We’re traveling to the US for a month-long whirlwind of family visits and marathon appointments at the Mayo Clinic. Seattle, Albuquerque, Austin, Rochester MN, Baltimore, New York, back to Austin and possibly back to Rochester.
While I’m certainly worried about handling all that winter travel with my depressed immune system, I’m even more worried about being able to keep to my diet without being too much of an imposition on our hosts.
Fortunately, the last few months have helped me develop a hierarchy of compromise and understand what’s most important to me when it comes to the things I put in my body. Early on in this way of eating I’d spend way too much time in the grocery store aisle trying to decide between conventional raw nuts and toasted organic nuts or something similar. I still don’t fully understand the true health impacts of each decision but I have a general guideline I can follow based on what feels right to me.
From low priority to high, here’s how I compromise:
- Organic. Even in my day to day shopping I’ll purchase conventional produce on the “Clean Fifteen” list. I accept that, when eating out or with friends, food won’t be organic.
- Raw. I already eat about 20% cooked food so, as long as I can get the majority of my nutrients from raw foods, I’m very comfortable increasing that percentage for a while.
- Unfermented Soy. I’ve been avoiding non-fermented soy but a few servings of tofu or soy milk are okay.
- Fish and chicken broth. I already take daily fish oil supplements and eat wild-caught salmon 2-3 times a month. I’m okay occasionally eating a bit more fish or even chicken broth on rare occasion. I will try really really hard to ensure they’re wild-caught and pasture-raised, respectively, but I won’t die on that hill.
- Small amounts of fruit, carby veggies, legumes, other whole foods. A bite of yam, garbanzo beans, a piece of pineapple – if it doesn’t put me too far over my daily target of 30g carbohydrates it’s okay for very rare, special occasions. I had two sips of champagne for the New Year and felt great about it.
- Eggs. I haven’t had an egg in the 3 months since I adopted this way of eating but am preparing to incorporate some omega-3 or pasture-raised eggs into my diet to increase my depressed albumin levels and protein. Given this, I assume I’d compromise on egg if it came up.
The hills I will die on:
- Proceed food. I will never again eat something with enriched flour or fried in omega-6-rich polyunsaturated oil. This one can get a little fuzzy, however, and often requires a judgement call. I’ll eat curry made with a paste at a restaurant but not salad dressing. I love the Foodcraft organic, raw sauerkraut and coconut yogurt even though it technically comes from an industrial kitchen (down the street). For the most part, if someone can’t tell me the provenance of the ingredients, it’s out.
- Other animal products. Mammals, specifically, but too frequent fish and chicken won’t work for me, either.
- Sugar, fruit juice, anything to put me over my carb limit.
There’s no compromise on these, instead I fast.
I’ve had weirdly powerful cravings for pizza and literally woke this morning from a dream that I was shopping for baguettes. Still, to me, going off my diet means strengthening my cancer and is never worth it. It’s so easy to stick to something when you believe not sticking to it will kill you!
I do have some “mini-cheats”/ planned compromises down the road. I’m going to find some organic, vegan cheese from a company I trust and make a pizza using a crust made from my homemade coconut and almond flours. I’m going to I have a 10 net carb Chipotle meal in my back pocket in case of social emergency.
Having my priorities decided in advance makes me feel much more comfortable with the upcoming travel. Also, we’re very lucky to be staying with understanding friends and family most of the time so I think compromise will actually be a very rare thing.