Papercut and colored pencil art by Sheryl Aronson X 5

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Can't Have My Cookies And Eat Them, Too

I pride myself on my good diet.  My shopping cart is mostly filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, low fat/fat free milk products, and whole grain products.  This hasn’t been a response to recent pushes to decrease meat and fast food consumption.  I don’t like handling raw meat, and I don’t like the taste of most fast food and prepackaged foods.   I also have a history of digestive issues, including gastroparesis, where the food is not pushed through the stomach like it should be, and an ongoing battle with barely controlled GERD (acid reflux).  My good diet helps to control the GERD, but actually causes problems when the gastroparesis flares up, because the stomach has to work harder to digest raw fruits and veggies than it would softer foods.
We spend many of our weekends at our cabin, and recently I have gotten terrible nausea and GERD flares every time we are there.  It usually flares up right after breakfast, and lasts until after I go to bed, calms down through the night, then flares again the next morning.  Our breakfasts at the cabin are slightly different from those at home because we have more time to eat, but contain nothing that I don’t eat on a regular basis at home.  So I have spent too much time feeling sick, and have been trying to sleuth out the cause.  I will admit that we eat more junk food at the cabin,  there is a little store that has my husband’s favorite brownies, there is an Amish family nearby that sells fresh baked goods out of their home, and my husband likes to have ice cream in the evening, and it just wouldn’t be polite to let him eat alone…  Just to preserve my reputation, I have to point out that my junk food consumption consists of maybe a cookie, half a brownie, and a small serving of ice cream with caramel sauce.  Even at its junkiest, my diet is better than the average American’s daily diet. 
But I wasn’t getting sick the first day at the cabin, and it always started in the morning, not at night, when I ate that stuff.  I was trying various nausea, gas, acid and digestive enzymes, with limited improvement.  So, what was happening to my stomach?  I think I finally figured it out.  I am eating the junk in the afternoon and evening, putting more fat and sugar into my system than it is used to.  My digestive system processes it as best it can.  In the morning, when I introduce my breakfast of fresh fruits, yogurt and bagel, my stomach rebels, saying, “I worked overtime yesterday, I’m off duty.”  My intestines chime in, saying “We’re still working on yesterday’s influx.  Check back with us later.” The food sits there, and the acid in my stomach calls in its friends to help it clean up the roadblock. 
This explanation may not stand up under scientific scrutiny, but it seems plausible to me, given my body’s quirkiness, and tendency to respond in unexpected ways to medications and environmental influences.  I have read about the importance of getting consistent sleep each day, rather than sleeping in on the weekends.  I guess the same holds true for eating, and eating a consistent diet is best.  So I can either increase my junk food intake during the week, or decrease it on weekends.  The former sounds like the best route from the perspective of my tongue, but I suspect that my stomach might rebel everyday if I try that.   So, much to my chagrin, I guess I will need to limit my intake of these junk foods to one, or on occasion, two portions a day.
My message for the day?  Not only to eat healthy, but also eat consistently.  Thanksgiving is coming up soon, a day when Americans traditionally eat to excess, including desserts such as my favorite, pumpkin pie.  I have read suggestions like drinking two glasses of water or eating a small, healthy snack a few hours before the holiday meal, so you will not be so hungry.  I am not sure how much this will help.  It depends on your willpower.  I don’t think hunger plays a very big part in eating at such meals. I think it is more a matter of getting caught up in the holiday mood, and wanting to have some of everything, because it is there.  There is nothing wrong with having some of everything, but take small portions, and pace yourself.  Save your dessert for a snack later, or the next day.  Eat slowly, socialize more.  You will be less likely to take seconds.  If you want seconds, remind yourself what it feels like to be overstuffed. 
When I go out to eat, I frequently come home with leftovers for another meal, sometimes two. I have heard people say that they can’t stop eating, and can never save some food to take home.  This is a matter of training yourself.  Cut the food in half before you begin to eat.  By saying you can’t, you are giving up before you even try.  I know that there will be times when I eat more junk food than I should, and I will have the problems I talked about above.  But I know that this is not a matter of not being able to control myself, but it is a matter of knowing I should and could control myself, but I choose not to.  It isn’t easy to assert control, especially if it is a new skill, and you are confronted by all kinds of goodies.  Remembering the discomfort I will experience if I don’t assert control will help me to be strong.  What is it that will help you be strong and control your overindulging?  

1 comment:

  1. I finally gave up all grain products in my diet and began juicing along with eating very small meals throughout the day. It is not a cure all for my digestive system issues but I am not as bloated and I don't feel the upper gastric pressure nearly as much...I also do not have the gnawing sensation as badly as before. I began the no grain diet with almost instant improvement and began juicing about a month later since I wanted to make sure that I was getting all of nutrients lost from not eating grains. I don't even crave pastries, breads, etc...and the change has been very easy.