I have lost 14 pounds since February, 8, 2011. That's 14 pounds in 11 weeks! What's even better is that I have not been on a diet of deprivation (i.e., starvation), nor have I had to go hungry or eat just small bits of "rabbit food" (i.e., tiny salads). I am eating as much food as I want (without overeating), and I am still losing weight. The trick is that I have changed what I eat.
As I mentioned in a previous post, PCOS and Pre-Diabetes, I was diagnosed with insulin resistance in January as a result of my PCOS. I started taking a medication called metformin to help with the condition, but I did not really see any results after a month.
Even before my first appointment with the nutritionist, I started a new diet program in February (they actually call it a "lifestyle change") through my work. The basic concepts I took away from the program were to:
- cut sugar intake -- no sugar in the first few weeks of the program, then in moderation after that; when having anything with sugar, it must be with a meal that includes protein (this helps the blood sugar and insulin levels from spiking)
- eat protein at every meal -- protein will keep you from feeling hungry for longer periods of time
- keep the size of your stomach in mind -- while the program did not focus on portion control, it explained that the human stomach is naturally about the size of a loosely held fist; somehow knowing my stomach really isn't that large keeps me from eating too much
- eat more slowly -- eating slowly will naturally cause you to eat less because your brain will feel satisfied sooner
- stop eating when satisfied -- which is before you have overeaten
I saw my nutritionist a couple weeks after I started the above program. He agreed that I should not be eating any sugar. He also strongly believed that many of my problems were rooted in gluten sensitivity. Though skeptical at first, I embarked on a gluten-free and casein-free diet. (See my post Gluten-Free Me?! And Casein, Too? to read about the start of my gluten-free diet.) In my second appointment with the nutritionist, he gave me a personalized diet and supplement plan.
The main points I've taken away from my nutritionist's plan for me are:
- No gluten
- No casein (milk-derived products, including butter, creamy dressings and sauces, etc.)
- No sugar -- in addition to the obvious, this includes fruit drinks, fruit jams/jellies/preserves, and random food items with sugar added (reading food labels is more important than it used to be); I am allowed to have dessert about half a dozen times per year on very special occasions (such as my birthday, my husband's birthday, and special holidays)
- Eat more veggies and less fruit -- fruit contains so much sugar that it can act like a dessert and spike sugar and insulin levels; if I eat fruit, it is always as part of a meal along with a protein and healthy oil
- Eat the three macronutrients at every meal or snack -- protein, healthy oil high in omega-3's (like olive, almond, or avocado), and a complex carbohydrate (like spinach, other veggies, beans, etc.)
- Take supplements -- he gave me a pretty extensive list, but the most significant change was to take huge amounts of pharmacy-grade omega-3 fish oil (interestingly, I was already taking most of the supplements the nutritionist recommended; I will list my current supplements in a future post)
Embarking on this "extreme diet" has been easier than I anticipated. Don't get me wrong, it's been challenging and sometimes maddening; but it's been worth it. I think I was just so desperate to start feeling better and so tired of being sick and tired for so long, that I was ready and willing to make such a big life change. It took me about 8 weeks before I started to feel a big difference, and now that I am seeing so much improvement, I don't want to stop. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in a long time, I am starting to believe that I will get better.
Interestingly, because my genetic test showed that I had two copies of a gluten sensitivity gene, it meant that both my parents gave me the gene. I told my parents about my results, and they decided to go gluten-free, too. Incidentally, they are feeling better on a gluten-free diet.
I can't say that my healthier eating habits have directly helped my vulvodynia, but they have certainly helped so many other aspects of my health. I'm amazed.