February 26, 2008

Magic Soup...Plus More

How to Make Homemade Chicken Vegetable Soup
Chicken Vegetable Soup
Is Easy to Make Low Carb
Magic Soup.

That's what Tippy Toes at the Low Carb Friends forum called it.

Supposedly, if you eat it for lunch and dinner, you'll see a lower number on the scale the next day.

It's like magic.

Well, not really, but it's a nice chicken-vegetable soup that hits the spot on a cold, winter day. Loaded with dark-meat chicken, celery, garlic, and freshly minced ginger, it makes the whole house smell wonderful while it's cooking.

And yep. I said minced ginger.

I love freshly minced ginger in homemade soup. It gives the soup an Oriental feel, like the War Won Ton soup I used to eat whenever we went out for Chinese food when my kids were little. It's just missing the Won Ton noodles, is all.

And probably most of the magic, since it has more vegetables than the original version. It would work wonders for a cold, though.

February 13, 2008

Is It Time To Do Something Different?

This is a question that gets asked quite often on the various bulletin boards, egroups, and blogs that I read. Far too often, in my own opinion. Because it's generally the lead-in question for someone who wants to switch to a high-carb, low-fat diet in hopes that it will work better for them. In hopes they can return to eating the foods they miss and used to love, and still lose weight.

The sad truth is, it most likely won't happen.

Because even though initially it might make you feel better, due to the "switch" in deprivation lists, it too will eventually make you hungry, miserable, and leave you STILL feeling deprived. Cuz after awhile, after you've gotten your fill of bread, potatoes, rice, and whatever other high-carb food you feel you NEED in your life, you will begin missing the butter, cream, cheesecakes, and nuts. You will.

At least, that was my own experience, when I was following a well-balanced, low-calorie, low-fat exchange plan.

Because no matter what kind of eating plan we choose to embrace for the rest of our lives, we STILL have to deal with and manage food sensitivities and triggers. We still have to fight off diet sabotage, emotional eating binges (even more so with higher carb plans), and the general way consuming those higher glycemic carbs makes us FEEL. The Insulin spikes, the hypoglycemia, and all the health issues and problems that go along with that kindda plan.

Now I can certainly UNDERSTAND the "mind acrobatics" that goes on here. Because I've been through that kindda mind-talk myself. And I think it's even HARDER, for those of us who have been on the Kimkins Diet in the past, because we have a tendency to "look back" when our current fat loss is slow or non-existent, and remember the SPEED and EASE at which we were able to lose weight then, even though it really wasn't a healthy way to take off the weight.

We are inclined to compare that with what we are currently doing. And when our current plan doesn't measure up, when weight loss has coasted to a stop, our mind tries to talk us into searching for something else. Something that will measure up to our FALSE expectations.

Now if we're searching "within" the low-carb game plan, I don't see a whole lot of problem. Because we just MIGHT stumble onto something, some aspect of low-carbing that works better for us. Which is why I'm personally inclined to read everything about low-carb, dieting, and healthy living (in general) that I can get my hands on. Hoping to find a pearl or two that I can embrace and use in my own plan to make it truly MINE.

The problem comes when we begin to think that going against what we know to be true, the way low-carb works in regards to health as well as diet, will "get us" what we want. Because more often than not, the vanity that DROVE us 'from' low carb to a high-carb way of eating will just back-fire on us.

Now...I'm not talking about "raising" our carbs to a more moderate level within a low-carb framework. Nor am I talking about switching to a more cyclic way of eating. I'm talking about jumping ship all-together. Because a typical low-fat, high-carb diet (at least all the ones that I'm currently aware of) just don't address the REAL diet-related problems of mind, body, and spirit that most folks have.

ALL of those things, all of that junk just goes "with" you, when you switch diets. So running away from what you "think" is the problem, isn't going change anything.

Because the real problem is YOU.

When we finally come to the realization that blood sugar, and therefore insulin, powers MOST of what the body does... When we finally come to the realization that low-carb eating is for LIFE, and not just a TEMPORARY fix to help us feed our vanity... When we finally get it through our thick heads that more often than not it's our TRIGGER FOODS that we "most" enjoy... Then it's TIME that we accept our eating limitations, begin climbing the carb ladder, and making this way of eating "truly" a lifestyle change.

Because that's what it really is--CHANGE.

And change means that we don't look over our shoulder, and we most certainly DON'T GO BACK. Because if we return to what we were then, if we begin to eat what we ate then, we will un-do all of the good health and benefits we have gained. We will pile back on the pounds faster and to a greater degree. And worse yet--out bodies won't BELIEVE we are serious, if we are ever to reach the point where we are mentally, and emotionally ready to change our lives.

