Thursday, June 11, 2015

Step 1: Admitting I Have A Problem (I Have A Problem)

I'm in Rehab, you guys.

Which feels so glamorous to say. 
Don't get mad. 
I know addiction is serious. 
I come from a long lineage of alcoholics and addicts, so I know the reality of what it really means. But I have always been the boring one, the one to say no, I'm good, thanks. I don't drink, don't smoke. 
What do I do?

I am a hummingbird, I tell people, which makes me feel exotic and light when really I am just saying I exist on sugar. Chocolate croissants for breakfast, nutella on bananas, fruit juice, jelly beans, cookies, donuts, those little granulated jelly slices that look like an orange? I am an equal opportunity sugar-slut. You got it, I'll eat it. And if you don't got it, I'll go out and get some.

The only thing more boring to me than trying to find a specific type of hinge in Home Depot is listening to people rattle on about their diets. Learning dietary information is like trying to swallow a big vitamin. My throat closes up. I shut down. Can't. Get. It. In. But I also can't seem to ignore all the connections between diet and autoimmune disease. Gut, brain & neurons, oh my! And fuck it if I'm not a mom who owes it to my kids to wander the cement wide aisles of Home Depot while trying to swallow a very dry vitamin.

Gulp. Here we go.
I checked in this morning. And by "check in" I mean I stopped at Starbucks for a venti chai and a chocolate croissant before I had my first meeting with the nutritionist. It's not actually a residential program, but I'm going to pretend it is because that will make me take it more seriously, and yeah, it also makes it more glamorous. I am at The Betty for mah belly.

(Let me just say that I am grateful that heroin is not my drug of choice. If it were, I would be dead. In anticipation of my appointment this morning, I went on a bender last night with some pharmaceutical-grade Tollhouse cookie dough. I actually felt nauseated, I ate so much.)

(But not sick enough that I didn't have two cookies when I woke up this morning.)

My "sponsor" is a woman named Willie who I already love. Like any good sponsor, she said I can call her anytime, day or night. Which is good, because already she warned me that people with autoimmune diseases cannot tolerate gluten, and most likely dairy. Sugar is a natural no. Over the next 4 months I will be getting blood work done to see what's going on in my gut, and together we will teach me how to eat again.

More importantly, she will teach me how to eat so that my children will grow up seeing their parents eat (and stay) healthy. Lead by example, and all that...

You probably already know this, but I learned that sugar produces a release of dopamine from the reward center of the brain, a response that mimics that generated by taking drugs. And this is not just sugar found in the usual suspects, but sugar found in processed foods, breads, grilled cheese, all my go-tos. All this time I have felt secretly (I hope) smug that I somehow ducked the genetic addiction that strangles so many people in my family, only to find out that I am just as addicted as anyone else. I'm just not as fun at parties.

So that's that. God grant me the serenity...


p.s. I will try not to talk too much about this, both in real life or on this blog because shut the fuck up, that's why. Unless you're interested. In which case, keep coming back, it works if you work it.


Emily S said...

You can talk your face off to me about this. I'm in the same boat. No drink, no smoke, no soda or caffeine even. But if I don't get my daily heap of sugar (preferably Double Stuff Oreos), I turn into a jangly miserable mess. I had gestational diabetes and stayed off the sugar so I know it's possible, and I also know it's possible to lose your taste for it. I know you can do it, plus you have a sponsor! Show us that there's life and fun and non-boringness on the other side!

Mr. X said...

To me, it's exhausting trying to figure-out what to eat. And, perhaps more importantly, what NOT to eat. That probably seems absurd, right? I mean, eat FOOD, right?

Well, WHICH food?

It depends on the person. Are they "normal" or "broken" (like I consider myself)? A healthy person might appear to do well with eggs. (But, how much and for how long?) But, a compromised person might have a reaction. Personally, I have a shellfish allergy.

Then, there's surviving versus thriving.

A person may be able to eat eggs (or, milk, or shellfish, or...), but does that mean it's optimal? Again, it depends on who one asks. It would appear the 'science' is far from settled on many topics. I think this is evidenced by the endless debates among all the "experts." There's financial interests, too. Meanwhile, people continue to get sicker and heavier.

