Sunday, June 5, 2011

Phat Dinner

A curious thing happens when you cut fat out of your diet, you not only lose the taste for it, but you actually become intolerant of it. When you eat something fatty, like KFC for example, it gives you the shits and I don't mean in the pissed off sense. You can actually taste the grease and fat as a separate entity and It feels like a layer of grease is suddenly coating the inside of your throat and stomach. It's not pleasant.

I discovered a long time ago that my particular brand of Crohn's is much better controlled with a low fat, low fibre diet. I adjusted my cooking so that everything I made was the absolute lowest fat version of itself while still being tasty. There was a period of adjustment, I grew up with the understanding that the 'fat' was where all the flavour was. (It actually isn't I've learnt. Herbs, spices, things like garlic, lemon are where the flavour lies)

Last night we went out for dinner at the house of a friend of mine. They'd invited us over several times and for various reasons one of us had had to cancel so diner had been put off at least four times but last night the stars aligned and dinner happened. It's not often I pray before a meal, but when the plate was put before me my first thought was "Sweet Jesus"! My friend is well aware of my Crohn's and we often talked about our respective low fat diets. She'd told me many a time how she could no longer tolerate fat since she'd cut it out of her diet.

It seems that there are different ideas about what 'low fat' actually means.

Dinner was roast beef with baked potato, pumpkin and onion, cauliflower baked in cheese sause and gravy made from the meat juices. The vegetables were baked in a sea of oil and were actually soggy and almost transparent, the meat which had been cooking for 4 hours in too hot an oven was tough and grisly. As I looked down at my meal I could see the gravy had started to separate and a layer of oil was emerging around the edges of my plate. The meat had a thick edge of fat around it. Basically, not one Crohn's friendly component in sight. Too be honest, I'm a little scared to know what their meals looked like before she "cut the fat out of her diet".

I ate it, well most of it. I really didn't want to be rude or hurt her feelings. She was quite proud of the meal and her family all told her how delicious it was. I smiled and said it was lovely. About halfway through dinner the baby started to cry and I jumped up from the table to tend to her with more gratitude than she'll ever know. My friend said "You eat, I'll see to her." I smiled, "No, it's alright. I think she needs changing." No matter how much people love babies, nobody wants to do that particular job ;-p

I am really paying for dinner now. My stomach hurts and in the 12 hours since dinner I've been to the toilet at least 15 times. I'm pretty sure I've expelled my own body weight in crap. Seriously, (anyone whose ever had a bad case of gastro or food poisoning will be able to identify) where does it all come from? I was so nauseous in the few hours afterwards that I was sure I was going to throw it all up. Maybe if I had, I wouldn't be so sick now? Who knows. Even my partner was feeling a little ill last night.

This is pretty much why I'm not a fan of eating at other people's houses. At least at a restaurant there is bound to be one thing on the menu I can eat and if in the unlikely situation there isn't, I don't have to worry about offending anyone by not eating or only eating a small amount. Although there was this one time when the chef came out looking pissed off, sat down at the table and demanded to know what was wrong with the food. I tried to offer some constructive criticism which he argued and in the end I said "Look, I just didn't like it. Get over it, you can't please everyone" He went back to the kitchen in a hail of profanity, leaving the very embarrassed owner apologising profusely and offering us a free meal on our next visit. Thanks, but no.

It makes things a bit awkward really. How do you say to someone who thinks they're doing something nice for you that they are actually making you sick to your stomach? I can offer to have them over to my place for dinner but they'll want to repay the favour. I can suggest we go out to a restaurant but money can sometimes be an issue. Staying home isn't a very fun option and for normal people (eg. not me) having dinner at a friends house is actually quite a nice way to spend a saturday night.



  1. I'm not surprised you're suffering today.

    Unless she was literally cooking half of the cow, 4 hours is way too long (30 minutes per pound plus roughly another 30 minutes more is the rule I've always used).

    Lots of people don't tip the oil off before using the juices for gravy and I hate it. Gravy shouldn't have it's own oil slick.

    And to answer your question, before she went low fat she probably spread a layer of lard on everything.

  2. I pretty much subscribe to the same rule of beef cooking. My jaw dropped when she said she'd been cooking it since 2pm.

    My mum used to put the meat juices in the fridge until they separated and the fat solidified and then scrape the fat off leaving just the jelly part which she'd freeze and use to make the gravy for the next roast. She thought ahead. My Crohn's has never tolerated gravy from meat juices, even when done properly.

    Anyway the suffering continued well into today, for both me and my partner and he doesn't even have Crohn's! Well done, Friend, you killed a perfectly healthy bowel!

  3. doesn't your friend read your blog? yikes.

  4. Totally agree - dinner parties at someone's house are my idea of hell, I gave them up 20 years ago. If they don't understand why, screw 'em.

  5. @Troybee I don't think it really occurs to people with a healthy digestive system how disastrous the wrong foods can be. I have no doubt that her intensions were good.

    @johnbradley The thing about giving up dinner parties is it pretty much means giving up having a social life since 90% of socialising revolves around food. I love my friend and I could spend unlimited time in her company and never tire of her. I just don't want to have to eat.