Archives for: January 2001, 13
Nattering Testimonial: Thanks for your response to my pumpkin question, Heidi, and for the invitation to write!
It was pretty much my only question for now. In studying the back articles on the web site and the Encyclopedia, I'm finding my questions are being answered, but I wanted to write anyway, out of gratitude. This is quite long, no need to print it on the site if you haven't room, but I just HAD to thank you all.
I've just started the blood type diet last month. I'm blood type A. I feel like I've been moving toward this diet all my life, but was missing the mark, like trying to construct my life from a Swedish furniture kit that was missing a few pieces. I put on my first weight around age six, after my mom let me take back wheat. My colicky baby wheat allergy seemed to have gone away. I've been wrestling with diets ever since. I went on Overeaters Anonymous with my mother when I was a pudgy little nine year old, and have been either dieting or "off the wagon" ever since, creeping back to my bad habits and interrupting them with various malnourishing weight loss programs.
My worst years were 89 to 93, after the Tian-an-Men massacre cut short my year teaching English in Nanjing by two months. I spent three years after that dealing with depression and guilt and work stress, and just let my weight spiral out of control, a hundred extra pounds in four years. After that I made better efforts at maintenance and sporadic dieting, but I still never made it to a healthy weight or a sustainable lifestyle.
Mind you, I was close in many ways. I've known that I'm meat intolerant from the age of 16 and have been a fish eating vegetarian for more than half of my life. I know that artificial sweeteners seemed to clog my system, and that sodas don't make me less thirsty. I know coffee keeps me migraine free. I know I need to drink lots of water every day or suffer all over. I see a good herbalist, and she's given me herbs and supplements that have helped me with skin troubles, mood, energy, immunity troubles, and joint troubles. I know that MSG makes me feel groggy and shtooopid. I know that pineapple is an excellent weight loss food for me. I have begrudgingly admitted that cutting out fatty dairy in favor of tofu and soy milk helps me lose weight and clears up any congestion I might be experiencing.
Yet in examining my diet against the type A food lists, I realized I was still eating like 70-80% avoid foods, and much of the rest were high calorie neutrals. I used wheat breads, pastas, rice and potatoes as daily staples. I ate plenty of sugar. I madly craved and cheated with dairy often. My vegetable choices were replete with nightshades, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers and eggplant. I ate legumes, but was eating the wrong legumes: garbanzo bean hummus, navy beans, and kidney beans. I drank a lot of orange juice. I ate lots of bananas. I'm a good cook with a fetish for strong flavors, and had a LIBRARY of condiments full of vinegar, strong peppers, gelatin, corn syrup, and carrageen. I ate out often with my husband. Mmmm, dessert! Even when I was trying to be good, many meals that are nearly perfect in good restaurants like broiled salmon with spinach salad I had pretty methodically ruined with vinaigrette dressings and big servings of wheat bread and butter.
Doctors I saw were at a loss how I could have such a "healthy" diet, such low blood pressure, such a low cholesterol count, and still be wrestling with over 130 extra lbs. They ALL said to try Weight Watchers. My sister likes Weight Watchers. My best pal from my University days likes Weight Watchers. I hate Weight Watchers. I've never managed more than three days of it. It feels like trying to eat arsenic and math, toxic AND difficult. Now there's a lifestyle. Last year on the advice of a doctor who felt I should lose weight before trying to conceive, I lost 50 lbs by stubbornly returning over and over to the Beverly Hills diet, a stringent food-combining regimen, as often as my energy level would allow. I felt depleted and exhausted, and had to have longer and longer "time-outs" between my fruitarian weight loss weeks, but at least I wasn't doing myself the violence of stomach stapling, which had also been suggested to me.
50 lbs is a good bit of success, but it's been getting harder to sustain it, and I'd just gotten to the point of gaining weight before starting a new weight loss week instead of maintaining between them. Uh oh. The beginning of the end.
Last month two type O friends who follow the BTD diet told me about how it helped their health and showed me their Encyclopedia. I noticed it suggested that type As avoid wheat, which clicked with what my mother had been telling me for years, that I was a wheat-allergic baby, and that maybe avoiding wheat would help me lose weight. I was very resistant to that suggestion. I love wheat starches. I also felt pretty resistant to a lot the other things the book was telling me. The diet seemed terribly and pointlessly restrictive, so many things in my normal diet were "avoids", and so many of those "avoids" are so low in calories: vinegar, tomatoes, shitake mushrooms? Why could they possibly matter? But I also noticed that the "beneficial" fishes corresponded eerily to my favorites, while the "avoid" fishes and seafoods were almost all seafoods I strongly dislike or had begun to eat later in life as "acquired tastes."
I began to rethink the whole notion of "acquired tastes." I thought back to being a picky eater as a skinny kid and remembered that at age four I used to hate tomatoes, peppers, and vinegar. Maybe I'm not a gourmet who broadened her palette, maybe I've been inuring myself to poisons the way a smoker does. Maybe I've been paying for my poisons, just like a smoker does. Despite being a "healthy" fish-eating vegetarian with a low cholesterol count, my food choices weren't working for me, and maybe that DID have something to do with my blood type. And if BTD is a good thing, why do something good halfway?
