VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Running on Diesel

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

I've switched my body to a different type of fuel.

For many years, I understood that our bodies prefer glucose from carbohydrates. When we eat carbohydrates, they all break down into glucose. Whole wheat or white, it becomes glucose. If you eat a teaspoon of sugar, it breaks down into glucose. Our brains love glucose.

I was so scared of the low carb diets because I was told that it deprives your body of glucose, and shuts down. Well, this is only partially true. It does indeed deprive your body of glucose. But here's what I didn't know. Your liver is capable of producing all the glucose you need. In the absence of glucose from carbohydrates, fat and protein can be converted to glucose. This glucose is then used by our brain and other organs.

So in the absence of glucose, what do we use for fuel? Ketones. Ketones are the by-product of when your liver and kidney converts stored body fat. Your brain and all other organs will run on ketones, when there is no glucose. Your body CAN use either. If we couldn't, there would be NO point in the body storing fat for energy during fast and famine. The minute glucose was unavailable, we'd drop dead like a car out of gas.

Since I carry more bodyfat than I should, what I have done is simply rearranged my food so I switch from running primarily on glucose, to mostly running on ketones.

I am not doing an Atkins style low carb, where the goal is to get your body running 100% on ketones. I'm not sure what my fuel mix is, but I've structured it so I get a small amount of glucose, then let my body dip into ketones to make up the difference for my energy needs.

We've often heard about how low carb forces the body to go into starvation mode.

This is true.

Wait, wait. Stay with me! Yes, it is true. The body burns ketones when it is starving. However, IF you eat the right amount of protein and fat, your body will burn ketones, but it will NOT consume your muscle tissue. It will use the incoming protein instead. I trick my body into burning stored fat like it was famine, but there is plenty of incoming calories. I am not nutritionally starved.

The body requires amino acids from protein in order to function. If you were to suddenly stop eating, your body would create ketones, AND consume your lean muscle tissue for the amino acids. It will eat itself.

If you stop eating carbohydrates so there's no incoming glucose, BUT eat a good amount of protein and fat (fat is required!!), then your body will produce ketones, and break down the incoming protein for the amino acids. It will leave your muscles alone. In some cases, it will take the extra protein and actually add to your muscle mass!

This is how Eskimos, Mongolians, and Masai people can eat diets of 80% protein and fat.

What this means is, instead of running on sugar, I am running on fat. If you want to be a fat burner, you have to eat fat. But here's the big caveat. You can only eat mostly fat in the absence of carbohydrates! If a carb load raises your insulin, then all that incoming fat will get turned into cholesterol, triglycerides and body fat, instead of fuel.

The experts were right in that sense. Fat can indeed raise cholesterol and triglycerides, but they fail to mention that only happens in the presence of a LARGE amount of carbohydrates.

Burger, bun and french fries, anyone?

It was a REALLY big leap for me to feel comfortable eating as much fat as I have. I kept thinking about the "Omnivore's Dilemma". The part in the book where Michael Pollan discusses his hesitation and fear about eating a chanterelle mushroom he harvested. Plants have evolved many defense mechanisms to prevent being eaten by other things. Humans and rats have evolved to observe and remember whether certain foods and smell make us ill. We also observe others of our species consuming things to see if they keel over and die. Every once in a while, one of our brave will attempt to taste something, to see if it is a new tasty morsel.

It's this defense mechanism that made it really hard for me to take the leap and feel comfortable eating full fat cottage cheese, butter, and a meat portion with every meal. It's silly, but for many days, I felt guilt with the pat of butter on my broccoli. "I shouldn't be eating this," I'd think. I'd wait for like an hour after a meal, wondering if my heart would explode. Totally irrational.

Even still, I always thought it odd how we avoided fatty foods. Unprocessed foods suddenly became processed foods. Skim milk. No fat cottage cheese. Reduced fat cheese. Margarine instead of butter. Egg whites without the yolk.

So after a month trial on myself, I am running on fat. I eat vegetables and fruit for carbohydrates. No grain or starches. I increased my protein and fat to supposed "unsafe" levels. I still eat high quality protein and fat, though. Common sense. Chicken, pork, salmon, tuna, crab, shrimp, beef, eggs, etc. Not hot dogs or chicken nuggets.

If they were right, I should be getting worse, not better, right?

In one month, I have dropped my bodyfat from 38% to 32%. Something I have been unable to do for 2 years on the traditional diet.

My resting heart rate has dropped from 76bpm to 60bpm.

Here's the scoop on my exercise performance. Despite the warnings that eating fewer carbs would destroy exercise performance, I have actually got better. At least for the type of exercise I do. Take a look at my photo gallery. I am a long distance, endurance performer. I do activities that take more than one hour, or all day. Snorkeling, diving, hiking, biking, kayaking, sailing, etc, etc. Switching to fat burner has made my endurance activities EASIER.

Maybe because my heart is working more efficiently? Maybe because I have stored fat available, my body has plenty of sustained energy available? When running primarily on glucose, when I run out, I crash. We went snorkeling recently, and despite some pretty choppy waters, I never got tired or ran out of steam like I had in the past. I felt like I could go forever.

I get the same on my daily elliptical exercise. For steady state, I can sustain my rate continuously in a way that I never did before. I used to have to sustain for a little while, then slow down to recover, then start up again. Now, I can maintain continuous the entire 30 minutes (or longer). It's wonderful.

On the other hand, I have read that those who use primarily ketones for fuel do have decreased sprinting performance. Sprinters do better with glucose. Just how the body work. Glucose gives fast bursts. Ketones sustain.

I feel like I'm running on diesel.

