People have these sayings about pregnancy weight and breastfeeding. "Just wait until month three, it'll start falling off!". "Don't worry, I've heard after about eight months you just slim down like crazy". Well gee, thanks, but you're all wrong. At least about me.
The weight and I became best buds. And we've been having a little ménage à trois with sugar (too dirty?). I got to the point where I was fixing Michael and I my delicious chocolate chip cookies ALL. THE. TIME. And I'd eat half the cookie dough, and
we'd I'd finish off the entire batch in one night. I couldn't eat just one biscuit at a restaurant. No, I had to have three even before dinner came along. I craved sugar when I was sad. I gobbled handfuls of chocolate chips when I'd walk by the pantry. I'd crave pasta and cheese and more pasta. You know the lady in Patch Adams whose dying wish was to swim in a pool of noodles? Yep. Me. Except eat them. And let's not forget trips into town or the grocery store. King Size Reese's was my reward for walking all over the store and picking out our food for the week. It's tough work, ya'll.
Anyway, you get the picture. I literally have been addicted to the chemical called sugar. This coming from the same woman who is super passionate about healthy living and eating. I've been learning so much about traditional foods and how to nourish and heal our bodies the right way, but I still couldn't seem to shake this one thing. This one terrible, no good thing. And this one thing is the reason I haven't been able to lose any of this weight.
As I was complaining about this to my good real-life friend Naomi from Move To Be Well, she suggested we try the Candida diet together. If you're not familiar with Candida, you can read all about it here. Briefly, Candida is a fungus that, if allowed to get out of control, can cause serious problems with your gut flora, affect your intestinal walls, get into your bloodstream, and become toxic to your body, resulting in a vast array of physical ailments and problems. Some of those problems include skin rashes, frequent yeast infections, thrush if you're breastfeeding, and the ones that affect me- extra fat storage and brain fog.
How does it happen? It can occur when you have taken a strain of antibiotics, thus killing off both bad and good bacteria in your gut and actually weakening your immune system. It can also be a result of stress, exposure to different chemicals in food or water, and the one where the lightbulb went off for me- carb & sugar loading!
I made the possible connection in my head between fat storage and brain fog and my addiction to sugar. I knew something needed to change. While I did not test for signs of overgrowth, I knew this was an area of my life I needed to get under control, regardless. I hate to use the word 'diet' because it associates this with all the "fad" ones out there. This is truly more of a lifestyle change for me than anything, and while I probably won't stick to it my entire life, it's a great boost for getting on the right track and breaking the addiction now.
The premise of the diet: ABSOLUTELY NO SUGAR. Not the sugar in fruit, no glutenous grains, no bread, no high carb, low fiber anything. No prepackaged meats, milk, cheese...anything processed with sugar. I CAN eat meat, any vegetables, almonds and like-nuts, plain yogurt, butter, and because I'm still breastfeeding Noah, grains like quinoa, buckwheat, and brown rice. There is usually a cleanse (some antifungals to help kick-start getting rid of the candida), but again, because of nursing I wanted to be cautious of releasing too many toxins all at once. There is also a phase one which does not allow any grains, but to ensure that my supply is not harmed, I decided to allow some of phase two, as well.
The killing part. The first week was torture. I stuck to it religiously, but I wanted something sweet nearly everyday and the headaches were pretty bad. I was going through detox from having eaten sugar, in some form, literally everyday. I felt so crazy, I at one point thought I'd be a good candidate for MTV's Rehab show. Around day three, I was seriously feeling the withdrawls. I had the worst mood all day, was short with Michael, snapped at him over nothing, was apathetic and sat on the couch, felt like punching the wall, and pretty much wanted to sleep all day. All I could think about was shoving cookie dough in my face.
The night of day five was spent in a hotel and I woke up around 6am nauseous, starving, and the weakest I've ever felt. I asked Michael to get me a cookie from downstairs because I needed carbs now. I literally just laid on the floor while poor Noah crawled around and on top of me. When he gave me the cookie, it tasted so different than I'd imagined. It was disgusting! All I could taste were chemicals and where I would have seriously enjoyed it before, I now wanted to throw it in the trash. After being sick most of that morning and feeling so weak I could barely pick myself up, I decided to eat some carbs for breakfast. I wanted to stick to the plan, but I needed to feel normal while we were trying to accomplish something out of town.
Looking back, I feel that the culprit to the crash was, in part, due to the fact that I had not been eating nearly enough. I've got a plain appetite and not much experience cooking creatively. I had fried eggs, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and bland chicken and brussel sprouts almost daily. I also think I may have been experiencing a healing crisis, one in which my body was releasing and reacting to toxins that had been previously stored in fat or yeast cells. After consulting with Naomi, I realized I needed to do two things: 1) Eat more food and up my healthy fats by a lot and 2) Add some flavor to my food!
Today is technically day three no carbs (since I did have some this past weekend) but I can already tell a difference. While I do still crave some sugar, I find that the craving isn't that strong anymore. I've lost five pounds since the original day one a week and a half ago. I don't feel bloated. I've been trying delicious recipes for dinner and we've enjoyed cooking and eating them! And all of that is giving me the motivation I need to continue this. I am still having headaches, slight irritability, and fatigue, but I'm confident that I'll get into the "clear" that everyone talks about soon.
I'm going to try to stick it out religiously for at least four weeks. Even if it turns out that my body doesn't suffer too badly from Candida overgrowth, a no-sugar diet can only benefit me and my family. I'm eating healthy, not faux-healthy as Michael liked to call it, and exploring a whole new world of recipes and food preparation. It's been wonderful to have an accountability partner that I actually see on a weekly basis and who has been through this before. It feels good to stick to something, another thing I struggle with doing. This is a huge confidence-booster and I'm hoping I've got what it takes to keep it up!
On the blog tomorrow: Our paleo dinner menu for this week with links to some amazing and delicious recipes!