Thursday, September 27, 2012

south beach

So, my doctor put me on a diet.  Not a weight-loss diet, although I may lose some.  But a sugar diet.  It turns out, it's actually not completely normal to feel shaky, light-headed, nauseated, and head-achy every 2-3 hours.  Which is how I felt.  Sometimes, if I went 4-5 hours without eating, my vision would start to tunnel every time I stood up.  So a few months ago, I went into the doctor to find out what the heck was wrong with me.  She listened to my symptoms, did a physical, and told me without much hesitation that I was hypoglycemic. 

"Ok great.  What do I do?" I asked.

"Well, you need to change the way you eat."

"Ok, fine.  Do you have some kind of hypoglycemia diet I should follow?"

"Really, the best thing you can do is follow the South Beach Diet."

The South Beach Diet : The Delicious, Doctor-Designed, Foolproof Plan for Fast and Healthy Weight Loss
(the book)

I knew all about the South Beach Diet, because various family members had tried it about a decade ago.  There was no way I was interested in giving up every bread.  I am not a low-carb kind of person.  "Oh, don't you have a handout or something?"  I wanted her to tell me to eat more fruit or something.

"No, not really, but you could look at the South Beach Diet."

"Ok.  Are there some general guidelines I could follow?  Just sort of, you know, generally?"

"Yes.  The South Beach Diet."

OKAY.  I get it.  South Beach Diet.  But this was a month before the wedding, when we had bitten off way more than we could chew in terms of work/fixing beach house/wedding planning/family visiting/etc., so I decided to just table it for the time being, and gave myself permission to just eat when I was hungry without worrying about what it was.  I gained roughly 10 pounds in as many weeks.  And was still miserable, and hungry all. the. time.  (I feel as though I should clarify here -- I am actually not a big junk food eater.  Usually I was eating a salad and bread for lunch, and crackers mid-afternoon, and then cheese and more crackers when I got home, and dinner. Or something like that. I don't really eat sweets because I don't like them much. So when I say whatever I want, it's not like I ate three cupcakes a day or something. That's why the 10 lbs. in 10 weeks was so shocking.)

I am no doctor, but the theory is that ironically, if you have low blood sugar, you need to avoid sugar, because it triggers your body into overproducing insulin, and drives your blood sugar lower than it was in the first place.  It's like a sugar roller-coaster.  Avoiding simple sugars makes it so the insulin production is slower and more level, so the blood sugar doesn't dip dangerously low.  So finally, after much resistance (and in lieu of buying all new pants) I decided to try the South Beach Diet.  I went and bought the book.  This was Monday.

Monday afternoon I sat down in the Qdoba in the food court in my building with a plate of lunch and the book, and started reading it.  Halfway through my black beans and rice, I was crying.  This was not just "eat more nuts" or "try to only have half the bagel at a time."  It is a pretty serious overhaul of the way I eat -- it requires cutting out all sugar and white flour for two weeks, and then adding back in basically only naturally occurring sugar (like fruit or whole grains).  FOREVER.  Which is why it will actually manage the hypoglycemia -- because I will not be eating processed sugar or white flour or starchy root vegetables. Ever again. 

If I was on the South Beach Diet for weight loss purposes, once I hit the weight I wanted I might be able to add those things back in, occasionally and in moderation.  But that's not why I am on it.  I'm on it for sugar-management purposes, which means I have to continue to follow it, or the symptoms will come right back.  Which means no bagels, and no beer.  At all.  Apparently beer, my beverage of choice, is chock-full of quickly digested sugars and one of the worst things you can drink, especially on an empty stomach, if you have sugar problems. 

I knew eating was an emotional thing, but it surprised me how upsetting it was to learn that I had to actually overhaul the entire way I ate and never go back.  I am hoping that this means I will have a decent amount of success actually doing it, because it has definitely sunk in that this is a lifestyle-type change, not just "eat more fruit" or "try not to have so much desert." 

So, while I probably won't write about it in much detail in the future, because talking about eating all the time is boring, I did want to write a little because it was so surprising to me (1) how much resistance I put up when even looking into this in the first place, and (2) how strongly I reacted to cutting out bagels that I never used to really eat that often in the first place.

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