Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Virgin Diet Week 1

I survived my first week on the Virgin Diet, well sort of.  I did fabulous the first four days, then kind of fell off the wagon.

The first four days went great.  I stuck to the program and was having little problems sticking with it.  It got tougher mid-week when the food limitations started to have an impact and I was going to the fridge wondering what I was going to eat.

My only real challenge was the consistent hunger pains around 8pm every evening.  I figured it was because I had removed cheese from my diet and wasn't getting enough fat to sustain me through the evening so I increased my raw nut intake.

If I'm eating enough calories during the day then hunger pains in the evening could be fatigue, thirst, or the body burning fat.  So my evening hunger pains may not be a bad thing, just something I need to pay more attention to.

Mid-week I had the opportunity for a cookie.  It had been a long day so I rationalized it thinking, "A little won't hurt."  Boy was I wrong!  The next morning I woke up teary and emotional.  By dinner time my depression and apathy were in full swing so I said "f**** this diet" and indulged in some enchiladas.  They were good.  But they also triggered some intense evening cravings for sugar and chocolate.  The effects of sugar and wheat on my mood and cravings were incredible!

My menstrual period arrived mid-week intensifying my food reactions.  If I hadn't been paying attention to my food choices I would have easily blamed my emotional nose-dive on my period, or my husband, and my period would also get blamed for my increased sugar cravings.

I recently learned that eggs and Vitamin C were both good for stabilizing the hormonal shifts caused by your period.  I have had success with both of them helping me stay more emotionally and physically stable during my premenstrual and menstrual cycle.

Having eggs off limits was really tough.  Without my anchor food I found myself a little lost as to what I could do nutritionally to help stabilize the hormonal shifts and more susceptible to old habits of increased carbohydrates and sugars during my period.

It's not uncommon to crave sugar and carbohydrates during your period.  They provide a temporary serotonin increase that elevates your mood and makes you feel better.  But the sugar crash triggers mood swings and increased cravings in an attempt to get those happy feelings back.  It's a vicious cycle that can leave you feeling fat and frustrated.

Healthy ways to increase your serotonin include sleep, exercise, sex, and sunshine.  So I made a point to get out in the sun and do some pleasurable activities throughout the day to stabilize my food cravings and boost my mood without caving into more sugar.  My efforts paid off and I'm back on track, physically and emotionally.

I was grateful that before I started this program I gave myself some flexibility.  I chose to focus on this process as being a positive food change, rather than as a "diet" (code for: dying to be thin).  This allowed me to make mistakes without feeling bad or beating myself up, and instead learn from them and get back on the program.

Having been off wheat and sugar for four days and then back on I was quickly able to see how these food choices negatively impacted my moods much more severely then I realized.  I also clearly saw how these foods triggered cravings for more carbohydrates and sugars.  Both effects would have been missed if I hadn't been paying attention to the effects of the different foods I was eating.

I could see that if I was eating these foods on a daily or near daily basis the effects would be interpreted as "normal" and I would make no correlation to how I was feeling and the foods I was eating.

So even though I didn't perfectly follow the Virgin Diet protocol I still have learned a lot about myself and the effects of food on my body.  I'm ready for week 2 and looking forward to more insights and learning.

By Carolyn Almendarez

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