I love sharing my real life, but sometimes, it can be embarrassing.
This post, even in these few brief sentences, makes me nervous because now, you’re going to know some of the gross truths about me.
- Like the fact that although I’m 25 and blog about food and health, I’m really overweight and have very dangerous eating habits.
- Like the fact that the word “overeating” doesn’t really cover the depth of my little binges.
- Like the fact that I once sent myself to the cardiologist because of cheese puffs.
Disclaimer: What happened to me won’t happen to everyone. I’m not saying that cheese puffs CAUSE heart palpitations generally, but I linked them to my own based on experience and biofeedback. Listen to your body, and be safe!
A Case in Point
Before my real food journey started, I didn’t really know how or what to eat. My first legitimate diet started when I was 13, and ever since then, my food thinking has been busted.
I’ve always gone to food to soothe myself, and sometimes the only physical pleasure I experience is from a bag of snacks.
There was a time in my life (ahem, early 2012) that I subsisted almost entirely on cheese puffs. Before the Cheese Puff Diet was the White Cheddar Cheez-It one, which does sometimes return during any times of stress or unhappiness.
As someone with clinical depression and consistent life upheaval, that’s pretty often.
I’d eat real food throughout the day, but somehow, those $1 bags of cheese puffs would always appear. I’d grab the bag, sneak away to my bedroom, and lay on my bed, talk to my cat, and eat cheese puffs.
There was something very soothing about the crispy crunch and the way the puff would melt in your mouth. I’d get so fixated and attached that I’d get stressed out if I didn’t have them. Heck, I’d even make late night grocery store runs just to get more cheese puffs!
I ate a bag of cheese puffs close to everyday for about 2 weeks. Like most of my mini-addictions, I dive head in, get it out of my system, and move on. This was just another “craving,” and it wasn’t for very long.
But that was a very bad idea.
I never thought what happened next could possibly happen to me. Despite my weight and other issues, my body’s pretty tough. We handle stuff. I could handle daily bags of cheese puffs.
Except this time, strange things were happening. My roommates and I would sit in the living room, Chopped in the background, laughing and joking about our days. We’d have some snacks, play with the critters, and enjoy each others’ company.
One day, I noticed a little flutter in my chest. It wasn’t that unusual as I’ve had little flutters in the past, and it seemed ordinary.
Except it kept going. Faster and longer, with more inconsistent jumps and beats. I started to panic. I could hear myself thinking, “there’s something wrong with my heart,” which led to more fear.
I was 24, and something was wrong with my heart.
Foolishly, I kept quiet. There was no way I wanted to tell people I was having heart problems at my age. They’d probably judge me for being overweight and not help. I couldn’t do that.
Then it happened again.
After that, I kept my fingers on my throat so as to take my pulse. I’d work my shifts as a waiter, sneaking pulse checks, fearing a return of these uncomfortable flutters.
All seemed well until the next time it happened. This time, it was even worse, and I nearly broke into a full on panic-cry.
Confirmation had finally arrived. I had a problem. It was time to see a doctor.
By the time I arrived at the cardiologist’s office, I already noticed that I was different from other patients. Most were older, 50s-ish and up. The receptionist was surprised to see such a young person, and was actually rather rudely questioned by the intake nurse. They were clearly used to people who knew about their situation, not some young girl.
Well, was it a palpitation?
Do you have a history of arrhythmia?
Was it a flutter or more of a change in beat?
They clearly phrased my issue in terms of weight, as that’s the most obvious health issue in my case.
I wanted to cry.
I’m so fat and sick that even at 24, I’m breaking down.
At the Appointment
Fortunately, my very kind cardiologist was extremely polite and helpful. He told me that weight was probably not a contributor to the type of complaints I had, and to be sure, he sent me home with an event recorder so I could keep track of the palpitations.
The little gadget was strange. Rounded metal feet upon my chest, I’d record segments of the palpitations, then play them out over the phone to a medical company.
In the meanwhile
I pay close attention to my symptoms throughout this month. I studied them.
When did the palpitations start? What did they feel like? What was I feeling emotionally? What was I consuming? Had I been sedentary long before?
This is when I started to notice a major overlap between my diet and palpitations. When I ate real food like eggs, avocados, and homemade soups, I was fine.
When I ate salty, carb-laden, MSG-packed snacks like cheese puffs and flavored sunflower seeds, my palpitations returned.
I started testing this out.
- Days without junk: no palpitations.
- Days with junk: palpitations. Guaranteed.
My gut sank. I didn’t even want to go back to the cardiologist. It was obvious at this point that my diet was causing my problems. I did this to myself.
After a month, I returned to the cardiologist to get his take on the now much clearer picture he saw of my situation.
Fortunately, all signs were good. My palpitations were probably genetic and were mild enough to be safe. The only issue would be if they came back in full force again, then a minor surgery could be performed mostly for my own comfort.
Even better, my weight had nothing to do with it, as this type of palpitation occurs in people of all ages, weights, and heights.
I was in the clear. I squeaked by once again. Verdict: healthy-ish.
How I Changed My Life
This was the first experience I had that proved to me, very drastically, that my diet matters. It was also the first time I realized just how poorly I was caring for myself. Even if I was depressed, there was no reason to abuse my body.
I started to seek out other ways to eat and live. Cheese puffs, of course, went off the menu, where they’ve been for a long-time now. I began to read more labels and make more foods from scratch. I started to fill my fridge with healthy lunches and dinners to fight off those snacky feelings.
I began to feel better from these small changes, and have since moved on to much bigger ones. Now, you’ll see I bake my own bread with my sourdough starter, make nourishing, healthy meals, and avoid additives in my food. Now, I’m clearing GMOs out of my diet and eating for mental health and clarity. I soak in the sunshine, sleep better, and eat real food. I learned self-soothing techniques so I no longer have to resort to snacks when I stress.
Plus, I forgive myself when I do fall back to the snack wagon. It happens rarely these days, but all I have to do is remember the fear and anxiety of potential ill health. Even worse, I think back to how ridiculous I felt when I realized it was all because of cheese puffs.
To how embarrassing it feels to confess that yes, I harmed myself physically by eating junk food.
I deserve so much more than a sad bag of processed junk. And you do, too.
Need a little help? Here are some great dietary guidelines to follow.
When did your real food journey start? Do you have a snack issue, too? Write in the comments below!
P.S. This was hard for me to share. Please be kind in the comments.