So going back to the "Omnivore's Dilemma". I've eaten the mushroom, and I got a positive response. This encourages me to stick with it. It is true I don't know what the long term risks are. I'm hoping my high vegetable/fruit consumption will offset any potential increased cancer risks. However, I feel I am getting the right feedback to reduce my diabetes and cardiac risks.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 6/8/2011 4:20PM

    LADYROSE: I'm trying to get my fiance converted over. While we were on vacay over Memorial Day Weekend, I read him excerpt from "Protein Power". But he is EXTREMELY skeptical! Like me, he had a really tough time absorbing the concept that eating more fat makes you burn more fat! Bread makes you fat, not fat!!

I'm going to get him to watch "FatHead". He won't read the book on his own, maybe he'll listen to the Eades and how we've all been duped! ;)

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LADYROSE 6/8/2011 4:01PM

    *sigh* I love the leaps you've made in the last few weeks! I had the same kind of progression - no way in HECK would I condsider giving up X, Y or Z or going "low carb", well, maybe I'll see what this is about... hm... interesting info, will give it a half-hearted shot, WOW I feel a little better, lets look into it more... WOW what a load of crap we've been "fed" over the years, I'm totally on board now!!


Congrats on switching over to Diesel! I'm moving back to it - vacay with the sugar fiend hubby did a number on me but already feeling loads better with making the move back to my 'new normal' eating... and then phasing back to lower carb to get rid of this belly once and for all!


As a PS I had to add... If anyone had forced it on me, I would have dug my heels in... but other people having great results, not just in the fat loss but also the health improvements, and me being gradually more receptive to making changes helped a lot... and now I'm one of the leading by example - have had a co-worker ask me for advice/help in losing weight and even though *I* see her eating horribly (typical processed SAD), she's convinced she doesn't eat /that/ bad, or /that/ much of this or that.


Well, she's been diagnosed with, among other things, non-alcohol fatty liver disease. Her doc suggested she look at South Beach. I cringed but was grateful that the doc was at least acknowledging the food connection. So I encouraged her, told her it would be a big switch from what she eats now, but of course, she doesn't eat /that/ much bread. ::rolls eyes::

Today she told me she read some stuff on the different phases of South Beach and was really confused. I talked her through some of it, but sent her info from Mark's Daily Apple, Robb Wolf (reading his book now... I want to be his stalker. LOL!), and some of Dr. Eades' info.

Praying she is open and receptive, and also gave her baby steps to start with so it's not overwhelming and a super drastic change... Yes she needs it, but like me, if I push, she'll push back.

Baby steps... right? :)

Comment edited on: 6/8/2011 4:09:07 PM

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VHALKYRIE 6/8/2011 3:16PM

    I never would have believed it if I didn't try it. I didn't believe it. Now I do!

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LHIEBEL 6/8/2011 3:06PM

  I have kept my weight down for YEARS by eating high protein/low carb--the same thing doesn't work for every body type--but this is the style of eating my body seems to love--I feel crappy if I eat too many carbs from non-veggie and fruit sources....I have a friend who has struggled with her weight all of her life--and likes carbs--when she tried my style of eating she was like "wow--this really works!"--

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JUSTBIRDY 6/8/2011 12:58PM

    emoticon "Break on through to the other side"...

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LUCYSUNFLOWER 6/7/2011 10:01PM

    I am so glad you're sharing your journey - you've fired me back up and given me hope! I wish you'd start a team!!

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EGRAMMY 6/7/2011 5:00PM

    emoticon Not sure what I do and don't know. But sure appreciate you finding your way and sharing. Thank you

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ANDREA409 6/7/2011 1:00PM

    Thank YOU for getting the message out there, as well as sharing your ideas/thoughts about our ideal diets. I love meeting people who think for themselves. I'm really glad this plan is making you feel so good...and it's incredible that you lost 6% body fat so quickly, after 2 years of frustration.

It's great that my story was able to inspire you in some small way.

Take care!


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JECKIE 6/7/2011 11:35AM

    I love this post!

I will admit every time I see the report telling me I should be increasing my carbohydrates I get a little stressed - but really I never feel so good as when I'm at least 50g below the "recommended" range on a daily basis.

I still eat some - definitely not Atkins level carbs - but no where near what the "average" diet would have me eating.

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GIRANIMAL 6/7/2011 11:05AM

    Most of this is way beyond me. emoticon But I totally agree about the irony of creating supposedly healthier foods by processing whole foods to strip them of their natural fats. I need to read Pollan's books for sure -- I loved his input in Food Inc.!

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VHALKYRIE 6/7/2011 10:53AM

    ANDREA409: Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience. It has really made me think harder about our optimal diets. In extreme cases like yours, the cure goes against every grain of conventional dietary recommendation. Which makes me think that it doesn't make a lot of sense why it would be bad for healthy people.


DDOORN: If we are talking about having different sensitivity levels to insulin as body chemistry, this is true. People who are highly insulin sensitive can eat a higher volume of grain carbs without gaining weight. They can lose weight on a high carb/low fat diet. However, the stats in America show that most of us are actually more insulin resistant, and a high carb/low fat diet exacerbates these issues. The cure for eating too many carbs increasing insulin resistance is not more carbs. Exercise will only decrease insulin resistance to some degree. I will use myself as the anecdotal example. I am not a couch potato, but I am fat. Nutrition is far better for restoring insulin sensitivity.

I'm just giving the information hoping people, like me, who were spinning their wheels following the 'correct' diet, might consider taking a look at a different approach. Maybe they will take a different path than me, but instead of banging heads against the same brick wall. Maybe there is another answer.

Comment edited on: 6/7/2011 10:59:54 AM

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DDOORN 6/7/2011 9:46AM

    Wow wow WOW are you re-connecting the dots I had all connected at one point but have strayed...MUST get myself back to what I absolutely KNOW works best for me!

I do think there is some variation in our body chemistries and am not certain that this works for EVERYONE. But I know in my bones that this is what works for ME. That's what's important.

Thank you for pulling this all together and inspiring me to get back on board!


