Saturday, February 8, 2020

Food Glorious Food

I have a long and sordid history with food... mostly caused by the diet industry.  I'm fat.  I've been fat since I hit puberty.  For the most part I've resisted dieting but succumbed once in high school and once in the late 80s.  Both times I lost weight which I gained back during the couple of years afterwards which keeps me in line with the science studies on the matter.

Then there is the health side of things.  I knew my body reacted badly to some types of food.  I was raised in the era of Wonderbread and Twinkies.  My mother did her best to put meat and veg on the table for our meals but we were also poor and the good stuff ran out pretty fast.  If we were still hungry jam sandwiches were often the solution. 

When I went off to college, I did the whole vegetarian thing and ate lots of grains, beans and tofu.  Then the new food pyramid came out encouraging us to eat 9-12 helpings of grain/bread per day.  I was like "woohoo!!! I LOVE sandwiches!".  I also learned about hypoglycemia around that time and it sounded really familiar.  Back then it was considered quack science so I didn't get very far with it.

After graduation, I dropped the vegetarian thing out of practicality.  Working full time I didn't have time to prepare food from scratch everyday and restaurants didn't serve anything like the yummy meals available today.  A vegetarian meal often consisted of cheese pizza.

Then the 80s hit and fat became the boogeyman.  This is when I went on my first legitimate low fat diet.  While I initially lost a ton of weight, after eating low fat for 20 years I gained a ton of weight.  I became prediabetic and had heartburn.  I became intolerant to gluten and went gluten free.  Luckily it was before pre-made baked goods so if I wanted something GF I had to make it from scratch which meant no more bread, cereal or pastas.

This is about the time I revisited hypoglycemia and found the glycemic index.  I rejiggered my diet so that I ate low glycemic foods and changed the time of day when I ate certain things.  My energy levels improved but my weight stayed the same.

Once I contracted CFS/ME I learned about the Paleo Diet, GAPS diet and Weston Price Diet.  I decided to combine all three and went on whole foods paleo diet that included the healing foods from GAPS.  While I felt better, my weight didn't budge then I started gaining again.  Over 8 years my weight crept up by ~100lbs and I was now at 322.  At 5'2", I was around 60 BMI. UGH

Then two years ago all hell broke loose with my gut.  I've been having problems with it on and off since the first day I contracted CFS/ME.  I'd go through bouts where I couldn't eat solid food and fat bothered me the most.  Lots of nausea, IBS, diarrhea, etc.  But, this time it was accompanied by brutal stabbing pain in my left side.  I went through a huge battery of tests.  The results were fatty liver and fatty pancreas.  Nothing that explained the ab pain or the 'not being able to eat' problem.  The did find evidence of stomach lining inflammation but nothing active.  I got put on meds. 

Then I discovered that keto is the only fix for fatty liver.  I started paleo again.  I weaned off the stomach meds.  Then weaned off carbs to keto levels.  My meals consisted of protein for breakfast, lots of veg and a side of meat for my main meal and a small protein and fat snack for the third meal.  Weight started dropping off even though that wasn't my goal.

My liver numbers came down.  My blood sugar numbers were good.  I was no longer prediabetic.  I lost 18 pounds.  Then my stomach acted up again and I couldn't eat any fat.  It was back to turkey sandwiches and chicken soup.  I had to go back on the stomach meds.  This cycle happened twice more: keto diet, gut acting up, paleo diet, gut acting up, etc. 

Now I just can't seem to get back in the groove.  I last a couple of days and then cheat.  I use the keto rules to cheat on paleo and the paleo rules to cheat on keto.  I can't quite figure out what has me stuck.  The cycle of diet/gut fail or the fact that I used to be so poor that I often didn't get enough food to eat or my outright hatred of diets/weight control. 

Thing is I felt GREAT on keto.  I had tons of energy; my PEM was drastically reduced; and my brain fog lifted so I could read again.  And my liver was healing!  My doctor did a liver biopsy this year and it came back with no fibrosis which really shocked him.  Even my liver scan number came down by a lot.

I feel defeated.  I feel out of control.  I just can't seem to do this again even though I did really well before.  I managed 2 years the first time I did paleo and 4-5 months with the last year's paleo/keto round.  There is SO much junk food on the market now.  It makes finding 'keto' snacks easy and on bad days it is so hard for me to prep fresh meals.  I feel like a failure.  Like I don't want to get better. 

