Saturday, February 15, 2014

Silver Linings

Having suffered a very nasty bout of gastroenteritis and lost 4 pounds in 3 days, more than I could hope to lose in a month of dieting, I started to think about food disorders. Despite having struggled with my weight since my first child was born, there is no way I could ever subject myself to such a thing. Of course I do know that no one deliberately subjects them self to an eating disorder, in the same way as no one ever indulges in depression, nor can they 'snap out of it' as some seem to think they should.

And, I suppose self induced vomiting is probably not quite as bad as the awful nausea and uncontrollable symptoms that accompany gastroenteritis, with the headaches that dehydration brings, and trying to stay hydrated when it is impossible to keep down even a small sip of water. At least I didn't have a fever, which would have made the dehydration more severe and I guess it would have been possible to feel worse than I did the first day of the illness.

Naturally I consulted my good friend Google and here is what webmd has to say about gastroenteritis:

When you have diarrhea and vomiting, you may say you have the "stomach flu." What it's really called is gastroenteritis. Although it may make you feel pretty bad, it's an illness that actually has nothing to do with the real flu. In gastroenteritis, your stomach and intestines are irritated and inflamed. The cause is typically a viral or bacterial infection. With the stomach flu, the main symptoms you probably have are watery diarrhea and vomiting. You might also have stomach pain, cramping, fever, nausea, and a headache.

So, having turned my thoughts to eating disorders, I looked for a precise description and found a wiki  describing:  bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging, or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed (purging), typically by vomiting, taking a laxative, diuretic, or stimulant, and/or excessive exercise, because of an extensive concern for body weight

And another :  Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by immoderate food restriction and irrational fear of gaining weight, as well as a distorted body self-perception. Because of the fear of gaining weight, people with this disorder restrict the amount of food they consume. Outside of medical literature, the terms anorexia nervosa and anorexia are often used interchangeably; however, anorexia is simply a medical term for lack of appetite, and people with anorexia nervosa do not, in fact, lose their appetites. Patients with anorexia nervosa may experience dizziness, headaches, drowsiness and a lack of energy.

And yet again some statistics on eating disorders:

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.

Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

That started me thinking about healthy eating. My attempts to lose weight have really not been very successful, or when they have been, the success has been very short lived. The most notable was a 9 month stint with LA Weight Loss, when I dropped a total of 34 pounds and reached my goal. I felt great and managed to maintain that loss for 4 months, after which it seemed to just slide back on without any effort whatsoever. Since my mid 30s I have been very careful to avoid trans fat and sugar, and I have never been very fond of fast food. But now I am looking at this problem in a new light. With all the processing of foods, all the additives, declared on labels and those not mentioned anywhere, and all the genetically modified foods, I don't think anyone stands a chance. I am quite amazed that there are still some slim people in this world.

Here is what my search turned up on processed foods and childhood obesity, which I believe lays the foundation for obesity in adults (read the full article by Dr Mercola here)

"In short, the obesity epidemic is a direct outgrowth of a diet of processed foods with their cheap non-nutritive fillers, artificial ingredients, and synthetic chemical additives (many of which are banned in other countries due to health effects).

Most importantly, virtually all processed foods are loaded with refined fructose, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup—and in the US, most of it is genetically engineered (GE) to boot. This type of diet is a major factor in the recipe for obesity."

So, you might well ask, where is the silver lining? Well, and I do freely admit to having a Pollyanna syndrome, but I do believe that if you look hard enough you will find a silver lining to every cloud. The silver lining behind the cloud of my recent attack of gastroenteritis, is not so much the weight loss, but the wake up call, the way I am now looking at my eating habits. I already buy mainly organic fruits and vegetables, and for some time we have been buying organic, grass fed beef and organic chicken - that is if you trust the labels, which we have no way of disputing. So now what I have to do is eliminate, if not completely, at least as much as possible, processed foods and foods containing any form of sweetener, and try to stick to only good carbs. Having received the gift of a good head start with those 4 pounds, it would be such a shame to not take advantage of it.