The first three days of induction are killing me.Yeah, I know I’ll be over this soon, but if you think about it, how many times have you failed these first three days?
How many thousands of Atkineers have you known who have fallen off the wagon in the first week or two?
I’ve known many. I’ve been one more times than I can count.
Lately I’ve been hooked on a show available on Netflix instant download called “Intervention” from the folks at A&E. I was never sure why, but I could relate to those folks struggling to get their lives back.
No, I’m not a heroin user or an alcoholic; I’m just a chick living in Denver who’s trying to get healthy and lose weight.
And let me tell you what. Again. These first three days of induction are killing me. Day one is the usual. I mean, you scowl at the eggs and you get through it. Day two is when the physiological drama takes place. The physical and mental symptoms where I find myself curled in a fetal ball with a bag of chips in my arms, sobbing. Last night I was so weak. SO weak.
Induction takes what is a normally very in-control person like me into such depths on that day. It’s a literal fight for maintaining control the entire day–and it made me think of something. It made me think about that show.
Let’s talk symptoms I’m experiencing, and I’ll bet many of you are as well:
- Rapid heart beat
- Increased blood pressure
Crazy normal stuff for people who are undergoing the switch from burning carbohydrates for fuel to burning fat stores. Millions of people have undergone at least a few of those symptoms.
Now guess what else. Those are also the signs of alcohol de-tox. That’s right. The average alcoholic experiences these same symptoms you do the first week away from sugar and starches (which are sugar to the blood stream).
But wait– there’s more.
How about some more of the rotten stuff I’m dealing with that you might be, too. How many of these are you experiencing?
- Abdominal pain
A lot of you are nodding, right? You with me here?
Hold onto your hats. Those are major symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Heroin. Heroin.
Think you’re not an addict in recovery? I know I am.
Now know this: this isn’t about will power; this is about addiction and brain chemistry. Dr. Julia Ross and her book The Diet Cure shares how the people she has treated for over two decades in California are now (thanks to her) recovering binge eaters, recovering anorectics, recovering alcoholics and recovering drug addicts. Many of her patients have been self medicating for years due to unstable brain chemistry caused by a combination of genetics and the standard American diet (over 300 carbohydrates per day, largely of grain and grass derivatives).
Dr. Ross has cured addicts for over 20 years: people who starved or vomited to raise endorphin levels artificially because their brains were deficient in those ‘feel good’ chemicals; alcoholics who partook to excess to help calm those malfunctioning pain receptors; binge eaters and grazers whose brains needed seratonin and didn’t care if it came from a bag of chips or an amino acid.
A strong, underlying problem in many of the cases she treats: sugar addiction.
Let’s look for a moment at what a drug really is. According to Mirian-Webster online, a drug is:
something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness
Re: sugar, if you’ve ever read Taubes’ Good Calories Bad Calories or Ross’ The Diet Cure, you’ll learn that sugar was once referred to as crack by the French, a highly addictive substance. If you’ve read Dr. Thompson’s Low Glycemic-Load Diet, you’ll note that starch-addicts are really sugar addicts, since starches are not only treated as sugar in the bloodstream, they’re often sweetened for taste.
And while sugar is not illegal according to the definition above, it does cause addiction, habituation (habit forming) and a marked change in consciousness (think in terms of serotonin/endorphin).
Considering what “Atkins Induction Flu” is, is it any wonder so many of us are suffering from the same symptoms of the alcoholic and the heroin addict?
Thankfully, you have the keys to recovery in your hand right now. You have a healthy, low carbohydrate lifestyle devoid of sugar, the same addiction many alcoholics and eating disordered have (see Ross). You have a saturated fat diet that helps your brain function the way it does (Naughton), with essential amino acids no longer being hampered by the grasses that humans can only consume when they are heavily processed and flavored (Ross). Now your brain is free to partake of those “feel good” chemicals that come from your foods.
While it may take some time to overcome the cravings, know that your brain doesn’t know whether you gave it the Snickers bar or the amino acid. It doesn’t care. It needs those feel good chemicals. It needs those endorphins you have wash over you when you eat a food to which you are allergic, and it doesn’t care if it came from the wheat (which also causes your body to react to protect itself from the allergen) or from an amino acid.
That doesn’t make the first week of recovery any less difficult. I know this first-hand. And while I’m already down 10 pounds in two days, the rational side of me should do a jig. The addicted side of me trembles at the possibility of chocolate and potato chips.
Welcome to a brave new world. This is the fight of your life.
In this struggle for regaining your sobriety, realize this isn’t about willpower. You can’t walk away from food as you can from drugs, but know that the right choices will heal you.
In so doing, don’t let outside influences tell you this is all in your head–unless they understand addiction and wellness through brain chemistry. And don’t go unarmed:
Dr. Julia Ross, The Diet Cure
Dr. Julia Ross, The Mood Cure
Dr. Robert Atkins, New Diet Revolution, 2002
Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories
Tom Naughton, Fathead
This is my day three. Hi. I am a recovering carbohydrate addict.
I am proud to report I never ate those chips and I stuck to the program, as weak and as fallible as I was. And thanks to the knowledge of nutritional pioneers, tomorrow is looking even better than today already does.
You can do it, too. How do I know? Because if someone as in the throes of addiction as I can do it, I know you can do it.
Now put down the chips, throw your shoulders back, get your hands on those tools and make this your best day yet! And while you’re heading down the road to better pants, know you’re onto something even more special than that… you’re in recovery.