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My reactions to food (Part 1: My body's reactions)

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 don’t 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 – not without problems.

That was my first indication that I was less casual about food than some. I didn’t 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 ‘sensitive to carbohydrates.’ 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 – 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 ‘high’ followed by a sharp drop in energy.

As a result, I don’t drink coffee, tea, or other caffeinated beverages.
I don’t drink orange juice or other sweet drinks. (I dilute them by 50% or more)
I don’t eat dark chocolate. (I eat milk chocolate, preferably with nuts.)
I don’t 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 don’t 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 didn’t understand it, I do now.

My body reacts to foods differently.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Fantastic blog...oh that we ALL could be so tuned into our bodies! So many of us block out the symptoms of a poor body screaming to us that we are KILLING ourselves daily.

    The BEST thing I did was give up all soda...when I see people guzzling it to this day I want to go over and are KILLING your own sweet self while serving the big foodie masters!

    Honestly...I can't even serve it to our dinner guests without putting a disclaimer on the crap! I make them bring their own emoticon emoticon
    1760 days ago
    I have the same problem as you with caffeine. My doctor told me years ago to avoid it because it increases my heart rate and causes palpitations. I can't say I actually gave it up completely. I have cut soft drinks and most chocolate out of my diet, but my coffee is a serious addiction. I cut the caffeine by going to half caff that Folgers makes, but I really want to eventually give up coffee completely - ugh!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

    1767 days ago
    here's to knowing how your body reacts and living life in the healthiest way!
    1767 days ago
    I am lucky to be able to eat just about anything (even though I choose not to eat fast food, junk food, pre-packaged food, and only eat restaurant food once a month or so). My hubby is diabetic, and one time I accidentally took his pills. I had to drink regular Coke to get past the danger. Low sugar isn't fun.
    1767 days ago
    Ditto for me. I could have written this blog. I have had hypoglycemia for many years and control it with diet as well. I'm a nurse and I diagnosed it myself initially. I knew the symptoms. I went to the doctor and told him I had it and he wasn't convinced. He checked my blood sugar and said, "You have hypoglycemia. LOL. I felt fine at the time. My blood sugar was 50 so obviously I have to get fairly low to be symptomatic. He said I shouldn't be driving until I had it under control. It's when I was put on the high protein, low carb, moderate to high fat diet. A cheeseburger with bun and an order of fries almost puts me in a coma. I never consume any carbs without also having some protein. I had palpitations the other day and could not figure out what was wrong. I was drinking regular tea instead of decaffeinated.
    1767 days ago
    Interesting! The most important thing is really getting to know those differences you have in how your body reacts. That's what will help you on the road to health!

    HUGS and thanks for sharing this.
    1767 days ago
  • DAISY443
    Isn't it strange how different foods affect different people differently! Was that enough uses of different?
    1767 days ago
    It's so helpful to learn how to manage the particular metabolism we have.

    (Bit like accepting that my hair is stick straight . . . rather than getting a perm! Or that my garden doesn't have the right conditions for the Japanese maple I crave: so not planting one!)

    What a great blog. You've been successful in managing these metabolic quirks which means you've already learned at lot about managing the "other" ones . . .
    1767 days ago
    Me too. I have found that healthy fats are my friend. I do take a gymnema sylvestre if I eat too much sugar, and that works well, but you must be careful with it or it could drop your sugar.
    1767 days ago
  • --KREN
    I think you've got a pretty smart body. The foods you mentioned in your samples are all terrible. Besides the immediate reactions you have, they damage your body over the years. I avoid them, too. So good for you!

    1767 days ago

    Comment edited on: 4/24/2013 5:14:28 PM
  • --VICKI--
    Back years ago I could have eaten or drunk most anything other than alcohol and it wouldn't have fazed me. But now with anemia and inflammation in my spine, hips, and joints, a lot of foods will cause severe flare ups, that feel like a hot poker on my back, hips, etc. And since menopause, if I eat more than 1-2 pieces of ANY candy or other sweets, I have hot flashes and night sweats like you wouldn't believe. As long as I stay away from most sweets ( made with real sugar), I rarely have the hot flashes or night sweats, so I really try to be careful. emoticon
    1767 days ago
    I have the same reaction to caffeine and to concentrated sugar and carbohydrates. I am also gluten intolerant. What I eat really makes a huge difference to how I feel.
    1767 days ago
    I have similar effects from caffeine...sugar, too. It's best to listen to our body...if only I would do that every day. emoticon
    1768 days ago
  • PICKIE98
    Your sis in law is very lucky. I am diabetic, but years ago, I had the same symptoms but was not diagnosed yet. you have a level head and are doing the right things..Good job.
    1768 days ago
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