key to stabilizing my moods.

One of the first things I did when I got back from vacation was make toast. Wheat was the one thing I had yet to add back into my diet, and while I had suspected all along that it was the driving force behind my unpleasant physical symptoms, I needed to check. You know, for science. And also because I really like toast. I'd eaten some wheat crackers on the plane in response to low blood sugar and poor planning, and had felt a little stomach-crampy afterwards. But travel does weird things to people, so I figured toast was my real wheat-test.

It seems I was right to be suspicious. Within a couple of hours post-bread, I was bloated, nauseated, and miserable. I avoided wheat like crazy for the next few days, but continued to feel physically and mentally crappy. It occurred to me that my mood was probably up while I was on vacation because, well, I was on vacation with my friends! But I realized that I hadn't had any physical symptoms at all until the plane-crackers struck.

I reflected on my vacation diet: coffee and oatmeal with raisins and fresh fruit (and, er, breastmilk) for breakfast; salad for lunch every day, tofu once or twice, a little potato, lots of avocado; cooked veggies and more salad for dinner; homemade salad dressing always; wine, both red and white; lots of plain popcorn and tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole for dessert (because sweets and I don't get along).

What's missing from that? Well, wheat, obviously, but I was avoiding that on purpose. As diets go, it's kind of grain-less. But the biggest difference is the absence of the processed rice and soy products of which I have become so fond. Because it's dumb to buy a whole container of Earth Balance or Vegenaise or Bragg Liquid Aminos for one person for a week, the only soy I ate while I was on vacation was a little tofu and some soy milk.

When I added soy back to my diet after having cut it out, I didn't notice it being a problem. Now I'm not so sure. Soy (especially highly-processed soy) and I will be parting ways for a while. Just in time for my in-laws' potluck Labor Day celebration, where you can bet the vegan protein option won't be gluten-free lentil burgers!

It would be easy to get hung up on all the things I can't eat and all the things I choose not to eat and how I have to bring food with me everywhere I go so I'm never stuck eating bloat-inducing airline snacks ever again. But since I've started duplicating my vacation breakfast every morning (minus the freshly-pumped breastmilk, of course), I've been feeling a little better, body and mind both.

Clearly, I should eat like I'm on vacation all the time. It's not nearly as much fun as lazing around a beach house with friends, but it's cheaper than a plane ticket. And it's hard to convince myself that I shouldn't be eating two salads a day.

*Really. I'm kind of in awe of people who post pictures of their food--whether they cooked it themselves or not. My mother always took pictures of our restaurant meals when I was a child, and this seemed completely strange and a little invasive to me. Honestly, I'd rather post a picture of my postpartum pooch than post a picture of my plate.