Saturday, October 5, 2013

Thinking with my Gut.

The point of this post is not to give you advice on what to eat, how to eat, or even to eat. It is not based on scientific research; it is just a case study on me about what I found. It is not supposed to cure any diseases, ailments, or maladies, but it has helped in my own healing process and road to recovery. Will it do the same for you? No idea. I hope, however, by posting this that you will not only get a few laughs but also, if you are struggling with similar mental and physical problems, you will open your mind to the possibility of change and that change can and does come. 

As I mentioned in a previous post I am changing up my nutrition drastically. Why? I feel like my nutrition is limiting my performance and my life. Since recovering from my last ED relapse, I have been tweaking not only what I eat but also, and more importantly, my perspective on eating.

The key component in changing my perspective on eating is changing what I ate. Everything else, including how I feel about food, how I feel about myself, and even how I related to others, falls into place by changing up my diet.

Let me take you on my journey here:

When I was in the iron grip of my eating disorder. All I thought about was eating. What and when was I going to eat next? How many calories? Would that make me fat? Would that cause inflammation? Would that spike my blood sugar levels? What would people think? Essentially I was obsessed and living in a perpetually state of fear. Living in fear is no way to live a life. I needed a change.

Gradually over the past few years I have experimented with different styles of eating.

Originally I was a card carrying vegetarian, eating no meat but was what people like to call a junk food veggie. Every day, I would eat
bowls of Kashi (the old people on the box were my best friends), a few low fat, whole grain sandwiches with fat free cream cheese and faux, soy tofurkey slices, diet coke, coffee with Splenda and soy milk, and gas station protein bars, which are, let's be honest here, candy bars with protein added.

This diet worked for some time but I began to feel lethargic especially in the afternoon and I needed to eat every two hours or I would get really grumpy and when I say grumpy I mean that I would tear your head off if you talked to me or came in between me and my Diet Coke and fat free ice cream float. In workouts, I was fine as long as I ate. I would eat before, then again twenty minutes in, then another hour I would need something else, and then I would need something more just to get to the finish. When I finished I felt like I could eat a fridge. I was also thinking about food even more than I was when I was anorexic. Instead of liberating myself, I had just added another shackle.

Yep, she has higher
T levels. 
My symptoms of lethargy got worse and worse and I also found that I was not recovering from workouts. It got to the point that I went to see my doctor. It turns out that I was anemic and had low testosterone.
The doctor literally told me that the old women sitting in the waiting room had higher levels of T than I did. I obviously needed a change.

That is when I discovered and began to explore podcasts like Ben Greenfield, Rich Roll, and
Vinnie Tortorich (America’s Angriest Trainer). They were preaching the total opposite of what I had been doing, and if I learned anything from Seinfeld, if something was not working, do the opposite.

Instead of a diet based on grains like I had been doing, they were saying that I should base my diet on fat. Say what? Fat makes you fat! How can this be? They must be talking cray cray.

The other book I high recommend. 
Vinnie's book, which is one of most inspiring
and inspirational that I have read

But honestly they were for real real.

I remember when this first came out
I first had to start to break my phobia of fat, which was VERY hard. I had grown up in an era of low fat—that wonderful time they called the “’90s”. Fat was evil, fat made you fat, no yolks and all whites, fat free foods were “healthier” than high fat, go skim not whole, it was healthy if it was low in fat.

However, the science behind this lifestyle supported why else I was feeling like crap. The soy in my diet was raising my estrogen levels and lowering my testosterone. The grains too were blocking the absorption of key nutrients like iron, which was causing my anemia. Pair that with a lack of meat in my diet and it was a perfect storm for poor performance. Moreover the grains and artificial sweeteners, were affecting my blood sugar in such a way that I was craving food all the time. Even my depression was related to what I was eating. I have not seen any scientific studies, but in my opinion, the high carb diet and lack of fat was messing with my emotions. Everything was interrelated and everything was stemming from what I was eating.

