Saturday, April 07, 2012
Everything in moderation can mean two very different things:
Everything is bad in excess. This is often what many people mean and this is usually true. But another meaning has crept in:
Everything is ok, as long as it is in moderation. This is another piece of conventional wisdom that I find in many places on Spark and I think it can be right or it can be dead wrong (pun intended) and is worth exploring in some detail.
I agree that moderation in the second sense can be a good thing in many cases. But there are clearly many exceptions as well. Nobody nowadays would recommend smoking in moderation, not even smokers who are not ready to quit. Nobody would say crack in moderation is a good thing, either.
Then there are all the things that seem to be good (or at least neutral) regarding our health when consumed in moderation: coffee, many pain pills, alcohol, thyroid medication, vitamin and mineral supplements, salt, even sugar... we could add many things here.
There are also many things that might be better in moderation than in excess but they may still be better to avoid completely.
The real question is how to judge if a substance, food or even an acitivity contributes to our physical, mental and emotional health by helping our body to be in balance.
Have you ever heard the sentence: I couldn't live without... (a person, a food, a drug, a habit, a hobby, a sport)
This, again can have several meanings.
It could mean " I can't do without this and survive or at least be reasonably functional", like "I couldn't live without my dentures" or "I can't live without less than 5 hours of sleep a night". This one is about physical necessities.
It could also mean "not having this in my life would be really difficult, inconvenient, or simply would put a crimp in my style, like" I couldn't live without running water, convenience foods, my car. This one is about comfort and convenience and often time-saving.
Then there is another category and this one has to do with our emotions. Things like "I get really unsettled, emotional, stressed, panicked, tense, worried, tired, depressed, wired, desperate, out of control, angry, irritated, jittery or illogical when I have to do without this. What "this" is depends on the person.
I used to think that food addictions are in one sense harder to break than many other addictions. We have to eat to survive. I don't think this any more. There are lots of foods that nobody has ever gotten addicted to. Natural foods are not addictive, even natural sugars are not by themselves. If you don't believe me try to eat a cup of honey and see how that works for you. Sometimes we crave natural foods that are similar to foods we have become addicted to, like very sweet fruit for sugar addicts, and we have to abstain from them at least for a while. My drugs of choice were definitely sugar and wheat and possibly other grains that are not very natural any more. There is a threshhold below which I can consume sugar and probably grains and it is very low, maybe a teaspoon of sugar a day, maybe a teaspoon of wheat flour a day, I'm not sure where it is. I'm not allergic to either. But there is no more reason to find out than there is a reason to find out how much Tylenol I can take before getting liver damage.
At this point I'm going to stop because everyone can write their own ending. What would you say if someone asked you: What can you not live without? And even more important: Are you sure what type of "not being able to live without it" it really is?
Saturday, April 07, 2012
I only had two meals today. Breakfast was around 10 am, and then I was busy until about 7pm because my husband and daughter are out of town so I was doing all their animal chores (and we have a LOT of animals, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks and a horse. I also was trying to do at least a little clean-up for Easter. In any case, my last project of the day was to go shopping at our co-op for an Easter meal and at the same time to eat dinner at the deli there.
On the way there, around 6:30pm I saw that my daughter had left some gluten-free licorice on the seat of the car. The stuff is yummy but very high in carbs and full of sugar. But I decided to have one piece to hold me over until I could have dinner about 1/2 hour later. I enjoyed it a lot and let it melt in my mouth. There was really no temptation to have another piece, maybe in part because licorice has such a strong flavor. When I got to the co-op there were many temptations waiting, most of them organic or natural foods, but many pastries, candies, dried fruits and then all the entrees, salads and desserts in the deli. I loaded up on the salad bar with lots of raw veggies, some chicken, nuts, cheese, and vinaigrette and olive oil. I was looking forward to eating but still not feeling starved. To my surprise I found myself eating slowly, enjoying every bite, contemplating half-way through if there was any reason to have dessert afterwards but finding that I really was not hungry for it.
I used to have to use my whole bag of tricks to stick with the healthy food every time I went in there. I'd always seen my cravings as partly a sugar addiction, but that I had overcome "or so I thought" quite a while ago.
I thought most of what was hard to change was emotional eating, patterns of unhelpful behaviors, habits like eating too fast, never putting the fork down, telling myself that I "deserved" a treat, eating instead of drinking, eating because I'm cold or tired, eating because I feel bored, discouraged etc.. I was often frustrated with myself for being so slow in making progress on these issues. I knew this had nothing to do with will power, but being very familiar with principles of behavior modification I knew exactly what to do. I just did not succeed in doing it, because my impulse to eat usually won out, not to the point of gaining much weight other than seasonal changes of about 10 lbs., but enough to where I was always "managing" my eating behaviors.
So today I realized that I did not need behavioral and cognitive techniques any more, well, maybe I should say I hardly needed them any more. Eating slowly, tasting my food, not overeating, not thinking about the next meal all came naturally. It was so obvious to me today that eating would not work to fix the problem when I'm really tired or bored. I could only feel amazed that I ever looked to food for the answer to these situations before.
Being able to eat only two meals a day without getting hungry is great, too, on days when I'm short on time.
So much of what I thought was emotional eating patterns turned out to be physiological, the drive to eat or at least think about food every few hours. I have to assume increasing insulin levels from eating carbs were the primary cause. In any case, I like not having to control/manage/stay on top of cravings. For me if this means to go without grains and beans and sugar for the rest of my life that's worth it because I will be able to enjoy food when it's there but can stop thinking about it the rest of the time.
