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Food with Benefits

January 20, 2015

Guys, this isn’t the post I intended to write this week.

In the category of “stupid things I did without thinking,” I have managed to temporarily clog up my digestive system through too much eating of delicious food and not enough eating of slightly-less-delicious food. I’m a mess of brie and paté, duck breast and grass-fed beef.

It isn’t pretty. Thank goodness it’s temporary, even if the solution is both unpleasant and unmentionable. If there is a bright spot, it’s that I have given my children an unprecedented and never-to-be-repeated episode in which they can both laugh hilariously and demonstrate compassion. We’ve all been there.

I’m not sure why I even mention this except to hold myself up as a cautionary tale.

“Where did I go wrong?” I asked myself in misery in the wee hours of the morning. “What did I change?” And the answer came to me in a flash of miserable insight.

I did not make fruitcake this Christmas.

I love fruitcake, the homemade kind. Decades ago, I spent some time researching recipes, and now, I make a great fruitcake. It’s rich, dense, and delicious, a booze-soaked brick of figgy, fruity goodness. I didn’t make it this year, because I was busy doing other things. “It’s a lot of work, and it’s fattening,” I told myself. “I don’t need Christmas fruitcake sitting around through half of Lent.”

Yeah, well, evidently I do.

In addition to changing back to whole-wheat bread and brown rice, whole grain pasta and whole-wheat tortillas for the foreseeable future, I’m also going to bake a batch of fruitcake. I know I’ll eat it, not only because it’s important, but also because it is delicious. I also see plenty of Boston brown bread in my future: a delectable silver lining to my uncomfortable situation.

This problem crept up on me out of the blue. It’s one of the things they warn you about when you start cancer treatment. There’s a whole chapter in the chemotherapy book on it. Alas, the videos won’t link; they’re both informative, and hilarious.

I managed to escape cancer relatively unscathed from the indignities of digestive concerns. My familiarity with the subject comes from reading the cancer book out loud to family and friends in a too-serious voice: alimentary canal humor is always funny. When I knew it was a risk, I made an effort to eat plenty of prunes and always whole grains, so I could laugh.

Once I was healthy, I never thought about it at all, counting on my generally wholesome habits to keep things moving in the right direction.

I wasn’t planning to share this until I sat down to write, and I still have mixed feelings about publishing this post because TMI, but the worst of it is that if I had just not neglected to make fruitcake, there likely would have been no issues.

When things are working well, we don’t think about how complex our systems are.

We forget that we are fragile.

I’ve spend the past week creating, um, internal space and also trying to come to a place where I can forgive myself.

Please, if you comment, don’t tell me that I need to eat less gluten or try some other miracle cure because the subtext of those suggestions is that you know more than I do about how my body works. That’s a hurtful message, and I’m already hurting enough.

From → Cooking

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