FOOD, FORTY AND FINDING A NEW KIND OF BALANCE
As the co-founder of a chocolate brand and the wife of a former chef, I spend most of my week surrounded by food. As a forty-seven year old female and self-confessed gastronome I now also find myself inhabiting a body that responds to the food I decide to put into it, very differently to the way it did ten years ago.
This new, slightly alien landscape of responses has left me wondering about and interrogating my relationship with what I eat more deeply. Pondering behaviours, ruminating over what food represents to me and thinking about why I choose to ingest the things that I do.
I know and have always known that a big part of my relationship with food is emotional, wedded to family and celebration. As the child of parents who “lived to eat,” I grew up and internalised the message that food and drink are intrinsically linked to joy, happiness, comfort, and home. I married a man with similar values and together we almost unconsciously took these values forwards into our own family. A win at work. We celebrate with a drink. A new baby in the family. We welcome them with a meal. A friend visiting. We go out for cocktails. A birthday. We throw a party and cook up a storm.
Even when I feel the negative physical effects that eating the “wrong” things have on my body, the choices I make are still regularly driven and overridden by my emotional connection to food. As I age the tolerance my body (and my mind) has for this emotional chieftain is reducing. I regularly find myself experiencing negative side effects like mood swings, weight fluctuations and cyclical symptoms that surpass my celebrations and leave me feeling well, quite frankly, a little unwell. A state that no longer feels acceptable, or sustainable.
So, in a bid to nudge my emotions out of the driving seat and change my relationship with food for the better, I decided to take a deep dive into the world of my body. The primary suspect in the case of my symptoms turned out to be a complicatedly simple biomolecule, called glucose and my aha moment came in the form of a book, "The Glucose Revolution” written by biochemist Jessie Inchauspé (aka @glucosegoddess).
Like most people I had a rough idea about what glucose is and what it does. I know that it’s our bodies preferred fuel and that we get it (primarily) from the food that we eat. I know that there are “better” sources of glucose, like fresh fruit and vegetables and “less ideal” sources like refined sugars and processed food. I know that glucose is carried around our body via our blood (as blood sugar) and that every cell in our body utilises it. But what I hadn’t considered, hadn’t ever explored in any detail, was how glucose might relate to my own body's recent behaviour.
In her book Inchauspé details a condition called “glucose dysregulation.” A state where glucose floods into the body too quickly, resulting in what is referred to as a “glucose spike,” something I had historically only ever associated with insulin resistance, or type 2 diabetes. Symptoms of a “glucose spike” can include, well basically all the things I had been experiencing; cravings - tick, mood swings – tick, sleep disturbances –tick, brain fog – tick, anxiety- tick, energy slumps – tick and so the ticks went on. Intrigued by the idea that by flattening my “glucose spikes” I could also flatten my symptoms, I decided to spend some time playing around with my glucose levels.
I am currently in the midst of it all and it’s a watch this space type of arena. What I have noticed is a more detailed, scientific understanding of my body has shifted my emotional connection to food slightly. This deeper level of awareness has brought space and pause to my choices and an equilibrium I have not experienced before.
I don’t think I will ever eat in a way that consistently prioritises physiology over pleasure, I am not sure I would want to. But I am enjoying discovering that perhaps a more comfortable kind of balance can be found.
To Be Continued …
Please note: Neena Vaswani is sharing her personal experience. This article is not written as a direction to follow, or endorsement of the “The Glucose Revolution,” or any other associated articles or materials.