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Process of Elimination: A Hearty Diet of Self-Torture 

Tuesday, Sep 23 2014

I really couldn't have picked a worse time to break up with my regular food routine.

Last week, I fell ill with God knows what, and it turned me into a snotty, infectious mess seven days into an Elimination Diet. In an effort to become a better person with fewer stomach problems (I won't go into detail: You're welcome), I'd embarked on a diet that stripped my eating of any chance at pleasure. For 21 days, I was to have no dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, gluten, sugar, alcohol, or corn (including meat that came from animals that were corn-fed). Basically, I'd be embarking on the new fad diet: masochism.

It's tough to judge the changes in your disposition with any kind of accuracy when you're running low-grade fevers and sweating balls on the sofa. I can tell you this: An Elimination Diet is character-building, maybe even status-changing, among some circles. But for me, following an Elimination Diet while queasy and feverish meant I had reached a whole new level of self-loathing.

What I really needed right then was comfort food — that all-healing dish that consoles you in ways no human will. Every bite is like a big bear hug or a new chance at life. More importantly, comfort food won't ever tell you that you look fat in those sweatpants.

But here I was a week into some high-and-mighty challenge that had reduced my lunches to kale. I was allowed a handful of unbleached almonds and some hummus with cucumbers for a snack. For dinner: chicken cooked in olive oil and salt and pepper. Maybe a banana later, if I was good. But what I really wanted and needed at the peak of my misery was a pint (at least) of mint chip from Mitchell's, because which feels better on a sore throat: ice cream or beet salads?

I had plenty of time on the sofa to rationalize my way out of the diet: I was ill, it was bad to deprive myself of important food groups and nutrients while my body was in fight-mode. Finally, after three days of being laid up on the couch and 10 days of the Elimination Diet, I had finally attained a delicate, perfect balance of shitty and hungry to give in and have Vos pho delivered to the house.

After gobbling some sodium and gluten, spices, and all things delicious and forbidden, I fell asleep and slept hard for the first time in days. I might not have been on the mend, but at least I was finally comfortable.


About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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