I want to come up with a food plan but I'm scared I won't stick to it again.  I'll cheat too much.  Right now I'm eating cough drops due to having a nasty upper respiratory infection and I refuse to use the sugar free drops because of the nasty stuff in them.  That means keto is definitely out for now.  I guess I'll start on paleo once I get off the cough drops. 

Maybe I need to get my mind off weight loss and switch to liver health again.  I still have a ways to go to fix it.  My numbers improved but I still have a fatty liver.  I can't make up my mind if I want to do this cold turkey this time instead of my normal easing into things.  Then again my body doesn't do well with sudden changes.  I need to come up with a better plan.  One that is both food and mental. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

New Research

Nothing available commercially yet.

Scientists discover promising ‘off-switch’ for inflammatory diseases

“The macrophage takes the nutrient glucose, whose day job it is to provide energy, and surprisingly turns it into itaconate. This then blocks production of inflammatory factors,"

Scientists Discover The Root Of Autoimmune Diseases – And How We Can Treat Them

"the researchers dulled symptoms [of autoimmune disease] by suppressing the growth of Enterococcus gallinarum"

Brain's Lymphatic Vessels as New Avenue to Treat Multiple Sclerosis

"the brain and the immune system are closely interacting. When these interactions go out of control, pathologies emerge"

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Key??

New study indicates that there is a genetic defect that reduces the number of T cell receptors in the immune system which leads to the immune system turning on and not being able to turn off.  This in turn leads to a feedback loop of inflammation, Krebs cycle malfunction, mito dysfunction and immune system activation.  When the mitochondria crap out, everything craps out and it turns into a systemic illness.

If this study is verified, then this is most likely THE cause of CFS/ME.  It is the root of all the other problems.  I'm just wondering if CRISPER could be used to repair the genetic damage and fix this illness once and for all.  A girl can dream.....

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Leucine and KREBS

This is going to be short and sweet because I don't have time to hunt down the original paper links right now.  Prudential is demanding that I prove that I still can't work again.  Blergh

Davis et al have just shown that the immune system is haywire and the KREBs cycle is broken in PWME.  Their mito are fine but don't behave fine when exposed to the plasma of PWME so something is broken in our blood not our mito.  Our metabolites are also out of whack.

Along comes this article..
Targeting "Broken" Metabolism in Immune Cells Reduces Inflammatory Disease
that discusses how our immune system essentially hijacks the KREBs cycle so it can make molecules to fight bugs (whether they exist for real or not).  This leads to some weird ass biochem going on and of course inflammation.  They developed a new protein that works well in mice and it is similar to Leucine.  (LOL now I remember WHY I bought that huge tub of leucine!!)  Hence, my leucine experiment is about to start.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Four Letter Word

I hate typing the word 'diet'.  I hate being on a diet.  I hate that society wants us to be a certain weight.  I hate that people hate me just because I'm fat.  I hate that I'm fat.  I hate being fat.  I hate trying to find 4X clothing that I don't hate.  I hate not being able to move easily.  I used to be lithe.  I used to be able to get up from a chair or even the floor easily and smoothly.  This sucks and it is why I'm on a diet.  I'm tired of getting stuck in pieces of furniture or having to go to all fours to get up off the floor.  Admittedly some of this is due to CFS/ME but even on my good days I can get stuck.  Having a waterbed that is underfilled also doesn't help.  I have to roll out of it since I don't have the strength to claw my way out.  Okay so maybe not all of it is due to me being huge....  Having CFS/ME sucks too.

But I digress.....

I'm coming up on the two week mark.  Things are progressing well.  I've lost a few pounds.  I'm still fiddling with the software tracker, cronometer.  I ordered a scale for me that is goes up to 450lbs.  I dug out the scale for my food.  I've been very good at logging food, supplements, sleep duration, sleep quality, symptoms and activities.

