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!)


godzgaljen said...

Thank you!!! You answered some of my questions. We are heading full steam into this direction. I appreciate your help!

lv said...

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