Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Low-Carb Sermon

I’m sticking with this low-carb eating business, which can be translated as high-protein and fat, because it works, for me. As a general rule, I eat a carb/protein balance that allows me to lose two pounds a week, although sometimes, for unknown reasons, I have a zero loss week. If this coming week is typical, by next Saturday I will have lost 20 pounds with plenty more to go.

Yay for me. I used to avoid the bathroom scale—seriously, the only reason it wasn’t caked in dust was because Husband would occasional step onto it. But now the scale isn’t a source of dread, it’s a source of encouragement. I can see results nearly every day, and that’s enough to keep me going. In fact, I’ve reached the stage where I recoil at even the sight of a carb and am not tempted by them at all. You’ve got cake, you say, and maybe I’d like a lovely slice with an icing flower? Crispy potatoes, perhaps? How about a slice of wood-fired organic pizza made by the funky guy at the farm market? Away with you and your unappealing temptations, I say. I, with my steel-willed determination, am impervious to your evil offerings.

I never bought the notion that all humans should eat one prescribed diet, and I’m glad to have found the one that suits my chemical makeup. Enough people have asked about it recently that I’ve decided to spell it out here in case this sort of thing might work for you, too.

When I first started eating low-carb years ago, it was prescribed to me by a doctor, and because I didn’t know what a carb was, I went home to learn. A carb(ohydrate) is a compound consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and while it’s an essential building block for lots of living organisms, homo sapiens aren’t among the creatures needing them. We can live quite well on protein and fat.

In everyday terms, as in what actual food fits into the carb category, we’re talking about mostly white food—sugar, flour, rice, potatoes and things made with the stuff like pasta, ice cream, baked goods. So, these are off the list for people eating low-carb, as is corn because it’s mostly starch and acts like sugar when it hits your system. Might as well eat a candy bar. Carrots, peas, fruit, juice and everything that is mostly sugar are off as well.

So, what does that leave? It leaves most things found along the perimeter of the grocery store. It leaves fresh, green produce—lots of lettuce—cucumbers, nuts, eggs, cheese and meat. You circle the edge of the store with your cart and skip all the middle aisles because those are mostly filled with pre-packaged stuff made with flour, sugar and corn, except for the peanut butter and almond butter aisle. And your shopping is done in half the time it used to take when you didn’t pay attention to what you ate. And life is good.

I met a friend for coffee this morning, and she asked what I ate on a typical day. Answering was a helpful exercise for me, so here it is:

• Breakfast: one egg (or two if scrambled, don’t ask why), two pieces of sausage or bacon and a cup of coffee.

• Lunch: a green salad with nuts, a few blueberries, maybe some good feta, meat like chicken or leftover salmon or steak from the night before; and a dressing made of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

• A snack: cheese and maybe some Neiman Ranch sausage or nuts

• Dinner: something like grilled steak, roasted chicken or salmon and a side veggie or salad

• A snack: again with the cheese or nuts or low-carb Atkins candy or a little watermelon as a treat.

I save wine for special occasions because one glass averages three or four carbs, but vodka and gin have none. And with it all, plenty of water. Every morning I fill a pitcher with two quarts, with some mint and cucumber or lemon slices, and by bedtime, I have poured out the last drop.

I can’t stress the water enough because eating this way can stress the kidneys, and the timing of meals is pretty important, too. You can’t skip, and delaying eating is risky. Today, for example, I nearly had a fit while at the grocery store. I had been out all morning and may have been a little dehydrated, and while I was pushing the cart around the perimeter as I have described, I felt nauseated and dizzy, and I considered grabbing a protein bar off the shelf, eating it right there in the store and handing an empty wrapper to the cashier. I was not above such a spectacle. I decided to push through, though.

The minute I got home, I had some water and then like a barbarian at a Renaissance fair with no utensils, I ripped a leg from the rotisserie chicken I had just brought home and ate it standing over the sink. And then I laid into some wings leftover from the night before and then made a piled-high salad with even more chicken to try to quell the shaking and uneasiness.

The lesson here—don’t let yourself get that low on fuel and water because it takes real effort to fix the situation. And believe me, that's not a pretty sight.

Well, that’s the end of my sermon, for now. I used to work with a guy who ate this way, too, mostly because it balanced his erratic mood swings (a well-documented benefit of this lifestyle). And we called ourselves the Atkins Disciples of the office. On stressful days, we’d chant for each other “No cookies! No candy!” I don’t need that chant these days, but having a fellow disciple and encourager is always helpful. Maybe this preachy post of mine can be that for you, fellow carb-avoider whoever you might be.


dive said...

Don't get too skinny, Robyn; you need to keep your horn tone rich and rounded.
I've managed to lose more than 25lbs since I posted that dreadful fat video of myself in the studio back in April. I've gone down the portion control route as I haven't the will power to give up anything yummy.
So far, so good; I'm about half-way to being able to look at myself side-on again and it doesn't feel like I'm on a diet. Yay!
Let us know how you get on.

Shannon and Paul said...

I will champion the cause with you. Last week on vacation, I fell off the wagon hard and have just been feeling icky for it. {Except for the bottle of Chardonnay at dinner in Stone Harbor, NJ on Friday eve. I didn't feel bad about that...}
We are home again and it's back to salads and veg and lean meats.