Fucking moderation, how does it work?

For decades now I’ve heard women talk about their disordered eating habits and felt lucky and kind of smug that I don’t have a weird relationship with food. I try to eat in a relatively healthy way, but don’t count calories or tell myself I’m being “bad” if I want a chocolate bar; I’m maybe a little more into fatty foods than is ideal, but when I realize I’ve gained weight I cut back on the really fattening stuff – not insane total denial, just reining myself in a little – and my weight evens out again eventually (or did, until recently), and it’s no big deal.

Buttttt…

My body is showing signs of yet another food sensitivity (or several, I dunno) that I haven’t figured out yet. My doctor referred me to a dietician. I saw her the other day.

We went over what I typically eat in a day and she observed that I don’t eat a lot of carbohydrates at all and that this is not good for me.

This is actually the third time I’ve heard this. First a naturopath I was seeing said it, back when I was wondering why I was so lethargic I could barely lift my head; then a few years later I saw a nutritionist who told me the same thing; and now I’ve got the dietician telling me that I’m basically starving my brain of a macronutrient that it needs in order to function. Well shit. I guess I just don’t learn.

Here’s the thing: I’ve mentioned before that my anxiety makes me notice patterns (or think a pattern exists when it’s actually just a coincidence); I’m trying to make sense of the world. I’m trying to make life into a nice, predictable series of if/then clauses. And one of the patterns I saw, back in the day, is that too many sugars of any kind really fuck me up.

It’s possible that it’s actually gluten that was messing with my health back then, not carbs per se. Celiac disease was not a household phrase back then and you can’t really blame me if I noticed I felt messed up after eating cake or cookies and went on to blame the sugar. But I do think that sugar/carbs were part of the issue.

At any rate, I used to feel weak and dizzy all the time and cutting out dessert-y things helped substantially – as in, basically brought me from “bedridden” to “able to watch tv sitting up and sometimes even walk places.” Then I started noticing that even eating a piece of fruit would give me a bit of a sugar high and then a subsequent crash that brought on the weak/dizzy thing a little bit and made me crave more sugars.

And I tried eating protein at the same time to try to cancel out the effect of the carbohydrates a bit. It works to a certain extent, but it’s not like the two things cancel each other out totally. A pear will still give me a bit of a buzz even if I eat a fairly substantial amount of cheese with it, for instance. I tried to have a snack of blueberries and almond butter once and ended up going off the rails and eating five times as much as I’d meant to because the combo tasted so good, and I crashed pretty hard from it.

So I just…stopped. No bread, cake, cookies, etc., because I’m gluten intolerant. No fruit, because it’s too easy to get high on it. No rice or noodles because they seem like pointless calories (no protein and barely any vitamins) that will also get me high. I knew that people need some carbohydrates in order to function*, so I allowed myself a bit of maple syrup to go with my sausage and eggs, or a handful of blueberries on top of my salads.

And then one time by accident I discovered that when I’m under a lot of physical exertion to the point where I feel depleted and have the shakes, sugar fixes it without making me high per se. I know this because The Bunny came to one of my modelling gigs once and brought me apple juice, which normally I would have eschewed because it’s all fructose with not even much fiber to balance that out, but I hadn’t brought enough snacks and I was desperate so I chugged a bunch of it. And it made me feel so much better. So I started allowing myself drinkable yogurt and chocolate bars at work but not at any other time.

Except sometimes I’d snap and eat a whole thing of ice cream, I guess because my body was rebelling against the whole low-carb thing.

But yeah. Medical professionals keep telling me that I need to eat more carbs and I feel like a junkie getting told “Why are you avoiding heroin? Heroin is fine. Just limit your portions and eat some lean protein at the same time.” And I’m baffled. Limit…heroin? How does that even work? Heroin is healthy? Not in my experience it isn’t (I’m still speaking metaphorically here)!

So I’m freaking out right now because I don’t understand how this new diet is supposed to work. The dietician wants me to eat less fat, too, but the things I would normally use to “buffer” the effects of carbohydrates (like eating cheese or peanut butter along with fruit, or meat along with rice) are mostly pretty fatty, so what the fuck do I do?

Also her examples of portion sizes are, like, a fraction of what I’d actually need in order to feel full**. And she claims that fiber expands in your stomach and helps you to feel full faster but I have seriously never noticed this; I only notice that the carbs lift my blood sugar and then it crashes, which makes me feel more ravenous than if I’d skipped the carbohydrates in the first place. The only thing that makes me feel full, ever, is massive amounts of animal protein.

I honestly feel like an alien right now. The things the dietician is recommending to me just sound so wildly at odds with how my body actually seems to work. Except I know I’m prone to all-or-nothing thinking and finding patterns where there aren’t any, and she is supposedly an expert at food-related things, so I’m going to try to set my misgivings aside and do this shit for a few weeks and see what happens.

Gotta say, though – I told the dietician that sometimes I crave fat and will eat a wheel of brie in one or two sittings, and she had no idea what the phrase “wheel of brie” meant. “A wellabee? What?” “No, a wheel. Of brie.” “What is that?”

