This is not an article about being overweight or even trying to eat healthier. This is a true story, about a true love affair, one that is dissolving away slowly, due to a nasty little disease that is attacking my body any time I eat anything that resembles sugar.
I wasn’t a fruit eater growing up. Instead, I developed a sweet tooth for all things sugar-related that you don’t find in nature. I preferred the white, powdery kind sprinkled on donuts or the more granular kind poured lovingly into the chocolate chip cookie batter. Cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on my toast in the morning was perfection. Or better yet, strawberry jam slathered all over the warm, buttered bread! Waffles and pancakes with Aunt Jemina’s syrup were just heavenly to me. My favorite part was dipping my bacon or sausage into the left over syrup on my plate.
I’d drink soda when we’d get hotdogs from Rawley’s, a local greasy spoon joint, or the occasional trip to McDonald’s or Luigi’s Pizza. When we’d go visiting at my Grandmother’s house, us kids would get to pass out the hors d’oeuvres- cheese and crackers, or potato chips in a brown basket, or Goldfish in a pewter bowl with fluted edges. My parents would have drinks with my Grandmother, and we kids would have soda with our carb-laden snack. I remember drinking Fresca at her house.
And foods that broke down into sugar, like bread, pasta, potatoes, corn…. I loved these, too! Milk, oh I loved milk! I could drink a gallon of milk in just a few days! One of my favorite treats was milk and cookies. Even as an adult, I’d love to buy different types of cookies, or bake, so I’d have my treat at night.
And don’t get me wrong: my parents weren’t the kind to keep tons of junk food in the house. Generally speaking, we ate pretty healthily for the time when I was growing up in the 70’s. The worst food we ate was probably Chef Boyardee’s spaghetti and meatballs or ravioli from the can. And that wasn’t a weekly or even daily thing! My mother was a good cook, and she always made home cooked meals every night, complete with meat, potatoes, bread or rolls, salad, and green vegetables. I just really liked sweet things to eat!
My body never seemed to have a problem with all this sugar growing up. I was active as a kid, always riding my bike, zooming around outside on roller skates, playing on the swings or running after one, if not all, of my four other siblings. It seemed that it didn’t matter what I ate, I’d never gain any weight. People would make comments about how skinny I was throughout my life. Even after I had married, I’d still get envious looks and comments from family and friends about my petite size. But inside my body, things were happening.
When I married and became pregnant with my daughter, I developed gestational diabetes. My initial glucose tolerance test was so high that I was sent to an endocrinologist and started on insulin right away. My body was struggling so much that I needed to check my sugar before and after each meal. I also need two types of insulin—one for the day, and a slow acting one for at night. It was terrible learning how to eat with this new body of mine. I had to be sure I was getting enough carbs for the baby, but not so much as to spike my blood sugar. And when I was pregnant, all wanted to do was eat. I can remember feeling so hungry and only being able to eat ¾ of a cup of pasta for dinner. It seemed horrible to me then, but hindsight is 20-20.
Once my daughter was born, I was considered borderline diabetic, and was monitored for several years, taking various drugs to help with my sugar levels. At one point, my primary doctor told me I didn’t need to take any meds anymore. Hallelujah! I ate and drank all the taboo foods to my heart’s content! (I wasn’t a big soda drinker, but I still enjoyed a glass or can now and then…)
Well…it was a false hallelujah. My new primary doctor informed me this past winter that I am pre-diabetic. I began testing my sugar faithfully again, and also taking another popular pharmaceutical drug used to treat my condition.
Fast forward to January 2016. I am being treated for Lyme, and I am taking antibiotics and other supplements as well as my pharmaceutical drug for my blood sugar. I speak with my cousin, who is a pharmacist. She tells me, get off that drug and take either Grape seed pills or Mangostene. Each of these is a natural supplement that breaks down sugar! So, I stopped the pharmaceutical drug, one which could possibly cause more damage to my already tick infected bloodstream and organs, and began taking the Grape seed pills with each meal. And what do you know? It worked! My levels have been so good that a recent trip to an endocrinologist ended in, “You don’t need to come back for another appointment. Your A1C is normal.” Oh, Happy Day!
Sadly though, I haven’t enjoyed happy sugar days here in the dawn of my great blood sugar levels. I have such food issues with the Lyme in my system that I can’t eat anything that has sugar or breaks down into sugar-no carbohydrates, no fruit, no dairy, no nightshade vegetables (potato, tomato, peppers, eggplant), no nuts. If I do, I feel stinging and burning in my muscles and joints. And the sensations seem to be directly linked to sugar or carb content of the food: the higher the number, the more intense and lingering of the pain.
I’ve never had any allergies to food my whole life. And outside of my gestational diabetes/ pre-diabetic state, I’ve been very healthy. I can only surmise that my pre-diabetic state has added this sugary layer to my Lyme issues. And if I get an urge to eat a cookie, or a tomato, or cheese, my body quickly reminds me that sugar is really bad for me. Nothing like aversion therapy to add a little spice to life! It gets tricky when you are in the store and just happen to walk down the cracker aisle. Or the commercials on TV all highlight chocolate covered strawberries as a wonderful, delicious gift for Mother’s Day. Or a family member takes a bite out of crunchy, warm garlic bread, and you are eating your kale and romaine salad with olive oil dressing.
All in all, it could be worse, I tell myself. Just don’t eat that cookie in front of me, please.
Yours in Lyme Adventures,