When I was younger, I worshipped at the altar of white flour. My Mom would get these crusty Kaiser rolls - the ones you could select with the fancy tongs in the bakery dept. I would devour them - butter slathered all over their fluffy insides. No protein anywhere to be found. Just bread and butter. Two, three rolls at a time. They took me to a happy place; a place where simple carbohydrates were converted to sugar. Over and over I made this trip. And pasta? I could be half way through a plate of spaghetti, already anticipating my second plate.
When I hit puberty I started having dizzy spells. I was taken to doctors who told my parents that the dizzy spells were brought on by hypoglycemia and that I had to change my diet. This was in 1982, so mostly what the docs said was that I had to give up foods that converted quickly into sugar. White bread or anything made with white flour was no longer an option. Potatoes were discouraged. Wait a second, potatoes... discouraged?!? Life seemed over, or it would have been had my diet been truly altered.
Because my hypoglycemia wasn't life-threatening, diet restrictions didn't seem all that important to follow. I'd never actually passed out - never had a seizure - didn't even flirt with comas - I got just a little bit flaky - or in my case flakier - the consequences didn't seem too dire. Or at least, that's how I convinced my Mom that I could still eat potatoes. Because it didn't really get worse, I sailed away into the rosy carbohydrate sunset - oblivious to consequence.
Fast-forward 15 years and a bit. You know when things come back to bite you in the ass? Well those toothy chickens came home to roost. I'd have managed, but David, who'd never seen me in the midst of a good sugar crash quickly became horrified and dragged me to the ER. I saw doctors, dietitians and naturopaths who pointed me to the straight and narrow. The doctor said my blood sugars were borderline. The dietitian reminded me to eat smaller meals more frequently and told me to include whole wheat in my diet - I couldn't just have a microwave dinner at work, I also had to have a whole wheat roll along with it. The naturopath said to avoid all things wheat - stick to brown rice or quinoa for my grains - Rice crackers, rice cakes for fiber. Soy milk instead of dairy. "Should I go gluten-free?" "YES. Definitely."
Rice crackers, rice cakes, rice pasta - for years now they've been the vehicle upon which I devour my protein. Because a lot of people have now leapt onto the gluten-free bandwagon, not eating wheat is a little easier. There's a dedicated section of the No Frills filled with high-priced, sawdust-tasting, gluten-free options. Sure, I succumb to the call of the wild Timbit now and again, but mostly I've been towing the line.
Which is why I've been a little confused as to why my blood sugar has suddenly decided to swan dive. Used to be I could go 3 hours between fuel stops. Now, at the 2 hour mark, I'm thrown back into graphic reminiscence of first trimester nausea and dizziness. Upon research - I'm more confused than ever. Could be hypoglycemia, could be peri-menopause, could be thyroid... Place your bets! Place your bets!
As a hypoglycemic of the new Millennium, I've learned that I need to be concerned about the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods. Anything in the "HIGH" range should be avoided. Turns out that the carbohydrates I've been consuming for the last decade or so are some of the WORST things I could be eating for my blood sugar. And last summer a Naturopath friend found out I was on thyroid medication and freaked out when she saw me drinking soy milk.
"YOU CAN'T HAVE SOY!!"
"NO! It will render your thyroid medication ineffective."
So the foods that were supposed to help me 15 years ago are now screwing with me? Not cool advances in dietary restrictions! NOT COOL! I go in to talk to my doctor to get a referral to a dietician.
I tell him about the worsening dizziness and the new nausea. He tells me I don't need to talk to a dietician.
"I can tell you what you need to do. You need to have three small meals and three snacks."
"I do that."
"You need to have protein with your carbs and/or avoid all carbs. Avoid root vegetables..."
"Uhhhh.... what about what the Canada Food guide says?"
"No, carbs are bad. I rarely eat any carbs..."
"I think maybe I should talk to a..."
"Almonds! If you feel like your blood sugar's dropping, have a handful of almonds..."
"I do that. I'm not so much worried about the dizziness... it's dizziness's sidekick, nausea, that's worrying me."
"Why didn't you mention the nausea?"
"I did mention the nausea. That's why I wanted to talk to a dietician."
"Well if I'd concentrated on the nausea - we wouldn't be going down this path about the dizziness. This is a waste of time. I've now wasted my time. If we're talking about nausea with hunger, that's a different thing. That's possible stomach tumors."
Always great when your GP threatens you with stomach cancer to shut you up.
I refused to cave. "Maybe it's best if I talk to a dietician."
"Good eating habits, if you follow them, can deal with all of this. If you track your food patterns. There this website that..."
"I track my food patterns."
He's circling his wagons now. "Make sure you have protein with every snack. You could do soy..."
Okay, we're back to the protein are we? "I've been told to avoid soy because of my thyroid medication."
"Told? Or did you READ about it?"
Ah yes, now I'm the hypochondriac who diagnoses herself over the internet. Hold your ground, Heather. "Told. A licensed naturopath told me. MAYBE. IT'S. BEST. IF. I. SEE. A. DIETICIAN." You patronizing, unlistening rat bastard...
My eyebrows raise slightly. This is ON...
He heaves a resigned sigh and grabs his tape recorder. "Patient has been having issues with possible hypoglycemia, worsening dizziness and nausea. I have spoken to her about eating smaller meals with snacks, tracking her food patterns. Patient would still like to speak to a dietician..." He finishes with the tape recorder. "It'll still probably take several weeks to get a referral."
"I can wait."