Sunday, January 16, 2011


Well, I’m dieting again. This time—for the first time, really—I’m not doing it to lose weight. I am doing it for health.

In the last few months many ideas have come my way about what could be the cause of my illness and possible ways to live with it (or even fix it). From two different, unassociated people in my life came suggestions for supplements that have had obvious and undeniably miraculous benefits for acquaintances. From others, from doctors, and from my own research have come suggestions for radically altering my diet.

The problem has been that most of them contradict each other. For example, one doctor insists I have gastroparesis (although another thinks I don’t). For that, I actually DECREASE the amount of fiber I eat. Someone else thinks it might be a yeast/ph problem. For that, I change my diet to be mostly fruits and vegetables and low or no dairy and meat. A blood test says I have blood sugar issues, and the handbook I got tells me I can go on an extremely restrictive diet for two weeks that is designed to tell me whether I am hypoglycemic. It, however, is heavy on dairy and protein (at least compared to the ph/yeast book).

Yikes! What to do?

Well, I decided to start with one of the supplements, because I had seen the, again, obvious and undeniable results someone near to me got from it. (So incredible, in fact, that Roger has become a dealer for the stuff.) All these people were having miracles because of this stuff—and I really, truly believe them. So why not me?

But . . . not me.

So, then I thought, “Well the only thing we know for sure, because labs have shown it, is that there is a blood sugar issue of some kind.” So I’ve decided to do the incredibly restrictive hypoglycemia diet. It goes for two weeks, and then I can begin adding things back in. To give you an idea of what restrictive means, here is what I can eat:

fowl, fish, meats: all types except lunch meats, hot dogs or anything with fillers--but no breading OR sauces of any kind
veggies: ONLY asparagus, green and wax beans, green peppers, raw mung bean sprouts, beet greens, broccoli, cauliflower, mushroom, tomatoes, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, radishes, spinach, watercress. (No carrots, for example.)
fruits: NONE
desserts: NONE
fats and oils: butter, vegetable oil
bread, bread products, crackers, CEREAL: NONE
beverages: water, broth
plain yogurt.

THAT’S IT. No flour or grain products of any kind.

I had a hard time deciding to do this, because it so obviously contradicts the Word of Wisdom. It sounds too much like the Atkins diet (which I think is evil). But I prayed about it, and felt OK about it since it’s temporary. The point is to sort of re-set the system, see how you feel with basically no sugar, eliminate any sugar addiction, then gradually add back in quality grains, paying attention to how your body (particularly blood sugar) reacts. I can do hard—if it’s temporary.

So. I’ve made it through three days so far. And last night was really, really hard because we went to the Elder’s Quorum social, where these amazing-looking subs were set out, with chips and GUACAMOLE and gooey brownies and all sorts of goodies were set out. Roger said, “The sandwiches weren’t that good,” which amazed me because I realized how often we fill ourselves with carbs that aren’t all that tasty just because they’re there. There was literally NOTHING there that I could eat—except maybe the lettuce and tomato on the sandwiches, but I was worried it would be wet with mayo.

Already I’ve noticed how psychologically addicted I am to carbs. When I feel empty inside, I find myself fantasizing about a big bowl of cheerios, for example. But I eat my cheese and cucumbers and feel fine again. It’s a mind game—I think I NEED oatmeal in the morning, but am surprised to find I do fine with the eggs.

The book says it takes a while to feel the benefits. I really hope that’s true, because I’ve had no improvement yet.

If nothing else, it is a demonstration of faith, I suppose. I can truly say I’ve tried everything.

Oh, and yes, as a side benefit, I have lost weight. 5 pounds already. (Of course, it’ll all come back when I add back in the grains, right?)


Kathleen said...

If you can have wax beans, then you can use them as if they were pasta. I've done that a lot to cut down the carbs, and it works very well.

You can probably use them to make a sort of "mac and cheese" substitute by putting cheese on them.

You can also put meat with chopped tomatoes on them as a "meat and spaghetti" substitute.

It isn't exactly the same, but it can be a lot closer to what you miss than you might think. Use your imagination.

Moriah Jovan said...

I've been trying to leave this post alone all day. Please understand I'm not saying this in any antagonist way, but it's a subject close to my heart.

The first thing I want to say is, this IS the Atkins diet, not just an approximation of it.

Atkins is evil

Dr. Atkins saved my life. I wouldn't have lived long enough to die of diabetic complications before killing myself.

The American Diabetes Association has been slowly coming around to his way of thinking for the last 10 years or so, because it seems...some people don't do so well with carbs.

