Thursday, April 11, 2013
If you eat animal products you need to see this video. And no, this will not leave veganism as the only option.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
My daughter and I have both been sugar-free for the last 8 days. We have also eliminated grains and beans for over a year now, but sugar was something that had to go completely as well because of blood sugar levels.
My daughter overcame her worst cravings in about 2 days since she started and is doing very well. She is in ketosis with carbs around 50 grams/day and her energy levels are as good as always. When I asked her if she wants sweet things, more, less or about the same as before she thought it was about the same. But I do notice the difference. She is snacking a lot less, in part due to eating higher fat and more vegetables. I make a point to flavor all our vegetable dishes very well, with garlic, plenty of herbs, lemon, sesame, hot sauce and many other things to make vegetables more interesting. Of course we are not restricting calories at all.
This evening my daughter had a small piece of frozen mango that we took out of the freezer to make a whey smoothie (made with fresh whey from yogurt making, delicious!) and she noted how sweet it tasted.
I have joined the "Official tame your sweet tooth challenge" on Spark and made myself a rule to not only eliminate all added sugar but also to eat no more than 20 grams of sugar per day from natural foods including fruit.
We are working on finding new fun foods that are tasty and somewhat naturally sweet. Usually our breakfast is yogurt and berries with nuts, tomorrow we will have some low-carb pancakes made with almond and coconut flour and fruit.
I am very glad my daughter is doing so well. A big part is keeping the fridge well-stocked with things she and I can eat so that there is never a reason to be hungry. I also spend more time cooking and baking then I used to. But it is so worth it knowing that this will prevent us from ever having to deal with full-blown diabetes.
Based on Steven Phinney and Jeff Volek's book "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance" I expect both of our physical performance to improve significantly over the next couple of months. I'm sure there will be occasional struggles, but overall I'm very hopeful that as much as is within our power we are laying a very good foundation for our future health.
Monday, April 01, 2013
It all started when me daughter was 10 days old. We knew better than to feed our baby sugar. In fact I had done the best I could during pregnancy to eat a healthy diet (or what I thought was healthy at the time) including lots of vegetables, some organic, lots of fruit, lots of whole grains and beans, moderate amounts of lean animal products. I also exercised all the way through pregnancy and had a baby of normal weight, 7lbs. 7 oz.
So we were really just having a little fun when we were enjoying a French Silk pie that had lots of wheat, chocolate, dairy and most of all sugar in it. Offering our daughter a taste seemed like a natural thing and after all it was only half a teaspoon or so. But that was only the beginning. In spite of our eating a reasonably healthy diet, still way better than the SAD, we did indulge in desserts regularly as well. It was not that unusual for me to eat a while 3oz. chocolate bar in one sitting and as our daughter grew up she came to expect sweet treats on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day. This was many years before we knew about the dangers of wheat in any form and our knowledge about sugar was largely limited to knowing that it may make people fat and that it is "bad" for you. We also assumed from superficial reading that it is normal and natural to crave sweet things, even wild and certainly domestic animals will take any opportunity to enjoy sweet foods when they can, so eating them occasionally (and for some reason I convinced myself that several times a day on some days qualified as occasionally) could not be THAT bad. Both my own weight and that of our daughter was always within "reasonable" limits, even then. I had managed to lose the majority of excess weight in my early 20's just by eating more natural foods, less junk food and exercising a lot. But that little belly in front told a different story. I remember my body fat percentage getting tested about 10 years ago and it was about 30%, not a very good number, but typical "skinny-fat". Within the first two years after my daughter was born I had started noticing reduced stress tolerance, reduced exercise tolerance, fatigue, some mild allergies, mood changes, all things that most people would attribute to the general experience of having children which includes getting up at night a lot for several years. Doubtless those were factors, but maybe just the factors that pushed my body over the edge. About 9 years ago I discovered that my thyroid values were abnormal, which my doctor tested for because of my low blood pressure and feeling cold a lot more than normal. At the time my blood sugar levels were still in the normal range with A1C at 5.2
My daughter was always healthy and very athletic through most of her childhood.
