Anxiety. Body aches. Constant thirst. And a constant nagging hunger – and I am NOT hungry. What I want is refined carbohydrates. What I crave is sugar. And to detox from it physically hurts right now. This is what it feels like on the second day of Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. **(see below – I am NOT endorsing a product).
This is where I am, right now…
Four years ago, I discovered that I am completely dairy intolerant – thanks to the South Beach Diet. I entered Phase 3, the part of the diet when more refined carbs can be reintroduced; I had been offered a cannoli from the culinary arts instructor at my school. With excitement I woofed that crusty tube of creamy yumminess down! Within 15 minutes, I was in the ladies room with cold sweats, extreme cramping, and vomiting. I know, I know a bit of TMI here, but telling this serves a purpose. This prompted a variety of tests to see if my gall bladder needed removal, as perhaps I could not digest the fats. NOPE.
What happened? I asked myself. After speaking with my primary care doctor, he recommended I try an experiment: eat one week normally, one week mostly wheat, one week mostly dairy, etc. He suggested this would help me see if I had a food allergy. When I got on the “primarily dairy” diet on its 2nd day, I felt that sickly bloating illness come back on! And there it was. A dairy intolerance. I switched to all Lactaid products; that lasted about two months, as I just kept not-feeling-well. So, I got serious: NO dairy whatsoever. I switched to almond/coconut milk, vegan butter products, and checked all packaging — if it said “milk” it didn’t make it into my grocery cart.
It was painful. I gave up ice cream, cottage cheese, my favorite Maple Vanilla Stoney Field Yogurt, and — yes, I shudder to say it — milk chocolate! But what I gained was energy, losing 2 clothing sizes, and clearer thinking. You see, according to my GI doctor, from my milk allergy, I was inflamed. INFLAMATION equals looking and feeling swollen, but mentally thinking it feels like weight gain. In the first month, I lost about 8 pounds! But what I really lost was inflammation, because what I had was an allergy to milk that was constantly being fought by the histamines in my body. What I gained from giving itself: feeling-really-good. I have never turned back.
…what I have done in the four years of saying good-bye to dairy? I have replaced it with my love of sugar: muffins, cookies, cakes with lots of confectionary sugar frostings, and gourmet jelly beans (not as good as milk chocolate, but oh so yum!).
Two weeks ago, I got honest with myself: I bought a tray of cookies from the culinary arts department café — and I ATE THE WHOLE TRAY MYSELF. Not in a day, thankfully, but over 3 days. I hoarded them. There was no sharing. Although, I did not have violent sweats or vomiting, what I had was disbelief. Here’s the honesty:
I like sugar. No, I LOVE sugar. In fact, I am sort of famous for it at my place of employment: come to me for candy; I always have it in my desk. Truthfully, I am not going to end this relationship completely,yet I am ready to put me, and feeling-really-good, first again. It is true that Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet (veggies, meats, nuts, and low fat milk – almond milk for me – is all that is allowed for 2 weeks ) is pretty painful, especially these first 2 days. Yet, I am ready for the clarity that this time of suffering will bring.
No, this is not about the scale for me — although I always say “every American can stand to lose a few pounds” — this about the feeling. The energy I desire is not the kind that comes from rapid insulin spikes, as South Beach Diet creator Dr. Agatston calls it. That spike is is from refined sugar.
I want a slow, steady, reliable sensation: the kind that comes from a handful of slowly digested strawberries and almonds. And in time, I can drizzle some dark chocolate over the top! It’s not really so much about “clean eating”, either — although this is a lifestyle I admire. It’s about being honest with myself: I love sugar, but I have overdone it, for far too long.
Nor is this about an “everything in modification” attitude. I can not do dairy in modification, ever, without it harming it me. Nor is this about a New Year’s Resolution. This about my relationship with myself: a relationship which is getting better all the time. So while I love sugar, I want to enter into a better rapport with her. We are not breaking up. Instead, we are going to have more quality experiences with one another, instead of a large quantity of experiences. And these times together won’t end with me feeling anxiety, physical pain, or a nagging hunger for more.
In about 12 days, I can reintroduce fruits and whole grains. I will wake up and have a bowl of steel cut oatmeal, with almond butter and blueberries! It will be an amazing sensation. And I won’t be hungry till lunch. Lunch will be followed by a dark chocolate dipped strawberry. And clarity. And the ability to say “no thank you” and really mean it, when the cookie trays are sold at the culinary arts café again!
Until then, yes, I am suffering. For the better relationship it will bring, it is totally worth it.
Blessings and peace, Pamela Rae
**The “link” will bring you to the Wikipedia definition of South Beach Diet. I do not endorse or receive proceeds or products. I want you to know, my approach is SELF driven by reading the books and going to the grocery store. I am simply blogging about my experience. Please contact me if you have questions.