Archive | February, 2015

Sugar Impact Diet Finale (The Abridged Version)

28 Feb

Weeks II & III on the Sugar Impact Diet

Week II was not a good time.  I cut out all fruit (for 5 days…that’s all I could commit to). I felt very deprived and came to the conclusion that I wasn’t cut out for this challenge after all. I would have been allowed to eat my beloved 85% dark chocolate during this time if not for my prior commitment to shun all sugar. My foods were further restricted by my decision to keep dairy off my plate for awhile.  My week II menu ended up looking like what Week III was supposed to look like.  I decided that I would not go back and redo the week correctly as even the altered version I followed made me feel like a crazy person on the verge of a binge on damn near anything just to spite the limitations.  That’s when I know it’s gone too far.  So, I decided to cut my losses and go on with my life.

Week III didn’t happen.  This diet is not sustainable given my current limitations and inability to follow anything longer than a set period of time before I’m bored half to death with rules.

What I gained from the experiment was another reminder of how much sugar (even from healthy sources such as fruit) has the ability to drive hunger and cravings to a whole new level.

What am I doing now?

Still no sugar or processed oils.  Mostly, it’s going well.  Every once in awhile, I feel as if I could murder someone for a doughnut.  But let’s be honest, that’s just life.

I have reintroduced dairy (and oh man, how I love it!) Does my body love it? The jury’s still out.

I’ve been drinking mostly decaf coffee (except for when I was with family this past weekend as high octane is what the masses tend to prefer & prepare). I seem to feel better overall when I choose decaf over regular coffee.  Quite honestly, I won’t be able to reach optimum health by continuing to drink coffee of any kind. My body gives me clues that it would prefer we left the Cup Cups O’ Joe behind. On the other hand, it’s my new vice in place of brownies. It gives me a certain quality of life that only an addictive “got have it” substance can provide.  I could do worse.

What am I doing later?

I am putting off my super duper strict gluten-free challenge for the time being for financial reasons.  The experiment with all of its proper bells and whistles will cost me a pretty penny. I plan to upgrade my cat’s food & litter & purchase new jars of staples (such as ghee) to avoid possible cross-contamination. Not to mention, more often than not, gluten free foods are more expensive than their gluten filled counterparts. It adds up fast!

What kind of naughty shenanigans have I been up to recently?

I had some processed oils at a restaurant recently.  I was eating sushi and had some sweet potato tempura (deep fried num nums) & one sample of a tuna roll with spicy mayo.  I didn’t stress out about it too much as that would defeat the purpose of the experiment.  I wish to make non-processed options the norm in my life.  One sushi outing isn’t going to change this. I rarely go out to eat anyway.  At home I avoid chips, at bars I avoid popcorn with “butter flavor”, and at restaurants, I do my best without making the experience depressing/mentally unhealthy for myself. Works for me!

You’re a girl.  You must want to lose weight.

Where my weight goals are concerned, I dare not say any of it out loud as it tends to jinx the process. I started entering my foods into a daily calorie counter to assess where I am at these days.  The good news is that I don’t eat that many calories overall.  The bad news is that I now lead a very sedentary life thanks to my desk job, winter’s ability to force me into a cocoon, and unpredictable pain flares.  If I were eating this many calories at my old job, weight would have melted off by now.  But alas, the saga continues. Immediate quality of life (drinking too much coffee with too much cream while watching too many episodes of Roseanne) trumps the insurmountable task of “eat less, move more” for the sake of a smaller waist by the fourth of July.

What’s the plan, Stan?

For now, I think I’ll go on a planned diet hiatus.  I shall continue to shun sugar and processed oils, but that seems to be all I can handle as long as winter keeps hanging around.

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Burning in Eternal Hellfire(ball) for my Sins + Sugar Impact Diet Specifics

9 Feb

I absentmindedly took a shot of Fireball Whisky last night.  A few minutes later it occurred to me that there was a reason it went down so smoothly…sugar!  For the past half hour or so, I have been scouring the internet to investigate possible infidelities in relation to my sugar-free goals. I wanted to confirm that Fireball Whisky had added sugar so that I could feel proper guilt. Mission accomplished.

