Visited the gastroenterologist yesterday morning in my continuing quest to discover why I have been stupidly anaemic. Was absolutely horrified to be told to STOP DRINKING TEA. Tea, people, which is a whole extra food group on its own. How is it legal to tell people to stop drinking tea??? Turns out there is not actually a law about it; I can tell you this, because I have checked.
Did you know that drinking tea significantly inhibits iron absorption? I sort of knew this, and back in that earlier post, Libi even reminded me in the comments. And I sort of paid attention, because, well, she is a health professional, so I sort of half-heartedly started drinking tea only between meals. Mostly. Because I really, really hoped she was making it up (sorry Libi, I was in denial..)
But then the man in the white coat sitting directly across the desk told me the same thing. I came home and looked it up, and guess what, it is an actual thing, there are studies in journals even.
This is very, very tricky. Tea is an institution in my life. It makes everything better.
And also, how does one get through a whole afternoon without tea to prevent attacks of nana naps? Well, funny you should ask that, because last week, just for a lark, I decided to go gluten free. I know, it seems like an odd way to amuse oneself, but everyone who ever goes gluten-free goes on and on a) about how wonderful they feel and b) how stupidly expensive it is. So I thought, why not see what all the fuss is about, and see if I can do it without buying anything extra. Thrifty gluten-free. Now with all the zillions of tests I have had, I know this - I do not have coeliacs disease, though I have the gene (lots of people do), and I have absolutely no intestinal damage caused by gluten intolerance. I even had a biopsy which showed that there is no damage in my gut at all, even at a microsopic level. I never get so much as a stomach ache or headache and have never had any symptoms which would indicate gluten intolerance. I was just having a go out of sheer curiosity.
Well, here are the notes I took of what I ate last week:
Breakfast: Apple, handful almonds
Lunch: Fried Rice (peas, corn, bacon, egg, parsley, tamari, fish sauce), Apple
Afternoon Tea: Orange, Choc Chips, Seed/Dried Fruit Mix, Almonds, Yoghurt
Dinner: Lamb chops, Mashed Potato, Broccoli, Peas, handful sultanas
Feel awful, terrible headache, want to go to sleep.
Breakfast: Yoghurt, Seed/Dried Fruit Mix, Almonds
Lunch: Leftover Lamb Chop, Salad (lettuce, parsley, feta, marinated capsicum strips, piri piri sauce), Apple
Afternoon Tea: Orange, Choc Chips, Seed/Dried Fruit Mix, Almonds, Yoghurt, Cheese (what I really wanted was peanut butter on toast)
Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken (chicken, brown sugar, water, tamari, ginger, garlic, broccoli, marinated capsicum strips, snow peas, spinach, rice)
Feeling actually quite good, got lots done today.
Breakfast: Apple, Almonds, Choc Chips (go so well with almonds!)
Lunch: Quinoa Salad with pear, walnuts, rocket
Afternoon Tea: Apple, Potato Chips, Choc Chips, Yoghurt and FAIL, but who could resist The Girl's new best Vegan Chocolate Cake. THREE slices (quite small slices)! It's really that good. Tummy felt awful afterwards. Realise this is how I often feel after toast/cake day. Too full, a bit ill..
Dinner: Creamy Scrambled Eggs. Was going to make salad, but suddenly exhausted. Is it that cake? I hope not. Everyone else has toast with their eggs.
Breakfast: Boiled Egg, Sort-of Waldorf Salad - chopped carrots and celery, with apple slices and walnuts, French dressing.
Lunch: Handful Nuts, Seeds, Dried Fruit (busy, busy..)
Afternoon Tea: Cheese, Popcorn, Seeds, Dried Fruit
Dinner: Roast Potatoes and Carrots with Marinated Capsicum Strips and Piri Piri Sauce on Meatballs (wallaby mince - mistake, too lean for meatballs. Must get lovely fatty beef mince next time..) used Ren's recipe and whipped them up in the food processor. Easy peasy. Swapped onion for parsley. Have lots of parsley! Tiny handful of dried fruit for 'something sweet'. Have you guessed I am out of choc chips!
Feel fabulous today, lots of energy.
Breakfast: Quinoa with yoghurt, blackberry and clover honey, seed mix, dried fruit, and prunes from a two year old packet at the back of the cupboard!
Lunch: Leftovers from last night's dinner, apple
Afternoon Tea: Hot chips at the pool!
Dinner: Got home late from the pool. Everyone making their own dinner. Last few meatballs from last night, then TWO slices delicious wholemeal bread with butter and peanut butter. And a bowl of milk and cereal. Then, (head on arms), may as well be hung for sheep as lamb, the last piece of chocolate cake. Two hours later, and I am still feeling very full, and very slightly unwell.
Woke up in the middle of the night feeling distinctly unwell and like someone had inflated my stomach with a bicycle pump. Was it the gluten, the refined carbohydrates, or the MSG in the chicken salt on the chips? Maybe all three. Realised that I regularly feel like this, but don't count it as 'feeling unwell'. It's how I mostly feel. It feels unwell only in comparison to feeling so good yesterday.
Breakfast: Quinoa with yoghurt, honey, seed mix and prunes.
Lunch:What I have really been missing is a vehicle to transport peanut butter. Posy is forever eating celery and peanut butter. I decide to try it. Yum! Celery and carrot sticks with a mini bowl of ground peanut butter from the machine at the wholefoods shop. Cheese sticks. Almonds.
Afternoon Tea: Chocolate. In my defence Rosy bought chocolate to make brownies, and I can't eat the brownies, so I pre-emptively ate the chocolate.
Dinner: Jacket potato with Bolognaise sauce (wallaby mince - perfect in this application- onion, garlic, oregano, celery, carrot, tomato passata, red wine), cheese, and half a glass of red. My first glass for the week. The Man is away, and no fun drinking alone (well, drinking tea and eating chocolate alone is quite fun). All the energy. Keep finding more jobs to do.
Breakfast: Ran out of quinoa, so moped around a bit, then ate carrot and celery sticks with peanut butter, and almonds. Actually a good breakfast.
Lunch: This is where the whole project falls apart as this is the moment The Boy discovers he has been successful in finding a house, and will be leaving home forever on the weekend, and I abandon all entertaining projects and fall into a decline and exclusively eat toast and chocolate for days on end. And it is not clear at this point whether me feeling awful is food related or not...
OK, so clearly I am not very good at sticking to a restricted eating plan, especially if no actual harm seems to be going to come to me if I don't. I did learn that it is theoretically possible to eat gluten free without visiting the gluten-free aisle at the supermarket. I also felt, well, disturbingly full of energy. Since I had the iron infusion a couple of months ago, my energy levels have gone from zero to about one hundred (one hundred energies, that is. It is a technical term), but it has been kind of intermittent. There are energy jags and lags, and often I just collapse mid-afternoon, and have to eat steadily until dinner to keep going, and drink multiple cups of tea. I don't know whether it was the gluten free (ish) aspect of this week, or the lack of refined carbohydrates, but those energy peaks and troughs just levelled out, and I was happily pushing on all day and into the evening without needing twelve cups of tea to keep me going.
The other effect I noticed was feeling extraordinarily well. I have always been more or less healthy. I don't really ever get sick, or have headaches or stomach problems, or any health issues at all (well, apart from being severely anaemic as it turns out. Ooops. Feeling like you might be going to die while walking up hill turns out to be not normal. For future reference). But, last week I felt really, very, very well indeed. Like being a child again, when you forget you have a body because it does exactly what you want it to do and it never complains. It was a compelling feeling. But then, so is eating toast.
So my unsettling conclusion is this: if I give up tea to (hopefully) improve iron absorption, I will have nasty caffeine withdrawal (happening already) and will need daily naps due to afternoon energy failure. If I don't give it up I will need daily naps due to being anaemic. However, if I stop eating gluten (or possibly refined carbohydrates) I won't NEED cups of tea so much, because those energy troughs just did not happen while
I wasn't eating toast and cake. But I like toast and cake. And tea. I am very grumpy. I have had several tea-free hours now, and it is not fun, for me or anyone near me...
However, let's put this into perspective. Ten thousand people have died in a giant typhoon, and millions more are homeless and hungry and would give anything to have my problems...
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