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No Grains, No Sugar

I’m on a two week endeavor to abstain from eating processed grain and refined sugar products.  As I shared in my previous post, I’m involved in a plan created by an endocrinologist/weight loss/nutrition researcher named Dr. David Ludwig.  The book is Always Hungry?  I’ve suspected for a long time that my metabolism is screwed up thanks to years of binge eating disorder, yo-yo dieting, my now post-menopausal self, etc.  The first two years after my weight loss surgery, it feels like all I had to do was think about losing weight and the pounds evaporated from my body.  The last two years have been much more of a struggle.

When I struggle, I do so on various levels.  There’s the whole frustration of working really hard to follow my food plan but then not seeing results.  Plus there’s the whole daily struggle that I have simple dealing with an eating disorder.  There is no cure for an eating disorder.  It will always be part of my life.  However, I have a program and tools that help me cope with it.  Sadly, however, when my physical body does not cooperate, it messes with my head a lot and that makes it much more challenging for me to work my tools and stay on track.  Vicious cycle.

Anyway, when I heard about this book and read it, pretty much all of what he said made sense to me about our body chemistry, insulin production, how our fat cells function and react to different types of food and diets, etc.  After a lifetime of trying every possible diet and nutrition plan – including some that, in retrospect, were incredibly unhealthy or just plain whacko, I don’t choose to try something new or unfamiliar without a lot of careful thought.  So, I really considered this plan long and hard before making a commitment.

This might come out sounding stupid, but I’ll share it any way.  One of the selling points for me on this plan was the fact that I can still eat fruit, nuts, beans and legumes.  For me there is a fine line between when a plan is restrictive to the point of impossibility and when it offers me enough variety to maintain my sanity and still enjoy what I’m eating.

A couple of years ago when my post-surgery progress began to slow, I’d go to my monthly doctor’s appointments and talk about what I was doing or trying to do.  The surgeon was very cut and dried.  On one memorable appointment, he said, “Cut your calories by 25%, increase your exercise.  Don’t eat any carbs or fruit.”

That effectively would have meant that I restricted myself to between 600 and 750 calories a day with very little variety in my daily food.  I was pretty freaked out by the suggestion, and when I freak out like that, I tend to want to console and calm myself with a hot fudge sundae.

There are other very low carb/high protein/high fat plans around that also restrict you on starchy vegetables and most fruits.  I’ve never tried one before.  This plan takes a different approach.

For the first two weeks, Phase 1, it asks one to stay away from grains, starchy vegetables, and tropical fruits.  It also restricts refined sugars (even honey or maple syrup, and sweeteners) with the wonderful exception of the small amount of sugar contained in good quality dark chocolate of at least 70% cacao.  Yep, I can eat small amounts of dark chocolate on this plan.  That enough could save my sanity along with still being able to eat berries, apples, peaches and the like.

After the first two weeks, I can add back in some whole grain products and additional vegetables and tropical fruits.  Basically, the doctor recommends keeping away from white flour products (bread, pasta, cookies, etc.), white rice, white potatoes.

The doctor maintains that the full fat foods help balance out the body’s reactions and also lead to increased satiety, reduced cravings, more stable insulin production, etc.

Starting yesterday, I began the program.  So far, so good.  Let me tell you, I savored last night’s dessert of berries and a half ounce of dark chocolate.  I’m trying to be aware of any cravings.  A volunteer delivered pastries to every department this morning.  Every time I walk into the kitchen, I see them.  If I get the urge, I tap my bracelet and remember why I’m making this effort.

The biggest challenge for me so far is that he advocates preparing a lot of different foods and supplies recipes that fit the plan.  Honestly, I don’t have time to cook so many things, or to cook every night after work.  So, I’m learning to adjust and focus on the key elements – making sure I have quality protein at every meal or snack, and that each meal includes fats and carbs.  Those last two areas are unfamiliar but I’m not freaking out over them.  I want to see how and if this approach works.  In order to do that, I need to commit and follow the suggestions.  I’m doing my best.


Extended Funk Part Deux – and the “D” Word

First I want to say that you all are terrific and I am grateful for your concern.  I appreciate you checking on me. This funk and the food relapse have really taken hold and I’m having more trouble than I anticipated fighting my way through it all.

