White Plate Syndrome?

First of all… TOMATO SEASON IS UPON US!

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 So I’ve made the decision this week that I need to start transitioning to a paleo-approach to eating.  I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research, and it just seems to make the most sense for me.  I already eat MOSTLY this way anyway, except some key things I’m totally cheating on.  Like beer.  I love beer.  This is basically a tragedy. But my metabolism needs to heal.  And alcohol doesn’t help.

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my favorite dishes like this:

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A simple bruschetta made with yellow heirloom tomato slices on a mozzarella cheese toast.  Basil  on top added an extra special zing to it!  This is without a doubt one of my favorite meals ever.  Let’s face it.  Cheese and bread are delicious.

So tonight I made an alteration and made it this way:

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This, of course became more of a caprice salad. but I used grilled chicken instead of mozzarella, and it did actually have a similar feeling to it.  I seasoned it with herbes de provence and salt and pepper and it was quite delicious!

Now if only I could figure out how to make this in a way that’s not horrifying:

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I made this for Easter for my family.  Trifle made with poundcake, custard, whipped cream and fresh South Carolina strawberries.  OMG.  You don’t even want to know.  This got DEVOURED by my family.  I only had one portion.  Thankyouverymuch.

So… This is a doozy… But as I mentioned before, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of research and I’ve reached some conclusions on my health.

I have something called “White Coat Syndrome” which basically means doctors, nurses, medical tools… Basically stepping inside of a doctor’s office makes me SUPER nervous. The issue here is that it affects my blood pressure.

This started when I was in my teens (don’t most bad things? Haha…) I remember going to my pediatrician when I was around 16 and I’m sure he was just trying to do his job, but I remember this incident very clearly. I was dealing with some hormonal something or another. He asked if I was pregnant.  I, being 1,000% sure of the answer to that said “No.” He then looked from my chart to over the rims of his glasses at me and asks “Are you suuuure?” He made me nervous.  I didn’t like him touching me.  He always questioned me as if he thought I was lying to him. He then tested my blood pressure and I can’t remember the diastolic, but the systolic number was 180 over something or another.  He tried to diagnose me with hypertension… that’s right… at 16. To this day, when doctors pull out their BP cuffs I can literally start to feel my heart pounding.  I think my mother’s worry about the issue affected her blood pressure as well… She was extremely concerned.

This is a problem.  And I’m not sure I’m allowed to pass judgment on the medical professionals of America.  I’m sure they’ve seen so many horrible things.  And I’m sure that people have lied to them on such a magnificent magnitude, I don’t really blame them for being suspicious.  I’m not sure anyone really enjoys going to the doctor, but it’s something I dread.  I mean… cold sweats, anxiety, sometimes even a self-pep-talk in the car before I go in. “You can do this, you can do this…”

After the whole “hypertension” ordeal, I went to a different doctor.  She read my vitals and noticed that my BP was high.  (This time it was a bit lower though.)  Her first instinct was that it was wrong.  She then introduced me to the machine.  She told me how it worked. She educated me about how a proper BP should be taken, and how to hold my arm.  She told me that if I ever was having my BP taken, that I needed to make sure that the nurse was doing it properly.  That if they weren’t, I needed to correct the placement of my arm.  She asked me to close my eyes and take some deep breaths, and imagine myself on a beach and listen to the sound of the waves. She then took out the cuff and took my BP again –   perfectly normal, optimal even. This was the first time that I ever realized that I had control over what happens within my body and the power of deep breaths.  She then explained what “White Coat Syndrome” is, and that I have it, bad. I’ll never forget this particular doctor and what she gave to me in terms of understanding that I could control how to bring down my BP.  Since that time, unless I’ve been ill, I haven’t had any issues.

Even though the blood pressure lesson did me a lot of good, I ended up not going back to this doctor because she tried to take too much responsibility for my weight-loss journey.  I had been told ever since I can remember that I’m overweight, and to be honest I was tired of the “come to Jesus” serious conversations on what to do to about it and how it would eventually kill me.  Such fun to think about when you’re a teenager. As if I didn’t think about this stuff already, as if I wasn’t already super insecure about it as far back as I can remember… This doctor gave me this whole condescending lecture about how she was going to make me into a beautiful butterfly.  Oh god… I’m getting nauseated just thinking about it.  I was really put off by this. This is the thing:, no one is really going to “make me into a butterfly” other than myself.  I KNOW she was trying to help, but it made me feel mortified. I’m a human.  Not an insect.  No matter how pretty they may be.  And, yes, I know it was a metaphor.

I’m not really sure what these doctors could or should have done differently.  All I know is that I felt like a freak, and disgusting. I felt unworthy of things that other people were just given naturally. I felt kind of like they were treating me like someone who was crazy and couldn’t take care of herself.

