Scotland, Food and My Gut

by Elouise

Scottish traditional_vegetarian

Scottish Traditional Vegetarian Breakfast, Priestville Guest House

I can’t get The Reclamation Project out of my mind. In fact, just reviewing it this morning reminded me of what happened in my gut while D and I were in Scotland.

I have challenges when it comes to food—some intolerances (lactose, for example), plus IBS. I don’t expect lactose intolerance to disappear. However, with IBS, if I’m not being bothered by the symptoms, I’m as free of IBS as I’ll ever be.

Since the mid-1980s I’ve attended faithfully to guidelines about what I eat, how I combine and cook foods, and how I actually eat (calmly, not swallowing things after 2 or 3 bites). You get the picture.

So here I am in Scotland. After the 3rd or 4th day, I notice I’m not having any IBS kickback. I also remember that often I’ve had few IBS symptoms when I’m on vacation. Then I get home and go back to work, and….my gut goes downhill fast.

I don’t have to worry about going back to work anymore. I’m my own boss. Sort of. So I’ve decided my gut is now in charge of what I eat. Not my brain, or the lists and guidelines that helped me get IBS under control. I haven’t thrown out the guidelines. I’ve just reorganized the way I think about food.

I have Scotland to thank for this. I’ve eaten big breakfasts before. But this time was different. We were in B&Bs most of the time—all with chefs who knew how to cook food and spread a breakfast feast I could scarcely believe. The photo above is on the website of the Edinburgh Guest House we stayed in.

So yes, I had oatmeal every morning for breakfast—Scottish oatmeal, of course! But I also had the big second course that came after that. Scrambled eggs, baked/grilled/pan-fried veggies, toast and jam, fruit galore, and anything else my heart and stomach wanted. Not wanted list: Haggis, blood pudding, bacon, sausage.

For lunch we almost always found a café serving yummy red lentil soup (in generous proportions) and fresh hunks of healthy, chewy bread. More than enough for lunch. Throw in a few snacks during the day and a light supper (meaning half of what got served up in most restaurants), and my gut was happy as a lark.

Why is this so important? Because what to do about food has always been my biggest concern when I travel. In fact, just thinking about it ahead of time creates stress and anxiety. Sometimes this is justified. But not always.

So now I’m home. Yesterday I enjoyed Sabbath rest. It included church, playing my piano, reading a bit, and a long walk in the late afternoon.

It also included having bigtime fun in the kitchen! I made a huge pot of carrot and red lentil soup that I could hardly wait to eat. In fact, I had some for breakfast this morning after my beloved porridge. I can’t remember ever having lentil soup for breakfast before. It was to die for.

And then there’s fresh fruit. For years I’ve lived by a ‘no citrus’ guideline. But no more. Today it’s different, and I’m different.

  • My circumstances aren’t fraught with endless external demands and internal stress.
  • I like who I am—most of the time.
  • I love being retired—all the time.
  • I enjoy traveling with D, and I enjoy D–most of the time.

True, life isn’t always a lark. My eardrums burst during our descent into Philadelphia. A mild case, but no fun. And my mind still has a bit of cotton up there.

Yet I’m more engaged and sure of what I want and need than I’ve ever been. I have many people and circumstances to thank for that—including becoming part of the blogosphere, and taking time off for our Scotland adventure.

Am I a reclamation project? Yes! And proud of it.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 September 2015
Image from