I haven’t wanted to post because it’s been difficult for me to face facts and talk about them, but my agreement with this blog, myself and everyone that reads it is that I don’t come here and post bullshit.  I’m not going to come and lie that all is great with sunshine, roses, and sparkles when all is not great.  This blog is my gut-check honesty place.    So, rather than lie, I emotionally isolated.

My relapse continues and it’s the worst it’s been since before my weight loss surgery.  I’ve gained weight, although I don’t know how much because I haven’t stepped on the scale.  I can feel it in my clothes and in the way my body feels.  More than the physical results, the emotional and mental effects are the worst.

I know I’ve said this all before and I’m like a broken record right now, but there isn’t anything original about binge eating disorder.  Relapsing sucks.  Feeling out of control messes me up in a myriad of ways.  I’m unhappy and that also has an impact in other areas of my life.    Also shared before is the chronic heel pain from which I’ve been suffering which severely limits my ability to exercise.  Not only do I not reap the physical benefits, but I’m lacking those uplifting endorphins.

At least I took positive action for that condition and saw a doctor last week.  I’d properly self-diagnosed the condition – plantar fasciitis.  I am now following the doctor’s instructions – wearing good sneakers, stretching to loosen the tight calves, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds, using a splint at night.  I am mostly following the no bare feet/no flip flops directive although that’s honestly the most challenging.  I hate wearing anything on my feet when I’m home.  However, he told me I can wear original Crocs so I truly am trying to be better about this too.  I want the condition to get better.  Constant pain is, well, a pain, and limiting the types of exercise I can do interferes with my recovery plans.

Yes, I do have recovery plans.  I can’t let all of my hard work and effort fall apart.  It is never too late to begin again, unless I’m dead, and good Lord willing, I’m not going to die anytime soon.

I need to go back on a diet.  The dreaded “D” word used to describe programs and methods of eating and making food choices to result in weight loss.  That runs counter to a lot of my accepted knowledge about having an eating disorder and being in recovery.  Heck, it runs counter to a lot of popular medically-influenced thought these days.

On the other hand, it can also mean, to me, an actual plan that embraces healthy food choices  with frood eaten in planned-for, structured, non-binging, non-compulsive ways.  That’s the kind of diet I need.

However, I also know that, as much as I hate admitting it, I need that validation of seeing pounds come off of my body, seeing the number go down on the scale.  Sure, keeping to my food plan of healthy eating and abstaining from compulsion should be enough positive reinforcement and engender the feel-good spirit and emotions that keep the abstinence rolling.  But, I’m human.  At least in the beginning, if I see that I’m losing weight again, I will feel better.  I am less likely to then engage in attacking myself with ugly thoughts, angry labels, and shame-inducing negative comments about my weak character.

So, here I go again, my friends.  Once more into the breach.  This really is a never-ending journey, an eternal process and, to be honest, a constant effing struggle.

It isn’t easy and never will be.  However, it is always and absolutely worth it.

Thanks for hanging in with me.  How are all of you doing?


Skewed Food Perspective

My two week Lean-Green-Clean period is complete.  All in all, I did really well.  My body feels so much better inside — in a way that is more about better quality food going in and less to do with the nine pounds that I lost.  Mentally and emotionally, sticking the program provided a much needed boost.  The two weeks demonstrated to me that I can, indeed, manage my food and eating in healthy ways.  Certainly much healthier than I’d been doing.

I’m so pleased with the results that I’m continuing on, but with, perhaps a little less strictness.  Not much, but the occasional carb or small chocolate treat — also occasionally and not in great quantities.

This is a potential slippery slope because I have a very skewed perspective when it comes to food.  Part of it comes from not ever being able to totally free myself from the diet mentality.  I’ve had it drummed into me so often, and self-drummed it, that carbs are bad.  Awful bad.  The baddest of bad.  So, even when I eat something like half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel – it feels like a cheat.  I went to Miami today to see my Phillies play the Marlins.  This was a terrific treat for me to see a ball game in person and spend time with friends.  I had an all beef hot dog at the ballpark for lunch.  Okay, a hot dog isn’t the cleanest food, but can’t I cut myself a break and not feel guilty?

When I get into that diseased thinking, it’s dangerous.  It quite often  leads to self-disgust and a “well I f#*#ed up today anyway.  I might as well keep going” reaction.  So a simple eating of something that really wasn’t bad or damaging can turn into a binge.

As I continue on my program, I need to be very aware of the mental aspect of my relationship with food.  I need to be able to separate behaviors into their proper descriptions.  Eating half of a whole grain, high fiber bagel is not the same thing as plowing my way through a bag of potato chips.  A small serving of chocolate does not equate to a pint of ice cream.