Thursday, April 05, 2012
Today I had an ice skating lesson after I had a rest day yesterday. I was on the ice for about two hours and got a good leg and core workout.
After eating a breakfast of yogurt, cranberries, 1/2 banana and nuts I did not feel the need to eat again until 3 pm. We went out to lunch after ice skating and I was happy to see that the restaurant we went to had a gluten-free, lower carb menu. I ordered steak with broccoli, peppers and zucchini cooked in olive oil with lemon and a mixed side-salad also with olive oil and lemon. The veggies were cooked a little too soft and could have used some seasoning, I'm not used to eating plain vegetables, but overall not a bad experience. Dinner at home is an omelett with onion, broccoli and cheddar cheese with some hot sauce added and a big leafy salad on the side. I'll probably have more of the blueberry ice cream I made two days ago for dessert.
Yesterday I had a late breakfast and did not get a chance to eat lunch before 4pm. I ended up having only blueberry ice cream for dessert.
The good news is that I was able to buy an ice cream maker at Costco today, the kind that makes ice cream in about 20 minutes without salt. Can't wait to try it out this weekend. A friend gave me some extra raw milk because she is out of town so I will get to experiment.
I was happy to see that Costco now carries organic lettuce as well as organic carrots. Going to Costco the first time since going low-carb was interesting. We used to gobble up all the free food they offer and for the first time I turned down 90% of it. I did indulge in some yummy double cream cheese of different varieties. Also stocked up on fish oil since I rarely get the chance to buy fish at a reasonable price. Unfortunately none of their nuts are raw and very few items still are organic, so our food co-op and local farmers and our garden are still my main source of food.
Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Since getting back to low-carb yesterday my body has already adjusted again. My weight was down a pound to 137.6, mostly water loss probably. Of course this time I was just dropping from about 80-100grams/day of carbs to under 50grams/day since I just cut out the sugar. Yesterday I felt a little tired at the end of the day. Today my energy level is back to (my new) normal.
Today I probably ate a little more than yesterday and exercised a little less.
I did about an hour of walking, 20 minutes of strength training and just 15 minutes of jogging, total calorie burn about 600.
Breakfast was plain yogurt with blueberries, flaxseed meal and nuts
Lunch was a big plate from the salad bar at our food co-op with spinach, romaine lettuce, tomato, radish,, cucumber, red onion, mushrooms, walnuts, smoked mozzarella cheese, chicken (dark meat), and vinaigrette with at least 5 tablespoons of oliveoil.
I enjoyed a cup of coffee (half decaf) with lots of half and half afterwards.
Dinner was browned ground beef, stir-fried kale (in coconut oil) and a hard-boiled egg, all with generous amounts of melted cheese on top.
I decided to experiment with making low-carb ice cream again. I added almost a quart of heavy cream to pack of frozen blueberries in a metal bowl, added about 2 tablespoons of Xylitol for sweetener and stuck it in the freezer. The frozen berries make the cream freeze faster. To keep it smooth I stirred once about every 20 minutes and after 2 hours I had ice cream.
I may eventually buy an ice cream maker if I can find one that does not require the use of a ton of salt.
In any case, I had a big bowl (about 1 ) of homemade blueberry ice cream for dessert.
I love low-carb eating.
My guesstimate for total calories for today is 2500.
I have been thinking about low-carb eating a lot lately. When I tell people that I'm on a low-carb diet nobody even blinks and everybody acts like that is a completely normal thing to do. But when I tell people that I don't eat any grains or beans I get surprised looks and people ask me why. This tells me that many people don't really understand the reason for eating low-carb. They may have heard about the Atkins diet a long time ago and even believe that it works but they can't imagine anyone eating that way long-term. In fact, sometimes I can barely imagine it myself, not because there are any foods that I miss, just because I'm surrounded by foods that are high-carb everywhere. Just today I walked into a Starbucks and realized that there is NOTHING that fits into my eating style. I also intentionally walked into a local bakery and asked if they carry any gluten-free items. The sales lady told me, "yes, but only on Wednesday". I asked what the ingredients in the bread are and she said she had no idea. I thanked her and left.
I also ate at a Chinese restaurant the other day and asked what gluten -free choices they had. Surprisingly they told me a couple of dishes I could order and said that if requested they can use a soy sauce without wheat in it. We ended up ordering green bean chicken and hot and sour soup, both very tasty and the portions were enough to take some home. There was probably a little sugar and a little corn starch in the soup.
Monday, April 02, 2012
Today the weather was finally spring-like.
It was time to get back to running after taking about one month off to mostly devote to ice skating.
I'm going back to running at least 3 times/week, maybe as much as 6 times depending on how I feel. I will also do more horseback riding again after the ice-skating season is completely over next week.
Today I ran for 30 minutes, 2.3 miles, average heart rate 134.
I also spent about 2 hours walking and 20 minutes strength training so my total calorie burn was about 1000.
My carbs are back to under 50 net carbs for the first time in a while today.
Breakfast was some blueberries, plain full-fat yogurt, walnuts, ground flaxseed
Lunch was a hard-boiled egg, some pumpkin seeds, a piece of cheese and a small glass of full-fat raw milk.
Dinner was a duck-egg omelett with mustard greens, tomato and cheese.
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