So in the long run, if low carb stops working for whatever reason, it's far better to "wait it out" and ACCEPT that reality, (for the present). Live life to its fullest, and stop "thinking" about switching to a more toxic, heavier insulin load diet. Because that isn't going to get us what we want. It really isn't. Just be thankful that Science isn't static. And neither is knowledge.

In fact, the answer for you...might just be around the next bend. But if you get out of that car, just because it has stopped moving forward...if you choose to run back up the same hill you just traveled down, then you won't be IN that car when it begins moving again. And it will leave you behind--in the dust.

February 11, 2008

Protein Power LifePlan Thoughts on Fats

As many of you know, the plan I am following isn't consistently Atkins. Cuz I've chosen to incorporate into my program, principles from other plans that work for me. One of the plans I've relied on heavily, since leaving the Kimkins Diet, is the Protein Power Lifeplan. Partly because it helped me dial into the healthy amount of protein I needed to eat each day, it doesn't DEMAND that I spend my carb allowance on veggies, and it's view on fats considerably differs from that of most individuals who are trying to follow Atkins.

Now my thoughts and quotes for this blog are going to come from the section entitled: "How Much Fat Should You Eat?" starting on page 318 of that book.

While Atkinites like to preach that we need to eat more and more fat, Dr. Eades' view differs. In his view, the type of fat we eat is much MORE important in regards to our health than "how much." Because while fat calories are what he calls neutral calories, meaning they don't affect insulin levels or blood sugar quantity plus they supply the much needed raw materials for our body's cells, making them something not to be particularly afraid of, they still supply calories, so they "sometimes" have to be cut back in order to assure a calorie deficit.

His suggestion is to FIRST concentrate on using healthy fats: omega-3 (found in cold-water fish, wild game, and flax seed oil), monounsaturated fats (found in nuts, seeds, olives, avacados, and their naturally pressed oils), and naturally saturated fats (found in eggs, meat, poultry, and dairy). Today he adds coconut oil to that saturated list by the way.

The NEXT concern is to keep a rein on Omega 6. These are found in small amounts in vegetables and grains, but in excessive amounts in corn oil and vegetable oils. By avoiding corn and vegetable oils, you can help to raise the ratio you are consuming between omega 3 and omega 6. Which is CRITICAL to good health and optimal functioning of the cell membranes throughout the body.

This includes especially omitting processed polyunsaturated fats such as margarine, vegetable shortening, vegetable oils, corn oil, and ANY PRODUCT that lists as its ingredient "partially hydrogenated" oil of any kind. Because the process used for manufacturing these fats and oils damages the oil, leaving major quantities of trans fats in its wake. Trans fats seriously interfere with the functioning of cell membranes.

So eating good quality fats is essential to "reclaiming" and "preserving" our health.

The interesting note here, is that in my own observation, the greater majority of Atkins folks, don't follow this advice, even though this much of Dr. Eades' view is totally consistent with the Atkins approach to healthy living. With the GREATEST OFFENDER here, being mayonnaise, since it's generally made out of soybean oil, or partially hydrogenated soybean oil. With supermarket canola oil running a close second.

But...HOW MUCH FAT "SHOULD" YOU EAT?

Not an easy answer, because the answer differs depending upon your current situation. Where you are on the low carb path. The following is a direct quote of Dr. Eades:

"If you're not trying to lose weight (body fat), then you can eat as much good-quality fat as it takes to satisfy your appetite and to maintain your weight--even if that means you munch on nuts, seeds, nut butters, cheeses, jerky, guacamole, and olives all day long."

Typically this is the general Atkins approach to "dieting." But in Dr. Eades experience, it doesn't necessarily (always) work. Which is why he personally confines this type of advice to maintenance. Not the fat burning phase. He does add a qualifier regarding exercise and/or work:

"The more calories you expend in exercise or work, the more calories from good-quality fat you'll need to eat to stay in energy balance."

I have personally found this to be very true. When I began working at the boys home a few months ago, I was then able to increase my daily calories by around 200 per day, without it affecting my weight loss.

Now here's the advice he gives for those in the fat loss phase:

"Consequently, if you're carrying too much fat weight, although you must still stick to only good-quality fat for your health, during your period of weight loss, you'll want to keep a rein on the amount of it you eat in order to create a calorie-deficit to lose. That way you'll burn your own body fat stores for energy, not the fat you're eating. So, in a nutshell, if you're trying to lose weight and you're stuck--even though you're keeping your carbohydrate intake within the recommended Intervention Level guidelines (described in the next section) and being sure to get the important vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients necessary for good health (see Micronutrient Roundup in the apendix)--you're probably eating too much fat (that is, too many calories) for you to be able to lose. So cut back on the nutrient-dense foods that can wipe out your calorie-deficit in a snap."