Fastforward to 2011: My daugther is now 15 and dealing with acne, consuming sugar daily in smaller amount (no soda pop, almost no juice, no gluten-grains), on average maybe 20-30 grams/day, although overall eating a healthy diet with carbs between 100-150 grams/day.
But still, she is dealing with carb cravings almost daily, evident in her looking for chocolate, sweet fruit and gluten-free pastries. She had at this point read Mark Sisson's "The Primal Blueprint" and was familiar with the basics of healthy eating.
After I had my A1C level tested and found that I was pre-diabetic at 5.9, in spite of eating fairly low carb I decided that my daughter needed to be tested, too. Her level was 5.7, still pre-diabetic, although on the border. Her physician recommended to lower carbs just a little bit, but 3 months later her A1C was still 5.7, not surprising to me, because at this point I was very aware how often she would snack on sweet things. She did not gain any weight by the way, in part due to genetics and an active life style. So a couple of days ago we had a long talk.
She already knew all the facts about insulin, low-carb eating and how it allows us to control blood sugar levels without medication from watching me. My own blood sugar levels had gone down from A1C of 5.9 to 5.7 over the course of about 6 months. The fact that at her age her levels were now the same as mine concerned me. So I went more into detail about the benefits of a low-carb, ketogenic diet, in particular the effect of eliminating or at least substantially reducing food cravings and eliminating the need to eat frequently. I also talked about the fact that there are really no other options that I can see to get her blood sugar level down without the use of drugs. At the same time I felt very remorseful that I had been the one pushing the sugar drug or at least allowing it's use at an age when the sugar habit could have been prevented. But then I also realized that in our culture she probably would have wanted to try all those foods that her friends eat eventually.
In any case, after showing some definite signs of going through the grieving stages (denial, anger at me, the messenger of bad tidings, and the world, sadness) and a lot of "testing the facts" she decided to give this paleo-low-carb thing an honest try. This past Saturday was probably the hardest day for her, including lots of physical sugar-withdrawal symptoms, many talks about carbs with me trying to listen more than talking, trying to find out if a little would be ok... . By Saturday night this had turned into some positive plans for making a low-carb cheesecake which she did make on Sunday morning with a raw nut crust, cream cheese, gelatin and "Just like Sugar" non-caloric sweetener.
We had a great day, going for hike having 3 wonderful paleo/low-carb meals and fortunately beautiful, sunny weather to lift anyone's mood.
I suspect this struggle is long from over completely but really am just hoping we can find lots of good, healthy foods for snacks and meals. We have another shopping trip planned for this afternoon and will do a lot of cooking and baking this week.
If anyone has experiences or questions concerning getting their kids over sugar and/or carb addictions I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime we are taking it one day at a time, maybe it will turn into a little bit of a competition who can get their blood sugar level down first.
I'm going to try to be as supportive and encouraging as I can, focusing on rewarding positive efforts rather than nagging about mistakes she makes while trying to be a role model.
If I can protect my daughter from some of the bad effects that sugar had on my body, probably including cancer as well as the things already mentioned, this would be my biggest reward.
I know that we can do it, and so can anyone else.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
All this should have been several blogs, but for lack of time I'm rolling them all into one.
My A2 dairy experiment is done as far as my half is concerned. I tested the milk from 3 separate cows and neither one caused a response in the form of a raised pulse (or any other adverse reaction). Since all 3 of the cows were Jersey cows and statistically they are about 50% or a little less A2, I knew that the chance is not terribly high that all three cows are actually pure A2. I don't know when I'll get the results on that so did some further testing. I assumed that there may have been other factors then A1 vs. A2 that influence how I tolerate dairy as well. So I decided to give some organic grocery store cream a try to see what would happen and to my surprise I tolerated this well, too, even though I had had trouble with it before. There was a very minimal rise in my pulse but it may not have been statistically significant. The day after, my daughter decided she wanted to try an ancient (heirloom) type of wheat called Einkorn, which contains gluten but does not have some of the very toxic characteristics of modern wheat. So I decided to try half of an Einkorn cookie. There was no immediate reaction. But the next morning having some cream in my coffee caused a rise in my pulse, not hugely, but noticably, about 8-10 beats per minute. The same thing happened when I ate goat yogurt later that day and that should definitely have been A2 but I also tried a new treat, some licorice which does not contain wheat or corn but does contain a little beet sugar. I have always liked the taste of licorice, but not licorice tea, and this candy started cravings for more of the same, so I had at least 5 or 6 pieces.
