I Miss Tomatoes!

He looks at me earnestly, with concern for the pain he knows is there, and he says, “Why don’t you try not eating tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant?”

“I’m half Irish and half Italian. If I can’t eat tomatoes and potatoes, I’ll die,” is my admittedly histrionic repsonse.

“Just try it,” he says.

Thus commences my foray into the world of dietary testing, and I am so glad I began.

I have had joint pain since I was a teenager. In high school, doctors said I had arthritis. They removed me from all sports and prescribed ten aspirin a day. I put up with that nonsense for two days, and then I decided dealing with the pain was the way to go.

In college, I taught exercise classes for a living; my second job was as a receptionist for an othopedic surgeon. After a morning of teaching, my hips ached and I limped into the doctor’s office. I believe his exact words were, “If you don’t quit your other job, you’re fired from this one.” Oops. I compromised. I started teaching water exercise class. It helped. No more limping. But I was still in secret pain.

The years went by. Medications of any kind make me loopy and give me stomach aches. I despise them. So, I tried to take them only when I could not bear the pain. I did not see a doctor; I did not see any disfigurement in my joints; and I was living a normal life.

The pain, however, has increased as my age has climbed. I find it difficult to sleep all night, to rise in the morning, and to sit at a desk for long periods of time. None of this is good, but for someone who writes for a living, well, it was just plain icky.

I have never trusted chiropractors, but I took my daughter to someone who came highly recommended. I took her because our regular doctor was clueless as to the nature of her figure-skating injury. That’s another story for another time.

The real story is that I finally decided to ask him about my joint pain. Among other suggestions, he told me to stay away from certain foods. I researched these foods, of course, and found out that they are called night shade plants. There are many night shade plants that are poisonous, and the ones we eat are said to cause inflamation. There is no definitive research, but I read several anecdotal entries in which arthritis sufferers said it helped to cut out these foods.

Alas, I found myself unwilling. My very patient doctor told to bring in samples of the foods that I most liked to eat, and he would test me for them. Tomatoes were first. I love them. I have a garden full of them. I’m Italian! He did a muscle test: I held my arm up and he tried to push it down. Then I took one bite of tomato, and he did the same test. He was able to push my arm down with no effort at all. Indeed, I felt the weakness. He was right after all. Further tests proved that every time I ate tomatoes my blood pressure rose significantly.

We next tested peppers — even worse than tomatoes. I could scarcely hold my arm up on my own. So much for my Italian heritage. Finally, we tested potatoes; there was no reaction. I was strong. Oh joy; oh glea! I can still be Irish!

Since I have cut these foods out of my diet, I feel better. I still have joint pain and stiffness. I’m not cured. But all the little things that help, that make me feel better, add up to me not being on the medication that I hate.

I still miss tomatoes, but I say, “Bravo for no more nightshades!”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *