Swollen, painful, yet oddly numb feet, especially when I sit, especially since my job requires me to sit at my desk in front of a monitor. Doesn’t sound good, huh. I am addicted to sugar and carbs, but then, honestly how many of us aren’t? Sugar is the ONE ingredient for which the American FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t require the daily percentage information. The result, we eat that crap by the buckets. I also love my alcohol, wine particularly. I drank daily, never to excess, but there wasn’t a day when I didn’t drink 2 glasses of wine. Not that I would ever admit that to my doctor. Oh, and soda, try as I might…. Once I started, I didn’t stop. Again, rarely more than 1 can of coke a day but still. It adds up. And what else? Oh yes, cookies, not just one, no, but I’d binge. Swedish Fish? Move over, Haribo’s Peaches? There goes a bag.
The last few weeks were rough, workload was heavy, plus getting ready for Anna’s graduation party, and I ate a ton of the aforementioned crap, and drank the aforementioned poison, and by the time graduation was done, I weighed god knows how much, and my symptoms were clearly that of a diabetic person. Bad fucking news. Now I have a great role model. My parents! When they go the news they were pre-diabetic some years ago they went on a strict diet and completely reversed their pre-diabetes.
I immediately stopped all alcohol, all added sugar – except my half teaspoon in my tea and coffee) and cut way back on carbs. No more cookies, etc. If I want a sweet treat, I’ll have to bake it myself is my new motto. I’m too busy to bake so that’s easy. My symptoms vanished within 48 hours and I’ve been losing a pound every two days. My sluggishness has gone away, and due to the vegetable heavy diet, I rarely get hungry of craving mid morning, and late afternoon.
The question was, which food philosophy to adopt, what changes would I need to make to the way I treated food. Years ago I had watched the well known ‘Forks over Knives’ documentary in which Doctors Esselstyn and Campell lambast any kind of animal protein. Meat was evil, dairy the devil, and even plantbased oils considered a dire threat to ones health. According to them in order to live a healthful life and reduce ones risk of all aspects of metabolic disease and certain cancers, one needed to maintain a strict planbased diet and avoid fats. To me the diet seemed draconian and unwise and as unbalanced as the late Doctor Atkins’ diet with the same name. I kept searching.
Years later I watched an amazing, four part documentary by Michael Pollan called ‘Cooked’ which was an incredibly enriching experience. Michael Pollan doesn’t demonize food, nor is he alarmist. In ‘Cooked’ he examines the four primary methods or changing food to make it easier to eat, digest, and absorb and looks at how these techniques evolved over time. He delves into how people cook and how different that is from how companies cook. What was interesting was how he early on, in the first part of the series examines, with the help of an anthropologist, how cooking food, and eating meat helped us evolve into our current species.
Esselstyns, and Campbells claim that all animal proteins are an anathema to our bodies never made sense to me. We evolved as omnivores, which means our bodies not only are able to digest and absorb nutrients from a plant based and meat inclusive diet, but that we clearly evolved to benefiting from those food choices. My search continued.
A few weeks ago I watched another documentary called A Magic Pill, a controversial film by an Australian filmmaker, who espouses a ketogenic diet. In this diet the recommendation if for a huge amount of fat, protein, vegetables and next to no carbs. It was very interesting but on deeper reflection it didn’t make long terms sense, and I kept looking. I didn’t want a quick, temporary fix. I need a long term change to my lifestyle and eating habits.
Much out there by way of documentary films and books tends to be an attempt by their creators to bolster their own opinions rather than truly investigate and discover. The only one different is Michael Pollan. He seems to be among those most objective in his approach and when I watched is documentary “In Defense of Food” it became quite clear that his approach is one I could live with. Don’t eat food like objects cooked in a factory. Cook, eat a balance of foods with plant-based foods the majority of it. Don’t be afraid of some meat, or the occasional treat as long as it’s something you make rather than purchased.
Staying away from alcohol has been relatively easy to my surprise. I don’t allow my trigger in the house, so no white wine. Red wine tends to irritate my body so it doesn’t tempt me like I would be with a bottle of Chardonnay. I have an open bottle of red and use it for sauces and other cooking. I am trying to reduce my carb intake even further but I am on the right track. No candies other than dark chocolate which isn’t a trigger food for me. I can have a small piece and be content with that.