What to Eat on Low- Carb: Examined

This week I finally decided to get smart and followed a plan at the grocery store. I shopped meat on sale first, then planned meals around that. This week’s choices included an 8 lb. pork roast for 14.50, a beef roast, and a value pack of chicken thighs. I can make 4 meals out if the chicken, and have loads of pulled pork to eat, freeze, and share with my shut- in mom.

With that being said , lets look at today: breakfast smoothie: 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 5 fresh strawberries, a large handful of frozen blueberries, a tblsp. Splenda, and 14 ozs. Unsweetened vanla almond milk. Added one scoop vanilla protein powder ( 5 gr carb) perfect, filling & nutritious! Total grams- 10-12.

Lunch- large mixed greens salad covered in ham and some cheese. Caesar dressing.
Light snack- 1/2 Atkin’s bar. (Total – 5 grams all of that, plus 12= 17 for day so far out of goal of 26. ) dinner is yet to come, but now it’s time for work.

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So, dinner at a fast food place is still an option. Tonight’s fare is a dbl whopper with cheese, sans bun and with lots of greens on top. 🙂

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Low carb tortilla pizza! Yum!!

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So, here we have a delicious pizza. I scarfed it. The crust consists of 2 La Tortilla Factory low carb tortillas. These also have 7 grams of fiber each. The sauce is Wolfgang Puck 4-cheese sauce. The cheese is a combination of muenster and Parmesan. The pepperoni is uncured and some of the best I’ve tried. This meal was completely satisfying, totally addressed my pizza cravings, and I highly recommend it. I broiled it for about 5 minutes, and it was ready to go. The more toppings you use, the softer the crust will end up. I think I will begin a file here only for recipes, just in case anyone wants to peruse. Most of my ideas are just adaptations from other marvelous cooks that I’ve read up on. This one, though, I like to think I invented out of desperation for pizza. If you’re a hard core crust lover, this may not do it for you. But it does for me! This is not low-fat. We’ve discussed how silly that idea is, right? Oh, I had my physical six months ago, and my cholesterol is well within acceptable levels. 

Flying Walenda Diet

Ya’ know, falling is not an option if you’re suspended a thousand miles or feet above the ground, walking across a metal cable.

But I call Low-carb the Flying Walenda Diet because it IS all about balance. Today found me way out of balance. The day was perfect in terms of dietary choices until I got home. My nemesis was waiting for me. CAKE.

As long as I believe cake has power over me, it does. Today I was a true believer. I went back several times for slices that got increasingly thick. I also decided to do better than that, and had a good cup sized ‘sample’ of my own tater tot/chicken/cheese casserole.

Earlier this afternoon I decided to scarf up quite a few tortilla chips, and I just had a glass of Barefoot Pinot Cheapio. It’s been a completely unbalanced, stellar day.

Why? I can tell you that as soon as I walked into the kitchen at 3:00 a.m., and saw that shiny, plastic cake under glass, I was done for. Without even thinking I took the heavy lid off, stopped myself suddenly, and said aloud, “What in the world are you doing ? Geez!!” I packed my obedient low-carb lunch and headed off to a world of signs, stickers, and depression.

But I had already set myself up to desire that cake. I didn’t think of it all day, but as soon as I walked into the kitchen again this afternoon, there it was. I stared at it while eating my tortilla chips and hummus. It was too late. I had let it into my mind. So, I decided, OK, today is carb day. I will possibly gain another four pounds overnight. I’ve seen it happen before. I will consume a lot of low carb fare tomorrow, and knowing me, a lot of fiber.

We lose our balance sometimes. We are not expected to live a life where there is never a mindless snack, never a slip in our steely reserve. I have gained five pounds from my low of 123. Ok, Sometimes it’s closer to 8.

I am slowly coming around to a more relaxed attitude. Complete vigilance was of utmost importance when settling into my new life in low-carb. Now, I’ve slipped up, crept up, and let my hard-ass attitude relax. Yay, right?

Problem there is that I am gaining weight. So, time to re-balance.

Was the cake that great? No, it was a box kit at home. I don’t care! It’s moist, sweet, and it has icing. Those are all the requirements it needs.

The casserole? Everyone raved about it. I had to find out if I deserved my own press. Was it amazing? No, it was good. My salad with grilled chicken on top was better.

