Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let's Talk About Weight!

For the better part of 50 years, I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about... How do you say?... My weight? My body shape? My fatness/fat? Diet? Food? 
All those things!

I've eaten apples all day during the Israeli Army Diet, I learnt that you didn't have to cook broccoli and Brussels sprouts in the Scarsdale Diet, I begrudgingly avoided eating egg yolks in the Pritikin Diet. I've read books about raw foods, juice fasting, dieting and health. 

I thought I was fat!!!
I counted calories. Or, I should say, restricted calories. I used to eat about 500 calories a day, actually feeling good about a grumbling stomach because I knew that I would be losing weight. Or so I thought! Little did I know back then that I didn't actually need to lose weight, I was jiggering up my metabolism, and I was a long way off healthy eating, no matter which way you looked at it!

This was all before I was 20 years old!

In the early '90s I worked for a doctor whose fave topic was Candida. Sugar was eliminated. And wheat. Nilstat was the medication of the day along with Vit C powder (chcccchhhhhh - disgusting) and digestive enzymes. I felt a little bit better, lost a little bit of weight, and had some energy. My husband and I became the sugar police, reading labels for added sugar and confiscating lollies and other sugar-filled stuff that the kids brought home.

February 1996
I've even been a Weight Watchers leader advising fellow weight worriers about the ins and outs of whatever program was 'in' at the time. Deprivation and guilt, overwrought weigh-ins, weight-loss highs, weight-gain lows and obsession with every morsel that touched my lips - these were my emotional companions for 15 years.

During that time I cajoled and cried with my friend as we tried to work out a way to stay 'on track' with our dieting plans. I'm not sure that it worked but it gave me something to scrapbook about!

At the end of 2009 I had lost 16kg with Weight Watchers and joined in their Healthy Life Awards. I was invited to have a makeover and photo shoot to go in Weight Watchers Magazine. I looked and felt fabulous but still had to keep a tight rein on my eating - making decisions about everything I ate as well as how much exercise I did and how much sleep I had.

July 2009
I can't talk about diet, and food and health without mentioning the FAILSAFE diet. When I found out about salicylates and amines and MSG it seemed that everything I  knew about my health (and ill-health) clicked into place. I already avoided all preservatives, artificial colourings and flavourings, and other additives that I knew caused problems so just adding some naturally-occurring chemicals to the list was not that hard to do. I didn't lose weight like many followers of the FAILSAFE diet but I definitely enjoyed the freedom from many of my long-term ailments and a relief from many of my children's behavioural issues.

About 2 years ago I found out that I was suffering from auto-immune thyroiditis - a revelation that came as a complete surprise to me. I had been on a down-hill journey for nearly two years before that so it didn't take long to piece together all the symptoms - anxiety, extreme tiredness, low iron, rapid weight gain (18kg in 3 months), unexplained inflammations, and heart palpitations, to name a few. I immediately started taking thyroxine and I came alive! The most outstanding change for me was that for the first time, in all my life that I can remember, I didn't think about my weight and what I was eating in relation to my weight. What a relief! I didn't put on weight, I didn't lose weight. I didn't even weigh myself. I was overweight but without caring.

Ah! But my excess weight, and all the baggage that comes with it, was starting to take its toll. My thyroid was under control but other discomforts emerged - aching legs and feet, headaches, an impacted gallstone, fatty liver (discovered at the same time as the gallstone), sleep disturbances. 

Half-heartedly, I started thinking about how to lose weight. I asked my doctor what I should do and she suggested the hCG diet! I asked my other doctor and she mumbled something about me eating a lot of carbs, which reminded me that a naturopath had told me to eat four protein meals a day. I thought about applying my Weight Watchers knowledge but it was cumbersome and just another stress added to my stress-filled life.

For the last 15 years (almost) I have lived on the FAILSAFE diet. As the years have flown past I have increased my intake of sugar and carbs, decreased saturated fat and protein in my diet. The number of foods and other chemicals I, and my family, am intolerant to skyrocketed leaving me with a paltry diet of rice and rice products, sugar, chicken and a minimal selection of vegetables. 

When I heard about the low-carb-high-sat-fat diet I was convinced in a day - one seminar, nine speakers, one sudden revelation (and it was sudden!) = my whole family, including me, was suffering from malnutrition and disease. If my ailments were not directly related to weight they were most definitely related to my high-carb diet.

It is ten weeks since I heard about the 'fat revolution' - how saturated fat is not only good for me but is essential for health, how eating saturated fat will not hinder me but actually help me in losing weight, how avoiding saturated fat is detrimental to my well being. 

It is ten weeks since I heard about 'sweet poison' - how sugar is an addictive substance that is harder than cocaine to give up, how sugar is the cause of heart disease, diabetes and cancer, how sugar will not only hinder me in losing weight but will aid weight gain, how eating sugar is detrimental to my well being.

It is ten weeks since I heard about a low carb diet - how grains will damage my gut, how I can live without all carbohydrates in my diet, how carbs are detrimental to my well being.

It is ten weeks since I decided to increase my saturated fat intake, completely eliminate my sugar intake, and to significantly decrease my carb intake. I have not faltered, I have not regretted the choices that I have made.

I have lost 5 kg! I have not done any exercise (other than the movements of my normal daily life - get out of bed, walk downstairs, eat breakfast, walk upstairs, take a shower.... you get the picture!) and, as I said before, "I have added lashings of butter to my eggs each morning, consumed coconut oil by the teaspoonful, and enjoyed cream, sour cream and lots of avocado with every meal."

So, there you go.