VOICE! Fall '96:
Diet & Nutrition
By Heather Frese & Ann
Originally published in Youth Allied By
CFIDS, Fall 1996
Diets. You know them, you hate them, youíve
got to stick to them. Almost every young person with CFIDS (YPWC) I know is on
some kind of doctor-prescribed diet, each tailor-made, each a little different
from the other. My own diet has me stripped to the bare essentials of protein,
vegetables and caffeine-free herbal tea.
But I have a confession to makeÖ "My
is Heather and I am a Diet Dropout." (Nowís the part where you smile brightly
and say, "Hi, Heather!") Once I am committed to my diet, I can stick to it for
months, scoffing in the face of temptation, merrily drinking my bottled water
and munching soybeans until one day, without warning, my eyes will narrow with
greed as my brain zooms in on the Hershey bar my brother is eating. What could
one eensy, weensy, teeny, tiny nibble hurt?
The second that chocolate melts in
I turn into a raging beast complete with wild hair, scheming green eyes and
claw-like hands that paw through the junk food drawer with one goal in mind ó
sugar, SUGAR, I must have sugaaaar!!!!!! Then I will eat until Iím stuffed and
get a glucose high for a while before crashing back to earth with either a
migraine or a mild seizure. Usually this is enough to make me behave for several
more months until I crack again. Iíll remember that I do feel clearer and
brighter when Iím following my diet, and that sugar and gluten are bad.
Then itís time to face the music, start grilling the chicken and chopping the
Now, where were those Snickers bars?
to find one, look it right in the eye and not even blink.
The CYA/Voice Dictionary
Here are some food related definitions,
submitted by (in order of appearance) me, me and um, well, me.
Defensive Eating, n. Defensive Eating occurs when you load up
on extra healthy food before a planned activity. Example: Before class my family
observes me gorging on turkey, V8, peanuts and salad. Through a full mouth I can
then say "What are you looking at? Iím practicing Defensive
The Imallergic Excuse, n. Sometimes no matter what you say people
donít understand that you should not eat even a bite of their birthday
cake/rolls/cookies. Saying, "Iím on a diet," garners gasps of dismay and
explaining your entire CFIDS care plan can get tedious. This is when you should
employ the Imallergic Excuse, by smiling and chirping, "No thank you, Iím
Sniggly, adj. Once youíve violated your diet and
cheated with, oh, say, pizza and ice cream, sniggly is the funny, happy, twirly
way you feel just before you crash. Your personality shifts into high gear and
you find yourself singing Broadway showtunes to anyone who will listen. The
world is one big giggle, and you giggle enough to snort, which makes you giggle
even more. Hence sniggly, a word you may repeat many times just for the
fun of it.
This edition of
the Voice Lettitorial (the segment formerly known as "Voiceletter") comes to you
from my friend and resident nutrition expert, Ann McErleane. Take it away,
Hi Heather! Today I am writing to you
my frustrations with diet in relation to CFIDS.
Of the various treatments I have tried,
diet has been the thing which has most significantly influenced my health. Diet
is the one tool I can use to influence my health, at a time when I have lost so
much control, freedom and opportunity for decision-making.
It is often frustrating, after having
so much effort into my diet and seeing the incredible impact it has made
throughout my recovery from CFIDS, to face such misunderstanding about diet and
its impact on health. When I explain to people my diet and why I eat the way I
do, itís like theyíre almost "afraid" of eating a healthy diet. Often they try
to dissuade me from doing so, without having any knowledge about diet or
Many doctors will even discourage healthy
diets saying itís not "proven" that a good diet can help CFIDS patients but yet
they will eagerly prescribe an experimental or "unproven" drug. While nutrition
may not be proven to cure CFIDS or provide the quick fix we all so desire, there
is absolutely no harm in pursuing a healthy diet. In many cases, especially with
the anti-yeast diet, healthy diets have benefited CFIDS patients significantly
by reducing stress on the body and helping to provide a healthy foundation for
the body to begin to work towards healing itself.
In recent times, food has become loaded
with chemicals and additives. Modern food processing removes a lot of its
natural nutritional value. We have not lived long enough to see the true impact
of these changes to the American diet. But as we learn more about our bodies and
what they are created to deal with, it is apparent that they have no use for
many of the things in food today, which create stress on our bodies, using
energy that could be used elsewhere. Those foods could be replaced with
nourishing, "whole" foods, which will support the body.
The relationship between nutrition
healing are so misunderstood, and often people donít even try to understand it.
They will try eating "healthy" for two days and then give up, saying "oh, it
doesnít work." Just like any natural process, healing takes time. If your body
has been receiving the standard American diet for several years, damage is not
going to reverse itself in a matter of days. It takes time for your body to
build strength, detoxify and reregulate itself.
Many people fear change, especially
change. CFIDS has taken away many parts of peopleís lives. Some feel that food
is one small pleasure thatís left, so they want to enjoy the foods they are
accustomed to. Dietary change must be gradual. Soon you will become used to new
foods and those will become the foods you enjoy. Diet and lifestyle change can
be used as a project or a goal, something that can be worked toward, something
you can do for yourself, something that may grant a sense of overall fulfillment
Discouraging a truly healthy diet is
closing off an entire range of options. When resources and opportunities are so
limited for PWCs, ignoring healthy eating is ignoring a possibility for control
and influence over our health.