The wine? I usually don’t indulge, and for reasons that have very little to do with diet, I am limited to one serving per day. It keeps the dark side from emerging. My dark side isn’t too dark, it’s just SO damned candid and overly honest…

I like to make jokes that I am just storing my extra five for the upcoming winter, but that’s a whole lot of bull. That’s what November is for. 🙂

Whatever and wherever your walk in weight loss and eating right is, remember to cut yourself some slack, allow for the wobbles and re-balancing, and so what if you have a feast one night at the fiesta, as long as you get back on the horse. If you wish. Is that what honors your body, mind, and spirit?

Honor those things.

Honor the occasional craving, honor the discipline it takes to continue meeting your own goals. Stay active. Breathe.

“Greatness is excellence filtered through humility”. -Me

Fallen from Low-Carb Grace?!

I’d like to believe that I ‘got this’ when it comes to low-carb eating and living. It’s all been done, I know all the ways to stay at my weight, yada yada.

This last two weeks have been a dismal failure. Not because I didn’t stay low-carb, but not AS low as I had been. I thought for sure that at this point, I could increase my carb count. I’ve been at 30-35 for so long, what would fifty hurt? I am sure I have not exceeded 50, but that’s all it took, I guess. This week, especially, I have watched my weight climb by almost a pound a DAY.  I can’t even explain to you how this has pissed me off and mystified me simultaneously. I will spend hours of thought on trying to figure out just what series of mistakes I have been making in order to cut it out. The extra meat portions? The no-holds-barred approach to salad dressing and extra large portions of salad? The extra carbs in addition to that? The old urges returning?

The thought of going back to a strict 20-gram induction has  not escaped me. The idea of the eggs/cheese/fat/meat/greens that I stayed so faithful to for so long without a break is not exactly thrilling me, though.

My low weight was 123. I decided 126-128 was fine. Two days ago I was at 129.4, yesterday it was 130, today it is 131.4 . I don’t know what gives, but I am  up almost ten pounds. Still, I do feel fit and not fat, but where does this end? What am I willing to do to make it stop? What do I have to do? Do I have to go back to stage 1, induction, or stage 2, with some extra portion control? Does portion control still merit a look-see even on Atkin’s? Funny thing is, I never needed to worry about that before. Two eggs or three, more or less bacon; it didn’t seem to matter.

I do believe our bodies are pre-set to a range of ‘normal’ weight, that if we undercut through  extreme measures, our bodies will slow down to conserve energy, thus making it so easy to gain, and so much harder to lose. I do believe age is also a factor. But no matter what I believe, the only person who can change this is me.

So, off the horse of “easy-peasy” I have fallen. I’m quite annoyed about it.

I wonder if my new schedule of working super early in the morning could be part of the culprit? While I try not to eat before a ‘normal’ breakfast time, many days find me eating at 5 a.m., nine a.m, after work at one o’clock, and having a normal dinner, and possibly a snack after that. Maybe it’s all too much.

Here come the maybe’s. I told you I’d be stewing.

And here’s the thing about all this physical activity ‘causing’ weight loss. It’s not enough to exercise and to burn off less than you are taking in. If this is true, calories DO still count. I guess it’s just easier to eat less when you feel satisfied, and maybe the bit of extra carbs has stoked up my appetite for more food. I think I may be on to something here.

Height: 5’4. Small frame/petite bone structure

High weight: 155: 2010

Mid-weight, end of 2010: Dieting for my wedding- watching carbs and portions but not too strictly- 135.

Three months after wedding- 142. Up to size 13 pants.

Began serious Atkin’s: January 2012

First three months: Pants looser, struggled on- no pounds lost. Fifth month- 7 pounds. Encouraged, continued to lose another 10 pounds in the next several months.

Feb-March- Maintained 123-125. Content with that.

April- The climb began at the end of this month, commensurate with increased exercise, coincidentally enough. I’ve seen this pattern before…

May: The climb plateaued, and I decided 127 was ok.

June: Maintaining until about the tenth. Then it all started to climb again, like mad. Several things changed though. I started getting lax in my counting, eating 2-3 Atkins bars at a time,   whereas one was fine before, eating larger portions, trying new recipes that were lowERED carb, not necessarily low enough…

Low-Weight: 122. February, 2013.

Well, any encouragement would be nice, and thank you for reading!