Anyway, on the topic of sugar, here's an online post I found interesting:

"That sugar lights up certain parts of the brain? Yeah, I've seen those photos, too. Know what ELSE lights up the same part of the brain? Puppies. Sex. Laughter. Food. Babies. It's the PLEASURE center. Anything that brings one pleasure will light up the exact same parts of the brain."

The devil is in the details and there are lots of sweeping statements like "Sugar is toxic!" with no qualification or definition of terms.

Items that are high in "sugar" AND not found in nature (i.e. Snickers bar) are probably not ideal. In your current situation, maybe less-than-ideal. But, what about tropical fruits that are high in "sugar," like pineapple? There are certainly people around the world living on high-carb diets comprised of natural foods that are lean and healthy.

Finally, here's the main thing I think you may find interesting.

Starting in 1939 at Duke University, Walter Kempner, MD used the following in his Rice Diet Program:

"white rice, sugar, fruit, fruit juices, vitamins and iron, and provided about 2000 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 700–1000 ml of liquid as fruit and fruit juices. Sodium content was extremely low, about 250 milligrams per day, and chloride content about 100 milligrams per day"

His patients has some remarkable successes—reversing diseases and dropping weight. Even with all that sugar. Most dietitians would probably faint, when considering that diet.

Mr. X

p.s. Damn, I love cookie dough, too!

Mr. X said...

My apologies for my previous, glaucoma-inducing post.

Mr. X

Anonymous said...

I pretty much consider it to be armegeddon if Safeway is out of chocolate cake (distressed emotiji )

Petunia Face said...

You guys are awesome. All the info and support and me, too. Almost as good as cookie dough. ;)

Richie Designs said...

I'm the same. booze - MEH but cookie dough now we're talking! I just jammed tsp of peanut butter full of chocolate chips about 5 seconds ago, you know... before my husband comes home and someone will catch me.

I've been following The Whole 30 diet folks on Instagram. No processed food etc. It seems pretty reasonable in terms of diets or getting your body to detox so you won't kill anyone. Maybe follow them and just watch for a while. It's like sitting next to your sponsor so that maybe you can be sober one day too.

I will always want my coffee with half and half though. I just can't get around it.

Anonymous said...

This is surely a sign the apocalypse is near (and, don't call me Shirley):

Petunia Face said...

Sweet Jesus Not Shirley! The very notion of cocktail wiener pizza is enough to drive me to eat clean. Thank you!

Lisa said...

Oh please, please talk more about the process? I have autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes and Hashi's), and know I should probably be gluten and dairy free, and take all processed foods out of my diet. But how do I do this without feeling like I'm going to die from lack of pastry/cheese/bread/basically everything good in life? And how do I keep my kids satisfied if I'm not bringing that crap home for them? (I suspect my daughter also has sensitivities, but I'm going to hear a lot of whining if I take away her snacks.)

I hope you'll post more about things that work for you and the kids, even good recipes you've found. I think the gut issues affect so many people that don't even have a clue why they're feeling crappy half the time, to some extent probably affect EVERYBODY, so it really could be so useful and inspirational (and could help keep you accountable. :-)

Anonymous said...

Another yes here!! I am experimenting with food myself, because I have this sugar addiction and try to overcome it. At least I only eat "good" chocolates with less preservatives, yet nonetheless it's way too much.

I don't eat much processed food, I like my cooking and I eat balanced meals, but...... I have to have sweets, or I eat around it which means I eat everything in sight until I finally succumb and do eat something sweet. I am known to drive late in the evening to the next Trader Joe's and buy my usual brand of chocolate.

Now, for the past 2 weeks I have cut out meat altogether and I see improvement. My cravings have subsided and I have to explore that meatless vs. sugar cravings some more - as soon as I am back from Europe, where I'll hit every Patisserie in sight.

So yes, please do write about your journey, Betty Crocker, I'd like to compare notes!

Mr. X said...

