Monday, February 20, 2012
Today's blog is not about facts but about how the experience of eating very low-carb (50-60 grams of carbs/day) has changed the way I feel and think about my food.
Because I'm trying to observe my own emotional response this blog may not make much sense to others and there will definitely not be any logical order. I'll have to see where it's going.
I've noticed that it helps me overall to feel better if I focus on the tremendous number and types of foods that are good for me to eat. I could come up with over 50 different vegetables in all colors, at least 20 different fruits, at least 20 different seeds and nuts and the oils and butters of these. I can also enjoy eggs, all kinds of dairy products including milk, heavy cream, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, soft cheeses like feta, quark, hard cheeses like cheddar, gouda, cheeses with healthy molds like blue cheese, brie and camembert.
And then there are meats. I have limited myself to grass-fed beef, buffalo, chicken and lamb mostly because of availability.
There are also an endless number of tasty herbs and spices. Some of my favorites are rosemary, turmeric, mint, curry, turmeric, garlic, parsley, basil, chili pepper, sesame seed oil, cinnamon, sage, lemon grass, thyme, dill and chives. And then there are mushrooms, a whole food group to explore by itself.
For sweeteners I use Xylitol or coconut sugar (both sparingly) since both are fairly low-glycemic. When I want to have something bread or cake-like (not felt the need yet), I know I can use almond flour or another nut flour and/or flaxseed meal and use raw vegan recipes that mix the ingredients and use a food dehyrator instead of an oven to keep from destroying too many nutrients.
Occasionally I think about the fact that staying low-carb would mean to never have a regular pizza again or a nice crusty bread as a base for butter and cheese. These things still hold some attraction for me, but not so much that I can't resist them fairly easily. Just thinking about where my insulin levels go after eating them and how these insulin levels will help shuttle a lot more of the calories I eat to my fat cells helps me to pass up the bread. I may try to make a pizza-type crust soon with nut flour and top it with all the same yummy toppings I love including spinach, onions, lots of tomatoes, cheese, maybe some ground beef. Having to make it all from scratch will take some time and will make it a very special treat. It will taste different than pizza made from wheat dough but it may be much better.
I did find over the last few days that it's hard for me to limit the amount of fruit I eat. To keep my carbs down to 50 I can't have more than one serving of fruit (1 apple or some blueberries) and sweeter fruit is out. This morning I really wanted a banana with my cranberries and yoghurt so I found the smallest one I could and made sure I had lots of nuts and yogurt with it.
I have noticed that when I get hungry with this way of eating it feels very different. Without my blood sugar crashing, the need to eat is there but it's not as urgent. I can and often have to continue working for a while, if for no other reason than the fact that I actually need to take the time to prepare a meal before I can eat. Sometimes I will just have a few nuts in between. Some of this is caused by lack of planning. I mostly have been eating just 3 meals a day but the last 2 days I needed a snack when I ate less at a meal than my body needed because I had too little time for my meals.
I am missing having Chili a little and think that I may make some Chili with veggies and meat but without the beans very soon.
In winter hot soups are much more appealing to me than raw veggie salads which is what I usually had for lunch this week. I've always added dairy and/or meat and nuts to the salads but still would have preferred something warm. I suspect that my blood pressure may have been a little lower than usual on 2 days. It's usually on the low side anyhow so increasing my salt-intake a little should solve this problem.
I don't think I ever want to give up desserts completely and don't find this necessary. Two days ago I made some low-sugar banana nut ice cream with just heavy cream, banana and walnuts. It was mildly sweet and the whole family enjoyed it. We topped with chocolate sauce made with 85% cocoa chocolate and a small amount of coconut sugar. Next time I want to have dessert I'll try to make chocolate mousse with similar ingredients.
At the moment I'm leaning towards staying at my current carb level (50-70 grams/day) until my belly fat is gone or for at least 4 more weeks but I will reevaluate depending on how I feel and what my energy level is.
After that I will slowly increase my carbs a little every week to see how much I can increase carbs without gaining any fat/weight back. It might be nice to occasionally have some tropical fruit and maybe even a skin-on potato. I can even see that I would have small, occasional amounts of gluten-free grain or of sugary treats at social functions without worrying about it.
I will definitely never eat wheat of any kind again, not any more than I would smoke cigarettes, and I know I won't miss it at all.
One thing that I want to explore some more is how the nutrient profile of sprouted seeds, grains and beans changes and for how long these have to be sprouted to reduce carb content the most. Right now I have some teff seeds sitting in a jar sprouted that look like a miniature green lawn of the very short type you see on golf courses. Maybe my ducks would like this over a simple bluegrass and ryegrass lawn, LOL, and it should look very pretty.
This whole low-carb thing is really a lot of fun as long as I focus on what all I can do instead of focusing too much on the few things I'm giving up.
I see how it would be totally possible to eat very low-carb without animal products or with mostly animal products depending on personal choice and the availability a food where you live.