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ANDREA409 6/7/2011 9:18AM

    You are absolutely spot on in this post. Fat is only converted to triacylglycerides in the presence of insulin, which is secreted when? *All together now* - when carbohydrates are eaten! It's true that biochemically, our body does "run" on carbs. It's glucose alone that can feed the brain, and it's glucose alone that can enter the aerobic respiration cycle.

However, carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that humans DO NOT need to eat. We can survive on 100% fat and protein, because our bodies can convert those to glucose (gluconeogenesis). The Eskimos and Masai have virtually NONE of the diseases known to the Western world. The anecdotal evidence alone should be compelling enough to change our ways, but the science definitely backs it up.

When I had to start eating meat again to treat the AF, I stuck to primarily low-fat sources, thinking that saturated fat and cholesterol would only give me heart disease. I've never had my levels checked, but all I can say is, those sources left me continuing to feel run-down and weak. Certainly I think healthy people can get by on low-fat foods for a long time. But in my case, it knocked me down on my rear end. My body was screaming out for FAT. Loads of fat, so it could heal itself. It literally wasn't until I began eating red meat, eggs, and butter that I stopped crashing from hypoglycemia every single day. Every single day. Imagine that. In my case, saturated fat and cholesterol, purported to be a veritable death sentence throughout our media, saved my life. I'm not exaggerating.

I don't try to change people's minds. Those who don't want to believe me don't have to. But I put the idea out there, so that those who are open minded enough will at the very least look into the possibility. Research paleo diets, etc. Maybe I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't studied biochemistry in college, but that gave me a foundation to suspend disbelief.

Excellent, excellent post. Mad kudos to you, girl! Keep delivering the information. emoticon You rule.

I know that upon recovery from the adrenal fatigue, I'll never go back to a vegetarian diet. As much as I wish I was not an animal "designed" to eat other animals, my body won't let me deny the truth. I'll never go back to grains either. Like you, I stick to veggies, fruit, and the daily sweet potato for my carb sources. In my depleted state, it's the only diet that sustains my blood sugar levels. Surely, once I've returned to exercise, it's going to give me more bang for my buck than grains ever did.

PS. I love Pollan. Every book I've read by him has been pure gold.

Comment edited on: 6/7/2011 9:25:32 AM

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Wetsuits and Wedding Dress!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Less ranting in this post, promise. Sorry about the doom and gloom in the last one, I'm just...yeah. Let's just leave it at that.

This morning, I am FINALLY below the 130 threshold! 129.7. I took some pictures to compare with my "before" state. Most of my change is in my belly flattening! I've got more of a "cinch" in the middle for the start of an hourglass!

So now that I feel confident that things are going the way that I want, and there's less mystery, I feel like I can actually make plans and goals again. In the back of my mind, I was always afraid I would never finish losing the weight. I would always be "FitFat".

Things are just fitting together. I can beat this!

So when I reach my goal weight of 120, I'm going to buy myself a wetsuit. I really need one, with my diving, kayaking and snorkeling. Getting stung by jellyfish while snorkeling is not fun. I need it. But I've been putting it off because I don't want to be the fat girl in a wet suit.

Oh, also need to get that wedding dress! ;)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SCUBAHONEY 6/6/2011 8:22PM

    I'm so excited for you!!! I can't remember ever being below 140 pounds....but I'm really trying to get there!!!! Congrats!!! I'm so proud of you!

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CAROLJEAN64 6/6/2011 3:32PM

    Will absolutely have to see pics of you in the wet suit.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/6/2011 2:40PM

    It won't be long

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JESS0107 6/6/2011 2:12PM

    You deserve it!!!

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ANDREA409 6/6/2011 1:09PM

    That's fantastic!! I haven't seen 129 in 10 years and hope I see it again someday. Kudos!

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 1:06PM

    I don't want to feel it now, that's the problem! Soon...soon...!

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ARCHIMEDESII 6/6/2011 11:02AM

    emoticon !! Don't wait to get that wet suit ! Start trying some on now. get a "feel" for them. LOL !!!


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Food Pyramid Junk Science

Monday, June 06, 2011

Wow. My change in diet had some really unexpected twists.

I thought I finally figured out what was causing my weight loss issues. The whole thing about metabolic response that I've been blogging about for weeks. But it uncovered some health issues that I didn't even know were related.

I suddenly became sick last Thursday. I woke up and I had the feeling of cold/flu symptoms. I called in sick to work Thursday/Friday because I couldn't think straight.

Then I developed some thrush symptoms. A white coating on my tongue. Weird. (For the record, I am not immuno-compromised.)

I started doing some research and found something called "Atkins flu" or "low carb die-off". Apparently, a number of us are overrun with candida, and we don't even know it. High carb/high sugar diets feed candida. Overuse of antibiotics kills off natural flora that allows candida to overrun our immune systems. Many people will have unexplained illnesses like IBS. Recurrent yeast infections, obviously. Some have sugar cravings and can't lose weight. Some, like myself, don't really have any symptoms, except strange chronic symptoms like ear infections, that no one would possibly ever connect with a systemic fungal infection.

Sparker WHIPPEACHZ left a comment on one of my blogs about candida albicans. I had already found the info on the "die-off" at that point, but I dug around a bit more, and this confirmed my suspicion. Apparently what happens, when you stop feeding the fungus with sugar of any kind, they kind of go into death throes. When they die, they leave toxins (that won't kill you), but need to be eliminated by the body, making you feel miserable. They may also suddenly appear in places, attempting to find some place to survive, on the skin, or in my case, in my sinuses and my throat. This does not happen in everyone. Only people who have a large imbalance.

Apparently I am a "lucky" one.

I eliminated my grain/starch consumption drastically, which forced it out more quickly. If I had tapered back slowly, I might have had milder symptoms, and never been aware of what it was.

So now I don't think I had a cold/flu at all, but the death throes of these out of control fungus. They live on all of us. If our natural flora is working balanced, then they don't get out of hand. They are only a problem when they go out of control.

