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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Zone calms Crohn's symptoms

Last Updated Aug 2007



I have been following the Zone since 1997, when I stumbled upon the book "The Zone" as a first-year undergraduate student (I am now 26 years old). At the time, I was suffering from fairly severe Crohn's disease complications and had been for the previous six years. Although I never had any surgeries, I spent all of adolescence on Prednisone, immuno-suppressants, and a host of other daily prescriptions. I was often too sick to go to school and was in pain nearly every day. My first year of college posed a second challenge to my eating patterns and overall health: I gained 20 pounds. Never before had I been heavy, and if anything, had previously veered toward the "too-thin" side of the spectrum as a teenager, due to my body's inability to absorb nutrients. Regardless, daily bowls of Lucky Charms cereal and nightly trips to buy low-fat Hostess cupcakes from the vending machines were not without consequence: I had increased three clothing sizes and had noticeable cellulite for the first time of my life. When I told my parents and doctors that I wanted to lose weight, they were very concerned, worrying that I might be putting my health in danger by any form of calorie restriction. They told me to simply exercise, but while exercise did wonders for my energy levels and muscle tone, three months went by, and I hadn't lost an ounce. My step-mother introduced me to "The Zone" the summer after my freshman year, and I lost weight immediately. It took a while to learn how to measure serving sizes and read labels, but I enjoyed the challenge and embraced the proportion-calculations like a game. I know many other people who prefer the eyeball method, but I think I will always be a ratio calculator. I lost 10 pounds the first summer, then stopped the diet (thinking calorie-counting would suffice) and gained it back. The next summer, I tried the Zone again and carried it through the next year, maintaining a 15-20 pound weight loss. I never ate fewer than 17 blocks a day, although my protein prescription called for 14. When I reached my goal weight, I filled in the extra calories with nuts between meals, and ice cream every night after dinner. Every Sunday I would have a full brunch at a restaurant, and every Monday I would continue with Zone meals, thankful to be rid of the states of the sluggishness those Sunday feasts induced. I have been on and off the Zone for seven years, never gaining beyond my weight freshman year. Each time I re-embark on the Zone, I am shocked that I ever stopped in the first place! It is such an effective plan for eating. The most miraculous aspect of the Zone for me has been the disappearance of my Crohn's disease. By 1998, I was able to stop all my medications for Crohn's disease. By 1999, I was no longer in daily pain. By 2000, every medical test determined that my intestines were in great health. My daily sleep requirement went from 10 hours a night to seven. Even my seasonal allergies went away!! Please, believe me; I am not making this up. These changes might have been due to other factors or purely coincidental, but I believe it was the Zone. High blood sugar seems to wreak havoc on human bodies and immune systems. One reason I am writing this today is to remind myself of my gratitude toward the Zone. The last two years have been unusually difficult for me, consisting of a death in my immediate family, beginning a demanding PhD program, moving three times in 18 months, anxiety, depression, and living within an absurdly tight budget. The Zone has taken back stage through all of this, even though I know its effects will lessen my overall stress. I have gained 10 pounds, but, all things considered, I have done quite well; my slight weight gain is nothing compared with my ability to get through the past two years without Crohn's symptoms. (I credit this to my adherence to low-starch ... can't say the same about the sugar department!) Tonight, I am grocery shopping and starting the Zone in the morning, and I encourage any/all of you to do the same! The first two-three days are tough, and then this "click" happens. I kid you not. The hunger leaves, energy levels stabilize, desires for caffeine dissipate ... even my mood elevates a notch or two! Just make sure you're eating enough. And be careful, not hasty. If you think of this as a diet and try to do it as quickly as possible, you won't be able to stick with it in the long-haul. Good luck to all of you!
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