This is a rough day but a good day. I'm half way through my second day on what I'm calling the Reactive Hypoglycemia (RH) Protocol.
I'm basically making this protocol up as I study whatever material I can get my hands on, talk with my doctor and friends who are health care professionals, and integrate what I'm learning with what I already know about weight loss science from Ideal Protein.
There are several authors who touch specifically on RH in their work. Two books I've found helpful so far are The Blood Sugar Solution by Mark Hyman, and Sugar Shock by Connie Bennett, but each refer to RH only as part of a larger body of work. Many of the materials I've reviewed have helpful information, but none of them seems to have a solution which addresses ALL of my issues. This leaves me cobbling my plan together, borrowing a bit from each of them as well as from my own experience.
- Here are the main factors I'm trying to address and the solutions I've decided to try.
1) Insulin Resistance (which leads to over-production of insulin post-meal).
- My research says I need a low-glycemic (load), ketogenic eating plan. Excellent! Ideal Protein fits that bill, as does our Maintenance Plan.
2) Reactive Hypoglycemia - from ACTUAL food intake.
- My research suggests I need aggressive supplementation with specialized fiber and higher amounts of nutritious fats which slow down my glycemic / insulin response. This is a bit outside the Ideal Protein model. I'm talking with my doctors about how to adjust.
3) Reactive Hypoglycemia - from PERCEIVED food intake
- My body produces insulin from a vivid THOUGHT of high-glycemic food, as well as the TASTE of sweetness, whether or not it has any actual calories in it. (Thanks to Sheilagh Laughney Conklin for her Facebook comment familiarizing me with the term "Cephalic Response." I hadn't heard about it before, but it is the term for the scientific observation of the body secreting insulin based on non-food stimuli. Here's a PubMed article if you're curious.) If I want to avoid dangerous blood sugar lows, all sweeteners (nutritive and non-nutritive) need to be eliminated. At least for now, and possibly for good. I'll have to give it some time and see if I can add small amounts back in the future.
For now, in Phase 1, this means only a small subset of Ideal Protein foods will work for me -- i.e. the savory ones. It also means I can no longer do Walden Farms, Xyla Mints, Dasani or Mio drops, or EVEN the wonderful new Ideal Protein Cal-Mag chews. (sad face)
- For maintenance, it means I'm not going to be making a lot of the low-carb baked goods, etc. that many others are able to enjoy. Hopefully this is something that can be brought back in moderation once enough insulin sensitivity has been restored. We'll see.
4) Soy Intolerance.
- Soy makes my abdomen swell like it's got a basketball inside. This means I'm limited to an even smaller subset of Ideal Protein foods. Actually only about 5 of them including the Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Chicken Noodle Soup, White Cheddar Ridges, Rotini, and the plain Pancake. I may get away with the omelets since they are low soy... That isn't very many to choose from… Especially for 4 months of Phase 1. Yikes! I really wish IP had a plain whey protein powder...
5) Weight Loss.
- A lot of the authors who discuss how to reduce RH discuss it as part of plans designed to "detox" or reverse insulin resistance, but not necessarily to lose weight. Weight loss is often mentioned as a byproduct. I need to lose 40 lbs, so I know I need high-bio-available protein (i.e. Ideal Protein) to protect my lean mass. So the 5 or 6 foods I can eat will just have to work for now. I can do anything for 4 months, right? (RIGHT?)
I'm feeling rough today. Headaches. Low energy. A little sad. Several of my clients have said they suspect they have RH, too, and I watch as their faces go pale listening to what I'm doing about it. The process of giving up all SWEETNESS is brutal. But it's not harder than what alcoholics go through… I'm clinging to my 12-step foundation to give me the strength to do this. (http://www.oahop.org)
If you are one of those people wondering if you might need to do something similar, try just cutting down on the sweeteners in your life this week and see how you do. Take your coffee without splenda, your water without Mio, and stick to mostly savory IP packets. That will be better than what I did -- which was to throw a complete food tantrum, eat whatever the heck I wanted for 2 weeks, including a serving or two of each of my favorite old binge foods --allegedly for the purpose of saying 'goodbye.' It wasn't smart. I'm pretty sure it didn't help. It wasn't pretty. It was embarrassing. I called it the "trail of sadness" while it was happening since this all feels like a grieving process. But that's all done with and I'm on my way back to ketosis, and hopefully a new level of food peace I have never experienced before.
I'm rough, but I'm also feeling encouraged. I have SO MUCH support and understanding coming from my friends and family for this journey. I'm very fortunate. I was going to try and share some of the great insights I've started to have about this, but I'm running out of steam. I just need to go home, take more Excedrin, snuggle with my dogs and perhaps doze off for an hour. More soon, friends. I'll keep you posted on how this goes.