I guess you know about that now.

The funny thing is how wonderfully it lifted depression for me, eased burdens I'd lived with my entire life--and no greater than when I was gaining weight on low-fat, high-carb Weight Watchers.

...against the Word of Wisdom...

You know, I can't believe that a loving Heavenly Father would require me to obey a commandment that makes me sick, fat, and suicidal.

I lost 150 pounds in 2 years on Atkins, and people at church were so proud of me...until I told them how. And then I got a lot of condemnation, as if I were out smoking and drinking at the bar on Saturday night, then coming to church on Sunday and going to the temple on Wednesday.

I was losing weight, being healthy, but I wasn't doing it THE RIGHT WAY. Well, THE RIGHT WAY makes me fat, sick, and suicidal. But you just can't tell some people.

(Better than that--I was going through the worst period of my life and that eating plan was the only thing that kept me going, kept me sane, kept me out of the cesspool of uncontrolled [and uncontrollable] depression.)

At every temple recommend interview I had, I pointed this out to the bishop(s) and stake president(s), and none of them blinked an eye, so I have to trust that they know what is and is not breaking the Word of Wisdom.

After all, diabetics and pregnant women aren't required to fast on fast Sundays, are they? Why? Because their basic physical health takes precedence.

So all that said...

The first two to three weeks are rough, physically and emotionally.

Drink LOTS of water. I hit my best health (not defined as weight loss, but feeling good, feeling SANE) when I was drinking 2 gallons of water a day.

Once you are in the groove (4-6 weeks), start counting your calories because you won't be eating enough of them. (It's a side effect of fat-induced satiety.)

Avoid processed foods (as in your list) because of the chemicals. Nitrates/nitrites are toxic. Eat natural and raw when you can.

Try to avoid soy anything if you can. This is hard. Almost everything has some form of soy in it (for instance, almost all canned tuna has soy in the liquid).

Munch on things like almonds and macadamia nuts and unsweetened coconut.

Cook with butter or other natural fats.

Stock up on meat, nuts, cheese for the first 2-3 weeks. You will *think* you are hungry (but you aren't). Don't expect to eat normally. Chow down, graze, eat like crazy--just eat the stuff on your list. Do NOT feel bad for what you will probably think is overeating. You're won't be. Trust me.

If you are feeling at all weak or stressed, do NOT attend events where food will be present that will tempt you. I don't care if that's your daughter's wedding reception. If you don't think you can make it, don't go.

Before you cave to a carb craving, H.A.L.T. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Or also, Bored. Find something loaded with the good fats (e.g., macadamia nuts; tuna/chicken salad) and chow down.

...continuing next post, since I ran out of room...

Moriah Jovan said...

...part 2/2...

You'll be going through withdrawal chemically identical to an alcohol going off the bottle. (I mean, after all, beer is just liquid bread.) It won't be easy. But it'll be worth it.

I've been reading your blog for a while now and I knew a year ago you needed this, but of course, it's not my business. But now that you've taken the step, I figured I'd post to say if you are feeling alone in this and need a buddy, email me.

moriah at moriahjovan dot com

Darlene Young said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Kathleen. I wanted to make that substitute tonight while everyone else had spaghetti, but it just took so much extra time (because they were having sauce from a jar--with sugar in it!) that I gave up and had tuna. Guess I'll have to start making much more homemade food. That can't be bad for any of us.

Moriah, thank you so much for your comments. They were both discouraging and encouraging. Discouraging because it made me realize that what I'm hoping for (that I'll feel lots better) would bring bad news (that I can't eat the way I've enjoyed eating up until now). Tell me--have you been able to add in ANY carbs? Did it really take up to three weeks to notice a difference? Because it's been so hard so far . . . And that sourdough bread at dinner was SO tempting . . .

I agree with you, when I really think about it, that different bodies have different needs. Why would eating differently be any different, morally or spiritually, than taking a necessary drug for health? The root of it, really, is my desire for pleasure. I LOVE carbs. I don't crave sugar, but I crave grains. Cereal, mostly. It's nice to feel all righteous and justified about eating them because of the WofW, but that's only because of pleasure, not righteousness.

So . . . you plan to eat that way for the rest of your life? That just sounds so hard . . . (whine, whine). I'm imagining that you really must have experienced amazing and undeniable improvement so that it is worth it to you.

Moriah Jovan said...

I gained it all back, but hear me out:

I was fine until I got pregnant. I was on point, I was lifting weights, I was walking, I was doing EVERYTHING right.

