Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dr. Love/Hate

On the recommendation of a colleague who said he completely turned around her energy levels, I started seeing this naturopathic doctor, and in my mind he quickly became Dr. Love/Hate. I like him because he's friendly, chipper, and under other circumstances I would totally want to hang out with him. But then he tells me to do things that sound as plausible as if he wanted me to build a spaceship to the moon.

For example, a few weeks ago he presented me with a blood test report stating that I am "very" allergic to dairy, eggs, pinto beans, and navy beans, and "moderately" allergic to beef, lamb, gliadin, gluten, malt, rye, wheat, halibut, salmon, sardines, sole, crab, shrimp, almond, pineapple, green beans, kidney beans, squash, brewer's yeast, mushrooms, psyllium seed, safflower seed, spelt, triticale, chili powder, cumin, mustard, poppy seeds, turmeric, cashews, pistachio, honeydew, alfalfa, garbanzo beans, kale, mung beans, red peppers, and watercress. These are not food allergies in the sense that they cause a reaction, because they never have, but in the sense that I produce antibodies to these foods or something.

"Just cut out all of those foods, plus all remaining legumes, from your diet for six weeks," he said. "Then after that you can have the 'moderate' foods once a week, but never again have dairy or eggs, and I wouldn't recommend ever eating gluten again either."

Sure—no big deal. I have hours and hours to research and plan all my meals as well as read every label and keep stopping to consult a list while grocery shopping or at a salad bar. Plus never eating out again, and presenting people who invite me over to eat with a 40-item list.

"That's crazy," said my therapist Dr. Knitter.

I had wondered why more people didn't partake in natural medicine. All natural, no drugs! But now I realize that natural medicine requires a high level of personal willingness to change. I consider myself willing to try such things. I don't eat meat except for fish, I've flirted with veganism, and, when I heard bad things about gluten, I started reading a blog called "gluten-free vegan." So getting to that point seemed almost plausible. But to give up legumes as well—what kind of vegan can you be without legumes? That was what put it all over the edge and made me leave his office almost in tears.

If I had a lot of time on my hands, I might even try this diet to see where it got me. But as it is, I'm just trying to avoid the foods I'm not supposed to eat when I can remember what they are. It's been three weeks. I guess I feel OK, but Dr. L-H would probably tell me I'm not getting optimal results because I'm not being super strict about it.

An interesting discovery is what I miss the most. Not dairy. Not eggs. Not psyllium seed (whatever that is). I miss bread. Bread, bread, bread. Delicious bread. I think about bread. I dream about bread. When I eat a piece of bread, it's the most delicious thing ever, and I'm euphoric for hours.

If nothing else comes out of this diet, I will have a new appreciation for bread.

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