 Fiddling with the software has been an interesting experience.  I'm almost obsessed with it but it's paid off.  I actually watched the training vids and learned a few tricks that aren't intuitive.  I've figured out how to put my own foods in if they aren't already in the extensive database and even put in recipes and it does all the math for me.  [If you decide to go with this software, just note that typing in brand names will bring up an entirely different list than typing in generic food names.  "yogurt" will get you a totally different list than "Brown Cow yogurt" and the brand name item often won't show in the list if the generic term is used.  Very weird bug if you ask me but anyway...]  Being able to actually see the macro ratios as well as calories has allowed me to adjust in real time what I choose to eat each day.  I've cut way down on carbs and increased my fruit & veg intake.  I keep trying to increase protein but I don't seem to make the minimum almost daily.  It is only when I go over my calorie count that I eat enough protein.  Sigh...  Right now I tend to make the fat goal with difficulty, carbs always go over and protein under.

I set the tracker up for minimal activity/sedentary with a half pound per week weight loss.  This allows me a baseline of 2070 calories a day assuming I burn 2320 calories doing nothing.  I found I tend to go slightly over the 2070 mark but I'm happy if I keep it under 2320.  Of course the few days leading up to the start of my period went higher and higher.  I could always eat a horse the week prior to my period.  I'm STARVING!!  Now that my period started the hunger is abating and I'm settling back into a 2000 calorie day.  If I'm having trouble with this amount of food I can't imagine how many calories I was eating prior to starting this diet.  Geesh...  no wonder I've lost weight already.

My official weigh in is Saturday morning but of course I couldn't wait.  Right now the scale is on the same floor as me so I don't have to go upstairs to use it.  So, I keep weighing myself every morning.  I always gain and then lose water weight around my period so I'm still not sure what my stable weight is yet.  My starting point was the doctor's office at 306.5lbs, which I confirmed when my new scale arrived.  This morning I stepped on the scale and I'm down to 303.6lbs already!!!  I'm only supposed to be losing a half pound a week and I've already lost 3 and possibly more!  Looks like I might be losing 2 pounds per week which is fantastic!  Maybe after this Saturday I'm moving the scale very far away from where I usually tread in the house so I won't obsessively weigh myself and keep it to once a week.

I am scared that this whole thing is going to devolve into an eating disorder.  The last time I went on a serious diet back in 1992 I almost ended up with an eating disorder.  Luckily I got pregnant and was forced to start eating again.  Then in 1998 I read "What if Women Stopped Hating Their Bodies" and started eating what I wanted, when I wanted and as much as I wanted.  It helped me get over the "you're not allowed to eat that" voice in my head.  It helped me stop craving junk foods.  I ate french fries so much their allure went away for me.  I now only eat them if they are very good fries.    This wasn't the case prior.  They were forbidden foods so I MUST eat them.  It was as much a defiance thing as a food thing.

After that point, I started noticing that some foods made me feel better and some food made me feel worse so I started tinkering with what I ate and when I ate it.  I discovered the glycemic index and based my diet on those principles.  I moved to a more organic whole grain type diet.  I finally managed to get my energy levels on an even keel.  I used to crash after lunch and want to sleep under my desk.  Now I had energy over the course of the day and no longer wanted to sleep mid afternoon.  Then I developed a gluten reaction out of nowhere and had to go gluten free.  I did quite well for years but just couldn't lose weight so I decided to exercise more.  I was strong, fit, had great numbers for the doc and I was fat.  I was a fit fatty as they are called.  Anyway....

After getting sick I did a Paleo Whole30 and then ate Primal for two years.  I never lost weight on this diet contrary to all the Paleo weight loss miracles out there.  However, this healed my guts sufficiently to let grains back into my diet.  Things slowly devolved and I was eating lots of carbs at every single meal.  I would eat a half a pizza for dinner without blinking.  A bowl of pasta for snack.  Breakfast sandwiches, lunch sandwiches.  etc.  Now I'm having to retrain myself yet again.  I knew I hadn't been eating enough veg & fruit.  I knew I was eating too many carbs.  I just didn't realize how much.  This experiment has been good for me.  I both loathe it and happy that I'm losing weight at the same time.  I'm learning things and that always interests me.  

I do wonder how long I'll be able to keep this up?  It will take a year to lose a hundred pounds if I don't plateau, which is an impossibility.  Ideally I should lose 150lbs so I'm looking at another two years of dieting.  UGH  I would just be happy to get rid of my double chin and fit into my size 20 clothing again.  I might even get off the CPAP machine!!  Now that would be something to celebrate!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sleep Update

Another experiment in progress....