Now, I’m not saying that it necessarily means anything that my dietician doesn’t know that a flat round unit of cheese is called a “wheel” (and possibly doesn’t know what brie is, either). But frankly it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Also she was looking over my list of what I ate that day and was like “a banana and sausage and eggs for breakfast…see? No carbs in there” and I had to point out that a banana is a source of carbohydrates. Pretty much all carbohydrates, really. Lots of fruit sugars and pretty much no fat or protein.

I’m fully aware that I probably look like a pretentious git when I talk all the time about how stupid doctors and other health care professionals seem to be – given that I don’t have any formal training in any of the disciplines I’m mocking – but they really do say stupid things!

 

*Well, not really. Inuit people live entirely on meat and blubber, and the Atkins diet is a thing. Although I’ve been on Atkins and it FUCKED ME UP LIKE WHOA so I can attest that I personally need carbs to at least some extent.

**Her idea of an appropriate breakfast is one egg, one of those skinny finger-size breakfast sausages, and like 1/4 cup of cooked oatmeal. What the actual fuck? I’m a 6′, 200lb woman with a very physically active job and she’s prescribing me an adorable miniature doll breakfast. Who can live on that? Seriously!

 

7 Comments

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7 responses to “Fucking moderation, how does it work?

  1. joooyous

    Hihi! I think your dietician lady sounds weird. She’s definitely derping on the portion thing. But she may be right about the carbs thing? 🙂 Also re:patterns, this is the sort of thing where it’s easy to do experiments on yourself! Like, in the times that you need to be functional, just eat the stuff you think is safe, but note it down in a log or something? But if you have some downtime, try eating some noodles and noting that down too, for example? Then, you’ll capture data that’s maybe more variable than simple if-thens? And you can try out which carbs are better than which other ones. Yay, science!

  2. fghjhfgjh

    that portion was absurd. maybe change doctors, if possible.

  3. Leah

    Carbs are what fuels our brains (like, ACTUALLY. Our brains run entirely on glucose/sugar). We literally need them to survive. Atkins is a thing, but a bad thing. The point is that it puts your body into ketosis, and anyone who loses weight on a restricted diet like that will gain it all back as their bodies go into starvation mode. Good carbs ARE ones that are micronutrient-rich/more vitamins and minerals and have a good fiber profile.

    The best sources of carbs include fruit, sweet potatoes and other root veggies, quinoa, legumes and buckwheat. Others include steel or rolled oats, wild or brown rice (I’ve typically heard jasmine and basmati are fine too), and yes, whole wheat bread and pasta. Vegetables are also classified as carbs. Green leafy veggies, celery, broccoli, asparagus, cucumbers, etc.

    The problem is, if you’ve not been eating carbs and you start to add in carbs, you will probably notice a shift in how your body carries weight, especially at first, while your body adjusts. Our bodies are smart as hell and yours has clearly adapted to the lack of carbs in your diet (and also might be why you’re so sensitive to consuming any – just like being a lightweight with alcohol). That doesn’t mean your body is *doing great* without carbs.

    Perhaps try adding in something small here and there. Eat your fruit with plain almonds or raw or roasted pumpkin seeds (or something you can eat). I personally don’t worry about the fat content of legumes, I just make sure to grab a handful of nots instead of carrying the whole jar, since I WILL eat the whole jar. I make plenty of veggies and get much of my protein and carbs from them.

  4. Weasel

    *hand wave* This is not the dietician you’re looking for…

    • Technically she was an intern so maybe she’s slightly inept due to lack of experience.

      Her internship is over soon though so next time I see the “real” dietician.

  5. Moz in Australia

    I wonder if the low fodmap diet might help, rather than low gluten. The difference is that FODMAPs are sugars often associated with gluten but also found everywhere else… the F stands for fructose, for example, the “fruit sugar” (and it’s also also the F in HFCS, or highly fuckyouup corn syrup). It helps me, but at least I just get gas rather than crashing. Melbourne University has a mobile app that rates different foods and generally helps when shopping.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FODMAP

    FWIW my base food is brown rice. By the 25kg sackful 🙂 It seems to be something that never upsets my gut, so I eat rice+sugar+ricemilk for breakfast and base a lot of the rest of my meals around it. Which might not work for you, or it might.

    • Low fodmap is my next step. The dietician has me only adjusting my levels of fruit and grains upward and my fat and salt downward at the moment because the main thing I came to her for was an upset stomach and bloating.

      But I CLEARLY have some kind of food sensitivity going on (my skin is breaking out in pimples all over like it always does when it objects to what I eat, and I’m having autoimmune issues again like I used to have when I ate gluten. Cuts and scrapes have once again stopped healing. My stupid kitten clawed my leg four months ago and the marks are still there).

      I sorta forgot about the zits and the slow healing at my appointment; my chief concern was that I do a naked job and didn’t want to be bloated, farting, and possibly eventually shitting myself during it. But yeah. Next visit i’ll get her to list FODMAP free things and try that.

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