One of my goals for this year was to try low(er)-carb eating for a month. So many people I know (including a lot of you guys) tout the low-carb or paleo type diet as a great way to lose weight and increase energy but it never seemed right for me, for lots of reasons (reasons 1-100=I LOVE carbs, 101=generally averse to meat, 102=don't really like eggs, either). And I sort of figured that any diet restricting a major food group sounded gimmicky and apt to fail (remember low-fat in the 80s and 90s guys? I was eating cereal and pasta by the bowls and always always hungry!). In typical questioner mode, I really had no reason to actually believe this type of diet would do anything more for me than simply eating more reasonable portions of the healthy, real foods I love (with occasional unhealthy and/or synthetic treats because #YOLO).
I tried counting calories 2 separate times, for about a month each. And it was really helpful to figure out a calorie goal and realize what foods I could fit into that goal. But it was not sustainable to monitor and record every morsel that passed my lips. So I quit each time after about a month. Plus I never lost the weight I was trying to lose, and when I tried to lower my calorie goal for faster weight loss I was too hungry. I had pretty much given up and resigned myself to having a little extra padding.
In December, I decided to read Gary Taub's book "Why We Get Fat" because Gretchen Rubin was always going on about how it changed her life and overnight (!) motivated her to completely give up carbohydrates. I had not intention of being motivated, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was---several of the commenters on her blog mentioned they had similar epiphanies.
The book COMPLETELY changed my worldview. Haha. No, just kidding. I'm still skeptical. BUT. What he proposed (and backed up with research, though I'm sure there is also contradictory data that he obviously didn't cite and I haven't taken the time to hunt down) is not just that low-carb eating is "natural" (i.e. the paleo dogma) or causes you to lose weight more than other diet methods (this is actually NOT true and has never been show in larger human clinical trials) but that eating carbohydrates sets of a chain of molecular/hormonal events that leads to...hunger. (and also insulin resistance, adipose tissue dysfunction and other health consequences in some people). and also, the carbohydrate intake led to decreased ENERGY and desire to be active/move (in rodents).
guys, I am ALWAYS hungry. I eat way more than most women my age. I am not overweight but I have recently started to put on some weight and I KNOW its because of my eating habits. I just haven't been successful in "eating less". I'm also quite active, and obviously the activity makes me even hungrier. I exercise because its a tremendous benefit to my mental health, and I love feeling strong & fast & fit, but my current exercise regimen (which does not include many calorie-burning miles) is weight-neutral at best. I've also been really really tired lately; I even asked my doctor to test for things like thyroid, iron, and vitamin D, and all were normal, so I have no reason and thus no quick fix.
So, like a true questioner, since I was trying to increase my energy and decrease hunger, I decided to test it out. I'm on day 2 (of 28). My diet is not completely carb-free, I've just self-created something that works for me (in Taub's book, he mentions that everyone is different, and while a obese diabetic may want to eliminate nearly all carbs for the quickest and largest effect, an otherwise healthy person can experiment with what level of carbs works best). I am eliminating: all grains, potatoes (sweet & white) and corn products. And candy or sweeteners of any kind, obviously. I am allowed to have legumes and a little bit of fruit. Cheese and plain yogurt is OK. I don't drink milk/cream but that would be out (sugars). oh and booze is allowed, because...because I said so?
Guys, I know its only been 48 hours, but I feel AMAZING. Haha. No, just kidding. I feel terrible. I have a nagging headache, I'm queasy in that morning-sickness-all-day way, and I am walking way slower than before (and could barely get through my workout this morning). I also have...GI distress...which may be unrelated (its GI virus season, after all), but suspiciously timed. I guess I'm less hungry? I am eating TONS of fat, not counting calories in any way, and eating when I'm hungry.
I know these are all normal symptoms. I've usually quit around this time, when I've tried to eat lower carb in the past. This time I am determined to stick to it (because its an experiment, and its way too soon to see the results). What I need to figure out is the logistics; specifically what will I eat for dinner? This week we are having turkey chili (which we usually eat with break or tater tots or corn chips), but we don't have too many meals in our repertoire that don't include grains, potatoes or corn products. This is what I've eaten so far:
Sunday dinner: turkey chili (with beans) with cheese on top. Hungry later, ate chunk of brie and nuts and still hungry so ate chunk of sharp cheddar and nuts
Monday breakfast: coffee. hunk of cheddar and peanuts. Lunch: lettuce, olives, artichokes, walnuts and blue cheese (with olive oil & balsamic vinegar) from cafeteria salad bar with the chicken/feta/hummus I scraped off a tortilla wrap (G made my lunch and it was too sweet for me to throw back in his face). Side of carrots/celery/bell pepper. 4 pm snack of 3 clementines and 1/2 cup pineapple. Dinner: turkey/bean chili with cheese on top. 2 glasses red wine.
Tuesday: worked out. Breakfast: coffee. 2 gooey eggs fried in butter with cheddar cheese & 2 pieces bacon. Lunch: "salad" with hummus, chicken, feta, carrots/celery/bell pepper, spinach/kale yogurt dip (TJs), walnuts and jalapenos. (I'm eating this in between typing, quite late because I was meeting with some people from 1-2:30)
So breakfast and lunch are easy enough---particularly since I"m eating them alone, and because eggs and salad work for those meals. Dinner is challenging. We try for all of us to eat the same thing, doesn't always work because kids are picky & annoying. Things we eat include: Indian curries (veggies, lentils, chicken) with rice/Naan. Tacos or quesadillas with beans, +/- chicken, veggies. Fish with side of veggie and bread or rice (I'm ALWAYS hungry after this meal). Pasta with veggies/chicken sausage, spinach/ricotta stuffed shells, veggie lasagna. Stir-fry (veggies/tofu) with noodles or rice.
If I just "skip the bread" part, I need to substitute something else, or I'll be hungry/unsatisfied.
Anyone eat this way? Any ideas or recs for websites with good recipes that are lower carb but not paleo (I eat a lot of the stuff paleo doesn't allow, and way less meat than paleo recipes usually push).
I'm not sure I'll make it the next 26 days. You'll find me in the corner shoveling Cheez-Its into my mouth.