A swing and a miss

Three, actually. Since few people are well-informed about IBS and most doctors don’t know how to treat it, my diet sometimes feels like a science experiment. I wake up with GI symptoms and then have to isolate variables and figure out what might have set me off. Sometimes it’s an unlisted ingredient at a restaurant/me not being careful enough – like the time I took my friend out to dinner (Indian) for her birthday and had to cab home because I was in too much pain to wait for the Metro. And sometimes it’s just curiosity. Can I eat this thing I really want? What if I only eat a tiny amount of it? What if I eat this large portion of rice first? You get the idea.

IMG_1445Today’s failed experiment is brought to you by freshii, which is a restaurant near my office that I have blogged about previously. I still love freshii, and they have this Mediterranean Bowl on their menu that I have been eyeing for months.The base is half quinoa and half salad greens, which I was hoping would allow me to eat a “salad” without setting of my stomach. (Greens are full of insoluble fiber, which is super unfriendly to IBS.) On the top of this base are all of my favorite things: tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, slivered almonds, roasted red pepper, red onion and cilantro. I added tofu and avocado to the mix, because I am an unrepentant glutton. There’s also a gluten-free red pepper sauce that was tasty but didn’t leave much of an impression.

Anyway, the moral of the story is that, no, the half greens, half quinoa plan did not succeed. My tummy felt a little iffy right away and is definitely cranky this morning.  Fortunately, there are still many things at freshii that I can and do eat, but I might just have to accept that my salad days are over (ha!).

Going back in time to Tuesday of this week, I spent the day in NYC attending a sort of work-related retreat. It’s intended to be a thinking, generative space and I had a really fabulous time. Less fabulous: taking the 4 am train from DC to get to the meeting by 8:30. Even less fabulous: the food options were sadly limited. Breakfast was a pastry tray and lunch was a variety of suspicious looking wraps. I had brought along some gf bread thinking that there would be some part of lunch (like the contents of a sandwich or some salad) that I could use to create something safe to eat, but that was not really a workable solution. I ended up eating bread with jam leftover from breakfast and some carrots I had packed, so by 5 pm, I was pretty famished. After meandering to the subway with several other conference attendees and making sure one of the women (who wasn’t really feeling NYC public transit) knew where to get her train to Providence, I booked it to Chipotle. Say what you will about American monoculture, if it means I can get a reliably safe and inexpensive meal in an unfamiliar city without spending 40 minutes reading restaurant reviews, I’m in.

IMG_1436My final survival story is almost a week old, but still making me chuckle, so I’m sharing it anyway. Last Sunday, I attended The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Pink and Purple Awards Brunch. This is an annual event celebrating the LGBT movement and is as fabulous an event as you’ll find in the nonprofit world. Also, not really the kind of event where you want to be whipping out Ziploc baggies of gf crackers and Tupperwares of peanut butter. Fortunately, I got an email about a week before the event asking for information about dietary restrictions. Hallelujah! At right is the Mayflower hotel’s version of a gluten-free, vegan brunch. Breakfast potatoes (win!), a large slice of roasted tomato (shockingly good for an East Coast tomato – growing up in California left me with a high bar for produce) and tofu with chopped bell peppers and mushrooms. Not a bad showing, overall…only the tofu was raw. Not straight-from-the-package raw, but definitely not steamed or stir-fried or grilled or fried or touched by a significant heat source or any type of seasoning. This may have been a “better safe than sorry” choice on the part of the chef, but I think it’s pretty entertaining. There was also a gluten-free cupcake (the waiter kept calling it a muffin, but it was yellow cake with frosting, so guys…come on) which was decent and at least butter-free, since I ate it and felt fine the rest of the day. I’m really excited that people are paying attention to dietary restrictions and taking them seriously. Of course, this may have to do with the fact that this was a $125 ticketed fundraiser, so the investment in keeping guests/donors happy is more significant.

IMG_0634Also, since it’s Mother’s Day weekend, here is a photo of me and Mom from my 30th birthday last year. There’s a whole series of us trying to take a selfie and her cracking up, but I’m not allowed to share them because my mom thinks they’re ugly. I don’t think she reads this blog, and I think these are ridiculously cute, so I’m sharing this with you all. My mom and I don’t get a lot of one-on-one time; she doesn’t like to travel and when I am home for the holidays we have a houseful of people. The week she spent in DC last summer was hard and awesome and it really meant a lot that she flew by herself to spend my birthday with me, even though she was terrified. So there you go. She’s turning 60 in October and I’ll be heading to California to take her to the beach with my sisters and hopefully get her to smile that big again. Happy weekend – call your mom!

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