Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The No S Diet

A while back, way back in my low-calorie days, I heard about a new diet book called The No S Diet.  The idea behind the book is extremely simple, and in fact, as this website will tell you, it's probably the type of diet your grandma followed. 

So what's the No S Diet?  There are three simple rules:

No Sweets
No Snacks
No Seconds

Except occasionally on days that start with S.

At the time, I was a hardcore snacker.  I literally couldn't get through the day without having at least two snacks.  If I skipped them, I would get incredible headaches that would leave me useless for the rest of the day, seriously.  Also, I had the world's largest sweet tooth.  So when I heard about the No S Diet, I thought it was a load of crap and mostly forgot about it.

But I started thinking about it today.  I've been kind of experimenting with my diet lately.  I've been having trouble with hunger for the last month or maybe even two.  I don't know why, but I've been getting strange pangs of what I think might be hunger half way between meals, even though I'm eating a high fat, low carb, moderate protein diet.  So I've been eating far more often than I'd like to.  Some days, I'll eat two or three times between lunch and dinner.

Hoping that I could maybe get my crazy hunger pangs under control, I've decided to eat only at meal times, with no sweets (of course).  I'm not limiting how much I eat, though, so I have had seconds.  I basically am eating until I'm very full, sometimes up to 2 times what I would normally eat at meals, to get myself through to the next meal. 

So far, it's been going very well.  I still feel those odd hunger pangs, but I've figured out that if I make myself busy with something, those feelings go away completely.  It's only been two days, though, so we'll have to wait and see how this will affect me.  I'm really hoping to train my body to only be hungry at meal times, and to stop bugging be the rest of the day.

One problem I fear I may have, though, is something that's out of my hands.  When I was 14, I had my gall bladder removed.  It's been long enough now that my body can handle digesting fats without any problems, but I do worry a little.  You see, the gallbladder is the holding tank for bile, which is a substance secreted by the liver to help break down oils and fats that you eat.  The gallbladder's job is to hold on to, and then when it's needed, to release the bile.  With the gallbladder gone, the liver still secrets bile, but it's a slow constant drip since there's nothing there to catch it.  This makes me wonder if this is the reason why I'm hungry so often.  Am I getting a build up of bile?  Does the body need food to help keep a balance?  I've done lots of research, but the only thing close to an answer that I've gotten is that people without gallbladders shouldn't try fasting.

But I'm going to continue trying this experiment.  I really hope it works.  I don't want to be ruled by hunger the way I was when I was a low-calorie dieter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Emotional Eating

I've had a really long week, full of emotional and physical stress from closing on a house and then moving my mom's things into it.  I'm pretty good at sticking to a low carb, real food diet, except when I'm stressed.  I mark on a special calendar when I eat sugar or wheat products, and it's almost always when I'm stressed out. 

This is actually something I don't hear much of from the low carb community, and especially not from the paleo folks.  Yes, if you eat low carb real foods, you won't feel as hungry as you would if you were eating junky processed carbage.  But it's not all about physical hunger.  I don't know about you, but there have been a lot of times in my past where I would eat when I wasn't hungry, and even continue to eat long beyond the point of physical satiety.  Heck, I've even binged so hard that I made myself miserably uncomfortable, and I wanted to keep eating.

I'll admit that this doesn't happen nearly as often now than it used to, but it does happen.  Like this weekend, after spending hours moving all of my mom's furniture, my hubby and I went out to eat.  I started out by eating something with sugar sweetened barbeque sauce on it, and finished by eating a sickeningly sweet dessert.  I knew in my head that it was bad for me, and I knew that I shouldn't eat it, that it would do nothing but make me feel bad and make my heart start racing.  And yet I ate it anyway.  It was like my reward for all the hard work I'd done. 

Other times, I eat sweets when I'm sad or lonely, almost as if I expect the food to make me feel happy.  And it probably does while I'm eating it, but the moment it's gone I feel sad again.  Maybe that's how a binge starts.  You have to keep eating to continue to feel happy.

 Why don't we talk about this more?  I really feel like it's an important topic, and we should be helping people with this problem.  Maybe the community feels like it shouldn't even exist because LC diets are so physically satisfying.  But we eat for more reasons than hunger. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What does hunger feel like?

People today seem to be in a constant state of disconnect with their bodies.  Women, especially, seem to be at war with themselves, either fighting off the signs of aging, squishing themselves into tight fitting clothing to look sexy, or starving themselves and trying with all their might to ignore the hunger pains that follow.  Most of us have gotten to a point where we can't hear what our bodies are trying to tell us anymore, and I feel like this is a major cause of problems.

I'm not immune to this, by any means.  After years of binge eating (when I was always eating and never hungry), followed by about two years of on-again-off-again low calorie dieting (when I was constantly hungry, even after eating), I've lost the ability to really tell when I'm hungry.  Really, truly hungry. 

Theoretically, I know what hunger feels like.  It's an emptiness in the stomach, a grumbling, and just a desire to eat.  I do feel those feelings sometimes, but not always.  Most of the time, I get a different feeling.  A kind of cramping, a feeling in my throat, that almost reminds me of heartburn but not really.  It's all really confusing, because this feeling sometimes happens when I'm really hungry, and sometimes I eat when I feel that way and I find out that I was already full and eating was a bad idea.

I'm still learning.  I've been eating a whole food, low-carb diet now for four or five months now, but I haven't gotten it tweaked to be perfect for me yet.  It doesn't help that I've been backsliding about once a week since Christmas, and eating something sugary or full of wheat.  I feel like I'm tripping myself up, and that's why I'm having such trouble reading my own body. 

My strategy is to drink a glass of water every time I feel that strange cramping feeling.  Water's good for me anyway, and it'll help gauge if I'm actually hungry or not.  If I'm not hungry, then I'm just going to wait it out.  I feel like this is just my body getting adjusted to eating three meals a day, instead of lots of meals throughout the day.  I'm also going to seriously try to cut out the junk (even once a week is too much), so that my body can become fully adapted to my low-carb lifestyle.

Do you guys ever feel disconnected to your body, or have trouble reading the signals it's giving you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The view from the other side

Not long ago, I was a vegetarian.  Not just a vegetarian, but someone who chose that lifestyle as a young teen and who stuck with it, through old fashioned family gatherings and getting married to a meat eater, for almost 14 years.  I wasn't a zealot about it, and I believed that it was everyone's choice to eat what they felt was best.  But to me, being a vegetarian seemed like the only choice that made sense, for my health and for the planet.

After a while, it started becoming a central part of my identity.  Hello, I'm Julie, a Vegetarian.  Everyone knew, because I had to be treated differently.  I'd ask at parties if there was meat in the dip.  I'd have to find out how the soup was prepared.  And for God's sake, don't put bacon bits on my salad!  I thought that being a vegetarian made me interesting and maybe even mysterious.  I know it made me feel like a better person.  Simply by avoiding meat, I gained a halo of earth-friendly, animal-activist, kind-hearted, without having to actually do that much.

It wasn't all sunshine and cupcakes, though.  About a year after becoming a vegetarian (right before my 15th birthday), I started having severe gallstone attacks.  I remember them getting so bad and so sudden that, while swimming at a creek near my home town, I got stranded on the opposite side because I couldn't move without getting physically ill.  To this day, I can't remember how I got back across the creek, but I do know that it wasn't long afterwards that they removed my gallbladder in an emergency operation. 

I my hair started to thin out, and my nails became incredibly thin and brittle.  And then, I began to balloon out.  By the time I reached my 17th birthday, I carried an outrageous 275 pounds on my 5'7 frame.  I was depressed, had little energy, and I had no idea why I was so addicted to eating.

Fast forward ten years.  In the summer of 2012, my hubby and I decided, hey, maybe we should try going low-carb.  We'd done the research, and it all sounded so logical.  I felt better right away, but I'll admit that being a low-carb vegetarian is incredibly hard.  I ended up eating tofu or seitan (a meat substitute made from, of all things, wheat gluten) every single day, and part of me knew that it wasn't good for me to be doing that.  So even though I had a lot of doubts, I decided to start eating meat again.

That was in August of 2012.  I look back at that, and it makes me wonder... how did I ever manage before then?  What on earth did I eat before I started eating meat again?  This way of eating is so natural and it feels so right.  I don't think anyone could ever convince me to go back to being a vegetarian, and especially eating tofu or seitan daily. 

It did take a few months, but my body has changed dramatically since becoming a low-carb meat eater.  The first thing I really noticed was my mood.  I used to be depressed all the time pretty much, and I had a lot of trouble getting up the energy to take care of  my responsibilities, but after changing my diet, my mood brightened way up.  The next surprising little find was that my fingernails, for the first time I can remember, are strong and long.  In the winters when I was a vegetarian, I couldn't keep them very long.  I looked like a nail biter because they would break off close to the skin, and even more disturbing, they would PEEL down where they were attached to the finger.  My hair is starting to come in thicker, too, and it's getting longer.  I used to only be able to grow it to a certain length, but my hair is certainly growing fast and long now.

The most amazing change I've seen, though, has to be my body composition.  Since I started eating this way, I've only lost a little bit of weight.  I'm still quite round and I would like to lose maybe another 20 pounds.  But even though I haven't moved the scale much, my body looks and feels different.  People ask me all the time if I've lost weight.  My pants aren't as tight as they used to be.  I see muscle now that I never used to have, and I haven't been lighting weights or anything!  It's just happened because of my diet shift! 

There are times when I'm eating a piece of bacon or whatever, and I catch myself thinking, "OMG what am I doing?!", before realizing that, oh yeah, this is how I eat now!  I still feel a little weird eating animals, and I have some trouble handling raw meat or eating any piece of animal that looks like an animal.  I would like to be eating more organic, free-range, humanely treated meats, but unfortunately my budget can't afford much of that at the moment.  I feel that animals are special, sacred creations of God, and they should be treated as such, but I do wholeheartedly believe that humans were meant to eat them, just as other predators were meant to eat prey.  It's just the natural cycle of life.

Of course, I'm not trying to bash the vegetarian lifestyle.  I know some people eat that way for religious reasons, and it can be done if you're very careful and you know what you're doing.  However, I don't feel that it's the natural state for humans, and I certainly know it wasn't healthy for me. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

A place to ramble, rant, and vent

Hey guys.  This is a new blog, and as with all new blogs I start, I have an irresistible need to fill in the blank space with something, anything, even if it's pointless rambling.

So let's get started with this brand new blog, shall we?