I’m working back toward the anti-inflammation diet again. I’d gotten away from it, after the two or three weeks or so in June and July that I did really well (I don’t actually remember when I let it go by the wayside; I just stopped writing about it at some point, just as I did in January when I was trying to lose weight). Money was an issue the week I gave up, and I couldn’t afford the right foods to continue properly. By that time, though, I’d already begun the process of letting go of it gradually, first eating some of the inflammatory foods I’d been craving, justifying it to myself by thinking the anti-inflammatory foods I was still eating would make up for it. I knew about that tendency in myself, to justify, yet the Inner Enabler (I don’t know if that’s an actual psychological term or not, but it seems to fit) can effectively wipe that knowledge from accessible memory and make it seem like it makes sense in the moment.
“I’ll just have one.”
“I’ll just have a few.”
“Well, half the package is already gone. I’ll just finish it so I won’t have any more left to tempt me and I’ll start again tomorrow.”
“It could be worse. I could have eaten (fill in the blank with something worse).”
My sister and I once developed an entire diet plan called the It Could Be Worse Diet. It works like this: Whatever you want to eat, just think of something worse that you could be eating but aren’t. (“I want a big bowl of ice cream, but I won’t eat the whole container!”, “I want a second donut, but it could be worse; I could eat the whole dozen.” ”This burger and fries has to be better than eating an entire pizza.”) Bingo. Your Inner Enabler is happy, you get your comfort food, and all feels right with the world. Granted, you won’t lose much weight, but it kept us amused for a while.
My food addiction is making it so difficult to eat the way I know I need to. The other day, while walking through the grocery store and picking out healthy items, I fought tears, facing that I would be giving up my comfort foods again. It felt something like walking a tight rope without a net, a comparison I have made to the fighting of fears in a few areas of my life.
In the last month or two, I’ve been feeling the effects of the inflammation growing steadily worse again. The knees, the hip, the back pain (especially after sleeping for any length of time over about five hours). Then, last week, my left shoulder started to hurt again and got worse every day, and finally my jaw started hurting again by about Thursday. I was afraid the stabbing headache pains would be next, so that was why I went to the store and bought a supply of some of the easier anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate back into my diet: tuna, sardines, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, salad greens, avocado, V-8 juice, baby carrots. I still had frozen strawberries, which, along with cantaloupe, I hadn’t actually stopped eating regularly since doing this in June and July. I still have some frozen Brussels sprouts and some frozen spinach. I’ll pick up almonds the next time I go to the store, and olive oil for cooking. Maybe a jar of olives. According to the book I have, one jumbo green olive is worth 8 IF (Inflammation Factor) points. Two tablespoons of chopped raw onion is worth 52. A quarter cup chopped red bell pepper is 45. So, adding those things (and counting out maybe five jumbo olives) to a salad would add 137 points to a salad eaten with dinner, and will add a whole lot of flavor, as well. If I include raw kale in the salad, that can really boost the IF ratings even more. (A quarter cup is worth 128 points, according to nutritiondata.com [the book doesn't list raw kale, only cooked].)
I’ve been in the habit of looking up foods either on the Nutrition Data web site or in the book when certain ones are listed in one place but not the other. Sometimes I look things up in both places, and sometimes I can’t find specific listings anywhere. There are a few things I am finding extremely difficult and frustrating. One is when the web site and the book contradict one another. Another is when I can’t find something anywhere. And yet another is not knowing how to figure out packaged foods or gluten-free foods that aren’t on either list or show the IF Rating as N/A on the web site. So I do the best I can and hope I’m right, and that if I’m wrong, I’ve done well enough with the rest of my day to make up for it. I’ll just continue to hope that the concept of IF Ratings catches on and becomes something that more people will want to pay attention to, and that that may mean more access to information about more foods in the future.
I think the most astounding thing I noticed last time I did this was that I was suddenly able to sleep through an entire night without waking up with back pain. For years, I felt I had a choice: either get enough sleep to function on all cylinders or be able to stand upright and walk in the morning. I’d had no idea that it was any longer an option, at my weight and age and without buying a new bed, to have both. But eating anti-inflammatorily (I still like that phrase, even if I did make it up) made it possible. And, of course, it went back to the way it was before, when I stopped. Because a decent night’s sleep is imperative for so many things, including ADD, fibromyalgia, and depression, and because allowing those things to be any more out of control than they already are (especially the ADD) could very well cost me my job, I’ve come to the conclusion that avoiding inflammatory foods is something I’m going to have to do. (I’ve decided to talk with my GP about trying ADD medication when I see him in October, but even if I find a medication I like and it helps a lot, proper sleep is still vital.)
I read an article yesterday that said:
The fatty tissues of the body secrete hormones that regulate the immune system and inflammation, but in the case of an overweight individual this can become out of control. Three of the hormones that play a role in metabolism are leptin, resistin and adiponectin.
- Leptin is involved in appetite control.
- Resistin is a hormone that increases insulin resistance.
- Adiponectin lowers the blood sugar by making your body more insulin sensitive.
The fact that it is the fatty tissue that produces these hormones makes the fat self regulating, as the hormones should act to bring the increased fat under control. Bodies with more fat will produce more leptin bringing the appetite under control. However in cases where the body is inflamed there is often a problem with leptin resistance, and the self regulation of fat does not occur. Leptin resistance is where to body stops responding to the appetite controlling effects of the hormone.
In addition to these metabolism regulating hormones your fatty tissue also produces chemicals that cause inflammation and this can make the problem of leptin resistance worse. This is why obesity can cause an increase of these inflammatory chemicals which in turn inhibit the correct balancing function of the weight controlling hormones. This results in a vicious circle of weight gain causing inflammation which inhibits hormone function thereby causing further weight gain.
And this drives home the point that I not only need to avoid inflammatory foods; I need to lose weight as well. I suppose that saying “I’m not doing this to lose weight, but to feel better, and the fact that I’ll end up losing weight anyway is just a bonus” is becoming less effective at distracting my fears. Fooling myself into thinking I can skirt around the Inner Enabler unnoticed isn’t going to work anymore, either.
I suppose it’s wake-up time.