I have been on one diet or another practically my entire life, since I was 11 years old. From Atkins to Weight Watchers, including Nutrisystems and diet pills. They might work in the short term, but none of them are something that be sustained long term and even if I did lose weight on any one program, I gained it all back again and more.
Most diets are very restrictive, either in the amount of calories, or in the mentality of “good food vs bad food”. Nutrisystems liked to bully people into losing weight. Weight Watchers felt like a cheerleading squad who would cheer when they weighed you, providing you lost something, even a quarter of a pound, and chided you if didn’t lose, or worse (gasp) gained a pound. The food on both programs were nothing I’d want to spend my life eating.
I finally got to the point where I gave up. I was never going to be good enough.. good enough at losing weight, good enough at succeeding and good enough just the way I was.
Years, later, I would read a book called Dietland that illustrated everything I had gone through during those diet days. I started researching body acceptance and realized I was not alone in my frustration and anger about how I was being treated because of my size. There are hundreds out there just like me.
So I gave up and started listening to my body about it wanted. Often it was pasta but just as often it was raw ripe tomatoes and crisp iceberg lettuce and salads of all kinds and lots of fresh fruit.
The only time I had to adjust my diet was when I was in chemotherapy for Lymphoma. Chemo made me very sick, in spite of taking two anti-nausea pills. My beloved salads, tomatoes and onions were out. I just couldn’t stomach them. I had to resort to what I called my “white diet”, the only food that would stay down and not cause heartburn; potatoes (mostly baked and mashed), white bread, tuna fish, chicken, vanilla ice cream (I drank a lot of vanilla milkshakes), milk, steamed white rice… it was pretty limited. I ended up losing 50 pounds, which was not my intent, and frustrated my oncologist. I was told to not lose anymore weight while in treatment as the infusions are based on your size, and losing weight throws the equations off. It’s hard to eat when your stomach is the one that decides what you can and can’t eat.
After treatment I was so happy to go back to my normal eating pattern. Until lately.
About six months ago I started having night terrors that had me walking up screaming. I hadn’t had these since I was a child, nearly 60 years ago. I thought it was the medication I was taking, so I stopped all meds. The night terrors continued. Nothing seem to help… therapy, meditation, relaxing exercises.
Then one night I recognized the now familiar anxiety that started to build up just before the night terror started. I wasn’t even in bed, but still up and working on the computer. I started shaking and became frantic and then it hit me. This was a sugar rush!!
I knew that carbs convert to sugars, and I ate a lot of pasta and bread and this conversion can take as little as 15-30 minutes. Add to that the fructose from the fruit was eating (oranges, grapes, grapefruit juice) plus some sweets and my blood sugar was spiking. I knew I was not a diabetic, so that was not a concern.
So I did what I usually do and started doing some research and then experimenting. I learned that I didn’t need to change the food I was eating, just change the order and times I was eating them. I found that if I eat fruit and sweets first thing after getting up, and then carbs in the middle of my day (pasta and sandwiches), and keep it to just proteins in the last part of my day, I didn’t have any night terrors, or even anxiety at all. Could it really be that easy? Well, for me it was. I don’t know if this will work for anyone else, as we all are different and all metabolize food in different ways.
I’ve also learned that if I slip in any way, like have a cookie late at night when my sugar cravings are the strongest, I will suffer when I go to sleep.
I now have a routine, or the start of one. About an hour or two before I plan to go to bed I have a piece of lunch meat and a piece of cheese, and some cottage cheese. Sometimes I have a couple of hard boiled eggs or if I’m really ambitious, I make a cheese omelet.
And I was always have a dill pickled with any of it. Why a dill pickle? For some strange reason, the pickle eliminates the leg cramps that I have endured for the past 30 years. If I don’t have the pickle, I get a leg cramp that awakes me from my sleep. If I have the pickle (it only takes a quarter of a whole pickle), I don’t have any leg cramps and I sleep better.
I don’t know why it works and I don’t really care, as long as it works.