Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sugar or Eating Disorder?

Let's play a game.  It's called "sugar or eating disorder."  I have been a compulsive overeater for pretty much my entire life.  I am more of a grazer than a binge eater.  No disappearing into the closet to consume an entire pizza and half a cake for me, thankyouverymuch.  It doesn't mean that I didn't/don't have disordered eating though.  For a long time, I just didn't realize that not being a binger didn't mean I didn't have food issues (that's a lot of "didn'ts" -- sorry!).  It does mean I would have the compulsion to put food in my mouth pretty much every other minute of every single day.  When I wasn't eating, I was deciding what I would eat next.  It literally took all of my energy figuring out all my food stuff.  [You can read more on my sugar adventure HERE.]

Silly monkey, eat the right food!
So fast forward to now.  I'm almost three months in to following Ellen's eating advice.  She never took anything away from me.  She just made some suggestions and let me follow my own path.  Sugar makes you tired?  Hey, maybe you shouldn't eat that!  Suddenly, less sugar was making me more tired.  Maybe cut down some more!  Then suddenly, now if I eat too much sugar, I get a blinding headache.  All in the span of about two months.  But I never felt like Ellen told me I couldn't eat sugar.  I just started making the choice not to eat something that made me feel like shit.  In fact, at Ellen's birthday over the weekend, I ate about one-quarter of a cupcake and it was too much for me (at least I only got sweaty and tired, I didn't get the headache, but I stopped because I knew my limit).  This coming from a girl who could at least eat one entire cupcake only three months ago.  It didn't take my body long to celebrate the loss of a "food source" it didn't need and start reminding me not to eat it whenever I did.  I've lost about 15 pounds, and that's all from changing the foods I eat, not reducing the calories I eat. 

Yesterday I was listening to a podcast from the 2nd Annual Eating Psychology Online Conference.  He was interviewing a woman about eating disorders.  Granted, they were mostly talking about binge eating disorder, but other disorders were mentioned, and I realized something I hadn't noticed before -- I don't feel that way at all anymore.  No constant compulsion to eat anything and everything at all hours of the day.  I'm not rabidly searching my shelves for sugary snacks at work.  I don't think about what I'm going to eat next as I am eating my current meal/snack.  I actually now have defined meals and snacks instead of leaving food on my desk and literally munching all day long.  I certainly still have A LOT to learn about what to eat and when to eat (just because I work so much and have too many side activities), but I am now eating because my stomach is hungry, not because my head told me I needed to eat.  I am also still making the majority of my meals at home, I have cut out fast food almost completely, and when I do eat out, I am making better choices for myself.  Also -- and this is huge -- when stress hits me, jellybeans are no longer my first thought.

I pondered whether I ever had an eating disorder at all, or if the sugar was just always controlling me. 

I guess that in itself is probably an eating disorder, or at least disordered eating -- whatever you feel comfortable calling it.  And I certainly felt like I transferred addictions after gastric bypass [HERE is another post you can read on the subject].  When I couldn't eat, I shopped.  When I couldn't shop anymore, I started eating again and gained weight.  I took anti-depressants and gained more weight.  I tried diet products and gained even more weight.  But all of that could still have been fueled by too much sugar and processed food in my diet (including the "necessity" of the anti-depressants, which are terrible for my body).  I guess I'll never truly know.  I have so many health issues related to gastric bypass and my food choices.  I can honestly say I probably would not have lived into my 80's or 90's like my grandmothers before me if Ellen had not intervened.  I realize none of us know when our time will come but now I at least feel like I have a fighting chance.  I will be forever grateful to Ellen for sending me down the right path in the food department. 

So saying I never had an eating disorder or have now been cured of one might be dangerous but I certainly do feel better about my life in general since cutting down on sugar.  If you have had similar experiences with sugar, please share them with me.  I love hearing from all of you!

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