I also drank one of these bad boys: http://www.woodchuck.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/IMG_4551edited.jpg. I aspire to enjoy beer, so I consider a hoppy hard cider to be my training wheels. I really liked it. However, interestingly enough, it seemed quite sweet to me. The ingredients read as follows: hard cider, less than 1% of : natural flavor (I hate this suspicious catch-all idiom), sulfites to protect flavor. I started to get paranoid about the term “hard cider”, so I questioned my husband who has been making homemade hard cider for the past 6 years. He assured me that sugar would likely be added at the end of the fermentation process, not during, and therefore would show up on the list of ingredients. I wasn’t able to come up with any definitive answers through online searches. Basically, the best I could come up with was evidence that pointed toward a conclusion of no added sugar.  Twelve ounces of apple juice has 40 grams of sugar. (Yikes! That’s more sugar than a can of Coke has. No wonder Steve Jobs ended up with pancreatic cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17093171 . By the way, I am referring to the fact that he was a fruititarian, not that he created the APPLE brand.  Although, that is clever, so you are allowed to take it however you wish as long as it makes me sound smart. 😉 )

I found information that Angry Orchard’s dry cider is made without adding any juice at the end to sweeten it up. Twelve ounces of Angry Orchard’s dry cider has 19 grams of sugar.  Each bottle of Hopsation only has 10 grams of sugar per serving.  Therefore, I can safely assume I am in the clear.  This is really exciting.  Possibly even more exciting is the fact that a dry cider with only the equivalent of about 2.5 tsp of sugar in it seems really sweet to me.  My taste buds are growing up.  I’m so proud!!! (Eyes welling up with tears)

Anyway, to make a long story short: no more Fireball, but most dry hard ciders seem to be okay in moderation (and do not contain added sugar).  Hooray!

Now, for the Sugar Impact Diet Specificshttp://www.everydiet.org/diet/sugar-impact-diet

Normally, diet gurus with shiny books that are wielded by Dr. Oz make me weary.  In fact, every time I see J.J. Virgin’s arms, I get a little scared. http://bohmphotography.com/wp-content/flagallery/photo-branding/jjvirgin2.jpg  However, if you can get past all of the disgusting over-promotion & sensationalism, you’d probably come to the conclusion that she does know her shit.  I have, and so I trust in the merit of her diet plans.  I also like the 3 week approach.  There’s something less sad about 3 weeks without something than having to go a whole MONTH.

Here’s the gist of the program:

Week 1 – “Taper” – This is the week I just completed. During week 1, you are allowed 2 pieces of fruit per day max.  In addition, you substitute higher impact carb choices, such as potato chips, with medium impact carb choices, such as baked sweet potatoes.  The book lays out several categories of food: grains, fruits, vegetables, beverages, etc. with low, medium, and high impact choices spelled out for reference.  There is also a Sugar Impact Plate to follow that allows a person to visualize how much protein, how many vegetables, etc. should make up what percentage of your plate at meals. She recommends drinking a daily Sugar Impact Shake which is basically a protein shake with added fiber, fat, and greens. I loosely adhered to the plate concept but did have a daily smoothie for breakfast (along with coffee and coconut milk). I used non-offensive tasting collagen powder for additional protein instead of any of that stevia flavored garbage that others magically choke down on a daily basis in the name of health.

Overall, the week went well.  Somewhere along the way, the energy that disappeared when I first went low-carb magically resurfaced.  I think my body adjusted, because I still haven’t been eating very many carbohydrates relatively speaking.  I have been making an effort to make sure I get at least 50-75 grams of carbs/day, however.  Going lower than that can ravage your adrenals. For reference, here is some info about how many carbohydrates the average American eats: http://livehealthy.chron.com/average-american-diet-calorie-intake-2960.html and some more information about how to figure out your ideal carbohydrate number http://www.thepaleomom.com/2011/12/how-many-carbs-should-you-eat.html, http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/07/optimizing-carbohydrate-intake-for-your.html

I lost 2 pounds this week.  I suspect some of this may have something to do with the fact that I removed dairy again.  I am currently at 136 pounds, which is right where I was before reintroducing cream in my daily coffee.  After a week of that, I had gained 2 pounds.  This week, I’ve continued to have daily coffee with fatty coconut milk but have lost weight.  Hmm.  Seems ‘spicious.  I’m still not comfortable blaming dairy for the weight gain as there are other confounding factors, such as reduced fruit intake, to consider.  In any case, it’s something to keep in mind and monitor when I reintroduce dairy in the future.

Week 2 – “Transition” – I start this phase tomorrow.  Basically, you follow the same general guidelines, except you exclude all fruit (except avocados, olives, tomatoes, lemons, and limes) and swap medium impact carb choices with low impact carb choices.  Instead of sweet potatoes, now it would be pumpkin, etc.  I’m a little sad about cutting out fruit entirely, but overall, I think it’ll be a really great thing (not to mention it’s only for 1 measly week which is child’s play in my ongoing book of denials).  My blood sugar maintenance will probably be improved and my FODMAP load will likely reduce.  These changes point to potentials: feeling better and losing more weight.  I tend to carry extra weight in my belly.  It’s uncomfortable and unhealthy, so even though I am only borderline overweight, I feel compelled to figure out a way to lose some of my blubber. I have to work harder than your average Joe, because fibromyalgia decreases one’s metabolism by 25%. :/ (http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/fibromyalgia/articles/weight-loss_tips_for_fibromyalgia_sufferers.aspx)

Week 3 – “Transformed” – During this week, you test out your tolerance for foods that are higher impact to determine an appropriate maintenance plan.