Here are some free resources from Dr. Alejandro Junger’s "Clean Gut" book and program:

www. cleanprogram .com/clean-gut-the-book.html
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/gut-sample-meal-plan.pdf
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/clean-gut-chapter-1.pdf
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/clean-gut-supplements.pdf
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/gut-recipes.pdf
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/gut-diet.pdf
www. cleanprogram .com/media/files/clean-program-manual.pdf

There's also:

- The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) diet
- The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD)
- The SCD Lifestyle diet
- The Paleo Approach diet
- The Wahls Protocol

All of which aim to address gut dysfunction, and, hopefully, autoimmune conditions.

For those facing an elimination diet, where you will need to stop eating certain foods for a while, I would suggest:

1) You TOTALLY omit the food(s) long enough -- I would suggest three months
2) Omit only one food at a time -- but, this will take longer
3) Re-introduce only ONE food at a time...and, SLOWLY
4) Don't automatically assume you will never be able to eat a particular food again
5) Realize you might NOT be able to eat that food again. (Sorry to be a killjoy.)

The TOTAL and PERSISTENT elimination of a food that's possibly offensive is the only way a person will get to truly get to the root cause. Else, the ongoing, albeit infrequent, transgressions would be akin to continually tearing-off a scab from a wound. It needs time to heal...completely.

A few supplements might help expedite the process -- check Google for some articles and suggestions.

Mr. X

Petunia Face said...

Mr. X for president!

Seriously, you are amazing. Thank you!!!

Cheryl said...

I am cutting out virtually all refined sugar (and artificial sweeteners too), so I would love to hear how you're doing as you go along. I was a "hummingbird" too, but after a couple of weeks without sugar, I am really starting to feel different; clearer, a bit more energy, and hopeful about my future. I have a lupus diagnosis, so the connection to autoimmune diseases is of particular interest to me. All the luck in the world to you!

Anonymous said...

I too struggle. Sugar is my drug of choice. It's bad. I've always been thin so there was never any evidence that I required sugar periodically throughout the day. That's my main problem....At the age of 29 developed rheumatoid arthritis. I have always been aware of the diet/auto immune connection theory. But even with the knowledge I haven't changed. I continue to read about what might be possible with a better diet. But I would rather eat a chocolate croissant for breakfast and Hagen das ice cream for dessert than test the possibilities. Other than this vice I eat a healthy varied diet. Thank you for sharing. I mean that.

Mr. X said...

Dear Hummingbird,

Any updates from Rehab? I'm quite interested in your gut testing, dietary advice, etc.

Last year, I had an "Intestinal Antigenic Permeability Screen" (a.k.a. Leaky Gut) test through Cyrex Labs. Of the seven antigens measured, only one (Actomyosin) was potentially an issue. The "Normal" range is 0.0 to 20. Mine was 19.59. Thus, all my results were "Normal."

(Never mind the fact that I felt/feel like dookie. Treat the labs, not the symptoms. At least I have great blood work!)

Speaking of hummingbirds, I was recently offered Hummingbird Cake as a dessert, at a local restaurant. I declined, but it sounded intriguing. Happily, it contained no hummingbirds.

Your cake-loving friend on the opposite coast,

Mr. X

Petunia Face said...

Mr. X,

This leaky gut thing is one slow-moving train. I have an appt tomorrow, but don't get all my results until 7/14. I hate waiting...

I go back to work in less than two weeks now, so I've been soaking in the kids and summer and doing close to nothing. I promise I will update as soon as I have news!

And hummingbird cake does sound good, if not a little PETA-stic.


Mr. X said...


I'm in agreement about waiting. I don't like it, either. But, with your focus on the family, summer, and the return to work, I'm sure 7/14 will be here before you know it.

One of the things my Doctor keeps telling me is to get a lot of sleep. More than I think I need, if I want to get better. Well,'s 12:42 AM. I did it again. I stayed-up later than I should.


Mr. X

p.s. How is Bryan? We haven't seen HRH (His Royal Handsomeness) in a while.

Johnnie Smith said...
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