Low-Carb Weight Maintenance Stats – Induction Notes

Beginning Induction Weight- ( 1/2012) 142-145

Lowest Weight ( 2/2013, approx) 123

Current Weight- 126-128

Exercise: Running about 2-3 days per week, inconsistent at times. Strength about 2 times per week, plus very active job – 8 hrs daily of speed- walking, bending, stooping, climbing, stretching. pushing a heavy cart around corners. (core work 🙂 )

So, induction was the hardest. It requires strict diligence and adherence to the plan- staying at 20 grams of carbohydrate intake per 24- hour period, and this needs to come mostly from salad and other vegetables. So, there pokes a hole in the myth that Atkin’s is all about bacon and steak. I’ll tell you that in those early days, you do eat a goodly amount of meat, eggs, and cheese, because there’s only so far salad greens will go in fueling the body. And, it’s almost free food, because you are getting almost no carb content in those items.

Somewhere around week two, you might cave-in, gorge on pizza and ice cream, and never go back.

But if you’re one of the determined few, who have decided that if you’ve committed to something, you will stick it out until you see results, by the middle of the third week, and especially if you’re new to Atkins’s  the weight seems to just fall off. Pants are looser, your face looks thinner. True, some of it is water. Your body simply becomes more efficient and less bloated at this stage.

By now, temptation may really hit hard. You’ve been so good, you’re losing weight- how about a night off of the old diet? You could take a free day at this point, but it will either stall your weight loss, or make it just that much harder to ‘get back on the horse’, but assuming you are very strong, you could have your night, and get back on the plan, none the worse for wear. It’s just that the night off needs to be very rare. Better to keep on with the plan, slowly increasing the amount of carb content by a mere five grams of carbs; assuming you are still losing weight. My body was tough this time around! It took me three MONTHS of induction to get to the point where I had lost just seven pounds. The first time I seriously did induction, it took only ten or twelve days.

The next stage is almost as hard. You’re allowed some of the phase 1-2 bars, shakes and meals now, but there’s still a huge emphasis on eggs, cheese, meats, and salads, veggies, and just berries. All other fruit is too full of sugars- and while they are natural, they are still sugars.

At this point, at about two to three months in, a lot of people just can’t take the lack of bagels and pasta anymore. They get tired of their normal weight friends and family who are scarfing pizza and bread sticks and who are eating ice cream looking at them like they are crazy. “Look at me. I’m not overweight. I eat what I want. Why are you doing this?” “What, you’re not eating whole wheat bread but you eat extra bacon?? What kind of diet is this? Your heart is going to clog up and fall out!” So, you try not to roll your eyes, sigh, and try to explain the science. Their eyes glaze over as they chew the pizza crust, and smirk at you.

“Just eat less of everything, and don’t stuff yourself. You’ll be fine”. I’m sure there is a lot of truth to that. But what if sugar and carbs act like a drug to some of us? What if not overeating these kinds of foods is harder for me then giving up smoking was? What if staying away completely until I beat this ‘addiction’, both chemical and psychological, is the most effective thing for me right now? what if I told you that I eat more vegetables and fiber now than I ever did when I ate smaller portions of only what I wanted?

My previous life of ‘eat what you want, just less…maybe”

Breakfast: Leftover huge hunk of carrot cake, or huge bowl of cereal. Neither stick with you long, so I was starving way before lunch

Lunch: Big sandwich, maybe even a sub, and all that bread. Chips, diet pop- ha ha, and two big cookies, or a similar treat. Always had dessert after lunch. If not, then a one-two hour later ‘treat’, like a candy bar. Invariably. Also, if there were any other dessert type foods offered in the break room at work, I would eat that, too.

Dinner: Huge rib-eye, side salad, two crescent rolls.

Dessert- big bowl of ice cream with Hershey’s on top.

Now, no- I didn’t eat like this every day. But way too often, it was something very similar to this. Any time I would look at what I’d eaten that day, I would be disgusted with how many calories I’d racked up, and moreover, I’d be amazed at the fact that I always still felt I could eat more!

Bio chemistry, blood sugar balance, and habit:

Perhaps there is a test that could tell us that some of us are more sensitive to the effects of high glycemic foods than other people are. Perhaps there is a test already. Maybe it’s the same test used to test diabetics. How soon after subject A eats this glazed doughnut ( or icky cup of orange syrup at the doctor’s office) on an empty stomach does the blood sugar level peak? How high is that peak? How long does it last? When it comes down, how quickly and to what level does it adjust to?