The next day everything was almost back to normal in my response to dairy. Last night I reviewed the effects of sugar in Nancy Appleton's book and read that sugar can cause sensitivities to foods that are eaten together with it.
Later, quite a few hours after a healthy breakfast of berries, goat yogurt and nuts, I got hungry but was not near a store on the road. The only thing I could find was dark chocolate with hazelnuts which contained about 14 grams of sugar per serving size. I decided to get some, thinking that I could eat a meal a little later. My schedule changed and I ended up getting pretty hungry and ate 3 servings, the whole chocolate bar. Calorie-wise this was not a problem at around 500 calories. But my body really did not need 42 grams of pure sugar. After a little while, my pulse, which had been fine after breakfast, jumped up about 10 beats. So maybe I am sensitive to chocolate as well, or to a combination of cocoa and sugar.
My next step is therefore to continue consuming dairy, at least the raw full-fat dairy that may be all A2 from our regular supplier, but to completely stop consuming sugar, even in the small amounts that are in very dark chocolate. My dark chocolate-covered almonds will also have to go.
I thought about the fact that I could still make treats with nuts, cocoa and sugar substitutes but actually don't think I will feel the need for them. I'll rather try to get back into ketosis and enjoy dairy.
I suspect that several sensitivities and even allergies can work cumulative, meaning if we are exposed to several things at the same time we are sensitive to the effects may multiply.
I can't wait to find out about the test results of those 3 cows.
Friday, March 22, 2013
I had my body composition scan at the doctor's office yesterday.
The improvements are small but I'm very happy with them because at this point progress is expected to be much smaller.
Since my last scan, 6 weeks ago, my total body fat went down from 29.8 lbs. to 28.2 lbs. for a total of 1.6 lbs. putting me at 21% body fat.
Muscle mass increase just a tiny bit from 58.2 to 58.6, but that was expected since I did a lot more running than strength training in preparation for the half-marathon the beginning of March.
Total changes from September 2012 to March 2013 (exactly 6 months):
weight: 130 lbs., 134 lbs.
muscle: 54.9 lbs., 58.6 lbs.
body fat: 30.9 lbs., 28.2 lbs.
BMI: 20.4 , 21
%body fat 23.6, 21.0
Notice that both my weight and my BMI increased, showing that neither are helpful once you get close to goal weight.
The most significant benefit has been identifying my sensitivity to A1 milk. Going dairy-free for about a month made it more difficult to stay on a ketogenic diet and keeping my body in optimal fat-burning mode. Being able to add A2 milk and cream back into my diet will help me make faster improvements in the next few months.
I decided to set some new goals to hopefully reach before I turn 50 in late August:
- lowering my body fat to 18%
- increasing my total skeletal muscle mass from 58.6 to 65 lbs.
- improving my 5 K time from PR of 32.04 min. to under 30 min.
These goals may seem to ambitious to some and too conservative to others. They take into account that my body will not have to deal with A1 dairy as a major source of inflammation and stress on my body (nor with grains, beans or sugar)
I will continue using the Maffetone method for my cardio (running, some swimming), and a mixture of resistance training and maybe some track events this spring for strength, overall agility, speed etc.
All my running/hiking is done in minimalist shoes or barefoot reducing risk of injury very significantly and reducing overall stress on the body.
I also plan on regular horseback riding for fun and relaxation.
Another important issue is to keep stress levels low by avoiding overscheduling, lack of sleep, too much time in front of computer or TV.
Any feedback and input welcome.
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