June 12

The Real Cake Wars

Recently I went on a ladies retreat to a local hot springs for a few days. Seven of us shared a rather sizeable cabin although a few were sharing beds to save some extra cash. Monkeying around in my own little world for the last year plus hasn't helped me to integrate more easily with those unknown. Slowly, we raise our pandemic-weary heads to try to get a glimpse of the world outside. Admitedly, I was a bit surprised. All of us were ~44 yrs plus and some near 70 yrs old. Many had kids, suffered through one or two divorces and were there to simply forget, get away, commune with kindred spirits or just enjoy the hot springs. We all brought food to share in a potluck-y kind of way. I feared that with my addled gut, I came across as a pris. I don't eat dairy, gluten, or processed sugar. The food brought for sharing was meatloaf, 2 lasagnas, cheese + pasta salad, baked ziti, store prepared mashed potatoes, stuffed peppers (stuffed with meat + cheese), peanut M & M's and 4 different cakes (plus whipped cream).

Hay Dios Mio! Luckily, many years of being high maintenance taught me to prepare abundantly for party food poverty. That it was. The interesting thing about it was the cakes seemed to have had the most enthralling effect on people. They were consumed as an appetizer, dessert, breakfast, lunch and basically anytime. Even more fascinating (to me) was that the organizer bought 2 pints of Ben and Jerry's ice cream and the same day she verbalized the very clear relationship between food and health, she had absconded to her room to knock back one of those pints. What are you going to do? Its essentially a vacation, no need to be the grim reaper. These are the times, I really don't want people to know I spent 26 years as a dietitian, helping very similar women to lose weight, eat more healthy, control diabetes and heart disease. Not this time - but I can't help but watch.

As the cakes dwindled in servings, various women professed out loud a renewed devotion to their diets and exercise regimens upon return. One woman I became quite fond of had thought sugar was something that she and her daughter needed to avoid 100% as she believed it to be causing the bulk of their health issues. I explained to her that it most likely wasn't. Was it helping? No. Sugar is a trigger but deeper health issues lay underneath. Avoiding the sugar can cause one to be asymptomatic but the root cause was most likely a combination of unhelpful bacteria and/or toxicity in their GI systems.

So there it is. Sugar makes us beg for more, it is completely enthralling, addicting and demonic. It can exacerbate our weight, inflammation and health issues. But more likely, it is shining a light on the fact that we may not be able to tolerate it. There are reasons for that. If we have an incessant need to gobble it down, there is most likely a reason for that too (an imbalanced gut or nutritional deficiency). I'm not one to judge, I spent a good part of my life completely addicted to processed sugar. The difference is that now I know why. The "why" is what had me spellbound at the retreat. Is it physical? Is it emotional? Is it deeply rooted and masking other imbalances? These are the questions that need to be asked if one wants to know. Otherwise, it was a just a 2-day party and people were enjoying themselves - no harm, no fowl.

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