Shit advice

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:-

Good LUCK, vegetarians
Good LUCK, vegetarians

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.

14 thoughts on “Shit advice

  1. Do you like legumes? Do you allow yourself to eat eggs (from free range chickens) and fish? I have heard somewhere that vegetarians can actually become overweight because their diet isn’t balanced (too many carbohydrates). What about experimenting with spices to add taste to your food, instead of eating sweets (because, let’s face it, they are tasty and stimulating)? Or drinking herbal teas (I find them very comforting)?

    You obviously have a lot of technical knowledge, but maybe there is a gap in the implementation… Of course, if you are on medication for other health issues, that could also be part of the problem.

    Another useful trick is about knowing when you are full. A lot of people eat until they feel **stuffed**. Actually, you are “full” when you feel that you could still have room for a little more (in other words, you could eat more if you pushed your stomach to its full extension). If you really feel full, FULL, you ate too much.

    I also treat myself to sweets on designated days. For me, it’s overal several days when I get my period (it’s too hard to resist, so I don’t). Other people like to have an indulgence day per week. If you tell yourself, “never sugar again,” the brain will have a weird reaction and make you binge.

    I hope it helps. :-)

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    1. Another factor is that protein-rich foods make people feel full, while carbohydrates do not. If there aren’t enough protein in your diet, you could be overeating — eating until you feel “full” with foods that just aren’t filling (but high in calories).

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  2. Can you get a new dietician, or are you bound to her by the system? If you are bound to her (and she is free), maybe you should give it another shot. If she is not free and you can switch, try a new one. There are some incompetents in all professions…

    I actually live with a dietician, and she says that most people KNOW what’s good for them and what’s not, and that her job mostly consists in talking things out. As in talk therapy. :-)

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    1. You are hinting to how you know that some of your eating habits aren’t great. Talking things out with the dietician (read: your therapist) can help with actually changing your eating habits. Because that’s the hard part, and it’s her job to listen to you and be supportive. From what my roommate told me, that’s the main part of the job, actually. :-)

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      1. My eating habits are normal. I don’t overeat. I don’t binge on unhealthy stuff. It’s just with the shit I have going on physically, I would need to develop an eating disorder level of control on my diet to lose weight.

        I do not want food to become an obsession.

        I only went to her because I put on an incredible amount of weight in a really short time but I lost it again without trying so I don’t think I need her help.

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      2. Congratulations with the weight loss!

        I don’t want to make you upset with my comments, so don’t take it the wrong way. I have a morbidly obese friend who uses the same language as you do, and she obviously eats too much. I know that for a fact. Sometimes, there is some denial involved. As Dr. Phil says, “you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”

        I don’t believe in being obsessive either. That’s no way to live, and it actually tens to lead to binging, which is counter-productive.

        The key to maintaining a healthy weight is to avoid gaining too much weight in the first place. Maybe you should weight yourself periodically at the gym. If you ever see that you gained 5 pounds, from your current weight, it’s time to do something about losing it again. Five pounds is more than any daily food intake. And you’ll probably know what you ate to gain those 5 pounds, which is important to learn how to regulate your weight.

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      3. It’s not from what I’m eating. It’s the way I’m not burning off stress hormones because I’m on public transport for four hours a day.
        I don’t understand the congratulations for losing weight. I didn’t *do* anything, it just came off. I lost weight over Christmas too but I wasn’t doing anything differently.
        It’s not like I can deny being in denial but my thyroid doctor told me that one of her PCO patients eats *nothing* and is still overweight.

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    1. Hah! She had a drawer full of this crap. When she handed me it, she said “What do you think?” and I just didn’t know where to start so I said nothing.

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  3. Going to the nutritionist is a waste of time here… honestly! Specially now after I saw the eating plan she gave to you…. no nutritionist ever should recommend any of these bars. I am a healthy eating freak and found one kostvejledning that suited my needs, for sports nutrition.
    I honestly think you shouldn’t bother going back there, it’s just to stress yourself. Regarding your health issues, if your are insulin resistant (due to the PCOS), then you should be on medication, metformin I guess. I used to have that due to PCOS, and was overweight, with a clean diet + metmorfin + hormonal control everything fell back in place and I lost all the weight back to my normal body.
    You weight swings like you mentioned above looks to like water weight…
    Well, I noticed you don’t like being lectured on what to do, but you know, when it comes to danish health care I prefer to do as much as I can myself, I would research more about the suitable diet for a person in your condition and stick to it. As you have this insulin problem, yes, you should keep away from sugar AND glicemic index carbs. And you can replace sugar for Stevia, the only natural sweetner that won’t create you problems. Actually I started using it only to make the transition of not having any sugar nor sweetner.
    Nevertheless, you can try to find private nutrionists, or even one back home willing to do some distance online coaching for you. You have a health condition which shouldn’t be ignored, the DIY plan I mentioned above should only be if you can’t do anything else….
    Hope you find the solution for that, and hopefully it won’t be so stressful!

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    1. I have metformin already and I do know what I’m supposed to eat. I think you’re right about the water weight, it comes and goes so fast, it must be right?

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  4. I am ashamed to admit it, but I went pre-diabetic during my time in Denmark. My daughter was recently rushed to the ER back in America after having glucose in her urine and my answer was..well we’ve been eating a lot of potatoes and stuff? We are currently in the middle of diabetic testing for her. She lost about 10% of her body weight in 3 months since returning to America. Potatoes and bread are definitely pretty much non-no foods or have to be pretty carefully counted according to the information we were given..

    Danes can probably eat like that though, my husband can eat a truck load of carbs and sugar and his BG stays below 105! Insane! (Can you tell we’ve been experimenting with our daughter’s meter?)

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