And, honestly, I wasn’t taking care of myself.  But they weren’t really telling me how.  I’m pretty sure they thought I was just eating Doritos and Oreos all day and sitting on my ass.  And I wasn’t.  I tried to do the right things.  I was a kid, though, so of course I wasn’t perfect.  But I did soccer, cross country, swimming, and track.  I was active.  And I never let anyone hold me back even though I was bullied, even by those who I thought were my friends.  So I went to school, felt different and miserable, and then went to the doctor and they told me all these things are wrong with me… How was I supposed to feel? Fantastic?

Fast forward a few years and I did some pretty amazing things.  I lost 85 lbs and ran a marathon.  But I was still not at “a healthy weight.”  And it was stubborn to come down anymore.   And then of course, after I injured my back, and decreased my activities, some of the weight came back on and QUICK. I’m not back up to where I was at my biggest, thank God.  However, I don’t want to get back there either.  My back is still a little wonky.  I can feel in my yoga classes that it’s not as flexible as it once was, but I know that if I continue working on it, that it will get better.  I want to get back to the place that I was a year ago, and then even better.

This got a lot longer than what I had intended, but all of it ties together eventually.

So, I have developed a theory.  I’m listening to Arianna Huffington’s book called Thrive. She is such an inspirational woman.  There was one point she touched on that really struck me.  She mentioned that there were studies that showed that children who experience chronic stress will experience increased cortisol levels.  This can cause prolonged damage to the metabolism and could lead to obesity.

Ummmm…. BINGO.

I’m not saying I didn’t have a good childhood. (I promise, Mother.) My parents are amazing people who made me feel cared for and loved.  However, for whatever reason, my weight was an issue.  My theory is that the stress of dealing with a weight problem and all of the ramifications of this caused a catch 22 effect that has carried over into my adulthood.  The blood pressure response, the constantly feeling belittled and unworthy… it all adds up to me. I did some additional research and it seems as though people who suffer from chronic stress and increased cortisol levels gain weight in the middle part of their body (the most toxic place for it to be stored, naturally) their metabolism slows down drastically, making it really easy to gain weight, and it increases appetite and cravings. All of these things match up with me.  And it all seems so… contradictory.

I think I have what I’m going to call “White Plate Syndrome.”  I think I have developed a fear of food.  Especially lately, since everyone and their dog has some new theory that a particular food is basically going to kill you.  I think the simple act of eating a meal stresses me out, when in actuality, it’s something that we need to do to survive.  I rush through my meals, trying to clear away the evidence.  I’m embarrassed to be seen eating as if people are thinking “Look at that fat ass… eating… typical.” I remember my mother telling me to slow down when I was younger. “Enjoy your food!” she would say “Savor it.”

I think I need to develop a sort of meditation when I’m eating.  Take a bite. Enjoy it.  Think about how blessed I am to have this food. Chew it. Savor it.  Then, after swallowed, take a sip of water.  Clear my palate so that I can repeat these steps. This is going to be something that I work on. I really think that freaking out about food is actually increasing the opportunity to confuse my body into storing extra reserves.

Of course, eating isn’t the only trigger for stress, and I need to do everything I can to cultivate healthy responses to stressful situations. I’ve always thought I’ve had a higher than average response to stress. I think working on a more consistent yoga practice will assist in this; additionally, I think that I need to be focusing on walking as much and as often as I can.  Keep it simple.

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2 thoughts on “White Plate Syndrome?

  1. I’m so glad you shared all this. Really interesting to hear your p-o-v. I’ll be the asshole to say that I enjoy going to the doctor. Not that I look forward to it, persay, but I know that it’s good for me and it makes me feel good to know that everything checks out. It helps that I’ve found a doctor I really like and continued to see her (in Durham) when I lived in Savannah, LA and still now. Based on my BMI, I’ve been considered overweight all my life too, doctors always told me I was in the 98 percentile for height and weight for my age, at some point I stopped fussing over that number and those statistics and decided I could be happy where I was. Maybe you can cultivate a relationship with a doctor and train them to what you need from them. Not the “I’ll-help-you-lose-weight” martyr or the slap-on-the-wrist disclipinarian…but someone who can provide the information you want for changes you’re willing to make in your own life. Like a hair stylist who actually listens to what you want 🙂

    • Maybe that’s my problem. I’ve never found a doctor I’ve really liked. I’m working with a new doctor here who I feel has good intentions although I’m not a thousand percent sure we’re on the same page all the time. But it’s a new relationship and he’s a very kind person and is really trying to pay attention to what I’m telling him and also seems to want to help. But I’m taking this into my own hands at this point. I’m reading a lot and reflecting on what pattens I’ve seen in my life. I feel awesome so far. I feel like things are finally moving in the right direction. Thanks so much for sharing what you’ve been through. I can relate to the BMI stuff which is a completely outdated and arbitrary method for determining health. I think your ability to FEEL healthy is more important than most of the numbers. Chances are, if you feel healthy and you’re not stressing yourself to death, you’re probably moving on the right path. Loving yourself is step one. And it’s a hard one. That’s amazing that you’ve arrived at that place.

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