Allergies and Illnesses

I’m a little bit of a health disaster, especially when it comes to food and diet. I’m hypoglycemic and lactose intolerant. I’m also currently battling chronic Lyme disease which means I should be following a no-carb, no-gluten, no-sugar diet. Usually, my diet consists mostly of fruits, veggies and animal proteins. When I went grocery shopping for my week-long SNAP challenge, I made the conscious choice to purchase quantity over quality. My diet this week has consisted for the most part of carbs and beans and peanut butter. And quite frankly, I feel like crap.

Having hypoglycemia means that my blood sugar can drop precipitously at almost any time. The result is drowsiness, an inability to focus and unsteadiness. If you read my “Young and Hungry” blog post, you might recognize these symptoms. When this happens, I usually just grab a quick, high-protein snack and I’m right back on track. If I don’t, I get hangry–a phenomenon which I’m sure many of us are quite familiar with. Being on SNAP, I haven’t had any snacks just lying around so people have had to put up with me not quite being my happy-go-lucky self. Usually, I am pretty good at managing my hypoglycemia but being on the SNAP challenge, I have been eating less–smaller meals and no snacking. It has been challenging to keep my blood sugar up, especially in the late afternoon when I would normally stop for a snack with my afternoon coffee. I hate that I’ve been so cranky and un-fun to be around this week but it has reaffirmed for me the importance of eating to being a happy, functioning member of society and life.

The things I miss the most on SNAP are fruits and veggies. I have not had any fruit this week because it did not fit in my budget and all I had in the way of green things was a can of peas. I hated myself a little bit making the choice to pass by all the fresh things in the grocery store but I also knew on some level that produce was not going to go as far in feeding myself as other (mostly canned goods). This whole week I have been eating cereal for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, mac & cheese with beans for dinner. Generally, I eat a gluten-free diet because I feel physically better when I eat that way and as part of my treatment for Lyme Disease (the goal is to literally starve the Lyme bacteria). I have not eaten as much gluten as I have this week in a long time and because of it, I have actually put on weight. I was surprised because I expected to at least lose a little weight from eating less on the SNAP. But it makes sense. Weight-related disease is a very prevalent in poor communities where SNAP is most heavily used. When people can’t put good food in their bodies and rely on a high-carb diet of energy, they put on weight and then their bodies cannot effectively fight back against illnesses.

This entire week, I’ve felt sluggish and tired–no doubt because I haven’t been able to put good food in my belly. I can’t wait to be able to visit the salad bar in dhall this week!

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