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Focusing on What I Have

Have you ever found yourself focusing so much on what you don’t have that you forget to notice what you already have?

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of food recently after a couple of events.

One was my experience with waffles at The Sinful Kitchen, as I wrote about last week, when I started feeling deprived for not having had waffles for a number of years because of the gluten.

The other was when I wanted to make a cake for a friend whose birthday was a couple of days before mine. He likes angel food cake, and I decided to see if I could make a version that was not only gluten-free but egg-free. Of course it didn’t work. The egg replacer I used did not fluff up like egg whites, which meant my cake was quite flat. It tasted okay, but it definitely wasn’t angel food cake. Since it also wasn’t devil’s food cake, either, my friend suggested we call it purgatory cake – works for me.

It reminded me how having food restrictions automatically makes us think of what we’re missing, rather than what we have. If those restrictions are based on allergies, we may try to force substitutions where they don’t make sense so we don’t feel like we’re missing out – in my case, with certain gluten-free products, or an egg-based dish without eggs. Then we’re disappointed when they don’t match our expectations.

For instance, when I first discovered the list of items I needed to avoid, I panicked. It’s the same reaction I see in other people when I explain that I mostly try to avoid eggs, dairy, gluten, beans (including lentils and soy-based products), rice, and peanuts. It sounded like I wouldn’t be able to eat almost anything!

But here’s the thing. Because of those restrictions, I now know about and enjoy foods that a lot of people are unfamiliar with. Quinoa is pretty well-known, but I also eat millet, teff, and amaranth, and I discovered I really like polenta and oatmeal. For me, chia seeds are for more than just chia pets, and I’ve gotten very familiar with flax seeds and flax meal.

Since I don’t have a problem with sugar, I’ve taken the time to figure out how to make a good (to me) vegan ice cream (the secret is using at least half coconut milk), sorbet, gluten-free cake (except angel food cake), cookies, and brownies.

I’ve also gotten more creative with preparations of vegetables, meat and fish. And I discovered that peanut butter is not the only good nut butter.

All of which is to say, I have so many good things I can eat. Occasionally I miss certain things, but for the most part, if I can focus on the options I have, rather than what I need to avoid, my life feels so much better. It’s amazing what a difference a change in perspective can make.

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