In my case, it was feeding the beast with my high carb/high sugar diet. I mentioned the use of antibiotics to handle frequent ear infections, which obviously leads to a vicious cycle. I'm hoping my dietary changes will eliminate both problems, permanently.

Obviously, this is a lifestyle change. If I go back to a high carb/high sugar diet, then I will encourage this imbalance. I had no intention of going back anyway, but this is certainly extra incentive.

Now I know what it is, I have done lots of research in how to treat it.

1. Continue to starve it of sugar - no starches/grains. I'm already doing this.
2. Gargle with apple cider vinegar. This raises the pH in my mouth - they do not like alkaline environments. Just gargling with it this morning almost immediately cleared up my sinuses. Unexpected, but welcome!
3. Cook with coconut oil. Coconut oil is a natural antifungal. This was not easy to find, but I found some at a high end organic grocery.
4. Lemon juice. Lemons are a natural antimicrobial for a lot of things.
5. Homemade yogurt. I am SO glad I learned how to make yogurt recently! I'm trying to find recipes for coconut yogurt, so I can clear up my issues (and not inflame existing) sooner.

I'm glad I already eliminated sugary drinks and candy bars a long time ago, or this infection (and cure) might be a lot worse. I think my high grain/starch diet was continuing to feed it. This may indeed be a contributor why I lost 30lbs, but my weight loss stalled.

My focus is on clearing this up. Time will tell whether I restore balance enough so that I can enjoy things like pasta occasionally. I think I am not so bad off since I have had years head start to clean up my diet. In my mind, this is clearly a medical issue, now. I cannot go back to eating a starch with every meal.

50 grams of potatoes converts in the body into the equivalent of 1/4 cup sugar. Would you serve a quarter cup sugar 3 times a day with your meals?

I'm trying not to be infuriated. I did this for years, because this was supposed to be the most healthy way to eat, and have good health.

Many Sparkers are skeptical bunches. Many are quick to jump on message board posts about weird fad diets, detoxes and cleanses as snake oil scams.

How many of these skeptics have the same skepticism for the government dietary advice? Why is 60-25-15 for carbs/fat/protein the accepted "right" way?

Do you know how pig farmers fatten hogs? They use a feed formula of 61% carbohydrates, 25% fat, and 14% protein.

This is almost identical to the USDA food pyramid.

How is this supposed to keep people slim and healthy, but adds fat to pigs for profit?

The new USDA "Food Plate" isn't much better.

I say replace that grain portion with more veggies.

Many skeptics will say this sounds like holistic, new-agey, mumbo jumbo. If I hadn't gone through this experience, I might have agreed. Heck, I did agree at one time.

What I am going through is real. I say the USDA feed lot pyramid is the junk science.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 6/7/2011 8:06AM

    SUSANB_MILLER: It is different for everyone. I have read online that some people see something in a few days. For me, it was a few weeks.

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GREENTHUMB234 6/7/2011 8:04AM

  Thanks for the info!

I have cut back on my simple carbs and sugar for the past several months, but am not quite ready to take them completely out of my diet. But after reading this, am thinking about doing a short sugar and grain fast to see if I have any similar issues. How long does it generally take to find out if detoxing symptoms appear?

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EGRAMMY 6/7/2011 7:49AM

    That you for this information. I appreciate it.

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BABCIATEA 6/7/2011 5:52AM

    great blog Thanks

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SHEILAD1963 6/6/2011 10:28PM

    Another interesting point about the fattening of hogs. Sweet Tarts started out as a supplement for fattening hogs in the Midwest. YUCK.

Think about it!

The bad thing is, I love SweetTarts, but I don't eat them now!

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NY-BEAN 6/6/2011 9:47PM

  I eat low carb too.
I try to eat some "probiotics" every day - basically fermented foods that have good bacteria to populate my gut.
My favorite sources are Kefir (a yogurt like, or some say buttermilk like) drink, sauerkraut or Kim Chi w/live cultures, and Kombucha teas (bottled drink) The carb count in any of these looks a little high, so use portion control, but also remember that the starch gets fermented so not really the same amt of carbs as when it was first bottled.
BTW - the difference btwn Kefir and yogurt is that the Kefir microbes stay alive longer in your gut.

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THEMIS27 6/6/2011 2:52PM

    I wonder how much pull the corn industry had in creating these new food guidelines. In my opinion, the USDA recommendations are nothing more than a new product of extensive lobbying by food industry giants.

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BEATLETOT 6/6/2011 2:18PM

    I very much enjoyed reading this blog and the comments. Thank you for posting it and making me think!

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SPARKLIT 6/6/2011 1:56PM

  How absolutely on target. Wish I could shout this out to all the sparkers !! Loved ladyroses comment about the can of worms.Lol

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JECKIE 6/6/2011 1:50PM

    I had a VERY similar experience. I'm allergic to penicillin and related abx, so I always ended up with stronger stuff. And EVERY TIME I was on one I'd end up with thrush.

Fast forward to me having radically changed my diet (lower than 'recommended' carbs, no HFCS, etc) and I don't get it at all. It's fantastic!

Keep on with what works for you! It's a great feeling to find the keys to your success.

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LADYROSE 6/6/2011 1:30PM

    Wow...nice little can-o-worms you opened up... funny how that happens when you challenge the conventional wisdom around these here parts... At least worms are mostly protein so you're good. ;)

Oh, think you'll appreciate this one: http://www.foodrenegade.com/say-goo
R>Really sucks about the whole yeast thing, though it made me giggle a little bit... I have images of the Alton Brown/Good Eats sock puppet yeasts burping and trashing around in their death throwes... I'm silly like that. :)

Keep fighting the good fight! Remember, the more resistance you encounter, the more it reinforces that you're on the right path!

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ANDREA409 6/6/2011 12:59PM

    I agree with you on the food pyramid. Also - I loooove coconut oil and ACV for killing candida. I've had chronic experience with it lately due to illness. A lot of people don't believe in systemic yeast, but I'm not so sure.

