They say you don’t really appreciate things until they’re gone. I can attest to the truth of that statement now. I’ve never felt so deprived as I have for the last 2 weeks on my new Categories“low iodine diet“, a requirement of my treatment. I’m a vegetarian, I’m used to only having a few option at restaurants, and bypassing entire aisles of products at the grocery store. I even went vegan for a few months in college, but I guess I’d forgotten just how restrictive *that* was. This is a whole new level of challenge.
So what exactly do I have to cut out?
- Iodized salt and sea salt (we don’t know what food manufacturers use so it cuts out all restaurants and all pre-made ingredients). Imagine going to a “team lunch” and not being able to eat, unless you order something salt-less or a salad without the dressing (my lunch today at a thai restaurant that usually has amazing food. the salad was pretty good, and pretty, though!). Think about life without condiments (no mustard, no thai chilli paste, no chilli-garlic salt), store bought bread (dough conditoners and the ubiquitous “salt” (with no mention of what kind) in every package, even cinnamon raisin bread!). Luckily my darling sis and brother-in-law lent me their bread machine. yay.
- Soy. As a vegetarian who cannot eat beans, soy-based fake meats and edamame have become my lifeline. It’s also in a lot of foods. Not to mention soy sauce and its friends.
- Dairy. No milk in my coffee, no cheese, no chocolate! I never thought I’d miss cheese…i only eat a little. but it adds so much taste & flavor. oh and the cheese substitutes? All have soy or salt or a sea-based ingredient. blurgh! (not to mention, they look icky). I’ve cheated a little with dark chocolate. I don’t think I can live without chocolate in my life.
- whole eggs. Egg whites are good, luckily.
- Anything from the sea. Ok i don’t eat fish, no biggie, right? Wrong. I learned the hard way (reading labels on 20 boxes) that almost all non-dairy milk and several vegetarian substitutes for other things have one dastardly ingredient I cannot have: carageenan (made from red seaweed). Or Agar-agar (also from the sea). Others (rice milk) had salt. My savior? hemp milk, you are my friend.
The upside: I’ve become resourceful and creative. It’s a real challenge to make tasty and flavorful food with limited ingredients. Frankly the recipes in the low iodine cookbook don’t look exciting.
I’m two weeks down….two more to go. And for the next few weeks, I thought I’d share some of the new, creative recipes I’ve made with what I can eat: veggies, fruits, lentils, egg whites, and things I can make myself. It’s been a lot of work, but it *is* kind of fun. And maybe you’ll like them. And maybe it will help someone else who has to go through this.