I discovered that my new very comfy wedge pillow causes my sinuses to swell shut.  It must be off-gassing something nasty.  The cover stank anyway either from scented laundry detergent or dryer crystals.  I like the smell at first whiff but can't stand sleeping on top of it.  Anyway, hubs is going to wash the cover for me and I'm going to stick it out on the deck to bake in the sun for a few days.  I would hate to add this to my growing pile of 'do not use' pillows.  This is getting expensive.  Plus this particular one is so darned comfy.  I would really like to be able to use it.  Sigh......

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Great Diet Experiment Part Deux

It's been a few years since I did the whole Paleo thing.  It was great for me at the time.  Over the course of the following two years I healed my stomach/guts to the point that I can now eat wheat again if it is non-GMO.  Now, several years after that, between one thing and another, I eat WAY too many carbs.  Back then I did a rough calorie count so I could figure out my macro balance (carbs vs protein vs fat).  I estimated that I was eating around 1600-2000 kcals a day.  I have no clue what I'm eating these days.   I'm no longer cooking from scratch, eating a lot of take out, and eating a lot of prepared foods/snacks.  Hence, the new diet experiment.  I had been toying with the idea of trying out keto for years now and this is a good chance to see if I can do it.

I downloaded the app, cronometer.  It tracks calories, macros and micro nutrients.  Of course, rather than trying to do a baseline for a week I dove right in with calorie restriction.  Big mistake number one.  According to the app, with my height and weight and no exercise, my baseline is ~2300kcal per day.  To lose a half pound a week I have to eat ~250kcal/day less than that.  Oh easy beans right?  I figure cut out my one soda per day and the two chocolate bars I eat a week and I'm golden.  Sweet.  Big mistake number two.

I started doing data entry on the foods I eat.  I can watch in real time or even plan ahead and see how foods alter my calories, macros and micros.  WOW!!  Man do I eat a LOT of calories.  I don't eat horribly.  I eat pretty high quality foods but dang they are also calorie dense foods.  Between meals and snacks I was probably around 3000kcal/day.  Of course, doing the live tracking meant I immediately stopped eating normally.  Because I could, I entered the day prior to the day I started tracking and ended up with 2500kcal/day based on just memory, which means I probably forgot stuff.

I immediately tried to stick to the allowed calories and immediately failed.  I was starving!!  Also I'm nervous about doing calorie restriction while having severe CFS/ME.  I eat to make sure both my blood sugar and my energy stay at a pretty even keel.  I also try to make sure I have a variety of foods and probiotics to help with my health.  But I wasn't able to track any of this before and now I can.

After two days of trying to stick to the calorie count, I gave in.  I was like screw it I'm eating the left over pizza in the fridge.  I entered it into the food diary and to my surprise it didn't whack my numbers out by too much.  Sure high in carbs according to the ratios I set up for myself but I was finding that there was no way to eat little enough carbs and enough fat to balance the macros out the way I wanted.  So now I'm just kind of winging it and seeing what happens.

Some background...   I've gained weight.  Once I became sedentary and managed to start eating again I went up to 250lbs.  I'm 5'2" which put me in the morbidly obese range.  I had started at 220lbs which I was stuck at despite a good diet and tons of exercise.  I was considered healthy obese; one of those quirks of nature that was healthy despite being horribly overweight.  I had low blood pressure, okay cholesterol, no diabetes or even prediabetes.  Then I got sick.  I lost 20lbs right away due to not eating at all.  Then gained back 50lbs over the course of several years and then leveled out.  Then I went on steroids for a year.  After that point, I very slowly crept up in weight until last year when I hit 305lbs.  I had stomach problems last year so it fluctuated a bit and now a year later I'm at 306.  Which is good.  I'm not gaining.  Whew!  But it still sucks.

I had to buy furniture for our new house and now I have to check the construction to make sure it will hold my weight.  Everything has to be wider, bigger and stronger for me to use it.  I'm up to a 4X in clothing which means I'm stuck with one of the shittiest clothing manufacturers on the planet.  I can no longer buy clothes in the stores.  Hence my motivation for losing weight.  My bed is uncomfortable; I need a new wider wheelchair; I've almost broken the wheels off my walker/seat; I'm worried about breaking the stairlift.  It sucks!!

