Archive for January, 2008

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I am so tired

January 31, 2008

of waiting for my life to begin again

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all round and emofree

January 30, 2008

Tonight I saw my nutritionist for a review of my detection diet journal. I was anxious to hear her take on it all. I had known since our last conversation that she didn’t doubt my suspicions of fructose/sugar intolerance, so I wanted to see what she thought about whatever else might have been bothering me.

I don’t think I mentioned it here, but I have done some more research on fructose, and found out that there are plenty of things I was eating during the elimination diet that could have been causing reactions, such as brown rice and even celery. Additionally, thanks to some google sessions over the weekend and during the first part of the week, I’ve come to feel comfortable with a more general diagnosis of carbohydrate intolerance, specifically intolerance to sugar. I also have a new plan to begin at the end of this week, which I will get to in a moment.

My nutritionist had a few recommendations for me. Unfortunately, one of them was to drink more water. I thought I made the disclaimer somewhere that I drank way too much water (80 – 100 oz per day) to write it down. I had a hard enough time journaling at all; I can’t imagine logging each bottle. I guess I didn’t though, because a whole page of my 12 page brief was on the importance of drinking water. I can’t blame her; I really should have written it down. Otherwise, she noted my need for digestive support, since on the few days that I drank some sort of cleansing tea, I had an elated mood. I told her that I would drink it more often but it was often too harsh for me and she said she would get back to me on suggestions for gentler cleansing teas. She recommended a hydrogen breath test which was great because I recently asked my gastro for one; he said it was an obscure test and he’d get it for me eventually but that it might take some time and investigation. He also wanted a note from the nutritionist specifying which test, because I’m an idiot, so now things are in the works for him to get one. I really don’t quite get why anyone would consider the test obscure, especially not a hip young gastrointerologist on the Upper East Side, but I guess nothing is relative. No different than the naturopath in Harlem who thought I should eat an apple everyday even if it hurt my stomach. Now that I’m taking this into my own hands, I just can’t justify the $50 spent at Whole Foods every third day, the tears, the separate dinners, the cravings fought off, etc. etc. on top of the two years of suffering, if I can’t get an equal effort back from the medical community.

Other suggestions were chlorella and keeping off the coffee. She also gave me a DVD on the Emotional Freedom Technique. I haven’t gotten a chance to explore it, but her demonstration in the office was fairly interesting. She asked me to focus on something that really made my blood boil. The thing is unfortunately this is super easy for me; I just have to picture my last visit to my new general practitioner at the union health center. This guy gently kept me in his office for nearly an hour and a quarter, all the while trying to convince me that my stomach problems were psychological in nature. He said there was nothing wrong with me functionally and since I wasn’t losing weight I obviously was not sick, but rather I just needed “a really good psychiatrist to help me get at the root of whatever deep-seated problem” was causing all of my symptoms. I can’t lie. Sadly this was when I still had the energy for working out, and I was netting 1500 – 1600 calories a day with weekly cardio, strength training and yoga and not losing a pound. It really boggles my mind that I sit in my cubicle all week with my master’s degree so brain-fogged and bloated and sore that I can hardly do my work while this guy makes God knows what to not even keep up with the latest research in his field.

So anyway, I pictured this Doctor. She asked me to say “Even though I’m really angry with this doctor, I’m fully accepting of myself.” About twelve times. Each time she had me tap on a different part of my face. Then I just repeated the phrase “angry at this doctor” over and over again whist tapping myself on the arm and hand. After a few minutes she asked me to relate on a scale from one to ten, how angry the doctor made me. After tapping myself silly I had to admit I wasn’t really angry at the doctor anymore. My husband asked me later in the train if the technique had really made me less angry. I told him that it had been so tactile and silly that I just wasn’t able to concentrate on being angry anymore, so yes, it actually had.

Last night we ordered Self-Help Way to Treat Colitis and Other IBS Disorders on Amazon. I read about the book on a celiac forum, and on a few other places – all anecdotal evidence; several people mentioned it helped them. The premise is that carbohydrate intolerance, specifically intolerance of fructose and lactose, are genuinely responsible for many cases of bowel disorder, and the author promotes a diet that excludes all sugar except minuscule amounts of table sugar, all dairy except yogurt, and fiber. I didn’t know about their instant “read online” upgrade for only a dollar fifty, so after my husband paid twice the price of the book to have it shipped in two days, I upgraded and started reading. Before he left me and the laptop for bed, we laughed about how it would be nice if for once we paid good money to read something completely new and fresh. Well, besides the premise, which despite being relatively fresh, is nowhere near being completely novel, the diet is incredibly different from anything of which I’ve yet heard. I’ll be making just a few tweaks (leaving things out, not adding them in – I’ve learned the hard way) and beginning it on Friday. Strangely this diet allows white bread and potatoes. I am not sure those things will work for me but I am excited about trying a diet that allows them to see if it suits me. Maybe it will just be a sugar-free, dairy-free week between elimination diets or maybe it will be sustainable. I’m just not sure at this point. I’ll be writing lots about the diet in the days to come.

