A Misty Thanksgiving – Part I

I was looking forward to the Thanksgiving of 2010. My sister, Kim, had invited me to her house, in Maryland, for the gathering.  This was to be the first time, as I recall, Kim was to host a Thanksgiving. I was looking forward to kicking back with a beer; helping with a dish or two, if asked; and enjoying a low stress event, the way she likes it. It would also be an opportunity to try the new dishes she was bound to present, that were aligned with her new and irritating diet.

Sister Kim, with her ongoing campaign to combat the rebellious cell lines that had mutated in her breast, had chosen a diet she felt would reduce the untoward effects certain foods had on her body. She had identified inflammation as the enemy, and was hell-bent on eliminating anything and everything that tipped her body towards an inappropriate immune response.  Her guide in this quest was something she identified as “the blood type diet.”

From what I gathered from her interminable treatises on the subject, this diet consisted of lists of foods that one could eat based on a given blood type. The lists were very specific. The diet would not merely say you could eat nuts. Instead, for example, it would list for type AB, that almonds and walnuts were beneficial, but cashews and Brazil nuts were to be avoided.

I am used to relying upon scientific principles in most things. These statements loudly (to me, at least) beg the question, “How do you know that?” Each list should represent conclusions of scientific studies with measurable quantities, corroborating the claims. I couldn’t imagine anyone quietly applying that rigor to the subject and then printing it all up neatly in a book available on Amazon for fifteen bucks.

With Kim, every offered or suggested food was vetted by her list. She would respond,“No, it’s not on my list,” or, if her answer was “Yes,” then it would be accompanied by the verbal footnote: “It’s on my list” or “It’s my powerhouse food.”  This would be followed by a brief lecture regarding the diet, the lists and the ramifications of it all.

All.Quite.Tedious.

To me, it was pseudoscience. To her, it was the religion of her new lifestyle and the firm foundation in the belief system that allowed her to survive her ordeal with breast cancer. She emerged to thrive in the state of health, post-cancer therapy, that had long eluded her. In essence, the diet worked. Science or no science, the diet worked for her and the food she cooks is delicious; and I was looking forward to it.

As luck would have it, I was scheduled to work the day after Thanksgiving, and therefore, unable to go to Maryland after all. I was disheartened, but resigned to work my assigned shift.

Luck intervened again and I found myself suddenly free of my work obligations and the trip east was back on line. I made that journey, but during my brief absence from the plans, the plans had changed. The dinner, originally slated to be at Kim’s house, was now at Cheryl’s. This was not a downgrade and it opened up the menu considerably.

The short Thanksgiving holiday makes travel a pain, though many folks try to make it back to family, anyway. That is what this holiday is about after all. It’s not really about a meal. It’s about the opportunity to share a meal, once again, with family. As crowded as the airways and highways may be, they come.  The common ties are once again connected.

It can be messy, too.

-Author, David

Next: A Misty Thanksgiving – Part II

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They Call Me A Picky Eater, But …

I’m really a Mindful Eater.

My friends respect my diet choices, even if they think they’re a little quirky. They know I’ve changed my diet for the sake of better health. When I’m invited to dinner, the hosts ask what are my “restrictions.” My  mama taught us to eat anything our host offers, but… quite honestly, the situation requires some finesse. I always ask my hosts not to go out of their way to accommodate me. I contribute a dish or two, if that’s appropriate, and try to downplay my food preferences. (I’ll survive a meal with non-organic greens!)

That said, I do pay attention to what I put in my body.  Not every food I’ve loved has loved me back, and my body has let me know in some noxious ways.  If I’m lucky, I will only get bloated.

So be it — call me “picky.”

When my friends and I go out, I suggest restaurants I think will work for everyone. And, if someone else makes a suggestion, I take a quick look at the menu to see if there is at least one thing I can eat. Food brings people together and I don’t want my food preferences to make me a social repellent. I do draw the line, however, at most fast food places.

Here’s how I maintain my food “quirks” and social life. When my Maryland USTA tennis team was in Newport News, Virginia for a tournament, some teammates wanted to hit a deli for lunch. Well, the typical deli doesn’t work for me because I’m gluten-free and don’t eat processed meats. I suggested Taste, which is in both Newport News and Norfolk.  (I’d gone there with other teammates last year and remembered it as a healthier type of deli. The good folk at Taste label the gluten-free food and you can customize your salad order.) This time around, I ordered an arugula and spinach salad with sliced almonds, hard-boiled egg, goat cheese, cucumber, and onion, topped with a generous scoop of blackened tuna salad. It was huge and good and had plenty of protein.  My teammates happily ordered what they wanted and we all shared a bottle of Bitch red wine.

See…not really so picky after all!  Everybody was happy and ready to kick butt in the next match!

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