Realizing the Connection
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Every few weeks or so, my husband and I make a day trip up to Charleston, SC. We love to walk around the town and on the beaches at the Isle of Palms. While we are there, we bring large coolers, and stock up on groceries at Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's. We don't have them locally where we live.
Eating as much organic meats and produce as we do is expensive. It is also harder to do where we live because it's not really a trend here. Thus we'll load up when we are in a neighborhood with these stores, then stash them in our large freezer. Wild caught fish, and organic fruit and veg are cheaper when bought in the freezer section, so this is another way I stock up. I still have to buy a fair amount of conventional meat and produce out of necessity. I try to minimize when we can.
Trader Joe's...well there isn't a better place to buy inexpensive wine! I became a wine drinker when I lived in Washington state. A decent bottle of table wine cost as much as a six pack of beer. I don't think I could tell you the nuances of a fine wine like a true connoisseur, but I know what I like. We found an amazing deal on organic wines at Joe's for $4 a bottle. We only bought a couple because we wanted to taste it first.
We came home, unloaded groceries, then made dinner. Ribeye steaks, roasted vegetable medley (onions, bell peppers, carrots, and celery), and mashed yukon potatoes. We opened the organic white wine, and it was amazing. It tasted of nectarines and honey. I'll be buying a case of this the next time we make a round.
The serving of mashed potato was maybe 50g. About the size of one portion from an ice cream scoop. This is a far cry from my days when I ate about 200g in one sitting.
As I took a bite, the potato burst with flavor. We seasoned it with just a little salt, pepper, butter and green onions. It was creamy and naturally sweet. I said to my husband, "I enjoy eating low carb, but sometimes a potato just tastes really good."
I'm not a role model for any particular health paradigm. Every diet can probably find a flaw in what I'm doing. I have definitively abandoned the low-fat diet, though.
About 2 years ago when I stalled on my weight loss, I thought eating too much protein was to blame. I cut back to about 40g per day, which was 15% of my total. Since I cut back protein and fat, I made up the calories difference with more carbohydrates in addition to my normal veg and fruit - brown rice, quinoa and potatoes. Protein only one meal a day. This was pretty close to an Ornish diet - 10%fat, 20%protein, 70%carbohydrates. This nearly wrecked my health.
One day in the mirror, I wondered why I suddenly looked so old. My eyesockets were sunken. I had ugly dark, almost blue-black, bags under my eyes. I got a stye under my left eye, which added to the growing grotesqueness of my face. I wore heavy amounts of concealer to try and hide my darkened bags. I wore lots of dark eyeliner under my eye to hide the stye because concealer and foundation enhanced it.
Despite my double chin from excess bodyfat, my face looked strangely gaunt. The skin on my cheeks seemed to sag as though they couldn't hold themselves up. My belly got bigger - I was getting fatter. It was mortifying. I could see myself deteriorating in the mirror, and I couldn't understand why. I didn't immediately connect it to the protein deficiency.
I couldn't stick with it. I abandoned it because I couldn't sustain it, not because I consciously realized what I was doing wrong. Once I started eating protein at every meal again, the dark bags under my eyes disappeared. My weird accelerated aging reversed. As the muscles in my face rebuilt, the stye under my eye disappeared so it no longer stuck out.
It was only then that I realized the connection.
I eat yogurt and cheese regularly, so I'm not quite paleo. I eat 60-80g carbs with potatoes and rice on occasion. I found that I can maintain ok if I eat a starchy carb once per day. I'm focusing on fat loss again, so I've cut back to once per week. I still drink wine and beer regularly.
I'm not an exemplar for low carb purism. I'll probably never be voted most popular blog because I think I am still too bitter and angry about being told low-fat is the only healthy diet, and actively deterred from something that would work for me. Perhaps I still harbor too much resentment to be truly persuasive or convincing.
I can't tell the story that people seem to want to hear: "I just counted calories, stuck with the plan, drank skim milk, and it all worked out!" This wasn't my story.
I don't believe that my diet is the end all be all diet for every person. But I'd appreciate if certain experts would stop trying to place blame that low-fat didn't work for me because it was somehow a failing on my part.
I'm really glad that someone (Dr. Mary Enig) challenged the belief that margarine was healthier than butter. I'll keep challenging that the FDA food pyramid (or plate) is the only healthy diet. It didn't work for me.