And then I got pregnant and I could not stand the smell or taste of meat. Period.

I was sick for most of my pregnancy (i.e., cold/flu constantly).

Also, it wrecked my sense of smell. Apple juice, chocolate, my perfume, meats (no matter how fresh), mayonnaise--all smelled rancid to me. It took me 5 years to get my sense of smell righted and in that time, I'd had another baby.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So my last baby is 5 now. I did not realize how easy I had it when I was single and could control EVERY aspect of what was in the house.

With children, things are exponentially worse. You CANNOT feed children this young low-carb. However, my 7yo has mood swings like crazy and my 5yo bounces off the walls. My husband and I said, "No more." We all went on the bandwagon as of the first of the year.

It's not any easier the third, fourth, fifth, sixth times you do it than it was the first, but at this point, I KNOW WHAT THE REWARDS ARE, and cooking one way for the whole family is much, much easier.

My 7yo's mood swings have calmed down a bit. My 5yo's still bouncing off the walls, but I expect him to take longer.

I don't know if I've lost weight, but my joints don't hurt now like they were. My moods are better. I'm sleeping better. (Oh, don't underestimate the importance of sleep on the effectiveness of your diet.)

Now prepare for random asides, because I'm just typing what I know/remember.

1. I tell the kids we're On Menu. They think it's a game and we made them part of the decision process and what "we" have to do to be healthy.

I have a calendar marked with our "days off." When I was on plan all the time, I took five days off a year: my birthday (April), Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. By the third year, I couldn't do it. I did my "favorite" foods on my birthday and went to bed completely and totally miserable, then woke up with the most wicked nasty hangover anybody has ever had. I didn't take another day off--until I couldn't stand the smell of a grilling ribeye.

That happens to everybody after a while. Going OFF plan is simply to painful to be borne for most.

2. Wimminz issues. I'd been having menstrual problems for years. Heavy, heavy, heavy bleeding for weeks at a time. At the worst, I bled for an entire year with a couple weeks' break scattered in days throughout. I was on heavy doses of birth control. I spent, I think, 4 years dealing with this.

I was told repeatedly I would probably never have children and I was 22 the first time a hysterectomy was suggested. I would've done it, too, if my mom hadn't said, "You better make sure you never want kids before you do that."

Then a doc put me on high doses of iron and that killed it immediately.

But I still wasn't regular. There was no rhyme nor reason. They were lighter. They were only about 5-7 days long, but they weren't predictable in the least.

Two months on Atkins and I was regular as clockwork. Have been ever since.

3. Oh. My libido. SHOT THROUGH THE ROOF. Unfortunately, I was single. I came to an epiphany much like this one:

I was thin, I was hot, I was self-assured, I wasn't depressed, I was energetic, I was strong--and I was horny.

As soon as I said: "Heavenly Father, I'm done. I've done everything I was supposed to. The first man who really intrigues me that I'm attracted to...that's it."

Then my husband happened along. I feel that was a special blessing from the Lord for having been faithful and to keep me from doing something stupid.

...again, continuing...

Moriah Jovan said...

...part 2/2...

5. I went to OA once, a long time ago. I never understood the point of OA. Alcoholics can abstain from alcohol, but you HAVE to eat.

It made a lot more sense once I had something to abstain FROM. I go to OA. I'm a junkie. An alcoholic. I know that. I know what I have to do to deal with it.

Severe cases of hypoglycemia mimic drunkenness. Carbs act on the brains of people like me/us the same way alcohol acts. It metabolizes the same way. So it's really not much of a stretch to say I'm an alcoholic.

Which leads me to...

6. One thing you have to realize is that your body does not differentiate sugar from grains. It metabolizes exactly the same way, so when I hear people say, "Yes, but it's WHOLE grain, so it's better," I call bullcrap.

7. I'd lost about 80 pounds when I stopped losing weight all of a sudden. For three months. It was the hardest three months of that entire time period because I got NO rewards. NONE. But I kept at it because I couldn't NOT.

I've never been clumsy, but suddenly, I was swerving when I walked and tripping over my feet and bumping into things and... I was a right mess. I wasn't dizzy. I was just ungraceful and clumsy.

Then, about three months later, I looked in the mirror and I was THINNER. Just like that. Noticeably. As in, I NOTICED, and you know you never notice your own weight loss. It was like someone had cut out a chunk of fat in the middle of the night while I was sleeping.

