Every Wall is a Door | Essay on Recipe Renovator

Take a big, deep breath, all the way down into your belly. Hold it… now let it out with a sigh. Feels good, doesn’t it?

I have made a decision, which feels like a big deep breath. I am taking a vacation from blogging for three months. No posts and very little social media. I’ll be back on May Day, May 1, with a renewed sense of purpose.

Why? A few reasons. I have been blogging non-stop here as the Recipe Renovator for 3-1/2 years, and before that for 4-1/2 years on my museum blog. That’s eight years of blogging.

Blogging is awesome, and brings me much joy. And it also feels like a bottomless pit… no matter how often you post, there’s always more content you need to produce. I have lost a bit of the joy and sense of why I am doing it, and that’s not okay.

For those of you who are just meeting me and those who have been reading all along, I am all about joy. I don’t make money at this blog, you’ll notice that there aren’t a bunch of ads… I started the blog as a way to serve others who had to make the same (big, hard) dietary changes I did… along the way, I’ve met incredible people, attended some great events, rediscovered my love for photography, and learned a whole bunch of new skills.

Up until three weeks ago, I followed a gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, plant-based diet, all for health reasons. I learned how to bake again, how to make awesome substitutes for meat-ish products, and how to create amazing flavors. I knew exactly which (few) processed foods I could eat, what to order at restaurants, how to travel.

And then three weeks ago, I was given a new health opportunity.

I was diagnosed with Meniere’s Disease. I have had three bouts of very scary and debilitating vertigo, where the room is spinning, it makes me insanely nauseous, and I can’t do anything at all.

Meniere’s Disease is chronic, with little known about it, few Western treatment options, and wildly different experiences for patients. Some people get worse, some get better. Your body holds onto sodium and the chambers in your ear swell, causing the vertigo.

So on top of my gluten-free, no-refined-sugar, plant-based eating plan… take out all the salt. Yikes.

I confess, this one has really thrown me for a loop. I had been told years ago by a doctor that I could eat as much salt as I wanted, because I have very low blood pressure and am super healthy. I have no idea if that advice might have contributed to this condition, but I have to take the low-sodium thing very seriously.

And that means looking at everything I’m cooking and eating in a new light while I try and figure this out. My beloved Bragg’s, my beautiful smoked salt from Hawai’i, Udi’s Bread, Daiya cheese, canned vegetarian chili, Indian food, Thai food, Mexican food… all the foods that had made my life easier and tasty… out.

After a week of wrapping my head around it, and then two days of crying and feeling sorry for myself… I know that there is no one on earth better equipped to deal with this than me. And no one who will end up creating yummier, healthier, low-sodium recipes than me. I am also now following the low-tyramine migraine diet, which is even more of an adjustment: fresh food only, no nuts or seeds, and many more restrictions.

And there have to be tons of people who will benefit from that.

When I come back in May, expect to find the same creative new recipes with a low-sodium, low-tyramine, anti-inflammatory twist. Of course, you’ll be able to add salt to your liking if you don’t need to worry about sodium.

I’ll also be going through my archives (slowly) and reformulating some of my old favorites with low-sodium and low-tyramine information. I’ll be sharing tips about how I approached this change, what I learn about sodium, and the sodium-potassium balance, and anything else I find useful.

Thanks for all your support and love… see you in May! Follow me on Instagram or Facebook if you want to stay in touch.

Update: February 26, 2014. I am under treatment from a great neurologist who specializes in migraines and Meniere’s, as well as an excellent acupuncturist. My MRI showed no tumor, but a small area of inflammation in my right ear, consistent with either a viral infection or Meniere’s/migraine/variant. I will continue to research and follow the best of Western and alternative medicine until I find what works for me.