The whole thing is such an interesting experiment.  I have always had body image problems.  I've been fighting my body weight since I arrived here in the US in the 70s and suddenly packed on pounds.  I hate diets and actively rebel against them every chance I get.  We were so poor when I was a kid food scarcity was actually a problem and I was often hungry.  Now as an adult I'm very wonky about how much food is in the house and if I have access to food.  I used to carry food around with me for when I got hungry.

I keep trying to do the body positive thing but absolutely hate being fat.  I had called a truce when I was able to exercise like crazy but now that I'm sedentary and cracked 300lbs I'm done.  I want to fix this.  I don't care that studies show that people gain the weight back.  I don't care that I'm walking proof of those studies.  I've been on two diets in my life.  I lost weight and then gained it back with a few extra pounds.  I keep hearing success stories in the Paleo world and was hoping that pounds would magically melt off me but alas that didn't happen.  Again I'm the anomaly.

Back to the present day...
This is now day five of my experiement.   I've made a couple of decisions already.  I'm not going to stress about sticking to the weight loss calorie count.  If I can keep it at or slightly below the metabolic calorie count I'll be happy.  It is still way less than what I was eating.  The metabolic rate is a guess and probably wrong.  If I've been eating between 2500-3000kcal/day and not gaining weight, then sticking to 2200-2500 is a good improvement.  Even so I've been shifting what I eat.  I'm figuring out what I can eat a lot of and what I have to be careful of.  Yes this is getting into the good foods vs bad foods issue.  I'm sort of ignoring that for now.  I am leary of crossing over into eating disorder territory.  I'm weighing my food, counting out tomatoes, pouring stuff into measuring cups,etc.  It is dangerous territory.  I almost slid into eating disorder territory the one and only other time I went on a serious diet back in the early 90s.  While I need to control my eating and food, I really need to not get too hung up on it.  It is going to be very difficult.

Other things I've noticed...
I seem to be eating a lot of the time out of boredom.  I want to get up and do something and getting a snack is about all I can handle.  Also eating eases frustration, anxiety and stress.  I love chewing on things when I'm anxious.  I love fruit leather for this reason.  It is nice and chewy.  I can gnaw on it for a while.  However, it is really high in calories so I have to watch the amount I eat. I think I have to find a different outlet for my frustration: breathing exercises maybe???

I've overeaten today.  I'm stressing out about the blood test coming up in the afternoon.  I have to do a 12 hour fast which means that by 4am I have to stop eating and won't have access to food until after 5pm tomorrow.  Yikes!!  I'm getting a little wonky over it.

I love ice water but it makes me hungry.  Ravenously hungry.  I also can't drink anything but water or I go way over my calorie count for the day.  I manage to sneak in a little kefir but most of the time I'm skipping all the juices, kombuchas, etc that I used to consume almost daily.    

Being able to see the micronutrient numbers on a daily basis lets me know which supplements to take.  VitE seems to be a fairly common one.  I'm surprised at how well I'm doing with most of them.  I seem to be keeping up with the Bs, A, K and iron.  Potassium I seem to be constantly short and E depends upon my meals for the day.  Sometimes I hit it and sometimes I don't.   I wonder if I can chart them out.  That would be nice to see.

So jury is still out on this.  I feel like I'm wrestling a bull by the horns and it is tossing me around a bit.  I just ordered a scale that will work with my higher weight.  I'm putting it in the remote bathroom so I won't be tempted to step on it every day.  Another holdover from my weight obsessing days.  I'm going to continue to try to eat a more balanced diet. I already knew I needed to eat more veg and less carbs.  I'm going to have to mess around the macro settings though.  Not sure I can handle the 50% fat/25% carb/25% protein I originally setup.  I'm constantly missing these targets. It is nice seeing the micronutrient numbers though and it helps me with supplementation.  There will be more about this.  Particularly since I'm an emotional wreck around these issues.  I really wish they would figure out why some bodies hold onto their weight while others lose so easily.  Sigh.  I just want to be under 200lbs.  My goal is 140 but I'll settle for anything under 200lbs at this point.