And then I wasn't clumsy anymore. Just like that. My ears had spent that time resetting for my changed center of gravity. It was the most enlightening and FREEING thing to know that OTHER THINGS are going on while you're getting frustrated at the scale not moving.


I understand that this isn't easy for you to hear. I was READY for it when I first heard about it because nothing else had worked. I read the Atkins book and the one thing Dr. Atkins says is, "Give me two honest weeks. That's all I ask."

Oh, I could do two weeks. It nearly killed me. I had eaten so much I was sure I'd gained weight. I FELT like I'd gained weight. Nope. I'd dropped 12 pounds in 2 weeks.

When you're not ready for it, and you're where you are, where your health makes you have no choice, of course it's going to be difficult.

What I CAN tell you is that after some time, your body will punish you severely for making bad choices. It becomes a lot less of a struggle when you're craving something, but you know that if you eat it, the next day, you're going to be in every kind of physical hell you ever imagined--and some you didn't.

It sounds bad, that your body will punish you. But it's really not. Take it as a sign that you're doing well and...just don't do that again.

Your body will also reward you and continue to reward you as you learn what it likes, as you fine-tune your diet, as you get stronger and healthier. And your needs will change.

Before I got pregnant, I was doing the whole Rocky thing: drinking raw eggs, running, lifting weights, doing the jump rope--I also looked about 30 pounds lighter than I really was. I had to. I had more energy than I knew what to do with.

I look back on that and go, WHY did I let that go, but then I'll smell something and remember...I didn't have much of a choice. I wasn't in control of my body. My baby was. And then my sense of smell was. And then my next baby was. And then my sense of smell finally righted itself.

But now I'm back in control because whatever harm children as young as mine (7.5 and 5) might have as a result of eating low carb, the benefits outweigh them. I had to think and pray about that, but my daughter was miserable for no good reason and my son was/is a behavioral challenge. So I'm going back to my "single kitchen" because I now have the freedom to do that. I don't feel shackled to grains now.

Moriah Jovan said...

...that I can't eat the way I've enjoyed eating up until now...

Look at it this way: Your body's not enjoying it. That's why you're sick.

Tell me--have you been able to add in ANY carbs?

My carb count didn't go above 20 grams for 2 years (effective grams, which means you subtract out the fiber).

But those 20 grams were giganto chef salads (like, a big steak and a chef salad for dessert). Or cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli.

I make a wicked hollandaise sauce and a homemade mayo to die for. Basically, you have to learn how to make REAL food and how to ENJOY real food.

Did it really take up to three weeks to notice a difference?

No. I just tell people that so they don't quit right before they reach that point where their body goes, "Ohhhhh I LIKE this."

I don't count my progress in pounds anymore. I count it in energy, mood, and painlessness. It takes about three days of being uberbitchy and then I'm fine.

Ovulation is difficult. I want to eat everything that even thought about having a carb. I eat A LOT. And then my period comes and...I forget about food for the next three weeks. It all evens out.

You have to get used to your body's ebbs and flows.

What YOU can add back in is whatever your body lets you. You'll have to experiment. My "sweets" were the fibrous berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

I would STRONGLY suggest you read the following books:

Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution (the one with the yellow cover, if you can find it).

Dr. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution (he explains hypoglycemia in depth, which is helpful since most people don't know hypoglycemia is diabetes's precursor)

A couple of thoughts in closing (for now):

1. The Word of Wisdom was set down as a guideline, not a commandment. It's evolved. And I could argue that, barring everything else, Mormons' drug of choice is sugar (into which category I cast all grains anyway). That was also written when they couldn't keep meat for long in the summer time because a) it wasn't wise to hunt in the spring and summer, and b) meat would spoil quickly.

2. Consider this a preemptive strike against insulin shots.

3. If what you're doing is not working, try something different.

Cheri said...

Darlene, no suggestions--just want you to know I'm here reading and thinking of you and admiring your courage. Love you.

Cherie said...