Two successful weeks when I’d been struggling for a while have produced much needed clarity.  I’d like to build on this even more moving forward.

How’s everybody else doing?

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Binge Eating Disorder

This morning while preparing breakfast, packing lunch for work and so on, I had the television on.  All of a sudden I heard an ad about Binge Eating Disorder.  I looked up at the television in complete surprise.  There was Monica Seles, a well-known former professional tennis star, talking about having the disorder and what it meant.  The ad showed some definitions/diagnosis points and referred people to a site called bingeeatingdisorder.com and recommended discussing things with your doctor.

Watching that commercial, being in that moment, I felt intense gratitude.   For so much of my life, I suffered with this disorder without knowing what was wrong with me.  I didn’t know it even was a disorder, a disease.  I thought I was a weak, fat, eating slob with no will-power.  It destroyed my self-esteem, affected my physical health, my relationships with myself and others, led me into destructive behaviors and situations and caused me years and years of emotional misery.

I was 34 years old before I found out about binge eating and compulsive overeating and began to rebuild myself.  Recovery took many more years and remains an ongoing effort.  I will never be completely recovered or cured, but I am so much better and healthier emotionally, physically, and mentally than I was.

Putting this message out publicly will help untold numbers of people who are dealing, or attempting to deal, with this disorder on their own but who may not understand what it is, how it effects them, and how they can seek and receive help and treatment.

Thank you to whomever is driving this campaign.  Thank you, Monica Seles for sharing your story and putting yourself out there.

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The On Again Off Again Relationship

Ever hear someone talk about being in an on again/off again relationship?  When they’re on, they’re great.  The partners are in synch, nurturing each other, providing good support, a mutually beneficial give and take.  They have fun together.  Sunlight, roses, upbeat music surround them.  Joy ensues and they feel like, together, everything is better and they are invincible.

When relationships are off, whew boy.  The bloom comes off that rose.  Everything that used to be so simpatico dissolves into a morass of discontent.  The things that attracted two people to each other often become annoying.  Cute turns to cloying.  Give and take become keep and take more.  Sometimes you downright love and loathe each other at the same time and end up resenting what you most need.

This sounds a lot like my relationship with food and, by extension, with recovery.  When things are good, I’m in that sunlight and roses place.  Food is nourishment, it supports my body.  I enjoy what I eat and, when in strong recovery, I feel invincible.

When the relationship goes into “off again” mode, my viewpoint, attitude and emotions get completely skewed.  Take individual foods for example.  When in recovery, I absolutely love and savor healthy, delicious food.  I’ll get positively gleeful over a fresh salad with crisp vegetables and a melange of wonderful flavors.  Fruit is like ambrosia.  I taste and feel joy over fueling my body with yummy food and not overeating or compulsing.

When I go to the “off again” place, there’s no appeal in those same salad ingredients.  I lose my appetite for healthy food and start craving junk like sugary doughnuts and greasy french fries.

The food itself hasn’t changed.  I know that.  It’s all in my perception of it, depending on the state of my recovery.  When I’m in a good place, like I am tonight, I look at my whack perceptions and just sort of shake my head at the ridiculousness.  Living in a diseased state of binge eating or compulsive eating holds more than its share of crazy behavior, that’s for sure.

I’d like to keep my relationship with food on a more even keel, based on the simple fact that food is just food.  I don’t need to invest so much of my emotions and mental health in it.  Food can be a pleasure, when I eat it in reasonable, healthy, appropriate ways.

When I don’t, it can be the most stress-inducing, emotional turmoil producing matter in the world.

Currently, I’m in a good place.  I’m grateful and know that recovery can be fragile.  I need to shore it up, give it my proper time and attention.  Recovery needs to be tended and nurtured so that it grows healthy and strong.  That’s not all that different than an other relationship.

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About Compulsion

  1. the action or state of forcing or being forced to do something; constraint.
    “the payment was made under compulsion
    synonyms: obligation, constraint, coercion, duress, pressure, intimidation

    “he is under no compulsion to go”
  2. 2.
    an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one’s conscious wishes.
    “he felt a compulsion to babble on about what had happened”
    synonyms: urge, impulse, need, desire, drive; More


    Since I deal (or not sometimes) with compulsive eating behavior as part of my binge-eating disorder, I thought it might be a good topic to discuss.  I know how the behavior manifests, but figured it would be good to see how compulsion is actually defined and then assess how it resonates to me.

