Thursday, May 25, 2017

Unconventional Wisdom

My Toastmasters Speech from Today

What we eat affects our state of well being

I'm not sure if you've heard the term "Hangry" it's a tongue in cheek term for the feeling of being hungry and how that makes people feel angry at the same time. This is a simple example of how food, or lack thereof affects how we feel emotionally and mentally.

For many years, I struggled to live my daily life, my world was a dark place. It was hard to concentrate, hard to wake up in the morning, hard to face the world. My stomach hurt all the time and I didn't know why.

I've learned that food can affect us at a deep level and it's only rarely that we realize it.

We all have prevailing ideas about what eating healthy is, conventional wisdom

In our culture, we are encouraged to stay trim, fit is the new skinny, avoid fat yet eat healthy fat, go low carb. Eat whole wheat, especially wheat bran it keeps you regular. Soy is good for your heart health. Eat a spectrum of food of differing color it's healthy.

Sometimes conventional wisdom is wrong

I learned a difficult lesson about 10 years ago, and that was that nature has a way of balancing us out when we try to control it.

I felt that I was overweight, I was about the same weight that I am now, maybe a 5 - 10 pounds more. I decided that I needed to take control, so I joined Weight Watchers.

At first it seemed like a miracle, I followed the program strictly and obsessively and I was losing weight.

If I felt lightheaded I drank more water, I was obsessed with food but I didn't realize how bad the obsession was. I found tricky ways to make the foods I craved cost me less points and started to eat bran muffins to fill me up and something called TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein which is a product made from soy to replace meat. Who needs meat anyway, it's cruel that we kill animals so that we can survive.

Well I got to a point where I could feel no emotion, the medical term is "Anhedonia." I felt no pleasure at achieving my goal weight of 120 lbs, I looked in the mirror and still felt fat. I didn't feel sadness either. I felt empty.

Eventually I went into a tailspin, at one point I was too weak to lift my baby daughter and my brain felt dry, I couldn't speak my mind. Yet I was still obsessed with following the WW program.

Then something odd happened. I added walnuts to my cereal. Somehow that little bit of fat triggered an intense feeling of well-being and happiness. That sparked a desire to figure out what I was doing wrong, I still felt confined by the WW program and tried to fit more fat into that model, eventually I had to let go.

That was the hardest thing

I let go of the conventional wisdom, I put ideas on trial and I tried out a lot of unconventional things.

It all came back to food

I found through trial and error that I do a lot better when I don't eat anything with gluten in it and through a very bizarre episode of an angry fit of rage I found out that milk triggers an emotional response for me (I feel anger, sadness and my ears ring when I drink a lot of milk). I cut these things out and felt quite a bit better but still had lingering issues, I finally paid a visit to an allergist who identified some other allergens

Sometimes people feel bad when I tell them I can't eat certain things. It's hard for them to understand that knowing that I shouldn't eat these foods has been a big blessing. I no longer suffer from debilitating depression, anxiety, chest pain and illness. For the most part.

Conventional wisdom led me astray, it was unconventional thinking that led me to the truth.

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