This post is a long one, so please bear with me.
I ate a salad for lunch yesterday. It had mixed baby greens, grilled chicken, ham, pickled beets, hard-boiled eggs, grape tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, cheddar cheese and was dressed with ranch dressing only because the oil and vinegar at the salad bar I went to is decidedly inferior. I followed it up with a small hunk of cantaloupe and a small hunk of watermelon.
It took me nearly an hour to eat it, but it tasted absolutely amazing. More importantly, it felt absolutely amazing.
I lost nearly 7 pounds in less than a week right after this surgery. The first few days were just a wretched experience – I was in constant pain (well, I still am, but it’s bearable now) and, especially since I was taking Prednisone, I was constantly hungry. When it got to the point that I could stand to swallow anything that wasn’t ice water or beef broth, it was soft, bland things – and almost exclusively things I no longer eat.
Namely, grains. Grits. Oatmeal. Cream of Wheat. Pasta. Pancakes. Bread. Not the most nutritious of foods; in retrospect, I’d probably would have been no worse off if I’d stuck with water and homemade beef and chicken broths, especially since I’d been told to avoid dairy. But I felt absolutely miserable and eating those things I could swallow without screaming in pain took some of that misery away.
By yesterday morning, I was cranky, tired, achy and I’d gained back 3½ of the 7 pounds I’d lost. Then, on the way back to the office after my doctor’s appointment, I experienced something I hadn’t since giving up grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy: heart palpitations. Hence the salad from the local grocery store’s salad bar; the meats weren’t pastured, the vegetables weren’t organic or sustainably grown and the salad dressing was made with soybean oil, but it was protein, fat and nutrient-dense carbohydrates in the form of raw fruits and leafy green vegetables – far better than the bowl of microwavable mac ‘n’ cheese I might or might not have scarfed down at 2 a.m. the night before.
(I bought it so The Young One would have something to fix for himself, since I’ve not exactly been up to cooking and Beloved has been out of town all week, so cut me some slack for having it in the house in the first place. Please, cut me some slack, because I’m not…)
I’ve had moments when I’ve doubted if I should have had this damn surgery in the first place, but it’s been a marvelous reminder for just why I changed my diet in the first place. Eating grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy made me sick. Eating grass-fed beef and pastured pork, chicken, eggs and dairy, mostly locally and sustainably grown produce and healthy, natural fats has healed that sickness. It’s not that hard to understand.
Or so you’d think. About a week before the surgery I found myself in the endocrinologist’s office, taking some sort of “metabolic test” and getting the results of my blood test from the nurse practitioner. Without going into how stupid it seems that they could test my metabolic rate by having me breathe into a plastic tube for 10 minutes or how pointless it was to hear that my metabolism is perfectly normal for a short, fat, middle-aged, perimenopausal woman, let me just say that both the nurse and I were both pleased with my blood tests. My blood pressure is 116/68. Cholesterol is great; LDLs well within an acceptable level and my triglycerides levels should be the envy of the neighborhood. My HDLs were a little on the low side, but regular exercise can take care of that. My blood sugar levels are perfect. My chronic anemia is gone. My thyroid and liver functions are fine. I have a very slight vitamin D and B12 deficiency and that was it. In short, I’m in pretty good shape for a short, fat, middle-aged, perimenopausal woman.
She asked me if I’d kept a food diary, and to give me credit I did not roll my eyes and ask her if she would have time to keep a food diary if she were married to her job and simply said no; we’d been to Cincinnati to visit the G Man and Jolly and hosted nearly 30 of our clients for two days just prior to the appointment, the planning and execution of which kept us busy – and eating out far more often than is the norm for us. But I did tell her what I normally eat during the course of any given day: namely grass-fed beef and pastured pork, chicken, eggs and dairy, mostly locally and sustainably grown produce and healthy, natural fats. I gave her the run-down on giving up grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy. I told her that we do not eat anything processed, that we do not eat anything with artificial ingredients, including artificial sweetener. And I told her that I’d lost nearly 30 pounds since June.