Of course currently I haven’t exactly gone to Taco Bell or anything, but I have been eating all kinds of organic foods that I shouldn’t, like cheese and chocolate and a banana. Today I even had crystallized ginger in grain-sweetened chocolate. I am so paying for it now. Once the sugar bug was triggered, I couldn’t help myself. At my husband’s office after the nutritionist I stealthily managed five pieces of chocolate into my mouth before I realized what I was even doing. Now that I have empirical proof that what I eat does affect me the next day (and sometimes the next) I really have to work on abandoning the I already feel horrible so screw it mindset I’ve grown used to over the past two years. I’ve begun the habit of measuring my waist and hips each morning upon rising and each night before bed. I used to measure a lot, and take pictures, because I actually needed proof that I was dealing with abdominal distention when I went to see doctors. Until I started doing this, I got a less than pathetic response from physicians who probably just thought I didn’t know that I was overweight. Now I could care less what doctors think about my girth; I figure this type of information will serve me well the next time I’m eliminating. This morning I woke up three inches smaller in the waist and two and a half inches smaller in the hips than when I went to bed last night. Of course, this was not due to weight loss but rather the distention subsiding overnight. Now that its bedtime, the 5.5 inches are back!

I really need wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy-free breakfast ideas. Other than hardboiled eggs. After failing so hard on this diet, I wanted so badly to keep abstaining from soy, gluten and wheat; the main foods that I really never minded giving up. However, thinking about giving dairy up again I realized I would really need a substitute for cereals in the morning and for tea. I found Edensoy unsweetened soymilk tonight – the only ingredients are organic soybeans and water, and it tastes amazing.

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Intermission

January 28, 2008

I cheated on Day 13. Which caused a snowball effect. That is still going. I’ve kept it to organic yummy foods but I’m so sick that I could cry. Which is so hard to understand considering how I never got that well while keeping strictly to the diet. I’m going to see my nutritionist tomorrow. If I could just have something a little more expansive than leafy greens then I think I could stick with it for 30 – 90 days.

I have been coffee-free for nearly a week. I just feel sad about that. I have nothing left (legal) that is a comfort for me. Everything is off-limits.

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Day 12

January 23, 2008

“It is certainly delicate,” said my friend with an amused smile, “but I have not been struck up to now with its complexity. It has been a case for intellectual deduction, but when this original intellectual deduction is confirmed point by point by quite a number of independent incidents, then the subjective becomes objective and we can say confidently that we have reached our goal.” – Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire

Twelve days of longing interspersed by craving and occasional manic episodes where I don’t care if I ever eat anything that tastes good ever again are over. Two remain. And I don’t think I would have the benefit that I do tonight without the rampant cheating that I perpetrated tonight. Okay, so given that my nutritionist gave me dairy back on day five, its not really cheating, but today at Bell Bates I picked up an organic spaghetti squash, three more boxes of Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Rooibos, sheep’s milk yogurt, an avocado and a bottle of organic kefir, of which I managed to drink nearly three-fourths over the course of two hours. After the onset of a burning up high in my belly, right below my breast, I noticed that my daily bloating was of pre-elimination diet proportions. This warranted a second look at the kefir label. I think I could have died when I read INULIN…I could not believe I had been so stupid. Inulin is notoriously hard to digest; since I wasn’t taking my probiotic anymore while on the diet, I figured it couldn’t hurt. Just to be sure I looked it up and found that inulins are a “group of naturally occurring polysaccharides (several simple sugars linked together) produced by many types of plants” and “belonging to a class of fibers known as fructans.” (wikipedia) blah blah blah. Inulin is a fructose, one that is “problematic for people with fructose malabsorption.”

I think it would have been a lot better had I stumbled upon a spoonful of crystalline fructose, considering the low digestibility of inulin for many, however, I feel this is a clear lead. Unlike Sherlock, I can’t wrap things up just yet. Not nearly. Something I’ve been eating all week long has not affected me nearly as badly as the kefir, but has been causing symptoms all the same, namely bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Or else, I’ve been doing right by my stomach and the bloating and friends are just residual. I can’t really be sure, but I have to make a decision about the next phase based on an educated guess of sorts. I can either continue with limited, clean dairy and move on with adding things in, or I can take out the dairy completely as I will have eggs to make up for the protein. Clearly re-eliminating dairy will be the smart choice, although I’m exhausted with such limited food choices by now.

Additionally I have not given up coffee completely. This I am chagrined to admit, as one of my pet peeves is the treatment of those of us with gastrointestinal distress as stupid children who don’t know how to stop putting harmful things in our mouths. More on this later, but I will be abstaining tomorrow and indefinitely. I wonder who will get my place in the Starbucks line.

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Whatever day we’re on now

January 21, 2008

I’m sick to death of this diet. I thought keeping this blog would help me hold onto an “on a quest” feeling, but its not really working. Today I made flatbread from amaranth flour and arrowroot powder and olive oil. It was amazing. The recipe, from The Complete Candida Guidebook, makes 8 little flatbreads. Of course I ate them all today. I had four for breakfast and was fine. Quinoa flakes for lunch today made me bloat up. I really don’t know if I am supposed to just deal with the bloating, as something like that probably would never go away in two weeks even if I was doing everything exactly right, or if I’m supposed to take the cue since I bloat every time I eat rice or quinoa. I don’t normally eat these things – except out at a restaurant or something. My nutritionist seems open minded enough but she really wasn’t open to me not eating rice, even though I told her this tended to happen.

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Week one summation

January 20, 2008

Having finished Day 7 of the Elimination Diet, I am now half way through the first and strictest phase.

I’ve made a few discoveries, nothing in big neon lights. There seems to be two types of bloating, one that is up high and starts just below my bra, and one that is down lower, beneath my waist. Obviously one type of bloating is occurring in the stomach and one in the colon. This may seem that it should be more than obvious to someone who has lived with bloating for two years, but I really never understood the difference between the two before. I think this may be because the first bloating I ever noticed was the high kind – I probably got the low bloating before but just thought my belly was poking out a lot. Anyway, the only kind of bloating I’ve gotten on this diet is the low bloating. This kind can be sucked in for appearance concerns and often dissipates in a few hours. Which is good – its the high, stomach bloating that is less comfortable, more painful, and more difficult to hide.

Then there’s my mood. Thursday and Friday of this past week I woke up with most strange sensation – a feeling of utter and complete joy. Even getting my period and horrible cramps couldn’t weigh me down. I don’t know if this was some offending food finally being cleansed out of my diet, or if the feeling stemmed from pride in myself at sticking to the regime. I know that with the dairy added back in (my nutritionist went ahead and allowed simple, clean diary such as goat cheese, organic milk, and natural yogurt) I feel like I’m cheating, so its not likely pride. Friday night I spent an hour or so at the health center getting test results (an MRI that was totally normal) and I knew this would bring me down a bit. Then I also got into a spat with my husband, so by the time Saturday morning rolled around, my mood wasn’t as elated.

Speaking of Saturday, I tried what most folks probably wouldn’t while on this diet. I went on a three-hour Circle Line tour around Manhattan with my husband and some friends and afterward we headed out to a movie. Everyone ate popcorn and drank sodas and even though I brought some Fage with me, I was starving, because of course it was an outing of about seven hours total by the time we were all done with everything.

Other ongoing things – still way less gas, now notably less belching. Today unfortunately, I’m actually a bit constipated. I wonder if this is too much dairy. I’ve basically been living on goat cheese and kohlrabi. I guess I’ve found the things I most enjoy and am sticking with them.

I’m looking forward to the end of this diet. I drank coffee everyday until today – I actually went caffeine-free today until tonight. My husband brought home Dr. Weil’s jasmine white so that I could feel like I’m drinking during our Indiana Jones marathon. So that will be my first caffeine for the day, but I figure I won’t have coffee until Saturday of next week. I’ll add it back in after the fourteenth day, when I get to add eggs.

It’s truly amazing how just being able to smell something makes it easier to deal with not having it. The smells of popcorn, orange juice, coffee, and all sorts of other cravings and temptations have really helped.

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Note

January 17, 2008

I think most people would have planned an undertaking like this diet around their period. I am not most people.