I ate what I thought was a "healthy" vegetarian diet for 16 years, only to destroy my adrenal glands. Absolutely destroyed them. I've had to start eating meat - fatty red meat - and eggs laden with cholesterol to start feeling any improvement. There's no way I would recover eating a plant-based diet. Intellectually, I still struggle with eating flesh, but I had to face the reality that this is precisely what we have evolved to eat.

A lot of people do hate to concede to it. That's their choice. I only hope they don't wait until their bodies are absolutely destroyed before they make some changes.

It took my adrenal glands crashing before I could admit that grains are evil. Check out "The Vegetarian Myth" by Lierre Keith; it's incredibly informative and insightful. It changed my life.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 1:04:36 PM

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JUSTBIRDY 6/6/2011 12:48PM

    Check out my plate o' shrimp blog. I had my lupus diagnosis removed after I went low carb and lost lots of inflammation.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 12:53:41 PM

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CARRIE1948 6/6/2011 12:40PM

    Thanks so much.This is fascinating

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 12:05PM

    I.M.MAGIC: We'll agree to disagree on the new "Food Plate". It is the exact same proportions of 60% carbs (maybe even 75% now). Now it is showing 25% of those carbs should be grain or starch, which I totally disagree with. Grain and starches should be occasional. Whether they are whole grain or not, all of us convert grains/starches to sugar. A rise in blood glucose turns on insulin production. The only people who it does not work that way for are Type I diabetics. They don't produce any insulin at all.

Overweight and obesity is a state of excess insulin load. For people who don't have special needs like type I or kidney impairment, fixing the insulin load fixes the excess fat. Not the calories, but the proportions of the calories.

I think the "food plate" is fine for people who want to maintain their weight. However, I think people who want to lose weight (which is the majority of us, since 3/4 Americans are overweight or obese), then restricting the grain/starches is the way to go. But saying we need to use the exact same proportions whether we want to lose, maintain, or even gain, is not correct. And harmful to the public health. We aren't getting any slimmer.

Best wishes to you on your health journey. That does sound so restrictive, but you seem to have a great attitude!

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 12:45:15 PM

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I.M.MAGIC 6/6/2011 11:04AM

    You're right on target.

I don't know if I agree with you on the new PLATE paradigm... I think it's a HUGE improvement over that %^&*(* pyramid and at least it's pointing folks in the right general direction--like, east instead of true north--but at least it's not pointing south any more! LOL

BREWMASTERBILL does make a good point... there is no such thing as one size fits all, in clothes or in nutritional balances. What works for you could possibly put my whole metabolism into a tailspin. There are very GOOD reasons sometimes for a restrictive regimen. Just for instance, I have CKD, and have a very strict protocol--not to lose weight necessarily, though it is one of my goals LOL--but to maintain and try to improve my kidney function. I have restrictions on sodium, potassium, phosphorus, protein... Dairy anything is so far off my list it's unreal! Wait, I can have butter, cream cheese or sour cream. The fat is the only thing that doesn't have protein or lactose or phosphorus! LOL

It's a real challenge just to find enough calories sometimes and still stay on track--and when I mess up, I lose more kidney function! Definitely not a desireable outcome! Add to that the fact that just like eating too much can add weight, not eating enough can keep you from losing those unwanted pounds you've gained... AAGH! LOL

The truth of the matter is, that maybe it's "junk science" in terms of being too 'one-size-fits-all' and leaning toward too many grain products--which may have more to do with economics than nutrition-- but it's STILL a huge improvement over that confounded pyramid, AND it's a place to start for families who don't have anything else to go by. And I think most of us by now are aware that the true answers are only found for us as individuals, through education, experimentation, and experience...

I think one of the reasons SP works so well for me is because I CAN customize everything on it, to deal with my own circumstances and needs... and you guys are all terrific too, you make me really THINK!

So I say here's to any tool we can use to aid our endeavors to increase health and energy in our own lives!

Kathy emoticon

Hm. Didn't see any of THAT on the new diagram! LOL

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 11:08:30 AM

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BEANBYDESIGN 6/6/2011 10:55AM

    To LittleLadyHope - they use the antibiotics in livestock feed because the animals aren't really supposed to be eating corn at all... pigs and cows and chickens naturally eat things that are found in a meadow, like grass, leaves, etc. Corn and corn alone is an extremely unbalanced diet for these animals, so they will get sick from it (also from the deplorable physical conditions most of them are kept in, but that's another conversation). So they use antibiotics to prevent the animals from getting too sick from the ridiculous diet they're being fed.

And to VHalkyrie - I have several co-workers who have had your same experience. I like that you blog about this, because I think it proves that everyone needs to figure out their own, individual body chemistry and find what makes them feel healthiest, instead of relying on just any old plan (even if that plan comes from the government!)

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 10:54AM

    MRPLATSON: I did look at what they are eating. Then I started researching for more information.

"Are you saying we all need to eat like them?"

Do your own research.

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    I know that it's not really common knowlege, but farmers also fatten their animals with antibiotics. I'm not sure why, if it helps them retain fluid or whatever, but they do. So people like me, who are allergic to penicillin, have a hard time eating meat sometimes--and the hormones that are also fed to fatten up animals for meat caused me to be too much of an "early bloomer"--and I know I'm not the only one!!

I hope you feel better soon, and thank you for this post!

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 10:45AM

    To put on muscle, you raise carb/fat. You gain muscle and fat. To lose fat, you raise protein and fat, lower carb.

Physiologically, we are not so different than pigs. We are both omnivores. Doctors use pigs in order to practice surgery. Their insulin metabolism works very similarly.

Summary. Raise carbs/fat to raise fat/weight mass. Lower carbs, raise fat/protein to lose fat.

