I am on a never-ending quest to improve my physical and mental wellness. This has been a lifetime goal and a slow-learning process. I am a big believer in “you are what you eat." Don’t get me wrong, I think food is awesome. But it’s a balancing act. If left to my own devices, I would eat nothing but pizza, pasta, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, and quesadillas. But these are my “trigger foods.” The foods that once I start eating them, I can’t stop. I am an addict. So I try to limit them whenever possible.
I am equally fascinated by western and eastern medicine, and I have had holistic doctors and traditional doctors throughout my life. I think both are very important. I went to this new doctor (a naturopath) to try and figure out how to mitigate the various pains in my neck, shoulder, wrist, hand, and foot. I am aware that this pain is mostly due to playing tennis, a lifetime of sitting at a desk, and aging. But those three things aren’t going away, so I thought I would consult him. I have been to every traditional doctor about these chronic aches and pains and they just say, it’s part of getting older and doing sports. But my friends swear by this doctor and his ability to manage chronic conditions that other doctors can’t find solutions for.
At my appointment, he tells me he is a big believer in diet and exercise as the first line of defense against aging and general wellness. We are in complete agreement on that. Most of his patients have had tremendous success following the “Blood Type Diet.” Uh-oh. I know about this diet. In full disclosure, I have been on virtually every diet at some point in my life. At some point, I have been a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, no carbs, food combining, etc. But I have only read about the Blood Type Diet… never done it. But I figure I am a warrior when it comes to self-control, so I can do anything for 28 days. I agree to try it.
He hands me a list of foods that I have to “avoid" and a bunch of foods that are “beneficial.” Then there is a list of foods that are “neutral.”
Allegedly, my blood type is one of those that does better on a more vegetable-based diet. Although, I can have some chicken, turkey, and fish. This is not a big deal for me. I have given up red meat before. I try to avoid dairy anyway. Of course, they don’t want you to have any sugar (all “diets” cut this first). This should be a piece of cake (minus the wheat, the dairy, and the sugar).
But as I start my shopping list, I realize that there is a whole host of really random things that aren’t “permitted.”
Let’s start with the “nightshade” vegetables. I have known about these possibly being the culprit to arthritis and inflammation. What are the “nightshades” you ask? Only the most basic ingredients to virtually everything you eat: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and other things people don’t care about like eggplant (although I really like eggplant).
When you’re not eating wheat, potatoes are kind of a major creature comfort. But it’s fine. I can do it. But, tomatoes? “No tomatoes” mean no chips and salsa, but corn is not on the “permitted” list either… so there’s nothing fun to scoop up the salsa anyway. But “no tomatoes” also mean no marinara sauce or meat sauce. But pasta also isn’t on the list, so I guess that doesn’t matter much either. “No tomatoes” also means no ketchup. But french fries and hamburgers aren’t on this diet, so what do I need ketchup for anyway?
Again, when it comes to self-control, I am a warrior. If they say no red meat, no dairy, no wheat, no tomatoes or potatoes or corn. I say, “No problem.”
But there’s more. The only alcohol permitted is red wine. This is do-able. I am not a big drinker and I like red wine. But NO carbonated beverages are permitted. Not even club soda.
It gets worse. They want me to lean towards vegetarian proteins: soy, nuts, and peanuts. But no cashews. Yes, it’s that specific. No banana, coconut, mango or papaya. I live in Hawaii. Tropical fruit is kind of the staple of the region. But I am permitted pineapple. Oh goody.
You can’t use vinegar (any kind). There goes almost all salad dressings.
No olives. I love olives. But they allow Olive Oil. That seems weird…
You can eat peanuts and peanut butter, but no peanut oil. Again… a little odd.
No cabbage. No sauerkraut. But I guess if I am not eating hot dogs, I don’t really need sauerkraut.
No pickles. It’s probably a salt thing. Or maybe a vinegar thing. Which means no salt & vinegar potato chips, but they said no potatoes… and it’s not like anyone recommends eating potato chips when on a “diet.”
So, there’s not much left. It’s a good thing, I love hummus.
Oops sorry. Garbanzo beans and sesame oil are not permitted with my blood type either. Okay, this is bordering on the ridiculous.
I am starting to think this has nothing to do with science. In addition to the diet’s proclamation that it is anti-inflammatory, they say that another benefit might be weight loss. Who wouldn’t lose weight if all they ate was chicken, turkey, romaine lettuce, and pineapple? Or better yet just peanuts and soybeans (those are both allowed for some odd reason).
But in spite of all of that, I am willing to try it because maybe my joints will stop aching and maybe I will start sleeping better. As a bonus, I might actually lose the couple of pounds that I gained when the weather turned chilly last month, and I started eating a lot of comfort food.
It’s been a week. I feel oddly bloated. I have already had a monster headache. My sleeping patterns are no better. My joints still ache. I haven’t lost an ounce... and I am really cranky. I’m not sure I’m going to make it through the next 21 days. Oh and it’s December, so there might be a few holiday meals to get through as well.
Something tells me this isn’t going to end well.