Food Is My Enemy
I’ve written about this before, and I will write about it again…
I HATE MY DIETARY RESTRICTIONS!
I just want to eat. Why can’t I just eat whatever I want and be perfectly fine? It’s so unfair that some people can just eat whatever is available to them and the worst thing that might happen is weight gain and maybe a little heartburn. I wish those were the only issues I had!
I have ankylosing spondylitis, and due to pain and inflammation, I can’t eat practically anything!
Out of dinner options
We all play the game “What do you want for dinner?” It's a fun event when one person asks, and the other responds, “I don't know, what do you want?” Everyone laughs and they end up eating pizza. I can’t eat pizza.
My diet is 100% dairy-free. I’ve also given up sugar, starches, cut back on my carbs, and have recently eliminated nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and potatoes are the most common examples). And, I'm deathly allergic to seafood. My doctor also wanted me to cut gluten, but then he realized I’d starve.
Because of all these restrictions, I really need to think about what I want to eat. And the options I have left might not fit into my budget or my appetite. It makes eating really difficult.
Peanut butter and pickles
No matter where you are in the world, eating is associated with celebration. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, Birthdays, Weddings, and anything else that involves bringing people together. We are always eating!
My birthday was in mid-October, and I had a nightmare leading up to it. People would want to celebrate! I did not want anyone to celebrate my birthday. If you are a reader of my writing you will remember my requests for peanut butter and pickles last year. The two things I enjoy that I know I can eat without pain, that grossed out everyone else.
I did not want a repeat of that, nor did I want the guilt of someone baking me a cake and having to tell this thoughtful person that I can’t eat it. I fear celebrations and the possibility that I won’t be able to eat anything, which would then lead to starvation and guilt.
Food is my enemy
Truthfully, I am sick of eating! I wish I could live out the rest of my life and never eat one more thing. While working hard, weather, and stress all cause my body to catch fire in an inflammatory inferno, they are all things that are going to happen. I will overdo it some days, the weather will suck, and I can’t predict when stress will strike. Food is something that I can’t avoid and yet I can still have some control over.
The problem is, I am convinced no matter what I eat, I'm going to pay for it. It seems no food is safe. Even if I think I am eating the perfect thing, my pain rises. Perhaps the perfect thing was cooked in something imperfect. Maybe I really should be gluten-free…
This invokes my favorite blame game. “What did I do to deserve this?” Suddenly eating food that sparks inflammation is all my fault, even if I didn't know it would cause inflammation and pain. It’s hard living knowing that doing the thing that keeps me alive is also making me wish I wasn't alive. I view food as my enemy and I want to stay as far away from it as possible. Clearly this is not good.
Keep it basic
In order to survive the dietary gauntlet, I keep my options simple and relatively free of possible triggers. I've grown to love protein shakes with almond milk. Peanut butter sandwiches are my closest ally. They have never hurt me and have gained my trust.
Turkey burgers, bacon, and baked vegetables have also been kind to me. Basically, if I know what is in it, there shouldn't be too much to fear. The only issue I have is a dog who is afraid of my kitchen and the sounds of cooking. But, I'll leave that for a pet care blog.
I'm not on a diet!
When people hear about my dietary restrictions, they always assume I’m on some diet plan. I lost 40 pounds in 2019 and they think that is why I'm such a picky eater. They assume I'm on: Diabetic, Keto, Paleo, etc.
No, I'm sorry to report, I’m not on a diet. I'm simply trying to survive, and I’m making it up as I go. Hopefully, food won't be my enemy for long, but until I figure out what is causing my pain, I'm keeping my guard up.
Other than back pain and fatigue, what is the most common symptom that AS patients experience?