Day two, similarly to day one, started off well. My breakfast smoothie consisted of blueberries, strawberries, an avocado and some seeds, and was very palatable. I was expecting to wake up feeling fairly tired, having only consumed liquids of fruit and vegetable base the previous day, so I was surprised to actually wake up feeling energetic and ready for the day.
Unfortunately, the spring in my step was short lived, as by 12.30pm, whilst striding down Oxford street (okay, attempting to stride, it was more of a dodgeball-esque affair) I developed what can only be described as a feeling of sloshy discomfort in my tum. It wasn’t a crippling, stomach-clutching ache, just a niggling feeling that wouldn’t reside, which could only be the fault of my new diet. Thinking that this may be in part due to hunger, I settled down (not on the same borrowed bench as yesterday) to eat the leftover pasta from the dinner party. Unlike a good curry, it didn’t improve with a little time, and it was an effort to finish it.
Today is my mum’s birthday, so straight after work I jumped on the train to head home for the evening, and soon the sight of the glorious Berkshire countryside made my stomach pains fade into an area of my brain dedicated to unimportant matters. Like most families, we have that one restaurant that is preserved for special family occasions, and despite it not being what it used to be, we still returned last night to be served with a big helping of nostalgia and comforting familiarity…with some food on the side. The excitement of returning home for the evening, as well as going to our beloved Italian restaurant, however, couldn’t help but be a little marred for me though. I knew full well that this experience wouldn’t be what it usually was, as I had a new dietary requirement to take into consideration. Looking at the menu it soon dawned on me that I had very little options. Having toyed with the idea of committing to vegetarianism for a good few years now, I very rarely eat meat, and didn’t want to ask for puréed steak just for the challenge, so instead I scoured the menu for suitable options, and settled for baked warm avocado with creamed mushrooms, and then the soup of the day (mushroom). Saying that by the end of it I felt, er, mushroomy, would be an understatement, but besides that, I felt unsatisfied, but at the same time with little appetite for anything else. I must admit, I felt like a bit of a cheat afterwards. Whilst I told myself at the time that I didn’t want to ask for puréed pasta because I’d already experimented with that the night before, the real reason was that I felt embarrassed, and wanted to avoid feeling like an awkward customer. I shouldn’t have felt like that – we’ve known the family who own the restaurant for years and the owner loves to poke fun at me (especially last night when he overheard me pointing out to my brother that there was a spelling mistake on the menu – ‘seweet’ – ha! ), yet despite that I still couldn’t bring myself to explain the reason and ask for adaptations to be made. I’ve got to remember though, that my explanation would have included “I’m trying to raise awareness of…”. The reality is, for people who actually have swallowing difficulties, the focus would be on them, not just a challenge they’re doing for a week. Not only would they have to face up to asking for such modifications, but they’d have to share information about themselves that they may not want everyone to know about, in front of others. It shouldn’t be embarrassing, but it is.
So my experience of restaurant dining on a modified diet was mixed. I managed to find foods of suitable consistency that I was lucky to like, but that’s it, I was lucky. Lucky that there were suitable foods, lucky that I could avoid the embarrassment of asking for modifications to be made, and lucky that I didn’t have to share private, personal information with absolute strangers in order to avoid potentially fatal consequences.
Let’s see what day three brings!
Love and mushrooms,