Monday, October 22, 2012
I am writing this in response to a comment on one of my previous blogs and in response to a discussion on the binge eating team.
I'm sure that emotional eating is one of the reasons that is almost always involved for binge eating and/or bulimia. The question in my mind is whether emotional eating is the cause of eating disorders or if in many, though not all cases, emotional eating is triggered by foods that are addictive to many people like wheat and sugar and emotional eating becomes part of the package along the way. We don't always continue a behavior for the same reason we started it.
High-carb foods lead to extreme ups and downs in blood sugar levels and insulin levels as well as insulin-resistance (of the cells) and along with that cause almost continuous food cravings in many people. At the same time the increased insulin levels will lead to more calories getting stored in fat cells, making this energy unavailable for brain and muscle function. Many diabetic people report severe mood swings as a result of very low blood-sugar levels. Once the body has stored enough fat (rather than using the calories in the muscles) the person will usually go on a diet, meaning trying to reduce calories, exercise more etc. in an effort to control calories in - calories out. But the body is already deprived of energy for muscles and brain because the high insulin levels make sure that more additional calories get put in storage (fat cells).
After a shorter or longer period of time the body wins against our will power and the diet (calorie restriction) fails. I know I repeated this cycle many times over my life.
Every time the diet fails and weight loss stops or weight is regained, this leads to discouragement if not depression at a time when the body is craving calories.
At a time we finally start eating a lot because of real hunger we find out that we feel much better, at least until blood sugar levels drop again an hour or two later or the next day, thereby starting to condition ourselves to self-medicate depression and other negative feelings with food. Because the good feelings don't last very long the next dose of food, often but not always carbs, follows soon after. After repeating this cycle several times the brain is starting to learn and after repeating this dozens of times these behavior patterns are hard-wired and as resistant to change as brushing our teeth in the morning. If insulin levels stay high because of high and frequent carb consumption the viscious spiral continues until the person is severely obese and has full-blown metabolic syndrome.
At this point just switching to a low-carb lifestyle is frequently not enough to fix the problem. The emotional eating has become an automatic behavior that does not need a major cause any more. Many small triggers, ranging from thinking about food, to seeing food to all kinds of emotional minor variations can trigger the binge, even in the absence of hunger.
Still, I see reducing carb levels as the only way to take the first step to long-lasting freedom from binging, maybe in a supervised setting or with a support system in place in some cases.
Many people find that removing the physiological trigger for overeating, high insulin levels and other abnormal hormone levels that come with it, are enough to make improvements with emotional eating issues on their own over time with only online and/or family support. The low-carb, paleo and primal forums on the internet and on spark teams are full of these success stories.
Other binge eaters may need a more structured environment that is not possible at home to succeed.
Based on my own experience, whatever it takes it is worth the fight for our health and for our quality of life and that of our families.
There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Comments and discussion welcome, as always
Monday, October 22, 2012
It was a long day, too many things to finish before the weather gets freezing and wet for a while. We harvested plums and I enjoyed two of them. I walked the dogs and we made enough progress on the duck barn to provide shelter, although it's far from done.
I was so busy that I did not pay too much attention to food, but I noticed that I was hungry even after bacon and eggs with veggies for a late brunch. I decided to wait a couple of hours and still felt like my body needed some fruit and yogurt so that's what I had for a late lunch. In between I snacked on some brie and a few nuts.
Dinner was late, around 8:30 pm, because it took that long to get the kitchen clean enough to cook. My husband and daughter had gluten-free brown rice pasta with tomato sauce and I had kelp noodles with tomato sauce. I'm getting used to them and did not feel deprived. I looked at the brown rice pasta package and a 2 oz. serving has 43 grams of carbs. I used to eat about 3 servings on average which is more carbs in one meal than I eat in one day now. The kelp pasta only has about 1 gram of carbs.
I had some more homemade chocolate ice for dessert and a few pieces of dark chocolate.
I really did not have time to add it up today but with the tomato sauce, plums and yogurt and Xylitol sweetened ice cream I suspect my carbs were closer to 50 grams today, if not a little over. Exercise was again minimal so it will be interesting to see how my body responds. Being very busy really can make it difficult for me to eat very low-carb.
