Holly’s Story: Experiments

For me, Suppers turned out to be all about experiments. Eat this, see how you feel. Don’t eat that, see how you feel. Eat this and don’t eat that and see how you feel. Eat this first, then that. See how you feel. Add vegetables. Subtract sugar. See how you feel. Eat brownies on an empty stomach (I wouldn’t recommend it). Then see if you can have one after a good meal (much better). I was willing to do these experiments because I didn’t want to give up all my favorite foods.

In a way it was a trick. The completely unexpected outcome was that I started desiring things I never had a taste for before. I heard about “transition sweets,” using combinations of seasoned sweet vegetables like yams and sweet potatoes to satisfy my hunger for desserts. It backfired for somebody else at my meeting who also tried this experiment, making her crave more sweets. But it worked for me, giving me just enough of a sugar hit to feel satisfying.

Some of the people at my meeting are completely off gluten, some wish they were, and others are fine on it. I found I was one of the lucky ones who can tolerate wheat bread, but it took staying off it for a few months to confirm that I was OK with or without it. Once again I felt tricked: by the time I figured out I was OK eating gluten, I’d learned to survive without it. So I ended up eating a lot less junky baked goods and more soup and salad.

Seeing if my appetite foolishness starts up is the way I can tell if an experiment succeeded or succeeded. Yes, succeeded or succeeded. The experiment is a success if it tells me I can eat a food, and it’s a success if it tells me I can’t. Or maybe I can handle a small amount mixed with other things. The point is, clarity equals success. The way I know a food is good for me is if it satisfies my hunger. I know it’s not good for me if it makes me want to eat more and more. If I feel like I fell on a trip wire to overeating, I just identified a trigger, not a treat. That’s data about what I just put in my mouth.

The only way I ever failed at these experiments was by not writing down everything I ate because it looked bad on paper. But then I got so good at reading my body’s signals that even fibbing didn’t matter because I could get the information from how I felt.

I could have gone to a doctor and gotten the same information after lots of testing, but my insurance doesn’t cover it. And I’m not so sure I would have trusted the results anyway, since I don’t know the people in charge as well as I know the lady who runs my lab.