Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Confessions From the Land of No Return

Julie Hatterly's home made hamburger buns via my Pinterest Board

My bread passion is legion. (See previous post.) So is my genetic and/or learned need to overindulge, switching off my brain sensors so fullness, is never registered or acknowledged. Whether my Roman ancestors were dynastic Caesars who conducted huge day-long groaning-table banquets and then every two hours or so took breaks to the vomitorium so they could throw up their meals to make room for more roasted fowl and macaroni, I do not know. I never threw up food after a gorge. I just digested and a few hours later would graze and munch until the next ersatz level of fullness was attained to repeat the pattern a few hours later, and a few hours later without ever allowing myself to feel sated. Was this emotional, inherited, genetic, learned? Does it matter? Well, yes to all and other contributing factors. But regardless, the learned pattern, personality driven habit, unconscious urge and genetic proclivity to overeat made me fat.
Roman Vomitorium at the ampitheatre in Trier. A vomitorium was not used as the myth suggested, for Romans to vomit and eat more. It was a passageway for exiting the theater quickly. 
The interesting fact was that this pattern and unconscious urge could be stopped only if I refrained from food altogether and just drank fluids, particularly warmed milk. In other words, I was able to eradicate appetite if I wasn't around food or didn't take a first bite of anything. Once the first domino was toppled, the rest followed to a great crash. I would binge, purchasing and eating ready made foods, inflating my stomach like a balloon when one of my miserable taste buds was engaged.  And they could be engaged willy nilly by a tiny gnocchi, the corner of a croissant, a translucent sliver of pound cake, a crumb of challah. I couldn't say no to anyone if food was placed before me, especially if it was tempting, succulent, savory or a derivative of wheat. That is unless I was fasting. Then all bets were off and no amount of manipulation, guilt intrusion, cajoling or demeaning ridicule  by friend, family or foe could coax me to have that first bite, especially if my mind was made up.

How and when I learned this was an effective MO for weight loss is not clear, but I do know that this trend works for many who battle obesity. It is little understood by thin, "normal" folks, so-called nutritionists and medical professionals. Nor is it understood by those self-righteous who are able to eat, feel sated and control their hungers to stop lifting their hand to feed their face. The French with their superior metabolisms especially look at my type with disdain and think I'm a pig for my inability to control my appetite once it's been triggered.
Apple Cinnamon Roll Cupcakes    http://homeiswheretheholmansare.blogspot.com/2010/09/apple-cinnamon-roll-cupcakes.html
But for those of us addicts to whom food is like heroin or opium, especially rolls, cakes, croissants, scones, etc., it is easier to abstain altogether from using our mandibles. Much less painful than having "just a taste," which is murderous because with guilt and horror, we cannot stop and are likely to engorge ourselves with every muffin, scone, slice of cake in sight and then hunt for more. Impossible? So now you know! When you see an obeser, think, "Their fasting capabilities are greater than mine." Chances are some are like me, an aesthectic who can abstain from chewing for months while living off the nutrition of a liquid diet. Judging me are you? Stand in my shoes and be merciful or I'll psychically convey this condition to your metabolism so you will have a bit more heart in the face of my suffering.
Pumpkin Bread with Salted Cararmel Drizzled Pumpkin Buttercream       https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEhnNHp4aeWWhB0ZR6Jcl87QBq2f5xWF2t9XEIPg1LJw-K9ZPtk8Plz4aP11VQoZJM19JFL5kGCBhP-cYTwTGN-7dlhpn5ZiV7bdc-2V5WvIgNmI6b-uQfboBCATFuvXbgiEktvA1tI9YUIQ/s1600/pumpkin+bread+w+salted+caramel+pump+buttercream+w+name.jpg
 At my current BMI of 20, I'm engaged in this mini battle to finally right my drunken appetite. I set aside one day a week to eat whatever I enjoy, especially my friends the breads and specifically ones that don't appear to readily inflame my gluten hypersensitivities (or so I thought). In the past, I noted that processed, packaged breads with GM wheat grains (cracked wheat, wheat, rye, even some bakery breads) whose grains scientists tweaked, changed and refined over the past 50-70 years to benefit the commercial food industry and industrial farms, created problems for me. For one, I was extremely hungry after I consumed a bagel or a roll, unsatisfied, blindly craving more in prodigious quantities. Secondly, and I noted this when I was obese, after pigging out, my joints ached, I had reflux, my appetite was off the charts the next day, I was lethargic, non thinking and sleepy. The only way to describe it is I was anesthetized. Jack the Ripper could have cut into my flesh and I would have grinned without a misstep, "Please hand me the rest of that fresh semolina with butter."
Buttery, Flaky Petrossian Croissants, truly my favorite. I could eat them all and your typical slight French woman would be appalled.
But I have been losing the battle using this eating pattern these last six months. The breads are winning. Eating all of the croissants I can hunt down from the area's Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Petrossian and polishing off some danishes from 7-Eleven and corn muffins from Martha's Country Bakery and gluten-free scones from Red Hat Bakery during the course of a  12 hour graze, while supplementing with some fish or chicken or meat, fruits and veggies has begun to grate on me. I hate the way I feel afterward. My joints ache, my allergies return. I regurgitate food in my throat while I sleep, unsettling my body's ability to heal while resting. Symptoms I took in stride when I was obese, I no longer can tolerate. I'm beginning to understand viscerally that I cannot overindulge with impunity. This unhealthy practice has consequences, and they are physically painful. Alarmingly, the pain is registering in my mind so that I can no longer remain anesthetized. Between sessions of eating and fasting, the outrageous hunger pangs increase. Now, I organically know beyond knowing (I surmised this before but questioned it.) that FOR ME, all breads, rolls, croissants, cakes, and I mean ALL that are made with this new (last 50-70 years) flour are beyond obsessively addictive. They are dangerously, horrifically addictive. I can no longer joke about them being like death. They morph my body into a dangerous dying state. When I eat, even the memory of their taste, once I've finished them lingers like a luscious kiss or fragrance that is everpresent. But in seeking their fulfillment I am like the sailors who sought the Sirens in Homer's The Odyssey. I am dashed on the razor sharp reef of my own lusts and my cells are slashed dying in  metabolic acidity and toxicity.
In Homer's The Odyssey, the Sirens lured sailors who heard their irresistible song to their deaths. They sailed their ships toward the Sirens and perished in the turbulent waves, the ships dashed to pieces on the rocks. Odysseus is the only man reputed to have heard their song. Circe tells him to be bound to the ship's mast. While his sailors plug their ears with wax, he alone bound as he is can hear their song. Though he gestures for his men to free him, unhearing, they ignore his cries to be freed from his chains. Once past the Siren's island, they unbind him.
Have I had enough of dying? This is the third day of my fast on liquids after Saturday's egregious binge. Fasting on lattes= steamed nonfat milk, fresh, organic lemon drink (following the Master Cleanse) I feel better, lighter, refreshed. Tomorrow, I will weigh myself to check the damage of Saturday's overeating. Will I ever be able to eat such croissants, muffins, scones, cake abstaining after one bite. I am not French. I don't know, but at this point, I know the answer. No. Whatever part of my being in my makeup, personality, conscious and unconscious mind, I cannot handle certain refined flours and wheat grains. My gluten hypersensitivity is worse than I imagined, more painful and addictive than I allowed myself to believe. I have to face that reality for the rest of my life.

The battle has been lost. It remains to be seen if I can win the war.

Overlooking the Hudson River at the Cloisters in April, when I was heavier (BMI 21, 127 at 5'5.5") than I am now.(BMI 20)

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