Long time reader, first time commenter, :)
I don't think Atkins is "evil" and certainly not against the word of wisdom.... but carbs are not "evil" either.
Well, if the carbs we consume are so processed out of any nutritional value that there are a few added back to make it okay to advertise it as healthy, then those are evil. :)
The problem, according to me, is food is no longer just food. It's full of stuff that has never come close to a food. Sugar may be bad, artificial sweeteners and sugars created in laboratories are extremely bad. I don't think people are addicted to say an apple or orange or a green smoothie. But they are addicted to potato chips, sugared cereals-and they are pretty much all sugared, and junk food. There are more sweeteners and artificial ingredients than anything else listed on the, very long, ingredient list of packaged food, etc. There's even sugar added to pet foods. What's up with that?
The junk we consume in meat/dairy products and produce causes more havoc than those without. Try to find produce that hasn't been sprayed with 20 different pesticides or meat/dairy products without growth hormones and antibiotics isn't easy - and it's expensive!
Food is medicine.The foods with the most nutrition are plants. The fact that we are encouraged to grow as much of our own food is significant and great for food storage but you also know where it came from, pick it fresh and ripe - not something you can really get in stores so you know the nutritional content is there and chances are you aren't going to drown it to death in poisons! That doesn't mean you can't compliment them with proteins.. I don't really view the word of wisdom to be just a suggestion or intended for the time that it was given. It's as valid now as much as ever. My point is the quality of what we eat has more to do with overall health than whether you decide you're a plant person or a protein person. Or a use them both in balance and moderation person. :)
I totally believe Moriah is sincere in what she has experienced with Atkins and if it works for you, then yay! But I do know people that have had experiences of recovery on alkaline foods only, raw foods only, high carb, low carb and so on, so I do believe it's a very personal journey to find what is right for you.The answer's out there for you. I sincerely hope you find the answers you're seeking because you are one of my examples to become like someday.:)

Moriah Jovan said...

Well, I look at it this way: She's already been told she needs to do this. Otherwise, I wouldn't have said a word.

You are right that there's a lot of frankenfood out there, and I agree with you that the less artifice the better.

However, I hope I haven't given the impression that I think low-carb is the answer for everyone, because I certainly do NOT think that.

For ME, carbs (other than those from cruciferous vegetables and fibrous berries) ARE evil. From what I understand of Darlene's post, they may also be impeding her health. Thus, I'm offering my best advice from my experience.

The Word of Wisdom says:

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly;

13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

A diet of mostly meat is clearly verboten. Likewise:

Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all beasts of the field, and barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.

We also shouldn't be eating corn, oats, or rye. Yet...we do.

I'm not trying to be argumentative here (although since Darlene hasn't responded, I assume I must have crossed some threshold of comfort).

I'm saying that everybody has their opinions and no one way of eating is right for everybody. I would never presume to say so.


1) the Word of Wisdom has been used as a cudgel by members who want to beat me over the head with THEIR opinions on how I should eat to be healthy


2) Darlene has been given a typical low-carb/hypoglycemic/diabetic diet that has the misfortune to be so very misunderstood and maligned. Tagging it "Atkins" is just gasoline on the conflagration of people who think THEIR way of eating is best for everyone.

As I say, I wouldn't have said anything at all if she weren't having to embark upon this journey, and it sounds like she has no one knowledgeable to talk to about it and probably no idea where to start.

If my posting is unwelcome, please tell me and I'll respect that. I certainly don't want to intrude where I'm not wanted.

Darlene Young said...

Hey, Cherie! Thanks for reading my blog! Are you the Cherie of the fabulous chocolate/pb chip cookies? (Mmmm. Shouldn't think about those now.)

Moriah--and Cherie also--no, I wasn't offended. I really appreciate hearing other people's experiences with diets and health. It's amazing what a variety of needs and diets there are out there.

The truth is that no one gave me this diet, Moriah. I read about it in "The Low Blood-Sugar Handbook." I'm doing it all on my own, so I appreciated the feedback.

So far I've made it through 10 days with not a single cheat. At all. No improvement yet--in fact, the symptoms I was hoping it would help seem to be worse. However, I understand about withdrawal and I'm planning to continue through week three. The point of this much of a restricted diet was that it is supposedly designed to show me if I am hypoglycemic--meaning that I would know that's the case if I feel tons better. (Because the blood test I had, while revealing a problem, didn't tell us much else.) I hoped also that I would just get my energy back. I'm beginning to think, though, that I need grains. I'm hoping that now that I have gone through this sort of cleanse and broken the sugar addiction that I'll be able to add complex carbs back in without going back to refined (at least, not much). We'll see what turns up.

I'm really glad you found something that worked so well for you. I haven't given up on this, or on finding something else that helps. Thanks to both of you for caring and commenting.

Moriah Jovan said...

The truth is that no one gave me this diet, Moriah. I read about it in "The Low Blood-Sugar Handbook." I'm doing it all on my own, so I appreciated the feedback.

Oh, I'm sorry. I totally misunderstood or misread that, then.

I apologize.

Experimenting for a couple of weeks can't hurt in the long-term, so I wish you luck in figuring it out.