Apparently, I love getting high. It seems as if I’ll do anything to get those neurons firing, that dopamine pumping–even at the expense of myself. I talk openly about my addictions–and believe me, there are many–for the sole purpose of removing shame. The word addict invites hushed tones and downcast eyes, and people often fear saying the word out loud because of the weight of it, the stigma attached to it. But it’s just a word, like any other word, and why give addict the weight of boulders? Why let that word win? I’ve waged wars against my addictions to alcohol and cocaine, and I’m winning, but today I realized I’ve yet another hurdle to overcome…
My addiction to carbohydrates.
This isn’t a joke; admission of this affliction isn’t meant to be pithy, flippant or poetic. This is real. These aren’t pretty words on a screen; this is my life, my voice saying, yet again, I am done. My need for visceral intense gratification is pronounced, and it took me sitting across from my nutritionist to realize that I’m not waging a war against my body or a battle against a certain kind of food, no, I’m fighting my need to be temporarily anesthetized. The quiet disquiet of not being present. Because it could be cupcakes, salt, coke, benzos, white wine–the thing in and of itself isn’t the issue, it’s my need to smother uncertainty, discomfort, pain with something that has the propensity to deliver pleasure.
Even as I type this, I have to close my eyes and say, I’m fucking back here. Again. Another fucking addiction. But then I remind myself that addiction never goes away, it lies dormant. It’s that innocuous, uninvited lover who will never leave. This is another lover I’ll have to overcome.
After months of being uncomfortable in my own skin, of sensing that something with regard to my food choices was off, I booked a session (and have plans to purchase a three-month package) with an incredible food coach, Dana James. My intake session included an extensive review of my medical history, diet history, eating behaviors and lifestyle (based on an interview and 14-page questionnaire + 3-day food diary I had to complete prior to the appointment), as well as the following:
• Review of my three-day food diary and how to improve it
• Education on why I’m experiencing my particular symptoms
• Coaching on how to commit to my goals and achieve my plan
• Bioimpedance test for my body fat % and weight
• Determination of my BMR (basal metabolic rate)
• Assessment of my nutrient deficiencies
• Three-day kick-start nutrition plan that I can start tomorrow
• Targeted supplement plan to promote the rapid achievement of my goal
• Action plan to attenuate my symptoms and achieve my health goal
I haven’t weighed myself in years, and when I accidentally saw my weight on this insane machine, which also assessed my BMR and % of muscle fat, it took everything in me not to burst into tears. After the shock wore off, Dana sat me down and gave me the positives, of which there were many:
• A significant percentage of the weight was actually muscle. My muscle mass is greater than average for women of my age, height and size. Essentially, I’m a strong woman hiding under a layer of carb fat.
• A percentage of the weight is water weight (due to said carb/sugar problem), and will immediately drop once I get my food game on track
• I’m already heavily educated about food, label reading, etc
• My workout regimen is pretty strong
• I love food, veggies, and I love to cook
Dana assured me that I’ve got an excellent foundation from which to work, but I have to tackle some real issues when it comes to food combinations and the balance of food in my diet. When I showed her my food diary, I felt triumphant, excited, until she kindly and methodically dissected every meal, which revealed a predilection (wait, haha, strike that) an addiction to carbs. Even before my blood work gets back, which will reveal my food allergies and sensitivities, Dana already assessed that my insulin levels are through the roof (confirmed by my GP, who has already warned me about the sugar in my diet), and that is really my sole issue. That, and the fact that I’m overdoing it with the nuts. While I thought I was eating healthy, I learned that my breakfast shakes were more suited for men who lift, and that my vegan acai bowls are adding layers and layers. In short, I’m not making the right choices for my body and lifestyle.
KIND bars (at this point bars of any kind), nut butters, nuts, simple carbs, Truvia, rice milk are in the bin. For now. For the next month, I’m focused on a very simple, balanced meal plan that will focus on meal diversity/balance, and will introduce new foods into my diet (new, healthier foods trigger dopamine while burning fat, while simple carbs just trigger dopamine and encourage fat storage rather than fat burn). Since I’m a Type-A addict, I’m eating every three hours, with three meals a day and 2 snacks. Twice a week, I can enjoy a wonderful meal without freaking out, because as Dana says, this is life, not imprisonment.
For the time being, I’m going to cool with it with the sweets. So, friends, if you’re looking for cakes please search the archives, because I’ve got to get focused. I’ve got to take back my life. Dana has supplied me with a realistic plan (and back-up plan for days when I’m in the office), and I’ll be sharing my journey (and any lessons/tips I learn along the way) on this space over the next few months. My plan is to see Dana weekly, keep a food diary, and really commit to changing the way I eat so I can be mindful in the choices I make and feel good about them.
As I retrain my body to ween myself off sugar and simple carbs, Dana warned me that I might have the perception of being hungry, when in fact this is my addiction saying, FEED ME. She’s also supplied me with professional-grade supplements that will battle my sugar cravings, as well as supply me with the Omega 3s I’m missing since I abhor fish.
I’m going to be candid–I’m not comfortable sharing everything with you just yet. But I am comfortable in sharing this first step and the fact that I need help and a plan. As the weeks and months progress, I know that sharing will become easier. I also know that this is hard work, but I’m committed to it. Just as I’ve been committed to staying sober. Because this is my one life, and I’m going to live the fuck out of it.
Note: I’m sharing my progress and tips that work specifically for me and my journey. These posts are meant to inspire mindfulness rather than emulation. In short, what works for me might not work for you.