Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Sugar Monster

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You may be wondering what an elimination diet is.  The point of an elimination diet is to eliminate one food or category of food from your diet.  Sometimes people do this permanently, like if they’ve become allergic to gluten they want to get all the gluten out of their diet.  But my elimination diets were to see which foods I was sensitive to, which foods were irritating my system.  The first food I eliminated was dairy.  This means no ice cream, butter, milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.  So, no milk for granola for breakfast, no yogurt snacks, no cheese sticks (one of my kids’ favorites), no milk in the gravy, no pancakes, almost no baking because it nearly all has some form of dairy in it.  This started me on a great obsession of reading ingredient lists.  Wow.  You will be amazed at what you’ll find.  I found corn syrup in my vanilla!!  WHAT??  Why in the world do you need corn syrup in your vanilla?!  And there is some form of sweetener in everything that comes in a package or a box.  Seriously.  So don’t start reading labels unless you’re prepared to make some changes.

Anyway, back to my diet.  I eliminated dairy for 30 days and at first I was really craving it!!  I’m not someone who drinks a lot of milk.  I’d have it on my cereal in the morning and then maybe once a week I’d have a glass of milk, but now I was jonesing for a tall cold glass of milk!  This was a warning sign that milk was a problem for me.  And at the beginning of my fast off dairy I was spending a lot of time in the bathroom.  But by the end of it, my digestion was better than it had been in recent memory.  Ok, so milk was an issue.

Next I did a fast off chocolate and caffeine.  I didn’t notice much, if any difference.  I stopped this one after 2 weeks and moved on.

I combined Dr. Pescatore’s wheat and corn eliminations.  Because I was pretty sure I’d have issue with both of these as I’ve had severe cravings for both.  So, for 30 days there was no bread, no oatmeal, no granola, no tortillas, no flour (I did start experimenting with coconut and almond flour at this point), no hotdog or hamburger buns, no cookies, no pancakes, waffles, muffins, biscuits, nothing.  This was by far the hardest of the eliminations.  But not only did I discover some sensitivities, but I discovered that my middle son (who is 6) also had some sensitivity.  His showed up as behavior problems.  After several weeks with no grains, he went to grandma’s house and had cheerios for breakfast and a hotdog in a bun for lunch and when he came home he was so disobedient and defiant he ended up being sent to his room within an hour.  Wow.  Way out of character for him!  I tested this again about a week later with the same result.  And once again, at the beginning, I was spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, and had serious cravings.

The last thing that Dr. Pescatore suggests eliminating is salicylates.  These are found in aspirin and many preservatives, artificial flavorings and colorings, etc.  We had already decided that we didn’t want these kinds of things in our diets, so I didn’t have to worry about them.

So, other than the chocolate/caffeine category, I was sensitive to everything!!  That seemed awfully strange to me.  I mean, I’d never had any problems before and trust me, I never ate what anyone could call healthy since I was an adult.  How could I be sensitive to all these things?!  But my breathing was so bad, I was ready to try anything.  By this point the doctor had basically given up on me.  Nothing he had tried had made any difference except an unbelievably strong steroid that was not safe to use long term.  However, through a friend, I had discovered an essential oil that worked BETTER than any of the rescue inhalers he’d given me to stop attacks and regular old Ricola lozenges seemed to control the throat tickle coughing I’d get in the mornings from nasal drainage.  I figured what the heck, it couldn’t hurt and it would be cheap.  After all, it was a list of foods NOT to eat!!

In addition to the foods I was sensitive to I had to stop all forms of sugar, including fruit so I could stop feeding my candida overgrowth.  Wow.  Back to that label obsession??  You would not believe how difficult it is to find anything with more than about 4 ingredients that doesn’t contain some sort of sugar!!  Sugar can be called: sugar, barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, corn syrup (basically anything with “syrup” in it), honey, cane juice (and anything with “cane” in it), dextrin, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose (yep, lactose is the sugar part of the milk), maltose, saccharose (basically anything with “ose” in it), maltodextrin, molasses, sorghum, treacle and xylose.  I dare you.  The very next box or package of food or drink you pick up, check the ingredients.  You will be amazed.  When I was growing up, we decided which breakfast cereal to eat by how far down the ingredient list the sugar was since the ingredients are listed from most to least.  If sugar was the first or second ingredient, then it was only for a treat, not for eating every day.  But these days, the manufacturers get around that by using 3 or 4 different types of sugar so they use less of each type and therefore they can be further down the list.  So the first thing  I had to do was find enough foods without all these ingredients to feed myself and my family!  We mostly did this by cooking for ourselves and not buying any prepackaged food.

After about 3 days without any sugar I was jonesing BAD.  That candida in my body was screaming, “Feed me, NOW!!”  And my brain was screaming, “I need it, I need it.  I don’t know how to feel good without it!”  I have a history with drug addiction.  I have been addicted to both heroin and cocaine, and I’ve been told that these are about the hardest substances to detox from so I’m not exactly new to cravings, detox and addiction.  Now, physically, sugar was not as severe as other detoxes I’ve gone through.  There was no vomiting and night sweats, but mentally it was almost exactly the same!!  There was that itchy brain, I-need-something-I-gotta-have-something-or-I’m-gonna-burst feeling.  It was TERRIBLE!  I had started out by packing up everything with sugar in it into some bins but I was digging through the bins by that 3rd day so I finally gave away all that food.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever done.  And when you’re used to rewarding yourself with a treat, it’s hard not to do that for yourself.

I had heard about stevia and we did use stevia some to have some sweetness during that time, but I have since stopped using stevia for anything except sweetening our homemade toothpaste.  There’s a couple of reasons for this decision.  First off, stevia is MUCH sweeter than sugar, so most companies add something to it so that the volume can be used straight across, cup for cup like sugar.  And usually what they add is dextrose.  Which is sugar!!  No good.  The other problem is that stevia may taste sweet, but because it doesn’t have any actual sugar in it it doesn’t help a sugar craving.  You see, sugar is essentially a drug in the way it works on your brain.  Take a look at this article about sugar and your brain: Sugar is a Drug

So you can see there are some more good reasons to get the sugar out of your diet.  But more importantly, when your mouth tastes sweet it sends a message to your brain to release more insulin to take up the sugar that it’s anticipating is about to enter your system.  Then, when no sugar is there it has to draw sugar from your organs to make up the deficit.  This is not good.  This happens any time you taste sweet without consuming sugar like when you use any artificial sweeteners or chew gum.

So you can see how sugar can become a slave master.  It works on your brain just like a drug, making you feel great and setting you up to want more and more.  And it feeds the candida and other yeasts in your system making everything get way out of whack.  When your digestion isn’t running smoothly, nothing else can work right.  Your digestion is like your gas tank, if you can’t get the nutrition out of your food it’s like your gas line is clogged.  Your body just can’t function the way it was meant to function.

It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 6:19 that says that our body is temple.  My temple was a mess.  I felt like King Josiah in the old testament when he had the temple cleaned out and they found the Bible in there and read it and went, “Wow, no wonder our lives are such a mess!!  We’ve been doing it all wrong!”  So now it was time to make it right.  Time to get my temple cleaned up!!

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Freedom!!

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I swear I’m still going to talk about my journey, but first I’d like you to take a look at this quote from a Civil War historian:

Ultimately the black slaves were set free.  Theoretically it became legal as early as the first day of the year, 1863, in what has come to be known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

“The word spread,” in the words of one historian, “from Capitol Hill out across the city, down into the valleys and fields of Virginia and the Carolinas, and even into the plantations of Georgia and Mississippi and Alabama.  ‘Slavery Legally Abolished!’ read the headlines, and yet something amazing took place.  The greater majority of the slaves in the South went right on living as though they were not emancipated.  That continued throughout the Reconstruction Period.

The Negro remained locked in a caste system of ‘race ettiquette’ as rigid as any had known in formal bondage, and that every slave could repeat, with equal validity, what an Alabama slave had mumbled when asked what he thought of the Great Emancipator who’s proclamation had gone into effect.  ‘I don’t know nothin’ ’bout Abraham Lincoln cep they say he sot us free.  And I don’t know nothin’ ’bout that neither.'”

How tragic.  A war was being fought.  A document had been signed.  Slaves were legally set free.  And yet most continued to live out their years, and many of their children some of their years, in fear, saying, “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout that neither.”  In a context of freedom, slaves chose to remain slaves, throughout their lives.

                                             ~Shelby Foote, “The Civil War”

    Wow.  Did you catch that?!  A war was fought.  Blood was spilled all over the place.  Men died to set these slaves free.  And what did they do??  “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout that.”  And why?  Why didn’t they run leaping off the fields, doing the dance of joy in their ex-masters’ faces??  Fear and ignorance.  They didn’t know they were free and when they did, they didn’t know what to do about it.  They had never known anything but slavery.  They were, in many ways, like children.  They had always been fed and taken care of.  They had no idea what it meant to go out and get a job and find a house and raise a family and they were too scared to try!

    So I look to my own life to see if I can find some parallels.  I have been a slave.  I’ve been a slave to addiction, men, food, pride and many other things, I’m sure.  And more recently I’ve been struggling with slavery to sugar, to anger, and maybe even to some self doubt.  And what kept me there??  Fear and ignorance.  I didn’t know any other way.  Or I knew there was a way, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there.  I didn’t know how to stop giving my life to these things.  I didn’t know I was worth it.  I didn’t know, really KNOW that I had been set free.

Sugar 005

    “What?!”  You may be thinking, “Sugar?!”  Yep.  Nearly 10 years ago I read a book called “Potatoes, Not Prozac” by Kathleen DeMaisons Ph.D.  While reading this book, it became quite obvious to me that I was what she called “sugar sensitive.”  This meant that my body craved sugar and reacted even more severely to sugar when I ate it.  So I half-heartedly tried some of her suggestions and I saw a difference, but then the cravings would hit and I’d go out and buy a candy bar or two or twenty.  My high school best friend used to tease me that I had a stomach of steal.  I could eat anything!  The funny thing is, looking back, I think she had the same issue, only hers manifested as an addiction to simple carbs.  She could go a whole day eating nothing but carbs and could eat an entire loaf of bread at one sitting!!  I remember sneaking into the pantry as a child to fish lumps of sugar out of the sugar bin to eat.  I could make anything into a dessert.  But it didn’t really hit me that some of the other problems in my life were related to the way I ate.  It’s only recently that I’ve discovered just how important food is in the entirety of how you body (and therefor your mind) functions.

    All of a sudden, I can’t breathe.  I’ve never had any real problems with my breathing other than a little light, exercise induced asthma that never really bothered me.  And then last January I started getting sick.  I thought it was some kind of respiratory something.  It was hard to breathe and I’d go off coughing at the slightest provocation.  Lots of congestion, etc.  I finally went to the doctor after nearly a month of this, and she told me I had asthma.  Um, what?!  All of a sudden, out of no where, for no apparent reason, I have asthma?  I don’t think so!!  So she sent me home with an inhaler and an appointment with an asthma and allergy specialist.

    While I waited on my appointment, I got online to do some research.  And this lead me to the library (as it usually does), where I found Dr. Fred Pescatore’s “The Allergy and Asthma Cure.”  In this book he describes how sugar depresses your whole immune system.  In fact, according to Dr. Pescatore, 1 teaspoon of sugar can suppress your immune system by 56%!!  And I learned about Candida.  Candida is a lovely little yeast that everyone has in their system.  The problem is when you have an over growth.  It fills up your gut, pushing out all the beneficial bacteria that you need to properly digest food and get all the nutrients out of it.

    The book also talks about leaky gut and how eating over processed foods for too long can mess up your whole digestive system.  If this happens then partially digested food literally “leaks” out into your blood stream which triggers your body’s defense mechanisms.  If you continue to eat like this it’s kind of like setting your body at DEFCON 3 and leaving you there (for any War Games fans out there).  Your body is in a constant state of war, trying to fight off this stuff that isn’t supposed to be in your system.  If this goes on long enough you will start to develop one or more auto-immune diseases or other issues such as the ones listed in this quick chart about leaky gut:  http://eatlocalgrown.com/article/12052-leaky-gut.html :

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome

2. Seasonal allergies or asthma

3. Autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s, lupus, psoriasis or ciliac disease

4. Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia

5. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety, and ADD

6. Skin issues such as acne, rosacea, or eczema

7. Food allergies or food intolerance

    I suffered from 5 of the issues on this list!

    I finally got in to see the allergy and asthma specialist and found out that my lung function was at 52%!!  The doctor was appalled and didn’t understand how I was still functioning.    I asked him abut Dr. Pescatore and his book but my doctor had never heard of him.  So I tried the inhaler he gave me but I also started the elimination diets that are recommended in the book.  What I discovered was pretty amazing, but you’ll have to watch for my next post to see how I started walking in freedom from sugar!!