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Please Sir- May I have More Sugar?

February 11, 2015

By Mary Beth Wighton
When you have Frontotemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD) like me, you can expect to experience different symptoms. Some symptoms never leave and others may go as quickly as they come. Some examples of symptoms which I have experienced/experiencing are:
➢ Impulsive ➢ Lack of empathy
➢ Poor judgement ➢ Impatience and aggression
➢ Withdraw of interest in activities ➢ Trouble finding the right word
➢ Easily distracted ➢ Memory loss
➢ Lack of attention to personal hygiene ➢ Muscle spasms
➢ Drinking to excess ➢ Swallowing problems
➢ Abrupt mood changes

In addition to the list above, there is another two common symptoms I have been experiencing for about the last six months:
food fad 1 – eating excessive amounts of sugar food, and
food fad 2 – wanting to eat only breakfast cereal in addition to sugar.

Before we get too much further, let me give you some background on my normal eating habits. Basically, I am a meat and potato type of girl. I enjoy eating various types of ethnic food. But, I have never been known to lick my plate clean if there are salads on it. Greens are OK. If I feel like I'm in need of them.

Food fad 1 – sugar, started innocently enough with a desire to eat some sour keys bought in small bags. At first, I would eat a few at a time. But quickly, it became large handfuls to ultimately eating the entire bag in one sitting. If you have ever eaten a sour key candy you would know that it contains a large amount of sugar on just one candy. Imagine, eating the entire bag!

This is when my “split personality” emerged. The “Good Person” would tell myself that this is very unhealthy; I should not be eating these large quantity of candies. It tried to reason with the “Bad Person” pleading to consume less sugar. In the beginning, Good Person won many of the battles. I would wrap up the candies and put them away for another day. Or, I would only eat one colour, like red, and then put the bag away.

As time went by, Good Person started to lose more of the battles. Not only would I eat an entire bag of candies, but I would look for more to eat. This is all in one sitting!Dawn tried different methods to reduce my sugar intake. She didn't buy all the candy. When she did buy some, she hid the bags and gave me a little baggy with just a few assorted treats. Some days this would work and others...not so much. She tried to encourage me to eat more fruit and other food containing natural sugar. I resisted. While she was at work, I would hunt down the bags secured in their hiding spots. If I found them, I would hold the bags in triumph and the feast would begin.

I also had another trick to get my sugar high. I would go into the store to pick up something, and buy chocolate or candy. I would then hid them in my coat and put them secretly away at home. I believe this is where I can use the word hoarding!

A few weeks ago, I switched from sour keys and soft sugar candy to toffee. I LOVE toffee. While we were grocery shopping I picked out a bag of assorted types of toffee. To Dawn's horror, the entire bag was gone by the next day. We tried one more bag. It too was demolished in record breaking time.

Good Person tried to slow things down by having me eat only certain flavours at a time. First it was all green, then red, then blue, etc. I ate the entire bag in two days.

This is when I knew Bad Person had truly won out the battle of sugar. I did not feel guilty about doing this. I didn't feel sick from all the sugar. It seemed that I could not open any type of candy without eating the entire contents.

While Good Person and Bad Person battled over my sugar intake, another food fad began. It started innocently enough. Instead of eating one bowl of cereal in the morning, I began to eat two bowls. Eventually, I began to eat cereal for lunch. And yes, you guessed it, I started wanting only cereal for dinner. We tried various strategies to overcome this fad. First, we always made sure I was eating healthy cereal. It was odd, but I didn't crave sugary cereal. I liked the ones with granola in it. Our cupboards were full of cereal boxes. Dawn tried all different kinds of foods to lure me back to eating properly. Many a time she would hear, “I don't like that.” She would shake her head in disbelief as I was saying that to foods I used to enjoy eating.

Needless to say, all of this gluttonous eating has caused large weight gains. I have already gained a lot because of some of my medication. This now puts me about 35 lbs higher than my normal weight.

Over the last two weeks, my insatiable desire to eat sugar has dissipated. Finally, I can eat fruit and it will take care of that craving. Also, my interest in food has somewhat come back. However, there are still many foods which do not look appetizing and I refuse to eat them. But, its much better than it was.

Oral stimulation is very much a common symptom with people having FTD. This also can include putting objects in ones mouth.

With all symptoms we can only do our best with them. For now, at least I won't be asking for more sugar – please.