This past week I have been listening to The Diabetes Summit. It has been a really interesting set of interviews. I have learned a lot.
I guess you could say that I am on a new journey once again to redo my health and diet and exercise habits. My female hormones once again got totally out of balance and I have been having all kinds of problems so I began looking into the internet to find different ways of coping with the emotional roller coaster that I have been on.
In the course of trying to discover how to balance one set of hormones, I am discovering that I most likely have a whole host of hormonal imbalances with the biggest one being my insulin being out of balance. In all of the years that I have been getting diabetic education counseling not one time have I heard any of the mainstream talk about an imbalance of insulin as being a cause of diabetes.
After having my first bout of gestational diabetes, the endocrinologist I was seeing put me on metformin for my PCOS. It was a way to keep me from getting full blown diabetes. (Didn’t work.) At no time when discussing the emotional roller coaster I have been on most of my life did he mention that diabetes was an imbalance of insulin. The reason for that is most mainstream doctors believe we only deal with the symptom—high blood sugar. And for many years, I really have thought it was high blood sugar that I should be looking at and the imbalance from PCOS was a whole separate issue.
However listening to this summit and doing some other reading, I have since changed my mind. For one thing, all of the hormones interact together. And the fact that my insulin is too high and my body now resists its function creates more imbalances. Now, it seems I could be leptin resistant as well. Which might explain why there are times when I am always hungry.
Here’s the question I have to ask myself is it my diet that has created this hormonal storm?
As a child, I ate a high carb diet. In fact when I was 5 years old, I was hospitalized for a kidney infection. The doctor told my mother that it was due to her letting me have nothing but cinnamon toast and chocolate milk for breakfast. Or at least that is what my mother took from the conversation. He also told her I needed to drink more water. That didn’t really occur. My drink of choice growing up was Dr. Pepper. My sister and I could go through a 2 liter in a short time after school each day. By the time I was 14, I was chubby. I didn’t do much exercise during that time. At least not set aside exercise time. I rode my bike, climbed trees and stairs through the school year. So at this age, I decided that I was going to lose weight.
So I did some research. I found out that it was sugar that caused you to be fat, not fat. In addition, that it was calories in and calories out that caused you to be fat. So I began to strictly reduce my caloric intake. There was a formula I used to calculate my calorie needs for my height and ideal weight. However, my research showed that anything less than 1200 calories per day would cause your body to go into starvation mode. So I ate 1200 calories per day. Now if I decided to eat those in the first two meals of the day, then there was no third meal. In fact, I tried to eat most of my calories in the first two meals of the day with no supper. After all the research showed that eating after 7 pm was really bad for you. And I was going to be skinny. I accomplished my goal. I became skinny.
When I went off to college, I began a more concentrated form of exercise. Mainly because my best friend was an aerobics instructor. In addition, I went dancing a good 5 days per week for a minimum of 3 hours per time. So needless to say I did a lot of excercising then. I no longer counted my calories per se. I would tailor my drinks and diet to the least caloric choices. In addition, I had discovered that in order to maintain a weight it was best to chew your food 15-20 times with each bite, to put your fork down in between bites and to sip your drink in between bites. These were my new ways to control my weight. And it did. I generally weighed around 115 pounds up until I got pregnant with my daughter.
Now at no time did the affects of my hormonal imbalance go away. I still had the emotional roller coaster. In addition, during this time, I developed stomach pains and really bad eczema. The skin on my legs was so dry that I would take a hairbrush to it and scratch sores on my legs. In fact, I showed so many signs of hypothyroidism that I went to the doctor. My levels were normal.
When I became pregnant, I was in a really bad marriage and my then husband was determined I wouldn’t get fat so there were times I wasn’t allowed to eat because my stomach was getting too fat. So I would eat during the day so I would get enough food for my baby. And since I was eating for two, cinnamon toast and chocolate milk were back on my plate. For heartburn, no meds for my baby, just cookies and cream ice cream. Each and every time I went to the OB, I had to have my urine tested for sugar. I was eating so much sugar that I had to have a diabetes glucose test. It was around this time that I left my then husband and the stress in my life increased. I became borderline pre-eclampsia. My feet retained so much fluid that they jiggled when I walked. And, I gained 75 pounds I now weighed more than I ever had in my life. I was devastated.
So when my daughter was born and I moved home to my parents, my only focus was losing weight. My Mom had a friend who had been diagnosed with diabetes so she gave me a copy of her diet and that I began eating in accordance with the diet. Which by reason improved my diet for the first time in my life. I actually had to eat some vegetables. I still didn’t eat real well and it was still a high carb diet. In fact even to this day, the diet for diabetes is a high carb diet. I also had realized that exercising was something that I missed and wanted to do. Again I began researching diet and exercise. It was during this research period that I discovered that exercise alone was enough to make you lose weight and keep it off. So exercise became my focus. I walked 3 to 5 hours per day. It worked really well until I had to go to work. My weight was back down. Not back to 115 but between 120 and 130 pounds.
Then life happened again. I went back to school at a commercial college and went to work. However, I kept the exercise habit. Since I had moved into town, I joined a gym and exercised three days per week doing step aerobic exercise. The other nights I walked with some other mothers around the neighborhood. And after all my previous research showed that exercise would keep weight off, I really didn’t worry about my diet. I did notice that the more I exercised the better the foods I craved. However, during this time, I was eating a whole can of icing by the spoonful and just happened to go to a health fair. My blood sugar was over 400. I thought the nurse pricking my finger was going to call an ambulance. She relented after I told her that I had just eaten icing. However, I was advised to go and get a glucose tolerance test. I did. It was normal. It was suggested that I could be becoming pre diabetic since there was a family history.
I gained weight again after I quit smoking. And used exercise to lose it. Fortunately instead of sugar, I did choose sunflower seeds and it was at this time that I tried to get back into the whole holistic movement I had once been in. It didn’t really stick.
Then, life happened again and I got married, moved to the country and began life with three kids instead of 1. Life got really busy and the hormonal roller coaster continued. Making it worse, I had problems getting pregnant and began fertility treatments. I gained weight with these hormones and became pregnant with twins. And my first bout of gestational diabetes. Now, I was overweight, had 5 kids and no sleep. Sugar became my go to perk me up drug of choice. The hormonal roller coaster was in full gear now. Moodiness, crying jags, irritability, anger, rage— you name it, I had it. My cyclic migraines got worse. And then the hives set in. And the ride got wilder.
I became pregnant again. (You know the one the infertility doctors told me I couldn’t have.) The hives went away but the gestational diabetes came back. Once again nutritional counseling about carbs and fat. How to spread the high level of carbs throughout the day and get rid of the fat. Once again, I lost some weight following the diet strictly and stringently.
After this pregnancy, the digestive issues really became bad and the hormonal roller coaster daily. I did have hives again for awhile. I started Metformin at this time. The hives went away. In addition, I tried different ways of eating–South Beach, Atkins, etc. Nothing would stick because my body refused to reduce the carb level. So my diet is now still pretty much high carb and I am on a high hormonal emotional roller coaster. In fact the roller coaster has gotten so bad I am on a new research cycle. So how does diet really affect our hormones and how does our hormones affect our obesity?