Friday, January 7, 2011

Low-carb...a lifestyle choice, not a fad diet

I act as if I am writing to a huge audience! HA! I love my 8 followers! But seriously, if even two people ask me the same question I feel a need to blog it rather than repeat myself. Just ask my husband and children...I DO NOT (I repeat...DO NOT :) like to repeat myself. (HA...did you get the funny I just made? ) So here is the statement a friend made...

"I am considering low-carb more and more when I've watched health shows that are showing how strong sugar addiction can be." Then she asked me if I had any low-carb info. BOY DO I!

My low-carb education began when I was looking for a way to lose weight after I had my fourth son, Gage. I wasn't looking to change my life, the way I ate, or my attitude towards carbs. I was looking to shed some fat people! And I had heard lots of good things about The South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston. Namely, I could shed 10 pounds in two weeks! HELLO? Ten pounds in two weeks. SIGN ME UP! So, I ordered the book, devoured the info and dove right in. First of all, let me say it was eye-opening to say the least. This was the first time ever that I had heard a doctor say that belly fat was directly linked to consuming too many refined carbs and that by cutting out carbs, belly fat could be reduced. He also went on to say, among other things, that by cutting carbs his patients' cholesterol, blood sugar, and other numbers improved along with their weight. So if I was reading right...sugar and white flour were the culprits in elevating health risks and not FAT! I had simply never heard that. I dutifully endured my first two week phase of South Beach which says NO sugar, NO fruit, NO bread, NO pasta, NO nothin' that resembles a carb. And Dr. Agatston, being the good doctor he is, also said to stay low-fat. I ignored him (and you should too if you read South Beach). I didn't know how wise I was at that time...I just knew if I was skipping everything good I was NOT skipping the fat. I ate butter, bacon, full fat meats, higher fat milks and cheeses, eggs, and as many nuts as I wanted. And I lost the weight! But LOOK OUT...phase one ended and I could HARDLY wait to get my carbs back. I mean, I knew I was supposed to enter phase two and add in only healthy carbs like fruit and whole didn't. I headed straight back to sugar like a long lost friend. And I didn't necessarily gain back ALL the weight. It stayed lower. I must have held back somewhat. Or maybe I just got pregnant again. :) Yeah, that was probably it. I gave birth to three sons within four years. I was pregnant or nursing most of my time! Basically, I was on and off South Beach for a lot of those years in between pregnancies. It worked every time I did it as it was fats. Truth is, the more I did it the more I'd cheat here and there and/or quit early. But if I did it as written, it worked.

Here's the thing. I saw that way of eating as a diet. Nothing more. And in the back of my mind I saw it as temporary and even perhaps unhealthy. Not a way to live. I mean, who can live without sugar and flour? Not me thank you very much! But as I did the diet over and over I could easily see the difference in how I felt when I stopped eating carbs. I had more energy. I felt less "cloudy" in my thinking. I stopped craving sugar. And I stopped thinking about food all the time. I really did! That is what that two week phase one is designed to do...break habits and break addictions. And I am telling works. Stop feeding the sugar monster and he will be quiet. Physically. Mentally he is still there telling you how yummy that sugary snack will be. You have to beat down the mental side but when the physical side leaves it is a much easier battle.

It wasn't until I began reading books like Nourishing Traditions, Eat Fat Lose Fat, The Makers Diet and What the Bible Says About Healthy Living that I started seeing a recurring theme. The theme that said we eat too many grains and FAR too much sugar. I knew about the sugar but grains? Aren't grains good for you? The whole kind? Turns out, yes...the whole grains are a MUCH healthier option but in general we are a people who eat too many grains. (Gee, we might have the food pyramid to thank for that!) When I was diagnosed with high cholesterol at the age of 31 or 32 I was given a big pamphlet detailing how I needed to omit fats and add in more grains. Trouble is, when I eat bread...I eat a lot of bread. I love bread. And when I am done eating bread I feel like a bloated whale. I feel awful. It evokes a craving and a desire to eat more than I should. It awakens my blood sugar BIG TIME. Pasta is the same way for me. I am NOT saying bread and pasta are evil...I am saying bread and pasta spark an eating frenzy for me. And when I overeat I gain weight around my middle. And belly fat is dangerous fat. It is visceral fat which is fat that is connected to your visceral organs and affects your health in awful ways.

Have you seen the movie Despicable Me? (LOVE that movie) Whenever the main villain, Gru gets a good idea he says, "Light bulb!" Well, LIGHT BULB! I finally am getting it. Fat does not make me fat. Sugar and grains make me fat. Sure, moderation of grains would not make me fat...but I don't even know the word moderation when it comes to grains. Perhaps as I battle my sugar monster and eventually get down to my ideal weight...I will be able to control my grains, but for now...strictly controlled grains are all I can enjoy. I realize that YES I can lose weight by cutting carbs but mainly it is my health that is improved when I do. My blood sugar is better, my cholesterol is better (though I now see my higher cholesterol differently than modern medicine says I should see it...), my moods, my stamina, my outlook are all better. And my heart palpitations which were getting to be OFF THE CHARTS...are all but gone when I omit sugar. No medicine needed thank you. Just improved diet. So I am choosing to see a low-carb lifestyle as just that...a lifestyle...not a diet. I see restricting sugar as absolutely vital to my whole family. Sugar is evil. And God made so many natural choices for us that are awesome. We have to learn new ways. We have switched to whole grain bread here but I still limit none right now as I am still fasting from it...but to less for all of us. And I love the reward of getting on the scale and seeing the numbers go down but I am pressing hard to remind myself that my goal is lifestyle change. Ask me where I am with this next year. I pray I can say that I am STILL pressing hard, with the Lord's help, to staying this course.