I went meticulously cold turkey. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area near Berkeley, and I've got access to several excellent health food and organic grocery stores. The stores ain't cheap, but I figure the added expense is easily counteracted by doing most of my own cooking instead of eating out often. I bought tofu and soy milk, wheat free soy sauce, Ezekiel 4:9 bread, greens, pumpkin, berries, fresh garlic, kasha, black beans, olive oil, lentils, artichokes... I made vinegar-free mayonnaise and salad dressing, made "meat loaf" with puree'd canned salmon, bones and all, made potato-free "potato-salad" with Jerusalem artichokes, and made yummy rich pumpkin soup with fresh Indian spices. The only "neutral" things I'm putting in my mouth these days are the dairy free, wheat free brownies I make with lots of extra baker's chocolate. Everything else I've eaten since I started has been "beneficial", right down to switching from sugar and cream to blackstrap molasses and unsweetened soy milk in my coffee.
I've lost 12 lbs in less than a month, even while eating the food-combining no-no of "balanced meals", proteins and starches eaten together! I've lost weight eating blueberry pancakes. I've lost weight eating brownies. I even lose weight eating peanut-butter, whoa! I've felt satisfied, not hungry, and curious about discovering my new foods, not deprived of my old ones. As I was first shopping for the diet, I was rehearsing my apologies to my friends and family in my head, figuring that completely replacing my entire diet all at once would make me a whiney, angry, nasty basket-case, but I feel SO good. Cravings I fought from minute to minute when I was doing food combining, cravings that ruled my life even when I wasn't dieting, have evaporated into contentment and satiety.
My portion sizes have decreased naturally. Two buckwheat-blueberry pancakes are enough. A peanut-butter sandwich made with one slice of Ezekiel bread cut in half is plenty. This freako-bizarre sense of food actually feeding me is very new. I think I've been malnourished all my life. Malnutrition as fat. How bloody American. I've been compensating for food not actually feeding me by eating too much of it.
All through the diet world dieticians, hypnotists, gurus, and "normal" people told me to try and listen to my body, to feel that "enough is enough" sensation, to stop when I was no longer hungry instead of stopping when I was full. I never understood their crazy-ass martian talk. "Enough is Enough?" Nonsense! "Satisfied" to me meant not being able to eat another bite without being sick. If I was not bursting full, I was still craving. For the first time in recent memory, normal and even small portions are enough. I'm finding pleasure not just in the sensual process of eating, but in the warm, blissed, sated state of HAVING EATEN.
I don't know how I'll feel when more time has gone by, when the romance of the new diet is over and I'm trying to make it work as a "lifestyle," that elusive and abstract thing that I've never been able to sustain. I don't know how well I'll do reintroducing neutrals when I want to start a maintenance program. I don't know how I'll do months from now when all my pals who are good cooks start offering me their homebaked christmas goodies and saying "oh, one won't hurt you." But all that aside, I have to say, so far, this diet feels really, really different. My brain keeps repeating the word "FINALLY!" like I'm FINALLY coming home, like I FINALLY understand the impenetrable algorithm of "being fed", like I FINALLY bought a furniture kit with all the parts.
Uhhmmm.... wow. I feel presumptuous adding anything at all to this column. Morrisa, what a thrilling report, not to mention a great read. :-)
From the report of your weight loss rate, satiety, and energy, it's quite evident that you've "come home."
While I don't want to spoil the many surprises on their way to you, I'll offer a brief prediction on what to expect when the honeymoon's over. This is a little saying I overuse, but here it comes again: in a relatively short period of time, the diet begins to "do itself." Instead of requiring ever-increasing vigilance, it builds a growing sense of ease and naturalness. Once you've been following it for a few weeks, that ease becomes the default digestive setting ~~ eating an avoid will prompt the body to send up a clear "spike" from that stable level. Further on, a handy Pavlovian effect comes into play even before the avoid has reached the mouth. The mere sight of the poison prompts an unpleasant little multimedia display to pop up on the mind's screen... replete with pre-verbal concepts best described as "Eeewwwww!" -- sense-memories of dis-ease, danger, frustration, pain, heaviness, a tightening of the throat and stomach -- and perhaps a flashing light or two. Something along the lines of what early agrarians must have felt upon seeing an asp among the reeds.
I'm going to stop short of getting into the neurochemistry of it all, but be reassured that by the time the Holidays arrive, your polite acceptance of a proferred treat or two will make nary a dent in the lifestyle (yes!) which has made itself your own.
At this moment, I'm just tremendously happy for you ~~ and most appreciative that you chose to share your pains & triumphs with us. Many thanks! More nattering at your convenience, please! and of course, questions are always welcome! :-D
Oh! I almost forgot: You might be interested to learn that one of Peter's hobbies is fine carpentry. ;-> take good care, dear, and do write again.