Since I moved back to the Bay Area, where my dad lives, I find that he loves to be bring me foods; more so the various types of lavash, sodium packed feta cheese in huge containers, naan 3-ft long from the Afghan market, 2 whole watermelons, and a stack of mail for me to transcribe for him. I don't mind the mail, but I beg him every time prior to his arrival not to bring any foods. I love him and I appreciate his generosity to feed his daughter and son-in-law awesome middle eastern goods but I simply can't eat that shit anymore. You're probably thinking, okay, you can't eat wheat and cheese is probably not that great for you, but watermelon? Hey, now, don't underestimate me. Put any amount of watermelon in front me and I'll inhale it like this guy.
That's why I can't have watermelon in my house unless it comes portioned, sweet and has no brothers or sisters.
I wish I could sum up what happened to me in the last year so I can make sense to you of why I tell my pops not to shower me with free food, or why I can't just simply join friends or family for lunch or dinner. My responses are usually, "come over! I'll cook!" or "let's just meet a cafe where there's tea or coffee (and no food)." But it does require a little bit of story-telling and conclusion-coming. I'll try to keep it short and sweet.
When I transferred to what is known as one of the best schools in the world (not my words) in 2015, I thought my admiration for academia would rise to another level, except it did just the opposite and literally broke me. I spent eight months dealing with anxiety, crying spells, depression, panic attacks, heart palpitations and worse of all a binge eating disorder. Do I regret it? Not at all, but I do wish it hadn't hurt me so much.
The summer after I started school, I went through a very very very stressful move out of our beautiful first home in the farmland of the valley, and into a small, dark (but decent) home east of the San Francisco Bay. The move was the best, the right, and the ideal decision for the both of us, but when close-of-escrow landed on the day I had two finals and three papers due, that sort of thing fucks you up. And it fucked me up. Bad.
I was finally at ease when we were settled in, thus I began to take notice of my health issues and decided it was time to seek help. I reached out to my doctors at the big corporate HMO medical company and all I got was a questionnaires to fill out, bottles of unwanted anti-depressants, and a useless advice of "maybe you just need to exercise more." I even reached out to my school's health center seeking psychiatric services, but the therapist I was paired with basically traumatized my first therapy experience. I said f it until the new year.
Come February 2016, I was set to meet a doctor at a holistic medicine practice in Oakland. In that same month, I was admitted to the ER for being tachycardic out of no where (I picked up Heart of Darkness and that's when I found myself on the floor unable to move), I had no appetite, threw up everything I attempted to eat, had irritable bowels after every beverage, including water, my weight was going up up up, and my moods were on a roller coaster fueled by a nitrous oxide engine.
Luckily, my new doctor seemed to have all the answers. After a series of tests and an elimination diet, my diagnosis put me at ease. I found out that my gut wasn't working properly (hence the earlier statement of being "literally broken") and that I was sensitive to certain foods. This explained the depression, weight gain, sleeping problems, hormone shifts, and everything else that was wrong with me. Therefore, since then, I have cut out gluten, soy, added and processed sugars and most dairy from my diet. ALAS, the very reason why it's hard for me to join others for dinner, or allow others to bring food into my home. You'd be surprised to find wheat, soy and sugars in everything! Check the label folks, and not the nutrition facts, but the ingredients! This past summer, I traveled to China to teach English and live with a host family that knew of my intolerance. They believed they were accommodating me, but after every meal I was in pain with the need to use the restroom ASAP. So what was the problem? There was wheat and soy and sugar in all their sauces for flavoring and they had no idea. That's just one example of how little we know of what goes into our foods.
Anyways, returning to what seems to be more of an introductory post now, trying to keep my meals fun, I went back to my food blog roots (yeah I used to have a food blog some years ago and it was pretty cool until I went back to school) and started taking photos of my dishes with my phone, then posting them on my personal Instagram account. Because of this, I have been praised and suggested by many to take my meals, and the photos I take of them to another platform. But who wants to spend hours out of their day putting together recipes, cooking them to perfection and literally giving each dish a photo shoot with a DSLR? Not me. I would rather use that time to go outside with my dogs, swim at the gym, spend time with my friends, admire some Zadie Smith texts or water my succulents and house plants and maybe, just maybe, have a whole watermelon to myself. But I thought about it and decided to simply bring together my food experience into what was once my photography portfolio. Here I can embrace my passion for writing, thus concluding this blog as a place for me.
Cutting out certain foods was one of the best and most important things I have ever done for myself. It wasn't until this change where I realized how close our mental and physical health was linked to nutrition. To some people, this is voodoo, but to me it's a life saver. [/end explanation]