Meat. Milk. Sugar. Chocolate. Wheat. Butter. Eggs. Slowly, these foods have come back into my diet, until my meals are no longer intricate dances around what I can't have. I have known that these changes were occurring, with every meal I have prepared for myself, or every restaurant excursion that didn't scare the daylights out of me, but it is interesting to stop here, in September 2008, and realize that there isn't anything that I am avoiding.
A part of me feels sad to let these restrictions go, as if I were a bit naked without them. On the one hand, checking for restricted items in my diet was a way to reflect on what I was eating. I couldn't wantonly shove food into my mouth if I had to be concerned about whether or not it contained gluten, and might give me a massive stomach ache afterwards. On the other hand, food restrictions had become such a chore lately, especially in Italy, where I scrupulously avoided wheat pasta and morning brioche.
Today, I can eat everything. Can is the operational word here, for while I can eat everything, I won't eat it all at once, nor will I eat it every day. But I still feel a little at awe to realize that, for perhaps the first time in six or seven years, I am not leaving anything out of my diet. Now, the foods that I avoid, if any, are the ones that I never liked in the first place -- hamburgers, canned olives, thousand-year-old eggs -- but I am more likely than ever to occasionally give these foods a try, too.
This experiment is somewhat frightening -- I am sure that some of you know all too well the comforts of sticking to a particular diet -- but I am trying to concentrate on the feeling of liberation instead of fear. Liberated from food fears, I can attend parties without worrying that I will scarf down every object in sight or eat something that will give me stomach pains. I can read restaurant menus and nod "Yes, yes, yes," to any number of items, instead of heading beeline to the low-fat, no-wheat options (and there are only so many raw salads that my digestive system can take before it rebels). I can cook bread and biscuits and cakes for myself, make butter and mayo and salad dressing from scratch, prepare roasts and eat well. If this isn't recovery and happiness and eager fun, than I don't know what could be better.
And what of an expanding waistline? And what of the health consequences of so much cholesterol and fat? And what about simple sugars and -- and -- and -- ?
There is only so much fear-mongering that I can take right now (we're in election season, after all). As for all of the rest, I will believe it when I see it. All I know is that by eating more, and by eating more widely, I am healthier and happier than I have been in years.
So take that, diet gods!
P.S. See the new poll to the left -- which foods frighten you?