There is a Sugar Impact Quiz you are supposed to take at the beginning and end of every phase.  You are also supposed to weigh and measure yourself at the beginning and end of every phase.  The quiz measures your cravings and other signs of sugar sensitivity.  This is meant to help a person gauge where progress is being made & whether or not introducing higher impact items on an occasional basis is halting your desired results.

There are exercise guidelines in the book that I have decided to more or less ignore for the time being… but not because I want to.  I was actually working out for awhile there and really enjoying it, but post-exertional malaise (http://chronicfatigue.about.com/od/cfsglossary/g/malaise.htm) is an ongoing battle for me.  This is a common trait of fibromyalgia and one that I hate a lot.  Basically, I do 30 minutes of Tae Bo, and I’m down and out for the next few days with increased brain fog, exhaustion, and/or pain.  Sometimes, there’s the added excitement of a neck migraine.  I can get away with exercise sometimes, but I never know before I start a session whether I will get away with it on that specific occasion. I’m starting to suspect that the reason I do better with exercise in the summer is because I am more active in general and the warm weather & increased humidity help relax my muscles. I am hoping to get to a place with my health where I am able to shun exercise solely on the basis of my own personal laziness (like your average human) rather than out of the fear of painful consequences.  It’s all very ludicrous, isn’t it?  Onions and exercise make me sick while both are endorsed by almost every health expert you can find.  Cruel world.

I am looking forward to Week 2.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Born Again Virgin + Sugar Impact Diet

2 Feb

My Virgin Plus Diet (as per usual) has not gone as planned. I started to reintroduce things willy nilly (and 4 days early), because I am inpatient and was feeling a bit deprived. Here is what my reintroduction schedule turned into…

Day 17: Coffee

Day 19: Cocoa Powder

Day 21: Egg Yolks

Day 22: Butter & Sourdough Millet Bread (with traces of gluten)

Day 23: Cream & Alcohol (Hard Cider)

Day 24: Peanut Butter

New symptoms that have presented themselves since adding in foods include reflux, back/neck pain, & my famous neck migraine. The guiltiest suspects I have are the coffee (tension), the cream (suspected sensitivity), & the peanut butter (reflux). I am fairly confident the eggs yolks went over okay.  Of course, I can’t be sure, because I didn’t follow the correct reintroduction protocol. On the plus side, I still have not introduced soy or corn and have not faltered on my sugar + processed-oil free quest, so it’s not a total bust.

Here is what I learned:

My fancy mold-free coffee didn’t make me feel less terrible than other coffees. Officially caffeine is the problem, and my denial can go on no longer. Does that mean I’m going to stop drinking coffee? Well, knowing and doing are 2 different things. Without sugar, I feel like coffee has become my new daily “treat”. I hate to go without it. I like the bitter flavor & morning ritual. I will try to get a handle on it…eventually. I guess decaf is an option, but decaf doesn’t always make me feel stellar either (there’s still caffeine in it).

Peanut butter gives me reflux. This hadn’t been an issue during the entire month until I reintroduced peanuts. I have since stopped eating peanut butter and no longer have problems with reflux (even while continuing to drink coffee and eat dairy). If you remember from my previous post about why peanuts are often problematic, they are less than happy to digest, which is no picnic in a finicky digestive system. I shall continue using tree nut butters, such as almond & walnut, for my nut butter needs.

Too low carb too fast makes me crash. I was eating fairly low carb towards the second half of the month without really trying to. I just found myself wanting to eat more Paleo, rather than vegetarian, meals…which is unlike me. I used to crave hummus but lately I’d rather eat beef tacos on romaine lettuce leaf “tortillas”. As a result, my energy took a serious nose dive and has yet to recover. For a couple of solid weeks, I felt like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t remember anything, and paying attention was way more work than usual. I felt like I was high all the time, and my brain mishaps were making me an idiot at work. Brain fog and loss of energy are common while adjusting to a low-carb diet, but I don’t have the luxury of time to adjust. I’ve been making more of an effort to get in more carbs since figuring out why I felt so exhausted all of a sudden. My brain is feeling more normal, but my energy is still nowhere to be found. I consistently sleep for 10 hours when given the option (not awoken by an alarm clock) and feel like I have to drag myself out of bed after 7 or 8 hours of sleep. NEED MORE!

My sinuses do not make any goddamn sense. I didn’t have to cut out spices, because my sinuses calmed down during a time in which I was still using a lot of the things I assumed were problematic. Again, I think the dry weather was a bigger contributor. Like the rest of my health conditions, nobody really knows what causes vasomotor rhinitis (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001648.htm). Ugh!