    So, definition number one doesn’t match.  Nobody forces me to overeat, eat when I’m not hungry, eat and keep eating, etc.

    Definition number two?  Yes, that’s the one. If there’s a way to highlight words in WordPress, I can’t figure it out, but if I could, I owuld highlight “irresistible” and “against one’s conscious wishes”.  Yes, I really do feel sometimes as if the urge to eat is irresistible, even unstoppable, and it occurs regardless of my conscious desire to stay on my plan.

    Compulsion is a horrible feeling.  Imagine if you couldn’t control your hand and had to watch while it picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed you in your own thigh.  Yes, that’s a really dramatic image, but it serves a point.  When compulsion overcomes my conscious wish and give in to the irresistible urge to eat, I hurt myself — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

    I wish the weight loss surgery had also removed the compulsion, but it didn’t, so I still struggle with it every day.  However, the surgery set me on the road to a good long period of recovery and weight loss.  I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been, so while I have my off periods, I believe in myself.  I’m definitely not going to gain back my weight.  Ultimately, I have come to believe that with the help of a Higher Power, a program, and all of the tools at ready, I am stronger than the compulsion.

    One of the big tools is to set myself up for success instead of creating situations where failure is more likely.  For example, being in the vicinity of bags of candy for Halloween — that’s a big time, doomed-to-fail scenario.  I am absolutely capable of compulsively eating piece, after piece, after mini-piece of candy until I’m sick to my stomach.  Setting myself up for success means not buying the bags and having them in the house.

    You see, once I start, it honestly does feel sometimes like I can’t stop myself.   The time to bring all of the weapons forward to beat back the compulsion is before I take the first piece.  The call to action needs to happen while I still have conscious thought — and when I’m still conscious and aware that the compulsion is bubbling up.

    I’d like to substitute healthier, more positive behaviors for the destructive compulsive ones.  That’s been an ongoing effort.  Exercising consistently.  Practicing good, positive thinking.  Reshaping those old truths.  Exploring the flavors of healthy food and experimenting with new-to-me foods and cooking techniques.  These are all positives.  They take practice.  Continual practice.

    Also on the positive side is recognizing that I have an addictive personality.  If it wasn’t food that became my drug of choice, I know I’d be addicted to drugs or alcohol.  There was a time when I was hooked on cigarettes and also a regular pot smoker.  In the early 80s when I lost more than 100 pounds on an extremely restrictive, medically supervised, diet, I did not yet know that I had an eating disorder, so I wasn’t in any kind of treatment to help me understand and deal with the other aspects of the disorder.  I was only eating nine ounces of protein a day and I wasn’t drinking alcohol when I went out to the clubs three or four nights a week with my friends.  So, I still needed something to make up for the lack of food as a coping mechanism.   I started getting high almost every night.

    Although I spent a lot of years partying in rock clubs with my friends, I didn’t drink to drunkenness every  night and I wasn’t much for drinking at night when I was at home.  I think observing and dealing with my mother’s alcoholism probably contributed to me not making that my addiction.

    I gave up pot a long time ago and have no desire to pick it up again, even on rare, recreational occasions.  I was never into coke or other illegal drugs.  I also tend to avoid prescription pain killers unless absolutely necessary — as in the pain level I’m feeling is at least an 8 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unimaginable pain.  Even after surgery when I was recovering at home, I only took a couple of doses of the pain medicine the doctor prescribed.  Today the orthopedic doctor offered to write me a scrip for a stronger medication than over-the-counter pain relievers.  I politely declined.  I’d rather not have it in the house and run the risk of swapping one addiction or compulsion for another.

    Compulsion is ugly, challenging, frustrating and, sometimes, disheartening.  When all is said and done, however,  I refuse to be its victim.  I’m going to borrow from one of my favorite television shows, Scandal, and imagine myself as a gladiator.  I may not win every battle, but I do not run from the war.



Instead of Eating

Compulsively eating or binge eating were my go-to behaviors when stressed/upset/angry/sad/fearful/pick-an-emotion for so long. Developing another strategy and coming up with different coping behaviors is an on-going effort. There are always better choices, but making those choices when I’m in the midst of the emotional reaction or situation is always a big time challenge.

