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Showing posts with label food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label food. Show all posts

Sunday, July 9, 2017

About Those Low-Carb Diets...

Atkins, Paleo, Mediterranean, Keto diets.  I'd heard about them for years.  We had friends who would come for dinner and eat very little of what I cooked.  They ordered hamburgers without buns, had salads instead of potatoes, and ate eggs and bacon for breakfast instead of bagels or waffles.  I thought to myself, "Good for them, but there is no way I could ever do that."  

But this year, I went and did do just that.

I have been blessed with fairly good genetics, at least where weight is concerned.  Throughout my twenties, as long as I taught aerobics classes and did some strength training weekly, I could eat whatever I wanted and remain a size 2-4.  In my thirties while carrying, birthing, and nursing five babies, I still ate whatever I wanted and stayed under a size  6-8.  But around the time I reached my mid-forties and was no longer breastfeeding or chasing toddlers around, I noticed the weight creeping up little by little.  I had to go up another size, and then another.  Everything seemed to be settling around my middle, and I felt bloated and uncomfortable all the time.  Additionally, I craved sugar and simple carbohydrates more and more.  The more I craved them, the more I ate them.  I felt my self-discipline waning, and I felt more sluggish and less motivated to go for a hike or do some yoga or hit some tennis balls with my children.  When my father was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I knew that I needed to get my sugar addiction under control.  I tried to use will-power.  I told myself I would only have dessert on the weekends and I'd cut out breads from my lunch.  I did this intermittently, but those pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks in the fall, Christmas cookies and hot chocolate in the winter, Easter candy in the spring, and ice cream in the summer got the better of me.  I might lose five pounds or so after the winter holidays before summer came, but in the fall I'd gain it back again.  I would begin each year a few pounds heavier and an inch wider around my middle than the previous year.

However, that changed in late-February when I decided I had nothing to lose but pounds and inches by trying to majorly reduce carbohydrates from my daily food intake.  What once comprised a good 70% or more of my diet got reduced to less than 25%.  I went from eating probably several hundreds of grams of carbs some days to eating under fifty a day.  I didn't follow any one specific program; I just did a lot of research and daily chose foods that were low in carbohydrates and high in healthy fats and proteins.  That has meant whole, unprocessed foods for the most part.  Meat, eggs (which we have no shortage of here), nuts and seeds, greens, most vegetables that grow above ground, heavy cream, full-fat hard cheese and cottage cheese, and a bit of yogurt.   This has been a huge change for me, and it's one I never thought I would want to make or that I would be successful at keeping.

In all honesty, I do cheat a little.  I sometimes have a dessert.  I eat some berries with my eggs some mornings at breakfast.  I have discovered that if I don't eat many carbs the rest of the day, I can have a 1/2 cup of full-fat ice cream and only consume 16 grams of carbohydrates.  I know that has sugar in it, and it's not ideal, but it's still far less sugar than I used to consume.  And once in awhile I break down and get that 500 calorie frappuccino at Starbucks and go over my entire day's allotment of carbohydrates with that one stinking drink.  But instead of giving into the temptation several days a week, it happens about once every few months.  My point is, I don't follow this plan as strictly as many others would advocate that you should, but I am looking at this as a lifetime change, not a quick fix.  And there are a lot of celebrations and holidays in a lifetime that I'm not willing to completely forego indulging in a slice of homemade pie or cake once in awhile.

Even with those occasional indulgences, I have seen success in a way that I wasn't sure was possible for me at this age.  I did lose 4-5 pounds in the very first week of cutting my carbs to 20-50 grams/day.  This was primarily water weight, but my stomach was flatter, my pants felt looser, and it gave me the motivation to stick with it.  Over the past 4 1/2 months, I've lost around 14 pounds, over 2 inches from my waist, and I've dropped 1-2 sizes in pants and shorts.  I haven't been able to successfully get down to this weight in over 4 years trying anything else.  Not by cutting fat, exercising more, occasional fasting, or simply reducing calories.  I'm not saying that eating a low-carb diet is right for everyone, but it has been a positive experience for me.