I can tell you that a breakfast of coffee and doughnuts is a disaster. Maybe not for most people, but for me, yes. I suffered tremendously with low-blood sugar- hypoglycemia, any time I lived on my carrot cake or cereal breakfasts. Why? After the rise, there is always a fall. Why doesn’t that happen to everyone? I don’t know. Why do only certain people get diabetes, or Parkinson’s, or Alzheimer’s? Everyone is different, with a realm of expected possibilities. Parkinson’s is possible, growing a third eye, not so much.

If you find that eating a high carb diet; that is- one with a lot of refined flour product, bread, sweets, chips, french fries, battered and fried foods, sugars and syrups, and you always feel hungry, you sometimes get light headed and clammy/sweaty between meals, and you can’t seem to turn down a junky snack, you’re a junkie. You’re hooked, and your body is running on cheap, adulterated food. It’s not good for you for many reasons.

When I was a sugar junkie, I had horrible mood swings, manic highs and low lows, skin troubles, scalp issues, anger management issues, and more. Besides that, I was overweight and miserable. I couldn’t seem to figure out why I was always ready for candies, cakes, and ice cream, no matter how much I’d eaten. Turning it down was torture. If I said no to dessert, I’d scarf a quick breakfast just to feel better about eating the ice cream at ten a.m. The next morning! Does this not sound like an addiction? Insert the words “Martini” wherever I used “dessert”, “junk food” , ‘candy’ or ‘ice cream”, and you might see my point.

“But food is just food. It can’t be addiction. It’s all in your mind”. Sure, addiction is largely in the mind. This is why taking the physical chemical imbalance out of the equation is only half the battle. But, it’s very helpful and important. Drug addiction is largely psychological, too, but we have to give up the drug, not just talk to our minds about it. If it helps, think of it not so much as addiction, but rather habituation. We are creatures of habit. We tend to want what we are used to . This is both a blessing and a curse, depending on what we are feeding ourselves. The physical aspect of this manifests itself, in terms of sugar and carbs, in a spike in our blood sugar levels when we eat the offending foods. We feel satisfied. It’s only a matter of time, though, before the blood sugar level crashes and we want to poke it back up to where it was. So we eat the Little Debbie snack cakes or grandma’s fudge, or a can of Pringles. We feel better, but maybe guilty, and like crap again when the crash comes, and so the cycle starts again. The body doesn’t get what it actually needs, good nutrition, and we’ve basically put sugar in our gas tanks.

I believe that people who have maintained a balanced diet over their lifetimes and who do not have a weight problem, intuitively know what their bodies need and listen to that rather than their cravings. They don’t get up in the morning and become tempted by carrot cake. They eat eggs or cereal, and they’re perfectly fine, running smoothly until lunch, which they eat in balanced fashion, probably not caring one way or another about a cookie or two, or a candy bar. I never see my husband go out of his way for a snack after lunch, nor does he usually consume cookies with it. On the other hand, he can eat a giant poppyseed muffin for breakfast and not go mad with hunger prior to lunch. I would. Why?

Insulin resistance: Here’s a great post by Suzanne Robin:http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/can-produce-much-insulin-2833.html

Hypogycemia? All About it: http://www.naturalways.com/sugar.htm

I am not a scientist, so best to get the facts here. Again, balance is an ideal. A great concept, and eventually able to be maintained. If you have had success with  balancing your diet and maintaining your weight without removing certain foods from your diet, why are you reading this post?

Yes, it can be done, but if you are way out of balance, you may need to take serious steps to get back into it.

Best Health and Wishes,

Lee

Nicko’s Kitchen Sugar Free Chocolate Fudge

Taken straight from Nicko’s site- all credit due to Nicko. I didn’t make this up. My daughter forwarded it to me. He has the complete video at YouTube under Nicko’s Kitchen. You should go check it out, and see all his other amazing looking, fast recipes!

2 bananas
1 cup coconut oil butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup stevia sugar

YUM!! Just remember that each banana has about 20 grams of carbs each- so 40 for the entire recipe. Divide that by 6, the recommended portion size, and you get about 6.5 grams. Not a bad deal, unless you eat the whole pan…Let Nicko know what you think, and me, too.

No Magic Bullet

Surprise! I don’t live a charmed life, waking up and deciding to eat whatever I want and somehow step on the scale to find that I haven’t gained a pound. Actually, as of today, I am at 130. I WAS at 123. Now, let it be said that 123 was too low, according to my family, who thought I was too skinny. I took that as a compliment at first, but I did notice my face becoming too gaunt.

However, I was happy with 125-126. I am not too far off. My pants are a little more snug, but still fit. Not a big deal, but I don’t want to just keep creeping up.

