Before and After. Part 2. Bipolar, eating and weight gain/loss.
The great divide in the steps before, during and after a bipolar episode is a bit more complicated when it comes to food. Part 1 dealt with exercise. This post deals with a far more insidious indulgency and something I used to control. I consider myself a healthy eater, but that would be stretching the truth somewhat.
Food and weight
Baked cheesecake. This is all I want. Other sugary carbs suffice, but nothing tops the baked cheesecake. Which works well in hospital, as the downstairs café has the best baked cheesecake. I don’t care much about health and could live on cereal with lots of sugar. I have read about why depression leads to cravings and the terrible insulin and brain chemical cycle. I went so far as to re-read The Brain Bible by John Arden and summarised it. I have always craved sweet carbs and it becomes extreme during depressions. In fact, I think I have used sweet carbs since childhood to sooth anxiety. It’s an emotional and one-sided relationship.
This year, for the first time, I went on a normal diet. Previous diets have consisted of Vodka + baked cheesecake, or skipping meals. I would order a desert as my main meal at a restaurant. And that’s all I would eat that day, besides the All-Bran Flakes with boiling water in the morning (surprisingly yummy). Or I would skip dinner after having half a muffin for lunch. These extremes happen when I am extreme – and normally on a high, or clicked fast into ‘I am in control’. It’s the click you feel when your snow boot meets your ski. Periods of extreme and little eating include when I got divorced, or meeting and marrying my first Husband. I didn’t live on much, and could touch the sky. Or breaking up with my long-standing boyfriend while in Cape Town who had followed me from London.
As I don’t have any trauma on the horizon, I started an Eating Programme after this year’s depressive episode. It’s possibly not even a diet, as I lost all of 0.8kg in seven weeks. Balanced and healthy. I pick up freshly made meals two days, so everything is fresh. Mostly veggies, chicken, and then oats for breakfast. Nothing processed, no additives. Lots of water and minimal fruit (I most probably do three pieces a day, a little more than I should). I have become somewhat leaner and less bloated. My personal trainer says he can see a difference and I am sure it’s good for my body chemistry. And most importantly, my physical sense of control and balance is back, with no guilt about eating all those carb-sugar snacks. Sustainable? I don’t think so – I cannot keep going with the high amount of protein and veggies, and same foods day in and day out, especially if I am not incentivised by material movement on the scale.
This week I have joined Noom Coach – an App which provides coaching and food and exercise logging. I am battling the three mood stabilisers I am on (Lithium, Quetiapine/Seroquel and Vaproate Sodium/Epilim/Novalpro) which all have weight gaining effects. Since I got re-married four years ago, and added two mood stabilisers, I have gained 10kgs. That’s a lot, considering I was 60kgs at my first wedding 15 years ago. I am now 75kgs.
Food fluctuates dramatically as I fluctuate. However I have become less trusting of my ability to lose weight, due to the mood stabilizers. I am not sure if they simply make me hungrier, or the drugs feed the fat cells directly.
Let me log my healthy lunch on Noom. Unfortunately after this, I have already used all my calories for the day :0