Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Pancreas Hates Me

This past week has been bad folks, I'm not going to lie to you. It seems like I do well for almost a week and then BAM! Like a derailed crazy train I plummet into a vat of chocolate, ice cream and baked goods. I don't know whether to blame it on my premenstrual psychosis or just plain self-will. Either way, it continues to be a problem. I am on the journey currently to educate myself on Hypoglycemia (which I have) and on the Glycemic Index (how different carbs effect your blood sugar). I'm learning that plain 'ol sugar may not be the only (or the worst) culprit.

Digging into my Easter basket...and hey, 1976 called
and wants it's haircut back!
I am looking back over my eating habits during my lifetime and realizing that I have being doing it all wrong. When I was little, I had an unquenchable desire for french fries, bread and sweets. My Mom said I would constantly say, "fren fy! fren fy!" (ahem, meaning french fries). I was a french fry FREAK. My love of all things starchy and carby continued throughout my life. We lived on pasta, french fries, pizza and all things Italian. I would also eat two very large meals a day instead of grazing all day long. I have never been a big meat eater, especially in college and in my early 20's. I ate a very high carbohydrate, low fat diet. I bought everything fat-free, thinking that fat was my sole enemy. Little did I know. Even though I was very thin back then, it was wrecking havoc on my blood chemistry.
Easter at my Grandparents, 1977. I look rather pissy,
being interrupted from my carbtastic meal to take a picture.
I used to think there was something very wrong with me and I was frustrated by how I felt at times. I never understood why. I would get so angry with myself thinking that it was some kind of character flaw. I would feel on top of the world one moment - joking, laughing and then suddenly a black cloud would roll in and my mood would turn dark. I would fly off the handle at what anyone would say, I would start sweating, feel shaky, anxious, irritable...hello! HYPOGLYCEMIA!!!!!

I mean, I know I am still responsible for my attitude and how I act, but discovering the truth behind the madness was very freeing for me. I can now look back over my life and say, wow, I have had problems with reactive hypoglycemia my whole life!

I have horrible memories of being in school, and my worst class was always right before lunch. Back then, it was unheard of to snack in the morning, and even though I had breakfast, I was always hungry an hour or two later. None of the other kids were hungry or seemed to have that problem, so of course I always thought I was some sort of freak or a fat pig (which I wasn't).

The problem continued on in high school and beyond. I think this problem really impacted my ability to do well at strenuous activities. I was on the Dance Line (Drill Team) in high school and college, and even though I did well at that, I do remember feeling wiped out most of the time...and felt very moody. The worst was when I attempted to run Cross Country and Track during my senior year of high school. I was horrible at it, I came in last every time. I just didn't have enough steam in me. When your body doesn't process carbs correctly, it will affect your ability to exercise or do well at long distance type sports.

When I started making the connection with my mood and food over the last decade, I tried many diets and failed. I have tried the South Beach Diet, and I did see results in the first three weeks, but frankly found it very difficult to stay on. I will have to discuss that diet in another post sometime. In the year that followed I saw a doctor and I was finally diagnosed with hypoglycemia, insulin resistance (root cause of a condition known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and an underactive thyroid. For the last four years, I have been trying to get a handle on this, and the only time I felt my best was actually when I was pregnant with James (funny enough).

You are probably wondering why I keep changing my blog description. As I have been writing I am discovering that what I want the most out of this blog experience is balance and good health, not deprivation. In the article Sweet Relief out of Better Nutrition, Dr. Teitelbaum explains, "The good news is, once you break your sugar addiction, your body will usually be able to handle sugar in moderation. This means saving sugar for dessert or snacks where it belongs, and going for quality, not quantity. Dark chocolate is especially okay!"

Well friends, I will leave you with that...striving for the sweet food and in life.
Have any of you struggled with hypoglycemia? How do you handle it?


Anonymous said...

I get raving hungry and the shakes sometimes at work or after church, usually from 10-12. I think there is definately a genetic element as my dad is the same way.

Leah the Foodie said...

Yes, that's when mine strikes in the a.m. before lunch. Caffeine tends to make blood sugar worse too (unfortunate for those of us coffee lovers!). I agree that there is a genetic connection; my Dad is the same way too!

Crafty P said...

great info Leah! I've been wondering if my 7yr old has low blood sugar issues and I'm going to talk to his doctor about it. Thanks for writing about all the stuff in your head! I appreaciate it!

Leah the Foodie said...

Thanks for reading Crafty P! I checked out your blogs and I love it! Can't wait to look over some of your recipes. Good luck with your Pediatrician!