I have been feeling pretty zen about Denmark recently and have also not been reading the news (coincidence?), so I wasn’t sure what I could talk about.
Some of my hate-readers hate that I talk about my health problems. HEALTH PROBLEMS ON A BLOG? It almost boggles the mind. Well, prepare to be bamboozled.
My immune system is all like Clive Dunn in Dad’s Army, flapping around, telling everyone not to panic. There are few systems in my body that L Cpl Jones the Immune System has not whipped up into a state of frenzy. I am being treated for hypothyroidism, polycystic ovaries, insulin resistance and asthma. (Yesterday, I had a prick test, where they rubbed cat hair and mould into tiny cuts in my body to see if it got itchy. It turns out I am allergic to all of the things. They also gave me some drug which increased my lung function by 95% or something. Shit the bed)
Anyway, while I was at the thyroid appointment, I mentioned that I had put on a tonne of weight very suddenly and waah waah. The doctor (who I love), referred me to a dietician. And I went because although I know what I am supposed to eat, I am not really eating it because it’s really hard to avoid bread and potatoes in Denmark. Plus, sugar is NICE and if I gave up sugar fulltime, then what would the point even be? And I know I am supposed to balance my shit out with protein but how much nuts is that really supposed to mean because I am so over nuts.
The dietician was a disappointment, instead of finding out what I knew just questioned me on different headings.
“So, how much dairy do you eat?”
“I like Greek yoghurt and skyr, I guess?”
“OK, so try putting oat flakes on top of that to slow down the absorption. Only drink a small amount of milk, it contains sugar. What about potatoes?”
“I only eat a small amount of potatoes.”
“Only have three small ones unless you are active, then you can have four”
and instead of saying “You know what, you need to be eating like all of the vegetables and exercising a metric fucktonne because this insulin resistance is not going to go away without those changes,” she said
“So, you’re English, right? That must mean you eat a lot of white bread. Have you learned to eat dark ryebread yet?”
I said I didn’t like it but I only ate wholemeal bread and didn’t recognise the stereotype, actually. She was like “Woah, ok, mind blown”
I got out a book about insulin resistance and showed it to her, saying I had read it and understood the advice in it. She said her student had read it and she gave me a pamphlet about PCO and how insulin levels vary depending on what you eat.
Then she handed me this:-
For those who cannot read Danish, it suggests six slices of bread a day to someone with insulin resistance. And artificial sweetener in drinks. And slimming bars. You’re supposed to have 300g vegetables and can choose between processed meat, jam and cheese as toppings for the bread. Less a “healthy eating plan”, more a “eating disorder”.
I entered it in to one of those food diary websites to find out if it was nutritionally balanced.
Even though the plan was supposed to bring me below 1200 calories, if I followed the advice I would be eating 1400 calories. I would be getting 19g too much sugar, 49g too much protein and 754mg too much sodium. I would be getting 4g too little fat on this plan. As if dietary fat were the enemy in insulin resistance.
And I don’t even LIKE all those guidance numbers, they are a snapshot of the prejudices of the nutritionist that wrote them rather than any hard and fast rule about what you need to stay healthy.
The thing that gets me about this plan is how artificial sweeteners are so glibly promoted. When even in people without insulin resistance, these additives make people’s insulin spike (the body goes “OH BOY OH BOY, SUGAR! Better call Mr Pancreas!” and then out comes Ms Insulin who knocks on all the cell doors and says “Open up for some yum-yums!” and also “Let’s put this sugar away for later!” and so if you have artificial sweeteners, your cells are like “Where’s the party?” and then “OMG I AM SO HUNGRY” and then you eat actual sugar which is then helpfully deposited in your liver to be transformed into fat and stored if you do not exert yourself in the next few hours/day. And if you tease the cells too much with this, they start to tell Ms Insulin to shut up which leaves more for transformation into fat for storage)
NO ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS.
Also, what the actual fuck is going on with all that bread, cheese and ham? What I really need is a way of getting decent sources of non-animal fat and protein into my body without taking in too much salt at the same time. The way you do this is: vegetables. (And seafood, I guess because although they are animals, they have unsaturated fat which is the best sort.)
Whatever. I had a week off of school (and commuting), and lost the weight pretty much. It was stress everyone! I am not making particularly bad choices when I eat usually, it’s just that I am more likely to pick something that is not great because I am feeling down or stressed. Plus, being hungry in downtown Aarhus means that I either get an unhealthy snack because that is all that is available or I wait over an hour to get home (which is bad for my hormones for other reasons).
The constant stress hormones mean that whatever I eat, I am more likely to store fat because my body believes I was in a marathon or a war or something.
Now, I didn’t expect Denmark to be ahead of the curve with the thinking around nutrition but I also did not expect a dietician whose ONLY JOB it is, is to know what sort of foods are healthy for particular groups to recommend a diet that would make me fatter, mess with my insulin and raise my blood pressure.
The science isn’t secret, the discussion isn’t new. She has even read the same books I have, in Danish (we exchanged notes), but she has been completely blinded to what constitutes a healthy diet by her culture.
Now, here’s the dilemma. Do I go back to the appointment and tell her off or just cancel it quietly? I mean, the first possibility will make for one hell of a blog post but what it will do for my stress hormone levels, I am not sure.