Thursday, 2 February 2012
POTATOES, NOT PROZAC
While away on vacation, I caught up on some reading for my thesis research. One of the several pieces of literature I'm reviewing for my work is Katherine DesMaisons's Potatoes, Not Prozac (1999). In her text, DesMaisons addresses the issue of sugar addicition. She claims that in the same way users can become addicted to drugs or alcohol, they, too, can become addicted to sugar. DesMaisons argues that 'sugar sensitivity' is based on the individual's biochemistry and offers ways in which the 'user' can combat their addiction to the substance found (almost) everywhere--in all the foods we, Westerners, consume--sugar.
What I like about DesMaisons book and her approach to discussing the topic is that she's honest about her own trials and tribulations (I think she has to as an academic). What's important is that she doesn't sugarcoat (pun intended) anything, and I really appreciate that. In the first few pages of her text, DesMaisons asks the reader several questions about their lifestyle, their diet, their energy level, their stress level, etc. etc. all with the intention of resolving any problems that may be keeping the reader from achieving a happy, healthy, energetic lifestyle.
Now, I consider myself a relatively healthy person. In fact, a number of my closest friends and family members will tell you that I'm one of the healthiest people they know. Due to health concerns (I was diagnosed with lupus ten years ago), I have had to make some changes over the years. The biggest change I had to make was to my diet, by cutting refined flours and sugars--basically anything processed. The more natural the food (the closer it is to its raw, natural state, the better). Today, this is just a regular bit of dietary advice floating around the world of nutrition. Despite that, however, I would argue that the majority of individuals continue to consume a dangerously high amount of processed and refined foods (most of the time without even knowing it). That said, I don't want to talk about eating refined foods versus eating foods that are not refined--I could spend several weeks discussing the topic. Yeah okay, consider this an aside.
But, back to DesMaisons. As someone who prides herself on eating healthy (with more studies pointing to wheat/gluten as one of the key culprits in inflammation, I've slowly been transitioning to a gluten-free diet, and am now looking into the paleo diet, which is recommended for individuals who suffer from auto-immune disorders such as lupus or any other inflammatory diseases), getting enough rest, leading a balanced lifestyle of work and pleasure (or at least trying to), even I could agree with many of DesMaisons negative points of address. These points include: tired for no reason, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed out, and lack of energy. If I'm so 'healthy', why do I get tired for no reason? Before getting irritable (at which time I know I've waited too long to eat and my blood sugar is too low), how can I maintain a healthy blood sugar level?
It's all about balance. And DesMaisons explains it all in her book. She says that you're sugar sensitive if you have an unstable blood sugar, low serotonin, and low beta-endorphin. The answer to recovering from sugar sensitivity is to achieve a balance with all three. And even though I do certain things and eat a certain way to achieve what I think is 'healthy', I'm still feeling tired at times. I do get irritable or overwhelmed. And I do have a lack of energy more often than I'd like to. And if you're in the same boat, maybe you should give DesMaisons's book a read. She offers a 7-Step Recovery Plan (bits and pieces of which I've taken and made my own) to help achieve the necessary balance and a healthy, happier, more energetic you.
And I'll tell you now, if you've ever craved sugar--not just the sweet stuff, but bread, pasta, and rice, too--according to DesMaisons, you're probably sugar sensitive. And that sugar you're craving is probably bogging you down on a day-to-day basis. DesMaisons can help.
Find this book and DesMaisons's other texts, The Sugar Addict's Total Recovery Program and Your Last Diet on Amazon.
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