I know why this has occurred. I’ve been lazy about counting carbs. My rough estimates are a joke. I’ve decided to eat a few Doritos, and I’ve bought into the lie that Dreamfield’s Pasta has ‘protected’ carbs that are not digested. If this were the case, like other non-digestible foods we ingest; sugar alcohols, large amounts of fiber, and cardboard….I’d feel the results of that in my digestive system. Later I’d SEE the results as well, but I don’t wish to be grotesque.

No, turns out I’ve been dipping into the sweet sauce at the Chinese place, eating more than I really need. ( two Atkin’s bars instead of one) and so on. Doing these things over time has yielded results that one could expect.

Another thing that happened is that I have worked out less in the past two weeks. I will blame extra hours at work and taking care of our sick cat, but the bottom line is always the same.

We get out of everything just exactly what we put into it. Yes, sometimes there is grace. You  eat cake on your birthday and don’t gain. Yay! Again, it’s the habits and patterns that change things, not the sporadic splurges every month or couple of months.

I know people who have an internal sense of balance, rarely swaying in weight, and they do eat whatever they want. I know others who eat a lot, all the time, who stay rail thin. Could be  worms, but I am more likely to believe that we ARE all different.

I am tempted to believe that gastric bypass surgery’s success stories can teach all of us who diet a few things.

First of all, you are restricted in the amount of food you can eat- drastically. Next, what you do get to eat is very protein and nutrient-dense.

Meanwhile, your body has no choice but to begin to metabolize your fat to survive. I’ve seen it with my cat. Chubby 23-pound cat goes to skinny 9-pound cat from…wait for it…barely eating.

Those of us in the land of plenty, with our first world problems, don’t need to wonder where our next meal is coming from, except for “Hmmn, seafood at Captain Moby’s tonight or Chicken Parmesan at Antonio’s?”

How silly we must seem to cultures who do not base their lives on the epicurean experience. From either lack, or focus on other aspects of life, obesity is rarely an issue. Imagine struggling to afford regular meals, find the food, hope like hell that it’s safe to eat, and then making sure everyone in the household has their share. Imagine growing your own food, and having to work at farming just to eat. This included animal husbandry and the slaughtering that comes after.

Thinking about that lifestyle, VS ours, is pretty sobering. 

Most of us would die if we had to raise our own food. ( Lee leaves the laptop and grabs an Atkin’s bar to start the day and guzzles French Market coffee while coalescing her thoughts)

I’m not going to lie. I’d probably be pretty damned skinny as I tried, over many months, to study “How to raise and farm livestock” books, and then get up the courage to kill a cow. I’d probably learn that beans and rice were pretty good, too- and that fish was mighty fine.

But, no. That’s not my life, nor the life of most of us who blog here.

As wise people before me have said, ” Any diet will work if you actually stick to it. ” I think you can even have success if you mostly stick to it. ( great point by LCC)

What I don’t believe in is expecting to eat whatever you want, all the time, and expect to lose weight, unless you have a medical condition, or …there really is some magic bullet out there.

Could it be that all we need is to rewire our minds? What if we were programmed through hypnosis to only want nutritious foods 96% of the time, and to only eat when hungry, and to stop when we were full? What if we asked our hypnotist to leave that 4% Crazy Town wild card? That means, 4% of our eating times could be the pizza- and- ice- cream- until we’re- stuffed kind of eating? Would that work? There are many hypnotists our there who will promise you they can program your mind, with your full cooperation, to cause you to behave just like that.

Why? Why can’t we just diet? Because what I keep hearing is that most people have no self-control and very little will power. I hear that a sensible diet and regular exercise is just too hard for most people to pull off. The food calls out, and we are slaves to obey. We want to eat what we want, when we want, most of the time and still lose weight. Well, there are diets, or eating plans, like low-carb, that go a long way toward helping us crave poor food choices less, but it’s no magic bullet. My mind can tell me, “No, forget this, you WILL eat that molten lava sundae three times this week”, and of course, being a complete slave to my desires, I will do that. But, if you combine a little determination with a really good, scientifically based diet, and do get some cardio activity in, if for no other reason than heart and muscle conditioning, you are bound to see results.

The other choices involve having our choices artificially restricted for us. Hypnosis rewires our subconscious minds, and gastric bypass makes it impossible for us to overeat.

I think I prefer making better choices, and then – most of the time , though certainly not always, sticking with them.

All of a successful life involves a whole lot of balancing and juggling.” -Lee M.