SO there you have it friend. This is why I feel it is REALLY important to fast from carbs. When you do you will see how your body changes. It is amazing. You may have to go back and forth like I did and bang your head on that proverbial rock...but God won't let you down...He will keep showing you the way. M.

( I should make a disclaimer here and say this...I DO NOT recommend The South Beach Diet. Because Dr. Agatston recommends low fat it is NOT a good choice. Our bodies need good fats and we should not be afraid of them. The other books I listed are great options. Start with Eat Fat, Lose is lifechanging!)

Time and Money

Couldn't every problem you ever had be solved with more time and money? Ok..not every problem. But, when you remove time and money from many equations the cloud clears and solutions seem clear! But friends, sometimes we're not gonna get more of either one and yet God has solutions. OUR solution is to avoid things that cost money and avoid like the plague the things that might mean more of our time. And healthy eating requires both doesn't it? And I hear women justifying poor health choices for the lack of time and money. And boy do I get it. Money ain't growin' on trees over here at the Hutsell homestead. And time is eaten up here sixfold by the little (and not so little) offspring running around.

I could line up excuses all day long but the Bible says, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matt. 6:21) That's it. Period. And I treasure what God is teaching me about healthy food. And believe me, I never treasured it before. Truth is, I never knew of it before. I wasn't raised with it. AT ALL. But, for years I have wanted to do better. I mean, even when I had no idea what better was...I knew it existed. And God, in His time chose this season of my life. He could have chosen the season before I had kids (oh how I wish He had). He could have chosen the season AFTER I raised my kids. But He didn't. He chose the most tiring, most financially strapped time of our lives to teach me about healthy living. So, I don't offer up excuses. I have the same 24 hours you do. Sure, I have 6 kids. Sure, I have a missionary's salary. Sure, I homeschool. But none of that is on God's condition list for why I can or cannot be obedient. (bummer :)

SO that leads me to this. A lot of this nutritional mess we are in started with our grandmothers' generation. (Sorry Grams...but it's true.) My Grams was born in 1924. She survived the depression. She was poor as most everyone was at the time. And when things like white bread, processed foods, TV dinners, and homogenized milks hit the shelves...she was THA-RILLED! She never did like being in the kitchen. She could clean a house like nobody's business (I got her genes:) but cooking? Fuh-get about it. Her idea of eating happiness was first of all eating out. Since that wasn't always possible...her next best idea was a frozen meal. Frozen lasagna was a treat. And a frozen pie? You bet! I remember powdered milk, canned fruits and veggies, and boxed everything. And here is the thing...her generation loved being saved the time and money of meal prep but they did that under the misguided belief that all of those choices were as good as, if not BETTER THAN, homemade. The food industry assured them that white bread (which was soft, and delicious and lasted a long time on the shelf) was a healthy choice with all of its "enriched" vitamins. And so they felt great serving their families all of this ready made food. And it left her generation with time to pursue "more worthy" interests. Thus feminism takes a great hold of the home. Oh don't get me started on feminism...

Well, here we are today. And slowly..oh so stinkin' slowly... we are learning that white, processed, chemically laden foods are NOT in fact good for us. And we see the price we are paying for our choices...obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. I mean, the food industry wants you to believe that fats are to blame for all of this but ever since we began eating margarine and sugar by the pound and skimming our milk down to water we see more and more of these diseases taking hold. Think about it. And undoing bad choices is a whole lot more work than making the right ones to begin with. So here we are trying to undo the mess.

But here is the GREAT thing. We now live in a generation where we can make our own bread...but with an electric grinder and a heavy duty mixing machine. Sure, it is more time than buying a loaf at the store...but it is a lot less time than what our grandmothers had to take making their own by hand. I mean, who can blame our grandmothers for being relieved to not make bread when they were also doing everything else by hand. But ladies, we are NOT doing everything else by hand. We are doing nearly NOTHING by hand anymore. We don't wash by hand, we don't sew by hand, we don't bake by hand. Nothing. Unless we decide it is worth it. And there it is...we have to decide it is worth it. And to decide it is worth it we have to be educated. We have to understand what it is we feed our families. We have to decide if obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc are worth avoiding. Yeah, we can say there is no time but could you at least be more honest and say, "I don't care to make the time?"

Ladies, we are blessed. We see that God's original design for food is STILL the best plan. But now we have more tools, more options. We have electronic appliances, we have buying co-ops, we have local farmers, and lots of Internet support. We CAN return to doing more things by hand if we want to and we don't have to spend all day doing it. Yep...we have to change our habits. We have to change our taste buds. But, I feel it is worth it. I want you to feel it is too. But, please, if you don't feel it is worth least don't tell me you don't have the time. I ain't buyin' it! I still love you....but I ain't buying it. M.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Guest blogging it over on ! Pretty cool!