This woman then looked me dead in the face and said, “Stop eating the beef and pork, especially the sausage and bacon. Only eat lean chicken, turkey and fish.” She pulled out a piece of paper with a graph showing me my normal metabolism. “This shows what your metabolism is – you need to keep your calories under 1,400 a day in order to lose weight.” (I’d just told her that when I have kept tract of what I eat, I average about 1,600 – 1,700 calories a day.) “And, you need to exercise more.”
I cocked an eyebrow at her and said, “That’s the ONE thing we agree on.”
She continued as if I hadn’t spoken and handed me a piece of paper and a booklet. “Here are some good diet guidelines you should follow in order to lose weight and be healthy. We’ll see you again in three months, after we’ve done some more blood work. Try and keep a food diary.” And she walked out of the room, leaving me gaping at her.
The booklet was printed by Lilly Pharmaceuticals, the people who just happen to produce Cymbalta and a host of injectible insulins under various brand names, and was full of the same bullshit advice for diabetics that doesn’t work – eat lots of grains (only half of which need be “whole” grains), fruits, vegetables and small portions of lean meats while restricting fats. Think about that for a minute: she gave someone who is NOT diabetic, diabetic literature. Why?!?
The sheet of paper was even more interesting. It had my name at the top and was a list of what I will assume is this doctor’s recommendation for what I should eat in order to “lose weight and be healthy” (and I’ve reproduced here it exactly as written):
- Unsweetened cereals (“Cheerio’s”, “Wheaties”, “Special K”, “Kashi Cereal”)
- Hot cereal with 2% or 1% milk. No Cream of Wheat
- Cooked eggs
- Fruit (apple, melons, berries, pears, kiwi, oranges) No bananas and grapes
- Lean lunch meat (chicken or turkey breasts)
- Low fat, sugar free yogurt (with artificial sweetener aspartame) or Splenda
- English muffin with peanut butter
- Protein snack bar
- Hummus with fresh vegetables
- Unbuttered popcorn
- Peanut butter with apples or celery
- Dry roasted or raw nuts (peanuts, almonds,cashews) No walnuts or pecans
- Lean lunch meat or low fat cheese
- Low fat, sugar free yogurt
- No crackers,cookies, pretzels, and chips
- All fresh, raw vegetables except for peas or corn
- Sugar free Jell-O or pudding
- Sugar free hard candy
- Berries with low fat cool whip
- Splenda ice cream
- No sugar added popsicles and fudgesickles
- Soups (chicken broth with boiled chicken, tomato soup, Italian wedding soup, vegetarian chili,etc.) No creamy soups
- Lean meat (grilled, baked or broiled chicken, turkey or fish) No breaded meat
- Green beans, salad or grilled vegetables as side dish. Almost NO potato, pasta and rice
- Olive or canola oil
- Salad with any vegetables, hard boiled egg, nuts, feta cheese
- Lima beans
No Mexican, Chinese and fast food except for Subway or Taco Bell (fresco menu)
No butter (only Benicol spread)
No regular pop
(Out of all the ludicrous things on this list – Taco Bell? Low fat Cool Whip? Lunch meat and low fat cheese? VEGETARIAN CHILI?!?!? – I think my favorite is “unbuttered popcorn.” What’s the point??? I’m sorry, Ms. Nurse Practitioner Lady With Severe Hearing Loss, but I grew up in a household where popcorn was merely a vehicle for butter.)
Nearly three weeks later, I still don’t know whether to laugh or run through the streets, foaming at the mouth and screaming in frustration. This woman listened to nothing I said. Nothing. We discussed my exemplary blood test results. I sat there and told her I ate only whole, natural foods, that I did not eat anything processed or containing artificial ingredients. That I’d lost 30 pounds in 4 months. And this? This is the response I get?
We’re trusting our health to an entire industry trained not to listen to us.
Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday