The Man Who Couldn’t Eat

Think going without breads or sugars is hard? Try not eating anything.

When I write about the various aspects of a no flour no sugar diet, including its challenges and benefits, my goal is to offer alternatives that won’t leave you feeling deprived.  Because when you feel like you’re being deprived, or lacking something, you can’t but help but realize that you’re on a diet, and that’s the last place you want to be:  constantly aware of what you can’t (or shouldn’t) have.

Think a No Flour No Sugar Diet is limiting?

Other restrictive diets, based on responses to diabetes and candida, are even more severe, and demand even more discipline, and creativity, from you as a meal planner, to not feel completely hopeless.  But then I heard about Jon Reiner, aka “The Man Who Couldn’t Eat“, and I thought:  now that’s a challenge.  Reiner’s long-term Crohn’s Disease led him to suffer a dangerously infected abdomen, and in turn a moratorium on eating, until his stomach could fully recover.  For sustenance, if that’s the right word, Reiner survived on intravenous feeds, but the key doctor’s order was:  nothing by mouth…in other words: no eating or drinking, whatsoever (read a shortened version of his story here).

By the time Reiner did get to eat again, about three months later, he had lost his taste buds, not to mention the fact that he couldn’t hold down any food, at least initially.  But then, gradually, he could, and he did, eventually, get his taste buds back, and he became – after once again reuniting with food – as happy as a clam.  But I digress…the point here is: NO eating, for several months.  It put him in such a funk that it threatened to destroy his marriage.

But there’s a crucial distinction here that needs to be recognized:  Reiner’s dilemma — as awful as it must have been, and producing as it did such a painfully romantic withdrawal that it led him to write his award-winning memoir — was not permanent.  But for those who have celiac disease, diabetes, and assorted food allergies and/or intolerances, their diets become permanent by necessity.  There’s no such thing as, ‘when this is over,’ because it never is.  But what they can have, thanks to a food industry that’s always striving to fill virtually every food-restrictive niche, is filled with a variety of possibilities, as well as more than ample opportunities for pleasure.

So the next time you don’t feel like there’s anything that you can have when you’re out at a restaurant that’s not your first choice, or when you feel like there’s nothing to eat at home, think about not being able to eat anything, a la The Man Who Couldn’t Eat.  Then those options won’t seem nearly as sad, or limiting.  By the way, an important postscript:  since he went back on food, Reiner has adopted a partial macrobiotic diet–in other words, he’s not fully macrobiotic, but he’s incorporated it heavily into his diet, and for that i’m proud of him.  Now he takes great pleasure from the classically simple, healthy dish of Miso soup.

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