Wednesday, April 24, 2013
My sister-in-law, a scientist, really impressed me many years ago when she casually participated in an experiment by a colleague in which she had to follow a severely restricted diet for a month. We were both in our twenties at the time, and we were at a family gathering when she told me about it.
I donít recall the details of the diet, just that the food choice was very limited. She was following the diet without thinking about it. It was no problem at all for her.
Wow! I was very impressed with her ability to do that with such little effort. At the same time I realized that I would not be able to do it myself Ė not without problems.
That was my first indication that I was less casual about food than some. I didnít know at the time just how much of a reaction I did have to food. I still had a lot to learn about myself.
A few years later, after a Saturday night of drinking a lot of alcohol, I found myself feeling very tired and depressed for weeks. I went to an endocrinologist, and I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia.
This is a condition that I have kept under control with diet. I have to eat the right foods to feel well. I have to maintain the proper balance between protein and fats and carbohydrates.
When the hypoglycemia is under control, my doctor refers to my condition as being Ďsensitive to carbohydrates.í I have been living with this all my life.
My reactions to food are physiological; they affect my energy and my mood.
Whenever I take in caffeine, I feel tense and anxious Ė and experience heart palpitations.
If I drink alcohol, I am tired and depressed for days after.
If I eat a lot of sugar without some fat or protein, I experience a Ďhighí followed by a sharp drop in energy.
As a result, I donít drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages.
I donít drink orange juice or other sweet drinks. (I dilute them by 50% or more)
I donít eat dark chocolate. (I eat milk chocolate, preferably with nuts.)
I donít drink alcohol.
If I ever started my day with a cup of black coffee, a glass of orange juice, and a donut, I would probably faint later that morning.
If I had a coke and a chocolate bar for lunch, I would feel light headed and dizzy and I would need to lie down.
I can experience the same symptoms from drinking hot chocolate without eating any food with it. (I simply donít drink hot chocolate.)
I have learned through the years to avoid those foods that cause me the biggest problems.
And when I am trying to lose weight, I know I have to balance my foods and choose them carefully.
I could never have followed that strict diet my sister-in-law was on, because I would not have felt well at all. And while at the time I didnít understand it, I do now.
My body reacts to foods differently.