Thursday, October 18

The Circle of Gluten and Bad Decisions

Today I'm thinking about the things that ought to make me "think", but usually have to glide by, fly by, and then finally bite me on the butt before I actually make the trouble to think about them.


No matter what I eat that is lowcarb, I don't usually overeat, if anything I have trouble eating enough per day of nearly any nutrient. EXCEPT. If I eat something like tacos or burritos using lowcarb tortillas, I overeat. I know I'm overeating because I feel 'dark inside' and too stuffed to move for quite awhile after.

Why do I overdose on this and not other things? I had to think about it for awhile.

I think it's possible that the combination of hamburger meat (spicy in this case), shredded cheese, and the fiber from a lowcarb tortilla, is simply a lot. ONE medium burrito, or two medium tacos, is PLENTY. Yet, I usually eat twice that. Why? Because I can. Because I love the taste. Because once you get the basic stuff made and set out, it's easy.

But really, it doesn't matter why. What matters is that I get conscious enough about my eating habits to say, "Hey, will you look at that. I consistently overeat if the meal is tacos or burritos. Next time I make those dishes, I will be sure to plan my portions in advance." That wasn't so hard, was it?


Gluten-free stuff is high carb. Lowcarb stuff is higher in gluten. This is God's way of telling me that rather than finding a way to have "cheat-breadishes" I just need to adapt my diet so I no longer think I NEED that kind of thing.

Here's proof that I have not adapted to kicking sugar 'really': when I do carb cycling, why do I want to have high protein pasta, rather than extra broccoli?



I think I can now say with some certainty that the chance of my choosing to eat something lousy when I am officially lowcarbing, is nearly always trackable not to what is tempting me, not to my mood, not to anything in that moment --

-- but to what I ate 24-48 hours PRIOR TO THAT MOMENT. Yes. I'm saying that I think the body totally sets us up. I eat something and I think I am ok with it, it did not throw me out of ketosis, it did not cause instant cravings, all appears to be well. But then, 1-2 days LATER, I end up making some decision about food that is, shall we say, not the kind that is easy to "own responsibility for" later.

So when people are talking about how to stay on plan, how to be disciplined, how to resist temptation, the answer is not really, "when you have an overwhelming craving to go face-down in the pie, don't do it." By the time they have that overwhelming craving, there are physiological issues behind it... it's mostly too late for moralizing about willpower. The real answer is, "Get so far off sugar in every form and anything else that saps your energy that you will not GET to the point of that overwhelming craving."

Willpower starts at the 3-carb level.


When I eat gluten, it gives me asthma anywhere from 12-36 hours LATER. Not at the time! Before I went lowcarb, I never tracked gluten to asthma because I ate it all the time, so it was a chronic condition. After I went lowcarb, I knew that asthma was from something I was eating previously, probably the breads, because lowcarb forced me to stop them entirely (the first time I went lowcarb there were incredibly few 'lowcarb' breadish products).

The irony, of course, is that my entire life I've lived on bread products. "Whole grains!" I was a vegetarian for nearly 5 years. Gained weight, mostly lived on bread products and dairy since I didn't much like fruits and vegetables. Probably torqued my hormonal balance good through serious amino/protein deprivations.

Once I was lowcarb and controlling that kind of thing better -- rarely eating a breadish product, and only the lowcarb variants -- I was finally able to begin to find the correlation. Eat gluten -- and lowcarb bread products often have MORE of it because of the way the grain is processed to favor the protein -- and not that night, but the NEXT night, and the day after that, I'd be wheezing totally.

Now, take a person who has sleep apnea -- scratch that, just "apnea," I've had "shallow breathing" problems even when I was a teen and thin, I think it's a subconscious emotional suppression thing, totally aside from the physical issue that causes breathing problems mostly in overweight people -- and then add heavy lung wheezing to the equation, and you get someone who is seriously oxygen deprived.

Tip: oxygen deprivation, while quite fascinating especially in serious degree, has the same effect as things like a thyroid problem or low potassium can. It can make you exhausted, sluggish, seriously forgetful (short term memory really gets blitzed, the sort of, "yes and -- um -- what were we just talking about??" sort), etc.

Not surprisingly, when people feel exhausted and sluggish, they don't move as much. That doesn't just mean they don't run marathons as often. It also means they are less inclined to get up and go make eggs or a protein drink... if they aren't really hungry, they might not bother. It also means they may be less inclined to do any number of things that contribute to their eating well, or a tad bit of exercise that has other life side effects (like a cleaner kitchen for example, which may affect whether 3 hours later they decide to make gluten free lowcarb highprotein muffins, vs. not doing so).