The fact is that I really don’t “need” those old behaviors in order to cope. Binge eating or chowing down on chocolate or some other sweet doesn’t really make it easier to cope. A candy bar never solved a problem.

I need to remind myself of that every time I’m tempted to relapse into disease behavior because of an upsetting situation. The candy bar, handful of cookies, half pint of ice cream or whatever won’t solve the problem. Thinking that they’ll help me cope is a convenient, comfortable lie. Not only will they not make me feel better, eating them in that compulsive manner usually makes me feel worse.

Today I had tons more stress over some things at work than is normal. I can’t tell you how many times I remembered that there were still plenty of cookies, brownies and pastries in the kitchen and heard my brain say, “You need one. Go get it.”

I don’t need one, or six. That’s the truth. What I needed, and worked for, was to not compound the upset by binging out on sweets. I drank water and hot tea. I got up and took a walk. I focused on the tasks at hand. I vented a little. In short, I did whatever else I could instead of acting out by eating. At the end of the day, I was still stressed by the situations and workload, but I definitely felt better about it all than I would have if I’d eaten junk.

The long and short of it all is that there are countless other things to do instead of eat. Remembering this before I eat, is the key. It goes back to being mindful and making the most appropriate choices to foster my recovery.


Post 500 – Anything Can Be a Binge Food

I can’t believe that this is the 500th Weighty Matters post! Thank you again for coming here and reading. Whether you comment a lot, a little, or simply lurk, I appreciate you adding your energy to the atmosphere and that you witness my journey. It helps me keep it real.

As you know, I have an eating disorder. My disease is compulsive overeating and binge eating. When I am in the grip of the disorder, I eat without thought, powered by compulsion. I will eat, eat, and eat some more. Binge eating meant I would do this and consume massive quantities of food. I wasn’t bulimic and wouldn’t purge. I’d just eat to the point of being incredibly uncomfortable and stuffed. If the binge mode was really strong, I’d wait until my stomach opened up a little space and then I’d binge some more.

Some folks with eating disorders feel that they need to abstain from certain substances — mostly sugar and/or white flour. I have never made the decision to cut those products out of my life. I’ve had some people argue with me that doing so is absolutely necessary in order to achieve long term recovery and abstinence. I say, while I understand that I’m not terminally unique, I believe that the disease manifests differently in different people. Instead of being addicted to particular products, I was more addicted to volume.

I also 100%, unequivocally, believe that anything can be a binge food. It doesn’t have to be sweets or white flour-based products. Pick a food, any food, and a binge eater could overload on it. You see, it isn’t about the actual food item. The root of the disease is the behavior itself. It’s eating when not hungry and eating more than an appropriate portion. It’s eating food compulsively instead of consuming what was intended. If I needed to binge and all that I had in my house were condiments, I’d probably pile up on ketchup and mayonnaise.

This is important for me to remember. Although my bariatric surgery provided me the fabulous tool of a drastically smaller stomach which limits the volume of food I can eat, it does not safeguard against me eating compulsively. So, recovery for me means abstaining from the compulsive behavior and the binging. Yes, even though the quantity of a post-surgery binge is far smaller, I can still eat more than I should, which makes my smaller stomach uncomfortable. It can even make me purge – which I hate.

There are some trigger foods that I am better off avoiding. I still wouldn’t want to trust myself and my recovery around pizza, unless I’m sharing with a group of friends. While I don’t deny myself the occasional baked goody, it’s better for me to not stock up on a supply in the house, but to purchase a smaller, single item when I really, really want the treat. I’m okay with keeping popping corn around for sometimes, but not so potato chips. This is about setting myself up for success. If I don’t keep binge quantities around, I don’t binge. It’s an almost simple equation.

Managing my food takes practice. It’s still a learning experience for me. Sometimes I do great and sometimes I screw up. Sometimes my disease whispers coaxing little lies to me that I can handle the disease no matter what and it tempts me to bring in larger quantities of potential trouble foods. Other times, my recovery is so strong and my mindset crystal clear enough to say “No” to that little voice.

I win more than I lose these days. My recovery isn’t perfect, but it continues. I’ve never maintained a significant weight loss effort for two years before and I’m only a few weeks away from my surgiversary. I want my awareness to stay strong so that I keep focusing on abandoning the diseased behavior and adopting the new, improved, healthier way of living. If I remember that anything can be a binge food so I need to keep my intent on correcting the behavior, I’ll continue to do well.