Friday, May 25, 2012

Reducing the sweet palate

My friend Pam, who's a part of my Women and Food discussion group, sent me the following link ( The endocrinologist on the videos, Marlene Merritt, specializes in blood sugar issues. I watched her teachings with the same fascination and horror that come up for many of us around disasters and tragedies, for I knew that what she was saying was not only true in general, but true for me. Sometimes we have to hear things a bunch of times, sometimes they have to be presented to us in a certain way. But after I watched these videos, I knew I had to let go of denial and the way-out-in-the-future Some Day and start thinking about how I was going to change what I eat even more.

She said many things that struck me but here's one. Our brains respond to sweet as sweet, whether it comes from candy or a spoonful of brown sugar or a mango or diet soda. It responds by insulin production and for many of us, insulin overload. Which makes us crave something with sugars to "entertain," as she put it, the insulin our body is pumping out.

Her advice: move away from sweet. Sweet needs to be an occasional thing, not an every meal, every snack, every bite thing. Give up artificial sweeteners. Not healthy. Cut back on all the other forms of sweet. And while I gave up desserts, highly concentrated sweet, several years ago, I haven't really cut down on sweet. I eat prepared and processed foods (hidden sweet). I eat fruit and dried fruit (overt sweet). I eat potatoes and rice (acts like sweet in system).

Looking now for ways to shift. More on this later.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bad news for us sugar lovers Part 1

Several videos are circulating on you-tube of Dr. Robert Lustig,a  pediatric endocrinologist studying obesity in children. His findings have prompted a 60 Minutes episode on the evils of the sweet stuff. That, in essence, it isn't fat that is killing us, although too much fat contributes. But it is sugar that now appears to have a direct (and I do mean direct) impact on our "bad" cholesterol levels and likely contributes to build up of plaque in the arteries (also known as heart disease). It may also be feeding certain cancers, like colon cancer and perhaps breast cancer. Research is showing these cancers have glucose (sugar) receptors and pull sugar from the blood and feed on it. This, of course, goes beyond the eat sugar and gain weight and deal with those indirect consequences, like poor self-image or joint pain or maybe diabetes down the road. We eat it, it goes in our blood, and does us little good, if not actual harm.

I've been off dessert for more than two years now and that has cut my sugar consumption massively. But not before I ended up with what's called "fatty liver." My body has been running on carbs (sugar) for decades. First alcohol, which is sugar, and then sugar, which is sugar. Because of it, my body has gotten poor at burning fat and is storing the fat I eat everywhere in my body, including in my liver, which impedes my body's ability to burn fat even more.

I didn't know any of this back then. I just worried about being a drunk and then about being fat. And if I had known, it might not have made any difference. I knew the way I drank wasn't good for me, and I still didn't stop for years and year. I knew eating a gallon of ice cream a day wasn't good for me and I did that for years and years. I was also eating healthy food and exercising and doing lots of therapy and other good things for myself. And that seemed like it should be enough.

But I don't believe these findings are inaccurate. I know only too well that since we all started eating low fat (which means high sugar), we've all gotten fatter and fatter and less and less healthy. Me included. Now what?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Some ideas on receiving


  Here are some of the ideas I got when I asked for help with receiving. 

1. Ask, ask, ask!
2.    Breathe in as you learn to receive. Practice with art, beauty, nature, expansiveness.
3.    Feel what you eat nourish your body.
4.    Do a tree meditation, receiving oxygen and exhaling carbon monoxide.
5.    Explore vulnerability as a key to receiving.
6.    Make a list of already safe kinds of receiving and do them double.
7.    Make a list of slightly uncomfortable kinds of receiving. Practice these.
8.    Make a list of very uncomfortable kinds or receiving. Visualize receiving this until they are more comfortable.
9.    Do research on receiving to understand more and placate my brain.
10. Come up with compelling and meaningful reasons to receive
11. Find “receiving” mentors or heroines to emulate.
12. When in doubt, method act (act as if).
 13. Let your fictional characters teach you about receiving, or what the consequences of not receiving are. 
14. Let your cats lead by example. Be a cat for a day. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Learning to receive

When I was on retreat a couple of weeks ago, we spent our final evening doing 16 solutions for each other. This is a ritual in which each person gets to ask a question, usually one that is complex and often beginning with "how can I..." and then everyone, including she who asked the question, writes 16 solutions or suggestions that might answer or lead to an answer for the question.

The very first question was intimate and heartfelt and that set a great tone for work we did with and for each other. My question was about learning to receive. Giving of myself is not much of an issue but asking for help and receiving that help is a whole other story. So I asked for help with asking for help. And I had to laugh at myself and tell on myself because I waited to go last and felt really uncomfortable about asking for what I needed. Well, of course!

I got some great suggestions including one that never occurred to me: Ask to become willing to have whatever barrier there is between me and receiving be removed. Then ask that it be removed. Wow, the 6th and 7th steps in action.