I know exactly what it takes to keep me at a weight that preserves my good opinion of myself and allows me to move through life in comfort. It only took me one bad diagnosis and a few decades of not doing what I needed to do to finally figure out that I would have to make permanent healthy changes to stay in my comfort weight zone. At our Suppers meeting we were considering how so many of us have different diagnoses, but we share a mutual need for support to sustain healthy change. I have had many diagnoses over the years, but the two that help me behave well are breast cancer and chronic anxiety. Once I had breast cancer, eating clean, fresh food became a lot easier. And, of course, the same foods that I believe help prevent a recurrence also help me stay at a good weight and reduce my anxiety. The diagnoses no longer rule my life.
I shared this at a meeting, which prompted a lot of discussion. Another member said she has lots of diagnoses too: obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and bad triglycerides. She needed the same thing, a diet of whole food and a safe place to figure out which foods worked best for her. After doing our food experiments, I found I actually had a fairly high tolerance for starchy foods – I feel well and can maintain my weight as long as I don’t eat too much of them. My friend found that she has very little tolerance for starches. But we both thrive on piles of fresh vegetables. We both were amazed to discover that experimenting with breakfast chili and legumes put a halt to unwanted eating as long as we ate some before we spiraled down into uncontrollable eating.
Another member of our group is a woman with type 1 diabetes; she’s had it since she was an infant. Her hope in working The Suppers Programs was to reduce her units of insulin and, as much as possible, choose foods that would make her more stable. She too had similar experiences. She thrived on fresh vegetables. She began to crave – a healthy kind of craving – salads and vegetables, once they started making her feel good. She too needed to do experiments, but in addition to seeing how she felt on different foods, she also had her glucose monitor giving her feedback about which foods had the most impact on her blood sugar. The feedback was unmistakable. She started out consuming about 100 grams of carbohydrate daily and went down to 60 grams. Her insulin intake was at 85 units per day and went down to 50 units. She added a morning dance routine to her self-care package and now enjoys being 15–20 pounds lighter than before, the weight having come off mostly around the abdomen.
None of us have the same diagnosis, but we all shared two fundamental similarities: the need to eat fresh whole food and the need for a supportive environment where we could run our own experiments. I still need my doctors, but knowing what I know now about the effects of whole food on my quality of life, my diagnoses don’t overwhelm me anymore.