CARBOWHORE: A Chef’s Food Journey
My own food journey was a circuitous one. There’s a lot of people out there who switched to a plant-based diet overnight – I was not one of them. While I was in the height of my unhealthy eating years, a vegan friend of mine told me to stop eating meat.
I tried. But didn’t even last a day.
I was working as a pastry chef at the time at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina Del Rey, California. I would usually eat a piece of cold bacon and a cupcake at 4pm, then a milkshake, burgers or sometime waffles at 2am. While working an 18-hour shift. I never got fat – but I did develop gnarly stomach and digestive problems that still plague me to this day.
In less than 24 hours, I was crawling, CRAWLING to In-N-Out Burger. Food addiction had a very strong hold on me. My friend was telling me – food is not entertainment – it’s there to fuel your body. A few years before, I read this book called “Skinny Bitch,” a pro vegan book disguised as a diet book by former models. Wow I went to the bathroom A LOT that first day. Two huge dumps. Excuse the graphic language. I will be talking a lot about poop in my next few posts so if you’re easily offended, turn away now! 🙂
When I was about 27, I would start to pass out if I ate a pastry, or say, indulged in a second pancake. I just could not sustain my normal intake of 20(!) desserts per day. Like I said, I was really skinny, (thought) I ate healthy, and had no idea how deep I was in the food. My partner at the time, and close friends saw so clearly. ‘Stop snacking Ivy!’ my ex said. “You’re always eating!” my executive chef said. I had moved to Santa Barbara and was working at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa.
H caught me biting into leftover cupcakes from Easter – I took a bite of each one, chewed, swallowed and threw out the rest so I could try each flavor. I did this while standing in the walk-in fridge. I prided myself on being the ‘clean’ one of all my alcoholic, coke-snorting fellow chefs. I did not smoke, drink, do drugs, or have any tattoos or piercings. But I was just as deep into my addiction as any – if not worse. And now I have realized what damage I was doing to my body as well.
Did you know sugar is as bad for you as alcohol? Simple table sugar (sucrose) is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Glucose is used up quite quickly, however fructose is metabolized by the liver (like alcohol). That’s why that high-fructose corn syrup is especially damaging to the body. And why you will never see it in Europe. Which is where I live currently. (However…I did see glucose-fructose syrup on a bottle of Coca-Cola the other day in France…troubling).
And of course y’all know about how sugar is as ADDICTIVE as cocaine. Don’t believe me? I am currently reading “Relentless” by Tim S. Grover, who I heard about through Andy Frisella and his #75Hard challenge (post coming up on that soon! on Day 14 now). Mr. Grover was the trainer behind Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and other great legends. He puts all his athletes on a 10 day-sugar fast and he says the detox is BAD.
But, despite what I knew and what I felt when I ate sugar, I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t go one day without white sugar. Even one of my fellow chefs, who herself was a heavy woman with food issues, lovingly dubbed me my new nickname.
“You’re a CarboWhore,” she said. I could write a whole book with just that title.
My addiction was so easy to hide. Eating dessert, you can do in front of everyone – it’s socially accepted, and sugar is cheaper than cocaine. It was so insidious, it was even hidden from myself. Despite being unaware, things finally came to a head.
I think what really did it for me was the year after my first season as a yacht chef for the 1%. At the height of my career, I was not worried about money for the first time in my life. I didn’t actually have to work for a living (well for at least 6 months).
I travelled around Asia for 6 months. And at that time I could not physically go to the bathroom anymore. I was so exhausted, adrenal fatigue or whatever you want to call it, my body could not even manufacture poop. I sincerely did not even feel the urge to go. I was in a period of doing enemas and cleanses etc. It was right after I did a 3-day cleanse at the Yoga Barn in Ubud, Bali. Where I discovered that when I thought I was hungry, I wasn’t. I was either thirsty of just anxious. I used food like Xanax, a way to quell the rising anger and keep going in life like nothing was wrong.
One girl I did my first Vipassana meditation course in Singapore with (Emily, now named Emerald), stopped and told me not to do those enemas. I think she may have even broken the Noble Silence rule. Maybe not. Anyways. I could not poo normally without them. I got so obsessed with eliminating and holding in etc. But magically my constipation disappeared during the 10-day silent meditation course. I was going like clockwork every day.
PART II to be continued next week MONDAY! Stay tuned ….