The Diet

I’ve pretty much always been overweight. I don’t mean by a few pounds, I mean anywhere from fifty to 150 pounds over my “ideal” indexed weight. Most of my life I’ve figured that if I eat in a common sense way and move around occasionally, and I feel relatively healthy, then it’s fine. But recently, when I hit that “150 over” mark for the first time, I started to get rather desperate.

I’ve always tried to avoid sugar and empty starches, and I can live well enough without them. It’s just how I was raised. I try not to eat when I’m not hungry. But here is where the problem begins. There are at least three or four different feelings that I could identify as hunger, and some of them should be ignored, and some of them should not be ignored, and some of them should be paid attention to or not according to the circumstances. But I have had a lot of trouble ignoring any of them.

The one that has been most troublesome in the past, and is unique to my circumstances, is hunger as a reaction to pain. This will take some explaining, I guess. The theory is that as a child I had a leaky gut, which let proteins like gluten and casein into my bloodstream and ultimately to my brain, where they acted like opiates. I have no proof of this, but I read an article once that theorized this was why some kids had autism, and the more I apply it to how my childhood went down, the more it makes sense.

I had a lot of tummyaches as a child. I never had the normal reaction of  “my tummy hurts, I can’t eat.” I would always want to eat food like cereal and milk. Of course, this did more damage to my digestive system, but because of the opiate effect, I always felt a relief from pain soon afterward. This was a terrible cycle, and it escalated until one year in high school, when I could not go to school for months because of my terrible stomach aches.

Through a set of circumstances I don’t really remember and can’t explain, the cycle abated for a while, the school made me see a psychologist, and the psychologist asked me what I wanted. Well, I wanted to live in the dorms with the boarding students. The psychologist concluded that my problem stemmed from feeling a lack of control over my own life. I moved into the dorm. This was all right with me, but I had no idea what it had to do with my feeling sick.

I wanted to understand the other students, but because of my protein-addled brain, I was emotionally numb and blind. Living with them gave me the opportunity to study their behaviors more closely. I was able to more accurately ape the life of a teenage girl. But this solved none of my real problems.

It wasn’t until I realized what was going on and stopped eating those proteins that my brain began to normalize and my intestines to heal. But one problem stayed with me. When I was sick or uncomfortable, my reaction was to eat. It didn’t work to dull the pain any more, though, so I would keep eating.

With less pain in my life, it didn’t come up as much, so I did lose some weight after this change. But it’s one of the factors in my current struggle. When I’m sick, I go to the kitchen. I think, “What can I eat that will make me feel better?” I can usually notice this reaction, and make sure to only drink tea or eat a spoonful of something to soothe my throat, rather than just eating to distract myself from my discomfort. But it’s still a struggle.

Wow, I got off track. I was just going to tell you about my new diet. But I might as well continue with the detailed breakdown of the different kinds of hunger, as they all factor into what I’m looking to say.

The second kind is an empty stomach. My high school habits enlarged my stomach quite a bit, so I had to eat a lot to keep it full, even when I stopped eating the addictive proteins.

The third kind is the low blood sugar jitters. I usually only got these at restaurants, when I knew I would get food eventually and the company was distracting me from my empty stomach. In the normal course of things, I was unable to ignore an empty stomach long enough for this to happen. But I can feel it coming on little by little, especially when I try to diet simply by reducing calories.

In college and in the year following, I often had enough of an active lifestyle that I could eat when I was hungry without becoming enormous. But now that I have the freedom to do whatever I want, I spend all my time drawing, writing, and crafting. These things make me happy, and I would not want to go back to working in an ice cream shop 5 days a week, being on my feet all day. I do get up and exercise, but it hasn’t been working to keep me from gaining weight.

I’ve considered trying a low carb diet before, but it didn’t seem like I would be able to stand it. If I didn’t eat some starch at every meal, I would end up still being hungry at the end. Even if my stomach was full, I could still feel the impending low blood sugar.

But about a month ago, I just got fed up and decided to try it. First I eliminated starches and sucrose, but still ate fruit, vegetables and protein. This wasn’t working perfectly. I broke down and ate starches sometimes because I was so hungry. I thought maybe blood sugar was still too much of a factor, so I cut out fruit. This only lasted for a couple days. I had moments of “I’m so hungry. I need more calories. But looking at this meat is making me sick. I can’t stand to eat anymore protein.”

So I decided to try and eat more fat.

This was so counter-intuitive for me, I hardly knew how to go about it. And the evils of animal fat had been instilled in me by my parents, so I had to look for alternatives. I decided to eat more olives, macadamia nuts, and oils.

This worked. I was shocked.

I succeeded in taking blood sugar out of the equation. My body was burning fat for fuel, and would not complain or get the shakes just because I wasn’t eating sugar.

The thing that made me grumpy was walking by the fruit bowl. The scent was ambrosial. I missed fruit. I decided to add it again.

This new plan seems to be working. I’m allowed an apple, pear or some strawberries after a meal. This theoretically doesn’t raise my blood sugar much, and anyway since my body has learned to burn fat, once the sugar level goes down again I don’t get the shakes.

As to the feeling of an empty stomach, I started off eating a lot of macadamia nuts and things as snacks, but once I learned to trust that I had eaten enough, these feelings became easier to ignore. Now I just have some unsweetened soymilk, or if I am absorbed in something interesting, just ignore my stomach until it stops complaining.

And I believe my stomach has gotten smaller, because even when I try to eat a big meal now, I can’t. This is a new feeling for me. I’ve heard people speak of it, and almost didn’t believe them. I could always eat more. Now I can’t.

Everyone is different, and figuring out what you should eat is really complicated. I am overjoyed to have figured out my own formula. It has taken a long time and has been extremely frustrating. But I’m finally here, with time to do what I want and a diet that keeps me from being hungry or eating too much.

WOOOOOO!

 

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1 Comment »

  1. Tony said

    I’m glad you’re getting a handle on how your body works! It’s surprisingly hard, and it took me a long time to figure out my own issues with blood glucose. (I’ve got a faulty blood glucose regulating mechanism; sugar gives me a big glucose spike followed by a big trough.) Anyway, I’ve found that once you figure out how you can eat and feel healthier, your cravings adjust. Give it time.

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