I keep telling myself the pain is going away, but it’s not. It’s much much less than what it was — I am no longer rolling on the floor in agony — but it still comes every day, and it is like a repeatedly stabbing needle: still quite painful. When it comes, it makes me irritable and short-tempered and, if it comes at night, completely unable to sleep. Time to face facts: it’s hit a plateau and it’s not been getting any better.
When it came yesterday, the stabbing made even the littlest irritation too much to bear and, to my shame, I found myself barking at the girls and at my mother. I was suddenly tired of being this person — tired of being someone whose personality was pulled and pushed around by pointless pain. Surely the soy milk should be out of my system by now! What on earth was making it hold on?
I had a sudden revelation: other foods I am eating must contain soy — enough soy to maintain the pain at this lower level. Of course! My mother and I started reading through ingredient lists on the packets in the fridge and the pantry… and there it was — in my rice milk! Silly me — because the rice milk was sitting on the supermarket shelf as alternative to soy milk, I’d bought it and drank it and just assumed it would contain no soy. Why else would it be available but for people who don’t want soy milk? But there it was, staring back at me — the fifth ingredient.
I am not drinking milk and am avoiding dairy because of E2’s dairy allergy; I am not eating soy because of the incredible pain it causes me; I am avoiding high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) on principle and out of indignation. What on earth can I eat?
Half-asleep and on auto-pilot, I started to make myself a bowl of cereal this morning, and then remembered yesterday’s discovery… sigh… I would have to eat my cereal dry. Now curious, I read through the ingredients on the Special K box: HFCS played a starring role (I’m sure that wasn’t the case in the UK…?). I put it back on the shelf. “Toast!” I thought. I stopped for a moment to check the ingredients — the fact that our bread contained HFCS didn’t surprise me, but the soy certainly did! It went back in the breadbox. Why on earth are these things added to my bread? I don’t need them when I make my own bread, so why does store-bought bread need them?
Now on a mission, I opened the cupboard door and began grabbing tins and packets like a mad woman. HFCS in nearly everything — I knew that would be the case — but soy products were nearly as bad. Soy in my milk, soy in my bread, soy in my Campbell’s soup, soy in my meatloaf, soy in my tortillas, soy in my Club crackers… The list of foods that might be adding to this continuing pain was growing as long as my arm, and the foods that I felt safe eating were diminishing rapidly. I made myself a cup of tea with no milk, and had some oatmeal (made from scratch — no packets, thank you) topped with cinnamon and blueberries. I wondered what on earth I’d have when I got hungry for lunch…
I am deeply concerned by this. Almost without exception, it was the American products that contained the never-ending HFCS and that insidious added soy. The imported European foods that I’d treated myself to — real pesto, English cheese biscuits, Italian bruschetta — contained none of it. What is America doing to itself? Grocery shopping should not be like running an obstacle course; food is best when it is simple and honest. You are what you eat — you are. And if you stuff your food with needless junk and fillers — turning it into something that fills your stomach instead of nourishing your body — then your body (and your mind) will return the compliment.
It is nearing lunchtime and I am at a loss what to eat. Bananas… avocados… more oatmeal?… Perhaps I have to look the bright side — if I have next to nothing I can eat, I might, at long last, lose this baby weight. If I don’t look at it positively, this inability to do something as simple as feed myself in this new and strange country may truly send me round the twist.
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