Of course, when I eat insufficient protein, I'm less energetic, I'm not retaining my muscle mass as well, and so have some of the same not as inclined to be energetic side effects.

It's a downward spiral! It's a catch-222.

No-brainer: When I am more exhausted, I am more inclined to seek energy from food. Read: carbs in one form or another.


OK, so there it is, the thought at the back of my brain trying to get my attention:

1. I eat gluten and I shouldn't, which
2. Causes lower oxygen a day or two later, which
3. Causes more exhaustion, which tends to up my carb intake as I seek more energy, which
4. Brings on more rounds of #1 until several spirals are operating at once here, which
5. Eventually means I'm not energetic enough to go make divine lowcarb foods because either I'm too exhausted, or not energetic enough to clean my kitchen and don't feel like cooking when it's not clean, or I just don't bother eating at all, which then drops my protein and nutrients, further depleting my energy, adding more to the spirals, which
6. Eventually means I'm likely to eat something offplan or simply go off lowcarb entirely.

This could be summed up like: Lowcarb is where you have lots of energy because you're living off your plentiful fat cells. Screw it up, though, and you will naturally start eating more because humans are primal-driven to eat more when they lack energy.

Lesson: Don't screw it up.

Additional note: the very food that has the gluten that keeps screwing it up for me (lowcarb tortillas) also happens to be part of the main meal that I am most likely to seriously overeat.

I grew up on tacos and burritos. You'd think I was mexican, in fact until lowcarb, mexican food of a variety of things was the only thing I knew how to cook! Not 'real' mexican food (half a roasted chicken and black beans, or spicy pork in masa wrapped in corn husks, or homemade 1/2" thick little breads called tortillas) but 'American' mexican food (thin tortillas from a package and a ton of cheese! rinse and repeat in 14 variations).

I'm trying to be repetitive to get it through my own brain here.

GLUTEN IS KILLING ME. It seems like no big deal when I eat it! It seems like only a little thing even when "Oh, I have stuff in my lungs, asthma" a day later. But the SIDE EFFECTS are part of an overall downward spiral-cycle that is consistently taking me OFF/OUT of lowcarb eating.

All because... wait for it... I feel like I can't possibly be expected to survive lowcarb if I can't have, as a regular meal, the easy to make, kid likes 'em too, burritos.

I should make a sign, WILL DIE FOR BURRITOS. Would this make it clear enough?

Maybe I should reframe it. Would I be sad to go overseas, be in a war, and get killed for the sake of a long list of relatively good reasons ranging from freedom to economic survival of my country? Yes, I probably would. That would be scary! That would seem like such a tragedy for me, for my family losing me. And yet, I'm willing to continue on an eating plan lifestyle that is just as certain to kill me, but in some slower, more expensive way, all so I can have a freakin BURRITO?




orodemniades said...

No, you're not crazy...I've recently realized that wheat (or maybe it's gluten, too) gives me a stuffed nose. I mean, besides cranky and bad sleepy and general loginess. And depression. And heart palpitations

And yet, I still eat it. Before I got pregnant and moved in with my mom, I did eat the odd bit of bread, mostly the artisan breads which are incredibly popular (and yummy) in my area. Now bread is almost a daily part of my life again because I'm unable to cook as a low-carber and due to my ravenous hunger, I'm eating far more of it than I ever have before.

I can't say I've made bad decisions eating wheat, I mostly just feel terrible and depressed, with added depression because I blame the wheat for any weight gain instead of, y'know, the baby. I'm working really hard to get over that, but it's difficult, because I have to eat for both of our sakes.

And, on the overeating thing, the only I know I overeat is pasta of any kind. Which sucks because I'm part Sicilian, as well as getting the bloaty-tired-still hungry thing, no matter how little or much of it I eat. It's very strange.

Needless to say, I'll be very glad when the baby is born and I can go back to proper cooking. I miss vegetables.

Cindy Moore said...

I don't have a problem with gluten in particular, but grains always set me off. I've checked for an intolerance and don't seem to have one, but whenever I eat grains (even without gluten) I want more and more....and of course want to eat all kinds of carbs after!!

Many fruits have the same effect.

wallowgirl said...

I was watching an Oprah episode about Jenny McCarthy's son having autism. She did research and found out that many Americans can not tolerate, if not allergic, to gluten. Gluten seems to cause an imbalance in some, especially if you have say candida(yeast) overgrowth in your body. She changed her son's diet and he has improved dramatically. Fruits probably do the same thing sometimes because of all the natural sugar.