For the past 2 months I have gained a new respect for those who are forced to be limited with their food choices.

Let me start from the beginning. In mid-January I had an unexpected trip to the ER for abdominal pain. Over $450 later I was told that it was gastritis. My stomach was inflamed. I was sent home with some acid reducing medication, pain killers, and told to eat bland foods.

Now it’s almost 2 months later and I’m still living with this awful thing called heartburn. So as my own dietitian I try (or in this case, I tried) to stay away from everything that may flare it up. Acidic, spicy, fatty, fried, greasy food. Chocolate. Alcohol. Coffee. I avoided it all. (Maybe with a couple of exceptions.)

(Here’s a handout on preventing heartburn with diet. Click here.)

So what was I supposed to eat?

For awhile I was eating Ritz crackers, bananas, and peanut butter and jelly on white toast. Bland, bland and some more bland.

So this past week I rebelled against my own body and decided to eat whatever I wanted. I might have gone a little overboard. This weekend’s menu consisted of a burrito (without salsa), a black bean burger, fries, and a strawberry milkshake. Every time, my body won and decided to punish me. Of course I deserved it with those choices. Not the healthiest menu by any means. But I was a deprived girl. I just wanted something or anything with flavor.

My chronic heartburn is still a medical mystery. I’ve tried every remedy known to relieving heartburn – everything from carrying around a bottle of Tums in my purse to sleeping sitting up. And the stress of not knowing what it’s caused by probably isn’t helping.

Since my bland diet has not worked in my favor, my perspective now is that I shouldn’t completely deprive myself from enjoying food altogether.

I’m by no means a restrictive dietitian. I think food is definitely a basic necessity but should also be a pleasure. It’s all about balance and moderation (with a few exceptions for some specific cases).

So this post goes out to all of you that find food to be a challenge. Maybe even a chore. When restrictions and health issues limit your enjoyment to sit down and have a meal, I could imagine why dining out with friends isn’t on your favorite things to do.

I hope that in my future practice I can always have this in the back of my mind when I’m counseling someone on their diet and nutrition. Every person is different and unique, whatever their diet may be. My goal is to be able to help guide each individual to make healthier choices while still being able to find pleasure from what’s on their plate.

With that said, I will continue to figure out what that is for me. Like I said, I am my own dietitian.