Sunday, November 15, 2015

Beating the food craving monster

Hi all you mysterious readers somewhere out there on the Internet! I apologize for the long absence. This poor little blog of mine has been forgotten about as I've adjusted to a new life and new routine. Gotta be honest with you - I used to write all of my entries while I was bored at work. At my current job, though, I do not have this problem. Which is great (for me)! I have lots of exciting things to write about today, because I've made significant progress in the past 6 months. And then I'll probably disappear for a while again.

As you know if you've been reading this blog, I've been working really hard for a long time on being healthier, and thus happier. Genki-er! The biggest problem I was having was a number of digestive issues, so I have significantly changed my diet in order solve those. I started with an elimination diet, which I did until I was feeling well for a long period of time, and then have been testing different foods one at a time.

At this point in time, I know that I do not do well with dairy, gluten, soy, and cabbage. I have successfully brought back in to my diet eggs, black tea, and pumpkin in small amounts. Being able to eat eggs has been HUGE for me. It opens up worlds, from eating eggs as a cheap and healthy protein source, to being able to occasionally eat gluten free baked items. I actually had eggs and toast for breakfast last weekend!

While I've been primarily focused on digestion and healing my gut, this elimination diet has come with a lot of other great side effects that happened so gradually that I didn't really notice anything changed until suddenly it was a drastic difference.

I've talked before about food cravings, and how difficult of a beast that is to deal with. I purposely don't buy food that might tempt me, because a bag of cookies containing 11 servings would disappear in one sitting. And to the dismay of some of my readers here, when I was given cookies or chocolate or something else I couldn't eat, I would politely accept it, take it home, and immediately throw it away. If I kept it in my house for longer than a day, I would always end up caving and eating it. Even with no snacks at all in my house, I would sometimes desperately eat strange items that I was ashamed to admit to, like spooning straight sugar and sesame seeds into my mouth. I hated myself for this, beat myself up about it, and felt really guilty and shameful. Not only was the sugar not healthy, these emotions were really not healthy.

A few months ago, it suddenly dawned on my that I hadn't eaten my way through an entire bag of chips, rice cakes, etc in one sitting for a very long time. It used to be something that happened every weekend. For more than a year I kept track of my calorie intake with my Fitbit app, and despite my best efforts it wasn't uncommon for me to go one or two thousand (or even more) calories over my daily goal on the weekends. But that trend changed, and with very little effort I found I was sticking to my goals every day, even on Saturday and Sunday. Guys, this is AMAZING!

Here's my theory. My elimination diet has forced me to significantly reduce carbs in my diet. Carbs are addictive, because it just gets processed in to sugar by your body, and we know sugar is addictive. It feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, throwing off the balance of your microbiome, the affects of which doctors and scientists are only just beginning to understand. It also acts like a drug in stimulating the pleasure centers in your brain. Hence my ridiculous cravings while I was trying to be healthier. But my elimination diet gave me really strict rules that I couldn't bend or break without having to start all over again with the whole process. By not being able to eat almost all processed foods as well as baked goods and a number of other items, I made it through the withdrawal and reached a point where I no longer consistently crave these things.


And you want to know what the other great side effect of all this has been?? I discovered yesterday that in the past six months I've lost 13 lbs (almost 6 kg). *jaw drop* Not only have I reached my goal of getting back to the weight I was when I graduated college, I've even dropped slightly below that. And I'm still working out regularly, including more weight lifting than I used to do, so it's not muscle that I've lost. I think I look really strong and lean now, and I feel amazing!

Goofing around taking celebratory pictures with my mom.

It's been an incredibly challenging journey, and it's not over yet, but I'm finally seeing significant success and it has been totally worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is fantastic! I'm wondering, in addition to the carb-sugar connection, I wonder if certain food sensitivities could cause addictive type reactions? Also I wonder if we aren't digesting well over a period of time, we could be missing certain nutrients, driving cravings (even if those nutrients we're missing aren't actually in whatever we end up binging on). Anyway, great discovery...a healthier diet, with less carbs and cutting out food you're sensitive to, can eliminate cravings! Way to go!