Any bodybuilder knows this. ;)

The food pyramid is a fattening meal plan, not slimming.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 10:49:38 AM

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MRPLATSON 6/6/2011 10:39AM

    What does a championship show pig have to do with with the pigs we eat? Nothing. I certainly am not a championship show pig.

Why don't you go look up what bodybuilders eating? Are you saying we all need to eat like them?

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 10:42:54 AM

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BTVMADS 6/6/2011 10:03AM

    I just want you to know how much your blogs and experience, along with a lot of talks with coworkers, has inspired me to change. I'm slowly working my way to getting only 1g of carbs per pound, mostly from produce and occasional dairy. It's already tough to plan, but the way you write about it (and how my coworker feels) is helping me stay focused. The feed lot pyramid is especially scary! I'm putting it on my fridge for motivation. We are not hogs!!

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 9:40AM

    BREWMASTERBILL: Diabetes is a chronic condition. High grain/starch diets definitely raises insulin load which leads to, or exacerbates diabetes.

Also, in my case, the high carb diet without a doubt was root cause of my underlying health issues.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 9:45:47 AM

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 9:38AM

    MRPLATSON: Read up on how championship show pigs are fattened up. They lower the protein content and raise the corn content.

If they want the pig to gain muscle, they add more protein.

Comment edited on: 6/6/2011 9:49:14 AM

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    Ya, we largely agree. I will not go so far as to say it ADDS chronic conditions and I was also highlighting the fact that a perfect diet is a holy grail. But ya, I'd say we're mostly in agreement that it's junk science.

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MRPLATSON 6/6/2011 9:31AM

    I just want you to know that the Pig Raising industry is not trying to "fatten" up pig because they're not making the money off the fat but the meat, in fact, pigs are now one of the leanest farm animals available.

Yes, leaner than Chickens.

This has actually caused quite a bit of a stir in the chef community as traditional Pork recipes can not be made because the meat dries out too fast due to the low fat content.

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PRANA_DANCER 6/6/2011 9:31AM

    "Many Sparkers are skeptical bunches. Many are quick to jump on message board posts about weird fad diets, detoxes and cleanses as snake oil scams.

How many of these skeptics have the same skepticism for the government dietary advice? "

To answer your question, I do. I constantly question every thing I'm told and I love to research things. I believe that we all need to approach our diets by what works for us, and not only will that differ from person to person, but it will change at different points in a person's life. For instance, I've slowly been embracing a lower carb lifestyle not because of all the fad diets, but because of the articles, books and documentaires I've been watching. I've been doing it slowly because I wanted to observe the changes it made in me to make sure that it was working.

Evidence. I like evidence.

I also like Mountain Dew. No diet is perfect. :P

Like you said, there is no "good for all" diet.

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 9:21AM

    BREWMASTERBILL: Actually, you and I are arguing the same point. The Food Pyramid junk is supposed to be "good for all". It is not. In many of us, it makes us less healthy, and adds chronic conditions.

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 9:17AM

    It is an acid, but has an alkaline ash content, which raises body pH.

At the end of the blog, I dismiss the USDA "Food Plate" as the same crap, with a different package.

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    I think it's good to question everything, especially government advice. But I'm of the opinion that there is no single "right" or "superior" diet that works across the board. Not to mention, depending on your health and any chronic problems, your diet may be changed to ease those conditions. I would argue that for me, I'd replace the grain portion with more protein or maybe a mix of protein, whole grains and vegetables. I mean, why be stringent at all? As long as you're making reasonably healthy choices, your health and fitness are improving, the scale is moving in the direction you want it to ... who cares. I guarantee you that I couldn't hand you my meal plans and you would get the same results.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 6/6/2011 8:54AM

    I'm confused about something on here. You say:

"2. Gargle with apple cider vinegar. This raises the pH in my mouth - they do not like alkaline environments."

Vinegar is an acid. Acids lower PH, they do not raise it.

Did you mean to say that that they do not like ACID environments?

We should be skeptical of any advice, not just the stuff we get from the "government."

BTW, the USDA replaced the pyramid a few years ago.

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VHALKYRIE 6/6/2011 8:41AM

    This is what is really making me mad this morning. Americans keep getting fatter and fatter, and the "experts" say it's because we eat too much fast food. Guess what? I don't eat fast food! I was eating according to their recommended dietary standards, and I was STILL fat!!

I'm so glad I got this figured out so I can undo this mess.

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DDOORN 6/6/2011 8:34AM

    Skeptical of "government dietary advice"...? Me...?

Money talks! Knowledge walks!

If it will turn over a dollar, wisdom will be quickly tossed out the window by those in positions of power.

Thank you for continuing to share your research and knowledge!


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Finally Feel I've Got a Handle on This Beast

Sunday, June 05, 2011

I know I keep writing about the same topic, and I probably sound like a broken record. I can't tell you what a relief it is to finally feel like I'm the one in charge, and not some mysterious, unknown and whimsical thing.

Since I've altered my carbohydrate composition, things don't quite work in terms of the calories in/out equation for the most part. My weight doesn't drop necessarily in terms of if I eat 500 calories less per day, then I lose 2 pounds per week. There is a steady drop, but it isn't necessarily in terms of pure calorie deficits. It would be impossible to tell unless I knew what my insulin load was at any given time.

While I've been sick with a cold, I haven't worried about losing weight, obviously. It's more important that my body gets the calories it needs, builds armies of white blood cells, and kicks invaders out of my body. So I've been pampering it with good, nutritious food. I have kept my carb grams and composition the same, though. I've kept my carbs at around 70-80g made up of high volumes of veggies and fruits. No starchy carbs. High quality lean meats and nutrient packed fats like nuts. Lots of homemade veggie soups (no noodles).

The net effect is, I'm getting better rapidly. While I'm a little sniffly, I'm feeling well enough to go for a walk in the sun today. I think the vitamin D would do me good. My weight has stayed completely stable. I'm at the same place where I started before I got sick. The wonderful thing about keeping my blood sugar stable is my weight is very stable. No more wild swings in weight or mood, for unknown reasons.

