Back in September, when I was a couple of months into following the LEAP protocol for dealing with food sensitivities, I wrote a post called Deprivation Redux, in which I talked about how I was feeling pretty fine about eating only those foods that don't hurt me. It felt at that moment as though the deprivation corner of my blanket was firmly pegged into the ground.
Since I've been in Hawaii, though, I've been hit in the face more than a few times, but in a slightly different way. It's not that I'm feeling hard done by because I can't eat whole wheat bread, chocolate, cheddar cheese or popcorn -- in fact, I'm generally finding very reasonable substitutes for all of those flavors. And I've been able to add some of my very most favorite Hawaiian foods, without incident: breadfruit, macadamia nuts, taro, opakapaka (pink snapper) and sweet potatoes. Though I did feel sad on my first trips to the grocery store or Costco, seeing all the usual foods that cannot at this time be part of my fare, there have been plenty of other things to provide variety and interest (the Asian snack isle is a wonder of corn- and gluten free choices).
Still, I've been having more and more trouble being really mindful about my food, making poor choices among those that I can eat, eating when I'm not particularly hungry, and not stopping when my palate becomes jaded or my belly is full. In contemplating why that might be, I've considered the very real possibility that I am subconsciously resenting the limitations on my choices (after spending several years learning to give myself permission to choose freely from among all foods and thus depriving them of their power over me); I could be eating more of what I can have to make up for not being able to have some other foods that I really love. And while I do acknowledge that possibility, it doesn't resonate right now. I really don't think that's the answer. The only food I had been seriously longing for was bread (so I could eat a simple tuna sandwich), and a couple of weeks ago I found spelt hamburger buns in the local health food store that taste just like real whole wheat bread, and I tolerate them just fine. On the other hand, that tuna sandwich was probably the single most mindfully consumed food item in my recent past, so maybe there is more at play behind the scenes than I know.
The other possible explanation that has occurred to me is that I am living in a culture here where not only am I faced every day with the limitations governing my food choices, but where those limitations make it next to impossible to be normally "sociable." Hawaiian contemporary cuisine is very much Asian, and Asian food is dominated by soy, which is one of the few foods that make me frankly ill. This means that we can't eat out (except in one restaurant that neither of us finds terribly appealing), that we can't go to the many day-long festivals without a lot of prior planning, and that if we have guests, I have to cook three meals a day, every day.
In the great scheme of life, none of that is a horrible hardship. I've been enjoying all the cooking I've done, especially when we've had guests, and I can't say I've particularly missed going out to eat. I do miss being able to use soy sauce and ginger in my stir frying, but I can live with that. Still, handcuffs are not particularly enjoyable or comfortable, even if they are lined with fleece. I suspect that the chafing is getting to me, and I don't know what to do about that.
As I write all of this, I realize that none of what I'm talking about is rational. Put me on the rational plane and I can do anything. It's the emotional netherworld that trips me up, every time. I don't know exactly what the lesson is here, only that I clearly haven't learned it yet.
A hui hou.