Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Struggling with Food Choices

I mentioned in an earlier post that my intention is to get back on the recommended food protocol from my endocrinologist (I'm hypothyroid), and I began that journey on the first day of this year. So far it is a very real struggle between what my mind knows and what my appetite cravings seek. As when I did this the first time (even though I eventually failed to stay faithful) my goal is better health, and weight loss is just a happy by-product.

I was surprised to see a tiny weight loss over the first week, which I didn't expect. It seems that when I announced I was going to eliminate some specific things from my diet (like sugars), my body just increased the desire for those very things!

The biggest challenge so far really is sugar, but it's followed closely by obesogens and goitrogens (both are endocrine disruptors, which cause weight gain regardless of calorie intake). Sugar is a problem because I got re-addicted to it with all the holiday foods from my birthday cake in early November, then Thanksgiving, Christmas and on through New Years' Day. I discovered in just 1 week that cutting back on sugar doesn't work for me... any more than reducing alcohol intake works for an alcoholic who wants to be free of the addiction.

So, eliminating sugar is going to have to be the cold turkey approach. However, one problem with sugar is those foods that don't necessarily appear laden with sugar, but convert to sugars during the digestion process. Those include some grains and legumes, some tubers and even packaged orange juice (although I don't buy OJ).

Whole wheat bread or cereals are high on that list, but not if they are made from whole wheat grains that are first sprouted, then dried before grinding into flour. (Do you think Kellogg's does that for their packaged cereals?) You can buy bags of several kinds of sprouted flours in addition to a few sprouted, dried whole grains and legumes to make your own here. (There may be many other sources, I just happen to know of that one.) Of course, my local stores do not carry any sprouted grains, nor sprouted grain breads like Ezekiel Bread. I can buy frozen Ezekiel Bread in most natural food stores, but the closest stores are a hundred miles away. 

My options then are to eliminate bread altogether, or order some sprouted flours and make my own. Although I am not a very good baker, I did make my own bread for a couple of years, mostly sourdough which I love. I suppose I will start making bread again, like I need one more thing to do! sigh

Obesogens are also a problem because so many are not just in foods. Many of them come from faux fragrance chemicals added to things like laundry soaps, dish detergents, and shampoos. Some come from plasticizers used in plastic meat packaging, clear plastic wrap, food cans (BPA) and even in tap water which is increasingly tainted with drugs that mimic hormones.  We absorb them through our skin (like water in the shower) even if we don't ingest them.

I solved the laundry detergent problem when I diverted the laundry water out to the garden recently... and switched to biodegradable, low-sodium detergents without phosphates, brighteners, boron, borax, enzymes or bleach. I switched to good handmade bath and facial soaps last year, but now I need to address shampoos and dish detergents.

I am particularly sensitive to obesegens now. I wasn't always so sensitive, but the body collects them in fat cells in the liver and elsewhere rather than eliminating them, and they build up over time. 

The obesogens in pesticides and herbicides used on growing commercial foods (except organic), along with chemical food washes and plastic packaging "for safety" are harder for me to avoid during winter when I have few (if any) fresh greens or vegetables growing.

I don't knowingly eat soy products because soy contains both obesogens and goitrogens (besides the fact that most soy is GMO) but a double-whammy comes from the hidden soy products. "Mysterious ingredients that frequently (if not always) include soy are: hydrolyzed plant protein, isolated vegetable protein, vegetable gum, vegetable broth, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, isolates, methylcellulose, mono- and diglycerides, vegetable broth, vegetable oil, vegetable protein, vegetable starch, and vegetable fat. 

“Natural Flavors” indicates soy. Because soy can be grown organically [although rarely, ~editor], and it is a naturally occurring plant, it is not seen as dishonest labeling practice to include “natural flavors”, or “flavoring” when manufacturers really mean soy. Unless the ingredient is specified, such as “natural vanilla flavors”, or “natural cocoa flavors”, do not trust this catch-all of ingredient euphemisms." (Source)

I don't have any problems with the natural goitrogens found in sweet potatoes, spinach and the brassica family (cruciferous vegetables) because I cook them, and cooking inactivates those goitrogens in vegetables. (I do eat raw spinach from my garden on salads in season, but it isn't much.)

As for the rest of my food protocol, I'm not having any problems with animal proteins, dairy (like cheese, real cream for my coffee, and butter) and other good fats because I never deviated from buying grass-fed / pastured animal products, or good fats like coconut oil and olive oils (in spite of the food miles). Nor am I having any problems with getting enough daily vegetables. I don't do as well with fruits, being against the food miles that are coupled with outrageous pesticide usage on imported fruits. I do have some local organic apples still in the larder, but I didn't store enough and they go fast!

Remembering to take my vitamins (D and B12) every morning remains a hurdle. Even if I put them right in front of my computer screen so I can't miss them with my morning ritual of coffee and checking email, I tend to push them aside thinking I'll take them in a few minutes when the coffee is ready.

There is a lot of fine-tuning to do with my food protocol, like pH balance... but I'll address those in future posts. Right now I'm busy battling the Dragon named Sugar.



  1. Hi Darius,

    If I may, re: hidden soy products, what are the foods on your shopping list that contain them? Similarly, besides the foods that you mention, where are you getting sugar in your diet?


  2. Mike, sugary foods that are not on my list but are hard to resist, are things like ice cream or donuts, or deciding I want something sweet and there's nothing in the house so I make rice pudding (or shortbread cookies, biscotti, etc.)

    Hidden soy examples from my pantry: The can of kidney beans contains "natural flavorings"; the Bragg's ginger and sesame salad dressing has all organic ingredients except xanthum gum which is often grown on soy... and the Bremner wafers (my favorite cracker for cheese) has "enzymes" which are usually made from soy.

    I'm trying not to have any packaged or prepared foods in my grocery cart!

  3. Wow...sounds just like me. That sugar habit is EXTREMELY HARD...especially if it contains chocolate. I keep telling myself, "in moderation". But then moderation seems to turn into a whole batch of whatever it is-until it's all gone.

    I'm not even sure if I could convince myself to go "cold turkey"...the thought just makes me cringe. (Sounds like a bit of an emotional addiction as well as the physical, eh?)

    So, I certainly do identify with you! (And something inside me keeps saying there must be some other way!!!!!) :(

    Leah's Mom

  4. Sue, When I switched to eating just a 1/4 of a square of an 85% cocoa bar at bedtime, I didn't get the same cravings as when eating highly sweetened chocolate.

  5. I am struggling with sugar addiction as well as many food sensitivities. When I followed the SCD diet (specific carbohydrate diet) in 2002 for a couple of years it taught me a lot about our food supply and hidden ingredients at least. I still haven't found the ideal eating plan, but I just wanted to say that I enjoy all of your posts; they provide a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Please keep us posted on your food struggles too ... as I find them highly relatable.


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