Sunday, November 5, 2017

Does anyone?

Does anyone really like to shop for groceries?

I think I did when I first moved out on my own. It was a freedom and a challenge: I could now eat whatever I wanted, whenever, as long as it fit into my $10/hour budget.

Now, though, ten years later, grocery shopping has become another chore on the list of things I need to do to survive as an adult. And when I started showing symptoms of fibromyalgia about two years ago, shopping for and eating food became complex and anxiety inducing.

I have seen the following doctors between late 2015 and today:

  • sports medicine specialist
  • physical therapist
  • psychiatrist
  • therapist
  • primary care doctor
  • neurologist
  • allergist
  • rheumatologist
  • sleep doctor
Almost every single one of them has had an opinion of what and how I should be eating.
Here are the things I've been told to avoid:
  • sugar
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • soy
  • eggs
  • nuts
  • shellfish
  • carbs
  • calories
  • preservatives
  • chemicals
  • caffeine
  • spicy foods
Here are the things I've been told I should eat:
  • Meat (even after stating I'm a vegetarian)
  • spicy foods
  • honey 
  • juice
  • specific fruits and vegetables
  • probiotics
  • All Of The Supplements
  • Food cooked by a personal chef that I'm supposed to hire
It's not totally obvious from these lists, but a number of foods on both lists overlap. Also, if I followed all of the advice from every doctor, there would actually be very little left in the world for me to eat.

So grocery shopping and eating have become a complicated, exhausting, and expensive dance that I never asked to be invited to. 

When I started feeling consistently low energy and in pain toward the end of 2016, I stopped counting calories and thinking about weight gain for the first time in my life. I tried to just eat when I was hungry; to eat what I knew to be healthy, eat what I knew would make me feel good, and to not waste my precious little energy deciphering whether or not the food that I could afford to buy met the stringent criteria I'd been given by various doctors.

Then, of course, came the "If you lost weight you'd feel better" and the "You should be exercising more", even though the weight gain was a side effect and came after everything else that was going on. The expectation seemed to be that I should somehow still have the ability to maintain the active lifestyle I used to have before fibro kicked in while also figuring out a complicated diet plan, readjusting to work so that my job wouldn't drain all of my energy, keeping my house clean, continuing to see friends, etc etc.

Does anyone with a chronic illness really ever figure out how to manage and balance everything? I'm only at the beginning of my journey and I hold out hope that I'll find some combination of suggestions and advice that works well for me.

In the meantime, I'm going to continue ordering these high calorie, carb-full vegan meal boxes I've been getting because they are infinitely better than trying to think of and shop for what to make on my own.