Why I Say 'No' to Food (Even Chocolate) at Work


I am sick of hearing “I wish I could follow your diet.” I am sick of people saying, “What is the worst that can happen? It’s just a bite.” I feel unheard and unseen with these comments and it reminds me my disease is invisible. I am not invisible and so I choose to say no to things that will flare my symptoms.

I live each and every day with chronic pain, to the point where my pain scale is a bit broken. A pain level of five is a wonderful day, a seven or eight is pretty normal and when it gets above that I start to consider that maybe being in pain is not “normal.” Those are the days I want to curl up on the couch with a heating pad, my husband playing with my hair and maybe a little music, but mostly silence.

That is why I don’t eat things I used to love. Yes, I look longingly at chocolate left at the office, and it is so tempting. But I remember the last time I ate chocolate. It was right after I got my diagnosis; my husband and I had scheduled a weekend getaway. When we had planned the trip I had arranged for some gourmet chocolates to be delivered to the the room as a surprise. I remember looking at those chocolates and seeing the list of things I shouldn’t eat that the doctor gave me, but thinking it might be OK.

I am sure the chocolate was good, but it didn’t taste that way to me. I was afraid, and didn’t know what might happen, so I really didn’t enjoy it. One little piece of paper, one little piece of advice changed how I saw foods. I chose to focus on finding what would heal me and treat me kindly.

That is not how I choose to remember chocolate. Instead I remember the last time I really savored and enjoyed a bar of chocolate on an airplane in China that a close friend had given me. I remember feeling conflicted about sharing the chocolate with my other friends, and yet I chose to savor each and every bite. That is how I choose to remember chocolate.

The food I eat is not a “diet” – it is a lifestyle. This means it will continue to evolve and grow. I will not disappear into this illness nor let it define me. There are so many things in this world to enjoy with or without chocolate.

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