August 31, 2010

Real Low Carb Eating Plans vs Tweaked Low Carb Diets

Ever been involved with forums and egroups who specialize in telling those who come to them for help with low-carb eating, to just read the book?

While I can see their point, that a particular diet plan, especially a low-carb diet plan, needs to be understood before a dieter jumps into the water with both feet, diet books themselves are written from the vantage point of the author's experience. As such, the most they can offer the reader is a single perspective; what the author currently believes about low-carb weight loss, and understands.

That's not necessarily bad. After all, there really is a lot of conflicting information out in cyberspace: blogs, forum and egroup posts, podcasts, and internet videos all offering the low-carb dieter their single, come-follow-me approach. But are diet books and tweaked low-carb approaches any different? What makes "just read the book" better advice than answering the potential dieter's questions?

Granted, most who succeed at low-carb weight loss tend to read lots of books, blogs, and websites. They join low-carb online communities, stay involved, and get the results they are seeking. But results can only take you so far. Take those who play low-carb diet, for example. They buy the book, read it to the best of their ability, but still don't actually know what they are doing. That's because they only hear what they want to hear.

They continue eating cold cereal for breakfast, because...well, they NEED their cereal in the morning. They take low-carb wraps to work for lunch (even on Induction), eat cans of mixed nuts and bags of sugar-free candy over a single weekend, because...well, they're low-carb foods; and besides, sugar alcohols don't count anyways. They don't take the time to actually keep track of how many carbohydrate grams they are eating per day because they're too busy, and don't have time for numbers. They'd rather guess or round off instead.

When their low-carb meals don't give them the results they're seeking, they begin telling everyone that low-carb eating don't work. That the Atkins' Diet doesn't work. Rather than taking personal responsibility and admitting that they were never following a low-carb eating plan, they justify their decision to quit by convincing themselves, as well as others, that low-carb diets don't work.

Now, the sad thing is: there most certainly is a place for tweaked low-carb meals. In fact, for a great many individuals they're a necessity. However, I'm beginning to think that very few individuals have the capacity to sift through all of the info that comes their way: to critically appraise blog and forum posts offered by those who think they know.

With all of the book parroting and out-dated science being used to justify their current low-carb meals, the well-known diet book authors who understood their diets worked but not really how or why; I'm no longer convinced that telling a low-carb newbie to go and read the book is good advice.

Is there actually a fat-mobilizing hormone? Are protein shakes dangerous? Do you have to eat vegetables? Will you starve or ruin your metabolism on a lower fat diet? Do calories count, or is it just the reduced carbohydrate in the diet that results in fat loss? Is there really such a thing as normal fat stores and abnormal fat stores? Will 2 weeks of eating at low carbohydrate levels actually fix insulin resistance?

Let's face it. Diet books, including low-carb diet books, not only vary in the details, but they also vary in the level of truth they contain. Reading the book won't necessarily give a dieter the facts. Approaches differ widely; and are basically a road map to a single author's view. From a low-carb perspective, perhaps, but they are still written from that author's current believe system.

Now I'm not saying that low carb diet books are bad. They are born out of the author's experience. However, the most that an author can offer in regards to low-carb eating is a few facts and lots of opinion. Which means if you're seeking after low-carb weight loss, you just gotta choose what you will, or won't believe, what you will or won't follow; and in the end, do whatever is best for you personally. Because not all low-carb books agree with each other, any more than forum posts, or blogs, or egroup members.

We can say this was my experience, this is what I learned from that experience, and this is what it might do for you. But the truth is, nothing is cut-and-dried. Our results won't necessarily be the same as yours. Everything is fluid. And everything changes.

August 10, 2010

Lame Low-Carb Diet Excuses: Get Back on Program

Whether considering going on a low-carb diet and stalling around a bit, or stuck in-between diet-rounds making lame excuses for not getting back on program, there comes a point where reality plows into us. That point, for me, was driven home a little more than a week ago.

I was standing in the kitchen, frying up a cast-iron pan full of potatoes, and my husband had just walked outside to have a cigarette. In Utah, there's an extra state tax placed on the darn things, so they are really, really expensive here.

I had been mourning our current situation, worried because my blood glucose levels were over-the-top with all of the fried potatoes and brown rice I'd been eating daily. Due to circumstances beyond our control (known as: no work = no money), and no food storage of any kind to fall back on, we were eating the cheapest foods I could get our hands on: eggs, potatoes, rice chex, pork, a bit of marked-down ground beef, and brown rice.

My blood sugar levels were so bad, I began skipping the bowl of rice chex for lunch awhile back, and cut myself down to 2 meals a day to give my poor pancreas a rest. At least for a few hours. And I kept telling myself that as soon as things improved,  I would return to low carb and right things. Except things didn't get better. In fact, they got worse.

Our saving grace was the owner of the house we're currently renting told us we could work off July's rent by fixing the sprinkler system and taking down the wall paper in the bedroom, among other things, so we took him up on the offer.

As I stood there in the kitchen that morning, cooking breakfast, I was suddenly struck with the financial reality I'd been denying for weeks. That the cost of a week's salad and veggies was no more than a pack and a half of cigarettes, even at Utah prices. More than 10lbs of potatoes and a 2lb bag of rice, yes, but we were maxing out one credit card after another, or spilling over into our checking account's overdraft protection program to get my husband his cigarettes in-between jobs.

So who was I kidding, saying that we couldn't afford for me to go back onto low carb?

The only person I was hurting with my lame, low-carb diet excuses was me. I'm the one with messed up blood sugar levels. I'm the one who is suffering with neuropathy. And I'm the one who is in danger of becoming diabetic if I don't get my blood sugar back down to normal as fast as possible. So even though we really couldn't afford to spend the money, we took the next little bit that came our way and got me the salad, broccoli, carrots, and green beans I needed so badly.

The surprising outcome was that while we were shopping, a friend of ours happened to be there, and shoved a ten-dollar bill into my husband's pocket while he was looking at some fresh plums. Even with a few pieces of fresh fruit, the bill only came to $9.50.

The take-away lesson for me was that low carb is only too expensive if you want it to be.