I used to eat scads of Oreos. I mean obscene amounts in a single sitting. I’d pluck one of those clear plastic-wrapped reams out, turn on a taped episode of Days of Our Lives and munch until I got full. Or until I got bored and moved onto something else. A piece of Wonder Bread—plain, untoasted, processed goodness—with a hefty sprinkle of white sugar. Crunching down on those sugar granules, I’m pretty sure you could get a buzz. I was addicted to sugar and anything white—flour, pasta, bread. Heck, I’d probably try a sample of Elmer’s Glue if it smelled sweet. Butterfingers, pixie stix and a Pepsi could easily bridge the gap between breakfast and dinner. I grew up in an environment where graham crackers were the healthiest snack you could imagine. High fructose corn syrup and all. Carrots hadn’t been invented yet as far as I was concerned. And my friends were enablers, accomplices, allies.
Why it didn’t occur to anyone to shout, “You’re being all kinds of stupid with your diet!” is beyond me. In all fairness to my parents, I do remember them repeating over and over and over again that sugar was one of the worst things—they didn’t call it food—that you could put in your body; that it would cause health problems in the future. My witty reply? “How can something that tastes so good be so terrible?” in that teenage, sarcastic and whiny tone. Oh Kim, how naïve you were. The truth is, I didn’t get it, and if I had, sadly it probably wouldn’t have made a difference. I was 5’10, and uber skinny. My uncle once told me I could out-eat a sumo wrestler. As flattering as that was, it was also true. I could eat 6, 8, even 10 waffles at breakfast and still have room for a half pound of crispy bacon. Those Oreos and Wonder Bread treats didn’t seem to faze my body. Or so I thought.
Fast forward 10 years. I’m married and in the market to start a family. Problem is, my body is not. I was still quite thin and eating junk food every day, but managed to have a little serving of vegetables at dinner each evening (because I’m married and therefore an adult). One year passes by and we have nothing to show (besides a sad miscarriage). A doctor diagnoses me with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and speculates diabetes in the not too distant future. Seems that my fun-loving roller-coaster-ride-of-ridiculous-eating has abruptly come to a halt. And I have whiplash. If I have any chance of creating a life, I must change mine completely. For good.
I wasn’t told you can never have kids, I was told you need change your lifestyle to have them. So I had two choices: stop eating sugar, or stop eating sugar. No kids just was not an option.
I needed to become “healthy”. To someone with a super-sized sweet tooth, this word rolled around bitterly in my mouth. Like turnips (sorry mom, I know they’re your favorite). But I took it to heart and scoured the internet for information on PCOS, the library for low carb cookbooks, and purged the pantry of menacing and offending white things. I learned that just about every
health problem we have—including PCOS and many types of infertility—can be attributed to bad bacteria (fungus). Sugar (and carbs which turn into sugar when digested) feeds fungus, but you can kill these microbes and restore your health. Hmm. I was providing an all-you-can eat buffet for these fungi everyday! Eww.
The doctor gave me a general idea of what to do, and with my research online I found a healthy diet and made a plan. I was told to give it at least three months to “reset” my body through diet and exercise. It only took two to get pregnant. Apparently my body had been silently crying out for help in a language I didn’t understand. Thankfully, my doctor could translate.
I won’t sugarcoat this (pun very much intended) and say this was an easy adjustment. Actually I went through the 5 Stages of Grief—Denial (I’m sure a little innocent sugar isn’t the cause of this mess), Anger (Why can’t I eat this stuff when everyone else in the world can eat it and be fine???), Bargaining (Ok, doc. If I do this until I get pregnant, can I go to town with the tater tots and Heath Bars after the baby is born?), Depression (All I can say is picture your worst breakup and not reaching for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough), Acceptance (This didn’t happen until after I got pregnant and realized there might be something to this). To grieve for the ugly stepchild of the food pyramid is ludicrous. My head understands that. The rest of me would wholeheartedly disagree.
Two kids and a few years later, I have adapted to this new lifestyle. Sure I’m tempted by double chocolate brownies or an ice cream cone on a hot summer evening, and I succumb every once in a while. But it’s no longer a food group I depend on. I feel too good to go back to my old ways. My asthma has disappeared after 34 years of on and off suffocation. I don’t get nauseous for no reason anymore (looking back on it, sugar didn’t make me feel in tiptop shape). I have more energy and I don’t get colds as often as most do. I found a wonderful homeopathic MD and have regular appointments with a chiropractor. The big, wide world of supplements has suddenly been open to me. I feel good. I could stand a few hours of sit ups, but what non-celebrity mom couldn’t?
My body, my life, has done a one-eighty. I am a new and improved version of ME. I never thought I would be considered the healthy one in my group of friends. Or that my mom would ask me for healthy recipes. I’m quite sure stranger things have happened in the universe. I just can’t seem to think of one at this very moment…So here I am, ready to share what I’ve learned about healthy eating, natural remedies and alternative treatments that worked for me. And always with the disclaimer that I’m not Dr. Kim, Medicine Woman. I’m just an ordinary mom trying to find a balance between living life and staying healthy.