On the good side: I managed to only have a half cup of coffee today and then had tea tonight but otherwise no caffeine. The gradual approach is working.
Time for bed, tomorrow is my day off so I will sleep in and then finally get some swimming in. I'm looking forward to it.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
For those of you who are not familiar with it the 80/20 rule goes something like this:
Try to spend 80% of your time doing the 20% that is most important to you. This rule is a great way to prioritize when life gets too busy and when we are tempted to make wrong choices leading us down wrong paths in the future. I think of it often during my daily time of prayer and meditation. It reminds us of what's important: to take enough time with our family, to pay the bills on time, to get enough sleep, to eat our vegetables, to acknowledge our loved ones on the way out the door in the morning, to flush the toilet every time, to exercise, to leave in time to make it to work or a doctor's appointment on time (knowing that we can fit in a little breakfast on the way or at work). - I know that at this point some people were starting to argue with what I said in their head, because we all have to do the other 80% as well, and with only 20% of the time left that can create it's own pressures if not correctly managed. There are a lot of variables here depending on individual needs.
My dogs do it like this: Find a soft, warm spot:
Sleep ALWAYS comes first. That's at least 9 hours right there, plus 2 more for napping. I strive for this because every time I get too little sleep I eat an extra meal.
For dogs what comes next is relationship building/maintaining friendship, something that dogs do through touch and vocalizations, but primarily through sending and receiving scent messages, their very sophisticated form of instant messaging that allows detailed communication about all aspects of their environment and their emotions, worth a whole blog by itself. Building and maintaining relationships is critical to our survival and well-being. We all need to rely on many other people to function in life and the people in our community are the ones we depend on in time of crisis and to live sustainable lives.
Then comes exercise and food. The last two often go together and are called hunting. Not kidding, my dogs enjoy nothing more than to run in the fields and catch mice. I do think that the connection of exercise and eating in their lives is what many humans are missing. It can take the form of hunting/gathering or the form of gardening, but if it only takes the form of grocery shopping we are mssing out on a lot. We need the often missing link frequently of where food comes from and this should be taught in elementary schools and by parents to young children everywhere. Here's a little encouragement
Now to the other 80% that doesn't make it to the top of the list as often as it should:
In my house that is the laundry piling up, raw fruits and veggies that need processed before they go bad, the dust everywhere (that comes back every day because our roads are not paved), the dishes in the sink, cleaning out the closets and taking stuff to the dump and the thrift store, cleaning my desk so my computer has room, finishing harvesting plums and building the duck barn before a hard frost, record keeping for homeschooling and finances, steam-cleaning the carpets (again), working a few more hours for money, reading and researching more about nutrition, for instance which minerals I really need to supplement.
And then there are things that I've completely given up on for now: ironing, fixing small corners of dry wall that my dogs have chewed on, washing windows (that's what the rain is for right?) etc.
Back to the low-carb lifestyle:
My weight is holding steady at 129.4 lbs. . To apply the 80/20 rule, I need to decide how much effort I should put in to get to the ideal of health, body composition. I suspect that I'm still pretty far away from getting diminishing returns for my effort, given my recent H A1c level of 5.9 but only time will tell.
Exercise is what I need to make time for. So I will get it by moving lots of laundry around, picking plums, walking dogs and working on the duck barn. If the chores all get done I might stop at the pool for a little swim late this afternoon.
Time for breakfast. I think I'm going back to bacon and eggs and veggies today knowing that will keep me full much longer than any combo of berries, yogurt, cream and nuts. Those will have to be a special treat until I'm ready for weight maintenance again. Since I have not had enough time to read up on minerals I added some that I'll take just twice a week until I have time for further research: some selenium, some zinc, some iodine, some chromium in addition to the magnesium, fish oil and Vitamin D that I take every day. And PLEASE nobody copy what I do, just read up on these things on your own, these are minerals that my body needs as discussed with my doctor, it is only the amount that is in question.
Time to get off the computer and start cooking breakfast.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
Please read this blog post from Oct.20, 2012 by William Davis about the healing power of eliminating wheat from our diet:
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