And as mentioned yesterday, for probably the first time ever, I got through a cold without a corresponding ear infection. I thought surgery was the only way I was going to get relief. As a chronic sufferer, I can't tell you what a relief this is, to go through a simple cold without using a lot of decongestants and fearing the tickle and pressure build up in my ear. Without having to get an antibiotic if it got out of control. I don't like to use antibiotics, but when I have an ear infection, I don't have a choice. The pain is insufferable, and the risk of loss of hearing is great. The antibiotics had the net effect of wrecking havoc on my body in other ways.

My running theory is with less blood sugar, there is less food for bacteria that cause my ear infections. Die, suckers, die!

While my dietary change is anecdotal (there's no way I could prove causation), if it at all had a part, it is already a contributor to improving my quality of life. I'm sticking with it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GIVENTOFLY_ 6/5/2011 6:17PM

  So amazing that you've really mastered the ins and outs of what you're putting into your body! It's obviously working for you - congrats. And you're not a broken record, I love hearing about this stuff!!

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VHALKYRIE 6/5/2011 4:38PM

    CARRIE1948: Vegetables and fruit only. No grains, starches or cereal. It's amazing how calorie dense grains and starches are.

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CARRIE1948 6/5/2011 2:33PM

    Wow! How do you keep your carbs so low?

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DDOORN 6/5/2011 9:03AM

    You are going after this like a dog with a bone, aren't you...? lol!

BIGTIME kudos for getting your own "formula" down pat! It makes SO much sense and you are finding more and more benefits from fine-tuning the "fuel" you choose to put into your body!

Spark ON! :-)


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One Hammer Does Not Nail All

Saturday, June 04, 2011

At one time, I weighed 160. At my height of 5'0, that made me obese. I was able to lose 30 lbs, but I stabilized at 130. No matter what I did, I hovered near 130-135. A few times I dipped below 130, but I never stayed there for long.

Whenever I explained this problem, people treated it like it was my fault. "How much are you exercising?" "What are you eating?" The last question was valid, actually, but not in the way I expected. It was baffling. I dare make the claim that I had one of the cleanest food diaries on Spark. My only processed food was Kashi cereal. No fast food. Lots of veggies and fruit. Low fat/meat.

But there was something more. I was eating a lot of starches and grains. Afraid of the low-carb, I ate a serving of starch or grain with every meal because this is what I was told we are supposed to do. Cereal at breakfast. Bread at lunch. Rice, pasta or potatoes at dinner. All I had to do was watch my calories, they said.

For many people, this may not be a problem. They can lose weight happily all the way to goal, munching cereal, breads and pastas.

Is it genetics? In a sense, yes. Some of us, I have discovered, are more carb sensitive than others.

Lack of exercise was not my problem. Take a look at my photo gallery. I am an active person. I love activity. Getting me out of my chair to go biking, kayaking, snorkeling, swimming - almost anything - is not a problem.

FitGirl15 described this perfectly. I am "FitFat".

I have the internals of an athlete, and the physique of a couch potato.

I am the most active person out of my group of friends. Yet I stayed around 130-135lbs. Unambiguously "overweight". Some said it was just genetics. Some said that I was healthy, so why worry about a little extra fat? Some suggested going vegetarian. None suggested the maligned 'low carb'.

It is almost taboo to mention such a thing. Try anything, but don't stop eating bread. That's dangerous.

I cut back my sugar consumption back a long time ago. I stopped drinking 32-64oz of fully leaded Coke per day. I quit eating Snickers candy bars. I stopped buying boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes. All that played a part in losing 30 lbs. But years of this kind of abuse apparently took its toll. I am more insulin resistant than I realized. I thought insulin resistance was only important for diabetics.

The sad thing is, I believe I was already in a minor state of insulin resistance, but none of my doctors were going to do anything about it until I was on the verge of Type II. I don't blame them. It's not easy to spot on the radar.

Just the fact that I carry more bodyfat than I should means I have more insulin resistance than I should, however. Excess insulin floating around means my body will never dip into my fat stores, even though there is plenty of fat energy available. I am in a state of imbalance.

I am a libra. I cannot stand imbalance.

We need to stop treating every person's situation with the exact same hammer.

There is another kind of sugar that I did not suspect and wasn't aware of. Grain/starch carbohydrates. I knew whole wheat is better than white bread, but switching to multi grains was not enough to swing the tide.

Vegetables and fruit are carbohydrates, but they are lower sugar, and usually come with fiber, which slows blood sugar. Breads and starches are treated like sugar by the body. Some will have no problems with this. Others, do.

No bran muffin can compare to the fiber in an apple for the calories. 5g fiber/340 calories in a Tim Horton bran muffin, versus 4.6g fiber/70 calories in an apple.

I remember going to a Native American museum. There was a display of a Native American skull with advanced tooth decay. It was about early dentistry, and various attempts to fix the decay. The display said the decay came from eating corn, which gets dissolved into sugar by our saliva.

I have always had problems with my dental history. Obviously from cola and Ding Dong abuse, I have fillings on almost all of my molars. Even years after quitting cola, I had early stages of periodontal disease. I build up plaque on my teeth rapidly, and have to see the dentist every 3 months to get it scrapped off. My dentist says it is body chemistry - some people build plaque more easily than others.

I wonder. I wonder if it was the 160-200g of grain/starch carbohydrates I was eating per day, that was converted to sugar. The sugar then feeds the bacteria that causes my wild plaque build up. I'll be very interested to see what my dentist says the next time I see her, now that I have cut down to 70g carbs, almost all vegetable/fruit. It's amazing how many calories are reduced when there is little bread, rice, or potatoes.