Obviously the change did not happen overnight. It actually took over 18 months and I am still finding things to tweak.
1.    My first step was take out the cereal. No more Kashi, no more Fiber One, no more “Total.” This was the hard considering it had been a staple of my diet since high school, but after listening to how soy and grains can actually decrease T and boost estrogen. It had to go.
2.    After cutting out the cereal (I became a cereal killer, get it? Sorry last bad joke of the day), it only made sense to cut out bread too. I read Wheat Belly which was eye opening. Moreover, my doctor had told me that eating these can block nutrient absorption and cause anemia in certain people. Out!
3.    Without cereal, I had a bunch of soymilk in my fridge, and it would stay right there because I switched to unsweetened almond and coconut milk, which will not spike my estrogen levels.
4.    Speaking of anemia, I realized I needed to bring meat back into my diet. THIS was tough. I became vegetarian for lots of reasons. Believe or not it was to get a girl (Long story for another post) but it was also to lose weight and restrict my eating as much as possible. Over time though it became to stay healthy and also because of animal cruelty. Unfortunately and obviously, I was not staying healthy though, so I had to change that. I may not have been killing an animal but I was killing myself. I began eating meat and fish again but made sure it was organic and humanely treated. If I had to eat it, it better taste good and come from a trusted source.
5.    At this point, I was focusing on trying to get back to natural eating as much as possible. “Nutritional” bars and meal replacements, were as far away from nature as possible, so they go the ax. Sorry Special K. The stock of Kellogg and General Mills actually fell 7% the day I quit. Not sure if that is just correlation or causation.
6. Diet coke, my other vice, was also out. Believe it or not, I do not miss it that much. I love my self more than I love it. As long as I stay hydrated I keep the cravings at bay. Coke's stock also fell that day by 2%. 
So that is a lot of negatives, let’s add some positives. What did I add in? A lot of stuff. 
  1.  I started eating nuts more—not the salted, roasted, and sugar coated ones but the raw ones; coconut in all its many beautiful forms including milk, flakes, and butter; avocado, that beautiful nut, and maybe the athlete’s best friend. I am currently pounding two a day in smoothies and salads; chia seeds and flax seeds are a must to make pudding.
  2. Egg yolks- Before Subway and McDonalds made it “cool” I always ate my eggs white. No yolk at all.
  3. Sardines and other fish-much to the chagrin of my coworkers. I now only eat it at home when I am alone so that others do not have to smell it.
Of course my veggie intake did not remain the same. It actually increased! Veggies now are the base and foundation of every meal. 

My diet was looking clean but it still had lots of holes that I needed to plug. Prominently was my use of artificial sweeteners. Now this was a huge hurdle. I was a chronic user (scratch that, I meant abuser) of this sweet stuff. It was my anorexic’s cocaine. I put it in everything! I carried around a plastic baggie with the stuff just in case I would go somewhere and they would not have it. I would take it from restaurants like I was an old lady. Yep, I had a problem. I eventually switched to stevia, which was slightly better but I was still hooked on the sweet stuff. Thus, two weeks ago, the last domino fell. I took out all the “s” from my diet: “No sugar, no sweetener, no stevia, no shit!”

The first couple days were rough. Really rough. I had to break all the habits that I had formed for over 10 years. I had to stop reaching for the packets when I poured myself some coffee or expect it to taste sweet or expect anything to be sweet. After about three days though it began to get easier. The baristas at Starbucks stopped asking me if I wanted my usual. “No, just strong, tall, and blonde” (like my women).

SO that was a long post, but I hope you got something out of it. Remember though, to change the world outside, you must first change the world inside but thats just my two watts. 


  1. Great post. I especially love the pic with the Splenda and the soldiers! I finally had a realization yesterday that I'm going to have to ditch all dairy. Thanks to Vinnie, I've become rather fond of a little heavy cream in my morning coffee. Alas, none of it is agreeing with me any more. I've got one foot on the vegan train, but still will not ditch the meat.

    1. Dairy is definitely a case by case sensitivity. It depends a lot on how healthy your gut is the quality of the milk, and what you eat it with. For me, I can't have it. My blood sugar goes through the roof even with full fat. There is nothing wrong with being a carnivorous vegan either! I still eat meat on occasion to get my iron in. As long as it comes with a compassionate heart, a moderate hand, and a mindful bite, eat away and give thanks. Thanks for reading, Dianna!