So Dr. Eades' Protein Power LifePlan GREATLY differs from the Atkins approach in this wise. But it's the advice that I've been following since I stopped doing the Kimkins Diet (as a whole) last June. The example Dr. Eades gives is how a 1oz portion of nuts contains 160 calories, even though it is only 3 or 4 carbs. And while a single portion of nuts won't adversely affect your diet, having 3 or 4 such type snacks throughout the day, (or cooking with lots of almond flour "I" might add to this) will. In Dr. Eades experience, he's seen this happen LOTS with his patients.
They stop losing weight and don't know why. So his advice continues:

"During your weight-loss period, if you're not losing well, either watch the portions of nuts, seeds, nut butters, butter, cheeses, and oils or increase your calorie output with more exercise and you should begin to lose.

Once you're gotten to your weight goal, you won't have to worry about limiting your intake of good-quality fats anymore as long as you keep your insulin controlled. You simply cannot store fat--and add on fat pounds--unless you turn your insulin loose. But to keep a rein on insulin output, most people will have to limit carbohydrate intake, at least to some extent, most of the time."


So basically what "I" take away from this is...first switch from unhealthy to healthy fats. Then if you are not losing weight, or not losing weight well, cut back on your fat intake. Which is done healthily by using protein/veggies as the foundation for your plan. And using healthy fats and caloric-dense foods to control your weight loss and/or maintenance needs.

So honestly speaking, I guess you say from the above quotes, that I wasn't EVER doing Kimkins. Not even the month of June. Because even during that month, I ate TONS of protein. Maybe 120 to 140 grams per day. I cut out all processed foods, even low carb ones. I ate lots of veggie carbs and salads. Now, I DID use salad spray, and I did use butter spray on my veggies during that time, cutting my total fat intake down to 45 grams per day. And I "never" allowed a single meal to go below 10 grams in order to ensure gall bladder emptying. My calories were in the 800 to 900 calorie range, the same place they'd been when I was doing Atkins 72.

So I guess from now on, when I do a considerably less-fat day than my normal routine, I'll start saying I'm doing a PP day, rather than a Kimkins one. Because that is STILL the same formula I'm using today (exactly what Dr. Eades recommends to those not losing weight or losing weight too slowly) whenever the scale shows my fat percentage to be up from what I ate the day before. Honestly speaking, I still DO use butter spray on my veggies in the evening, if I'm already at my fat limit, but as per Dr. Eades' words above, butter is something that it's OKAY to control or limit in his opinion.

By the way, just for the record, I DO take Omega 3 supplements. Six salmon oil capsules daily, which also includes an extra 400 mg omega 3s per 2 capsules. So I'm getting 1200 mg omega 3s in supplement form, (1.2 g), as well as the salmon oil I need to help with my current inflammation issues.

February 06, 2008

Tracking Your Carbs to Avoid Carb Creep

This morning, I was reading a thread over at Low Carb Friends about someone who has been losing weight very slowly, about 5 pounds per month. While that's really not a bad weight loss, she hasn't been keeping track of the carbs in what she's been eating, and is now wondering if that could be the problem.

Turning to a carb counter, she was very surprised to discover she had fallen victim to what is known as Carb Creep. That's when we've been low carbing for awhile, and the newness has warn off to the point where we are no longer keeping an accurate count of the number of carbs we're eating daily. She was shocked to discover how many carbs she was consuming in her morning coffee alone.

For some, it seems to be enough to just switch from high-carb foods to low-carb foods, and counting never gets to be an issue. But for others, it seems that we need to keep accurate count of just how much glucose-producing food we are putting in our mouths. I see this quite a lot though, on the various lists and egroups. This need to get rid of all of the counting. Especially when folks post recipes or ideas they tried the night before, yet can't tell you how many carbs that particular recipe or food idea has.

"I KNOW it must be low," they say.

Lots of folks use the various "counting" websites out there, and I use them too at times, but not as much as I used to any more because the whole Kimkins thing got me thoroughly addicted to Fitday, but not in a good sense. So now I use a different method to keep track of my carbs.

I rather like the way Dr. Bernstein and Dr. Eades recommend to do it. By spreading out your carbs throughout the day. Because for me, it makes all of the counting easier and much more natural.

Now Dr. Bernstein recommends 6 carbs for breakfast, 12 carbs each for lunch, dinner, and a snack in afternoon if you're having one. Not quite equally spread out throughout the day, since his system is based on blood sugar control. It therefore makes room for the dawn phenomenon (higher blood sugar upon awakening, even though you haven't eaten anything for hours) that takes a serious toll on insulin levels in the morning.

While Dr. Eades recommends 10 carbs at each meal, or 7 if you're going to have a regular snack with carbs sometime during the day.

I've chosen to do something similar myself. Because to me, it's seems to be sooooo much easier if I just limit myself to a certain amount of carb per meal, then let the whole counting process go. For example, I use a maximum of 12 carbs per meal, then generally eat only 0 carb foods, or biologically 0 carb foods for snacks, if I need one.

I don't always eat 12 carbs though. Like this morning, I had bacon and eggs (1.5 carbs), a slice of high-fiber toast (8 carbs), and a cup of Chai tea with Stevia and a tsp of heavy cream (negligible to 2, depending on how you count the Stevia and tea). That comes to around 10 or 11 carbs. But I won't carry those missing carbs over into the next meal. Cuz I find that just too much of a headache. Too much of a "diet-mindset" for me. I'll reset my carb allowance for lunch back to 12 again. Which probably in this case, won't even come close to 12.

I'm trying pretty hard to NORMALIZE my eating habits these days. Like figuring out just how many eggs, bacon, pieces of toast, cups of tea, and tsps of cream will allow me to stay within my carb allowance for that meal, then stick pretty much to that menu each time I have that kindda meal. Cuz it seems to me, that the BEST way to get rid of the "Diet Mindset" is to figure out a way to get rid of all of that counting without Carb Creep sneaking up on us.

While keeping our carbs in check is "very" important to keep insulin levels low, the whole point in switching to a low carb lifestyle in the first place, if we're always counting something -- even carbs -- we will tend to stay trapped in that diet mindset. At least, I know I do.

February 04, 2008

What Kind of Image Are We Presenting to the World?

I read a very "interesting" post yesterday about someone who got extremely upset and emotional when they went through their neighboring McDonalds drive-thru and had their order not filled properly.

Now it wasn't that they didn't get what they ordered. They did. The problems was, they got MORE than what they ordered. An "extra" quarter pounder with cheese, and 2 small fries. When they tried to give back those extra items, the employee or manager (I can't remember which it was) wouldn't take them back. But said they could have the extra food because they had been waiting in line for soooo long.

Now, if this had been YOU, what would "you" have done???

Unfortunately, the poster chose to heavily ARGUE with the McDonalds employee, since french fries were not on their low-carb plan of choice. They wanted the McDonald's employee to take back the extra food, which the employee wasn't about to do.

And I couldn't help but wonder, with all of that negative exchange back and forth, the "power play" that was going on between BOTH of them, what kind of image we are presenting to the world, in regards to low carb, when we behave like that. Sure, fries are not on our plan. Fries aren't on ANY low carb plan. But do we have to get all irate over it?

Just because we order a burger without the bun, that doesn't necessarily mean we don't want to eat fries if they're offered to us for free. Because the employee "could" have just misconstrued the purpose behind our not ordering a bun. Maybe the employee thought the drive-through patron was allergic to wheat. So they offered free fries to make up the difference, in addition to the wait.

Why can't we just be graciously accepting of the low-carb ignorance of others, and rather than expecting others to read our minds, and/or argue our position, just throw the fries away later with a polite "Thank You?" Why do we have to act like it's the end of the world if someone doesn't understand our intent, and therefore cooperate with what we are doing?

That certainly isn't going to give anyone a GOOD impression of low carbing, nor is it going to "teach" them something about the subject, they don't already know. To me, this was a PERFECT TEACHING MOMENT that the low-carber allowed to pass by. A good opportunity to introduce this particular employee to some "true" low-carb principles.

How hard would it have been to "gently" inform the employee that you are on a low carb diet, and french fries (a.k.a. starches) aren't allowed on your plan because they are metabolized as sugar. How hard would it have been to have THANKED him for the extra burger which you "could" eat, then made a "different", more low-carb friendly suggestion he could follow with the next person who came his way whom he wanted to give extra food too. A small side salad perhaps.

I believe that with the dark way low carb is generally perceived and reacted to by the world, we really need to be "careful" in regards to how the world perceives low carb through us. Like anything else, EXAMPLE is the "best" teacher. And if we are giving and/or being a bad example of what low carb is or isn't, how can we expect the world to change their minds in regards to the benefits and possibilities of such a diet?

We can't.

Because if we are on a low carb diet, then we are representing that diet to the world at large through our actions and behavoirs.