Note that in no way am I advocating an all bacon diet. I think a diet low in vegetables and fruit will increase cancer risk. Beta carotene and fiber from veg/fruit are known to lower cancer risk. However, I now believe that high grain carb diets are contributors to a number of diseases from diabetes to gingivitis.

Eating a high amount of vegetables is something we can all improve to do. I'm just choosing to pass on the bread portion.

Does it mean I will never again touch rice, pasta, or bread? Unlikely. I'm sure I will enjoy occasionally. I'm just changing a few things. Instead of pasta as a main course, I'll instead make a side portion of carbonara, and serve it with a main portion of chicken parmesan.

More protein doesn't have to mean meat, if that is the choice.

There is a strange thing when I mention to people what I am doing. There is almost a revulsion, "Oh no, you're not doing low-carb are you?" They start going into how all the meat and fat is going to cause a heart attack and kidney damage.

I know, because I've been that person too. A friend of mine went low-carb before her wedding. She dropped fat like crazy. She didn't do the stereotypical Atkins where she had gobs of bacon and cheese. We ate lots of sushi, and she just ate the sashimi, rather than the rice rolls. She ate plenty of vegetables, also breaking the low-carb stereotype. She looked great at her wedding. Had a healthy baby. Lost all her pregnancy weight (she only gained 17lbs) doing the same thing.

So I can understand the fear people have about my sudden dietary change. But there is something else too. There is almost a fear of, what if I am right? What if after years of spinning my wheels getting nowhere, I finally defeat the myth that this is my destiny, to always be teetering on the edge of fabulous?

After years of seeing my weight cycle up and down between 130-135lbs, I finally feel I got a handle of this. On just this change of dropping the grain/starch portion with every meal, I am only seeing my weight slide down. The way it should be. I'm sure I would be seeing even better results if I could exercise. At the moment, I'm suffering from a cold. But here's a very strange, anecdotal coincidence. Every time I have a cold, I almost always got an ear infection to go with it. I have a malformed sinus duct that tends to clog with fluid when I get sick, which leads to an ear infection. I usually try to pump massive amounts of sudafed to keep my sinus from building fluid. This time, my cold is clearing up, with no sudafed, and no ear infection (knock on wood). I didn't get the tell tale pressure buildup in my ear. No grain sugars to feed bacteria to clog my sinuses? Totally anecdotal, I admit. But whatever it is, I am going to take it as a blessing.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

4SPARKLEKITTY 6/4/2011 6:36PM

    I applaud your insight into your body and diet/health both in weight loss and overall health. When I decided to get up and lose my weight(sigh) the first thing I did was cut out most grains..and all processed grains. I truly do not believe that corn is anyone's friend. the hybridizations & modifications to it over the last 30 years has completely altered it to be super sweet and chock full of sugars, we try to eat grass fed meat at our house so it doesn't sneak in...
there are some old grains out there if you want to integrate some that might not inflame anything and are low glycemic, the ones that come to mind are barley and quinoa if you care to dabble in that arena.
I am excited for you on this new part of your journey!! enjoy the rewards!! emoticon

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    I've been catching up on reading your blogs and I am having some lightbulb moments!! I used to eat less carbs and I felt better but I have been following Spark menus and nutritional guidelines and I just realized my carb intake has gone WAY up. Even if it's whole grain and "healthy" I can see that it has likely not had a happy effect on my insulin levels... Thank you so much for sharing your journey - I just tweaked my Spark nutritional ranges and I am going to jack my protein levels back up. I can't believe I had forgotten about something that had worked for me... I love getting away from the one-size-fits-all thinking in nutrition!!

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DDOORN 6/4/2011 5:10PM

    Singing to the choir here...lol! Everything you say makes AEONS of sense to me and has worked for myself as well. I think the commonly agreed-upon dietary guidlines and recommendations for grains, etc. are overly inflated for most of us.

Fellow Libra Sun here too...Pisces Moon & Cancer Rising...! :-)

Great blogs, making BOATLOADS of sense!


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WHIPPEACHZ 6/4/2011 4:02PM

    Try reading up on Candida Albicans. The combination of infection issues in a cavity with the mixed reference of sugars and starches clicked for me. My sister has this and has to be very careful what she eats in those categories to prevent immune issues and weight gain.

It may not be an issue you have but you will probably find the reading interesting just the same.

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MYLADY4 6/4/2011 3:39PM

    I think that carb controlled diet or "low carb" diets are getting a bad wrap. It is not all about eating high fat foods but eating lots and lots of vegies with some fruit and not eating high carb/low fiber foods. I have been eating that way for a while. I always try to have protien be my largest % of calories while eating 35-50 grams of fiber.

Good for you and hopefuly it helps.

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JUSTBIRDY 6/4/2011 3:04PM

    Great! I have found that by going low carb, I have virtually eliminated allergies. I never get stuffed up anymore, and if I am exposed too a bunch of a typical allergen, my nose runs, but I don't get stuffy anymore at all.

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VHALKYRIE 6/4/2011 2:56PM

    Ronna: I think it is totally possible the the Norsk have developed a tolerance to grain, much like developing a tolerance to lactose in milk to be able to continue drinking it into adulthood. Or perhaps they didn't abuse their metabolism with Little Debbies, Snickers, and Coca-Cola the way I did.

I'm hoping part of my German heritage means I have a special tolerance to beer! ;)

Comment edited on: 6/4/2011 2:58:16 PM

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THINRONNA 6/4/2011 2:44PM

    I am loving these blogs! I am so interested to see how things keep going for you especially after all of these revelations about insulin resistance. We are not all built the same. I keep wondering about the makeup of these Norwegians with all of their bread, rice and potato eating. It is crazy how important bread is to their diet and yet relatively few are overweight. There MUST be something different about their body chemistry. You have em intrigued. Keep blogging lady!

(crazy like, I have seen guys go through a lunch line and take 6 pieces of bread...no lie! They say that the Norsk bring bread with them on vacation)

Comment edited on: 6/4/2011 2:45:44 PM

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