Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Abstinence Makes the Calorie Count Grow Smaller

I tried the Paleo Diet awhile back, hoping it would reveal that my respiratory difficulties are the result of a wheat or dairy allergy. After a couple of months of strict adherence (except for the alcohol and caffeine) it hadn't helped my breathing, so I let it go. I moved on to various asthma medications, a systematic trial of every allergy medication available over-the-counter, and a couple of months of daily neti pot use, all with no effect on my breathing problems.

I went to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, who upon hearing my tale of woe, immediately zeroed in on Laryngopharyngeal Reflux (LPR), declaring it the most common of all digestive disorders, and put me on a regimen of 2 acid blockers. He also told me to elevate the head of my bed, which didn't make Aerie happy since she keeps bashing her toes on the cinder blocks I used to achieve that effect.

I go back to see the ENT guy next week, and I want to be able to tell him that I actually did what every doctor says first for every ailment: cut out the alcohol and caffeine. I will also be telling him that the acid blockers did exactly what every other remedy I've tried so far has done: absolutely nothing.

So I suspect I'll be back where I was with my personal care physician many months ago: allergies, despite the fact that no allergy medication helps. When I go back to the ENT guy, I'll also be getting those allergy tests where they scratch your skin with a jillion different allergens to see what causes you to swell up. Hopefully a solution will present itself.

But all of that was to tell you that I'm not drinking alcohol or caffeine, and I'm back on the Paleo Diet. Paleo may not have cured my lungs, but since it eliminates grains and dairy, it's an easy way to remember to skip empty calories, like crackers, pretzels, cheese, ice cream, etc. I've thought of food before as taste and belly filler, figuring nutrition would take care of itself, but now I'm trying to remember to make every calorie worth something, with a high nutrition-per-calorie ratio, with lean protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc. and not just empty calories that do nothing for me beyond the few minutes it takes me to consume them. Also, the ENT guy said that alcohol and caffeine can both exacerbate the LPR, so I'm trying to make sure the booze and cola and coffee and Rockstars aren't cancelling out the acid blockers.

The added bonus is, of course, that I'm consuming far fewer calories. Last time I was on Paleo, I wasn't counting calories, so I hadn't realized what I realize now that I'm tracking my meals on without the booze, I'm struggling to meet my daily recommended allowance of calories. Three meals a day, I eat giant plates of food, with spinach and peppers and cucumbers and strawberries and peaches and broccoli and cauliflower and mushrooms and chicken breast and fish fillets and turkey breast, etc., plus a couple of snacks each day, and I can't come close to the 2300 calories myfitnesspal wants me to eat. On the weight loss front, this is a good thing, as I've dropped 2 pounds in 2 days, but long-term, I don't want my body to go into starvation mode. Though there is a school of thought that a reduced calorie diet is the surest path to longevity.

When I was on a Weight Watchers plan, I loved that it was so easy to stay under my points goal for the day, because it left me plenty of drankin' calories left over, but now that I'm not drinking them up, I feel like I should be using them in a healthy manner. But I'm not hungry, and I don't think I could possibly pack in another giant plateful, and to hit my 2300, I'd have to jam in two more giant platefuls anyway.

So I guess I'll keep on for awhile, see how I feel, see if the elimination of two of my few remaining vices helps my breathing, and see if 1200 or 1400 calories per day drives me into an early grave or helps me live forever.

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