Dairy is still a question mark. Shortly after reintroducing dairy, I got a neck migraine. I need to investigate further to confirm this correlation.

Plans for February:

JJ Virgin (the Virgin diet chick) recently wrote a book called “The Sugar Impact Diet”. I have decided to try that next. The premise of the book is to eat foods that are lower glycemic, higher fiber, & lower fructose. The program is designed to lower one’s reliance on sugar. I can tell by looking at the approach that it is one that is well-suited for someone such as meself. I will post more specific details about this plan later.

Ever since giving up sugar, I have been eating too much fruit. I haven’t been solving my sugar obsession so much as weaning it. I’d like to take things a step further. My belly’s comfort & physique can only stand to benefit from a lower-fructose approach.

I will be making more of an effort to increase my non-fructose carbs through squash, grains, & beans to see if it helps my current energy crisis I’ve got going on. I plan to restart my Virgin Diet efforts as well. I will be having occassional coffee & alcohol but will be cutting out gluten, dairy, and peanuts again. I suspect the dairy and coffee are my worst offenders, so I’m starting with dairy to see how it goes. I may use ghee, however. It’s a clarified butter that has minimal trace proteins of dairy in it. In the Virgin Diet book, she allows the use of ghee during the elimination trial. That’s good enough for me!

Plans for Later:

I have recently been given access to the contents of my genome. I bought a kit from this company: https://www.23andme.com/

You send in a tube of your spit and…voila! They send you a report with ALL of your raw genetic data. It’s pretty much amazing.

I was looking for a few things in particular:

MTHFR gene mutations http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/MTHFR

These are common in fibromyagia and have specific treatment implications where they exist. I was surprised to learn that I don’t have any. It’s one less thing to think about as I get more creative in trying to solve this mess of a puzzle that is my body.

I also wanted to find out if I had the genetic vulnerability for developing celiac disease. And oh boy do I.

I have both of the most common celiac disease genes, HLA-DQ2 & HLA-DQ8. A good chunk of the population, about 40%, has one or both of these genes. Having them doesn’t mean you have or will ever develop celiac disease, BUT it does mean that you can develop celiac disease at any time. I also have a second degree family member who has been diagnosed putting me in a higher risk group. On top of these vulnerabilities (and all of my suspcious “we don’t know” syndromes), I have also discovered that there are several other genes commonly associated with celiac disease. These genes involve the predisposition for developing an autoimmune response.

I have ALL but one of the genes mentioned in the studies I read. Hmmm…

I don’t want to become strict gluten-free if it’s unnecessary. Eating gluten-free at home is fine, but being truly strict is not easy! There is gluten hidden everywhere (like in toothpaste and on envelope seals). I don’t…have….to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugeeeee) if I don’t have celiac disease, so what’s a well-informed person to do? Getting tested regularly wouldn’t necessarily tell me whether or not I have it. The tests are only accurate if you consume ample amounts of gluten for several weeks before being tested. I don’t eat a lot of gluten anyway, so standard tests would not tell me anything about where I stand unless I want to gorge on gluten for several weeks a year and then spend an arm & a leg getting tested. No thanks.

I asked my ally (who is a psychology professional) for advice as to what I should do with this information. I wanted to know how she thought the mental health implications would weigh against the possible physical benefits of being strictly gluten-free without an official diagnosis & just a whole lotta suspicion. Her advice was to do a strict 1 month gluten-free trial and see how it goes. Now, I know what you are all thinking….YOU’VE ALREADY DONE THAT! But here’s the thing…not exactly. I was never as strict as one is instructed to be when they’ve been diagnosed. Here’s what I mean: my cat uses wheat litter (that needs to go), I never even thought about my toothpaste, soap, or shampoo (trace amounts are all that’s needed to provoke a response), I was less educated about how inaccurate “gluten-free” labels often are, etc. SO even though I’m not looking forward to it, and I’m not sure it will make much of a difference…I’m going to give it another shot. I’m not sure when…maybe in March? I will keep you posted.

Okay, I’m exhausted just typing this. I apologize for this lazy post. I am usually a grammar Nazi who spends as much time editing posts as writing them, but I just don’t have the energy to care right now. 🙂 Also, I have Season 5 of Downton Abbey waiting for me and frankly, that show is more interesting than my health problems. That’s all (for now) folks.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23085892

http://www.drcate.com/going-low-carb-too-fast-may-trigger-thyroid-troubles-and-hormone-imbalance/

http://www.nature.com/gene/journal/v11/n1/full/gene200967a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22087237

http://www.snpedia.com/index.php/Rs6822844

http://celiacdisease.about.com/od/diagnosingceliacdisease/a/Celiac-Disease-Genetic-Testing.htm