Now, I'm not going to kid certainly comes with its sacrifices.  I haven't consumed a single craft beer (or any beer) since mid-February.  I haven't eaten pasta, rice, or bread of any kind.  Instead of snacking on crackers, pretzels, popcorn, or cookies, I have 1/4 cup of nuts or sunflower seeds instead.  I do sometimes eat dark chocolate-covered almonds or honey-roasted peanuts, which have some carbohydrates, but far fewer than the other processed snack foods.  I rarely do any baking anymore because I cannot resist licking the beaters or the wooden spoon.  And to pull some steaming homemade chocolate chip cookies out of my oven and not eat a single one is just torture.  So I don't do it.  Initially, I really missed drinking juice with a bagel or a muffin for breakfast, but now it's not such a big deal.  I think that eating out in restaurants is the hardest because it often means that I'm limited to a salad of one type or another.  If I can order meat free of sauces or breading, I have that with  one or two low-carb veggies.  Mostly, I try to focus on the things that I love that I can still have: dry wine, a bit of dark chocolate, and heavy cream in my coffee.  I know that I never would have made it this far if I'd have given up those.

So I am going forth with the resolve to continue this way of eating and living.  My husband has gotten on board as well, which does make it easier.  Learning that I am not powerless to defeat the middle-aged spread is empowering, and fitting into clothes that have hung unworn in my wardrobe for years is a great motivator to stick with it---even with a daughter in the house who creates the best cupcakes in the world.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It's Time to Try New Things

I don't know what it is about early fall, but it always makes me feel like starting new projects, learning new things, and trying something new.  I suppose it stems from the start of a new school year and all the opportunities and possibilities that brings.  Already, our family has ventured out into new domains, and with the cooler mornings, falling leaves, and autumn harvests, I am excited about what else lies in store for us over the next few months.

Our first new discovery is Cookie Butter, sold at Trader Joe's.  This is the best nut butter we have come across since Nutella.  It comes in a variety of flavors, and I am finding recipes using this weekly.  For now, we're simply spreading it on bread, using it as a dip with Pretzel Crisps, or just eating it on a spoon.  This does go against my usual diet of healthy, wholesome, natural foods, but I also say "everything in moderation."  I give the credit to The Monogrammed Life for this delicious find, and for the next one.

While I am not a bacon fanatic, this is an interesting combination.  I do love dark chocolate and ganache, and I am always game to trying a new variety of chocolate bar.  The bacon is not overpowering but is definitely noticeable.  These are sold at Trader Joe's for $1.97, but I've been informed that they can also be found at Walmart.

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Our 10 year old son begged us to take him to a restaurant that served calamari while we were on vacation.  It turned out that almost every child in our family loved it, and now calamari is a regular request when we eat out.

Although I am not a fan of most beer, I have been loyal to Samuel Adams in the past.  However, after trying the Achoo Chili Pale Ale from Robin Hood Brewing Co., I have found a new favorite.  You can actually smell the chili peppers in this ale, and it leaves a surprising hint of the same on your tastebuds.  It's fantastic with pizza, I'm told, but I paired it with jambalaya.

My husband and I have been trying out new restaurants the past few months including this one.  Revival Kitchen is located in the village of Reedsville, PA.  It uses fresh ingredients from local farms and sells bottles of wine in the back from a local winery.  The menu changes based on what produce, herbs, and meats are available at the time, and there are many unusual offerings.  The coconut jasmine rice that I had as a side dish was to die for.  The food was great and so was the presentation.

Additionally, I discovered a new wine at this restaurant that we really like.  I usually just order a chardonnay, but this Traminette made by Seven Mountains Winery was perfect with our dinner.  We also sampled their rhubarb wine out of curiosity, which would be great with dessert.

New foods and beverages are not the only new things we are trying.  To counterbalance the calorie intake, we have also been going on mountain bikerides and hikes on various trails through the woods here on our mountain.  Our younger two boys just recently learned to ride bikes, and they now want to ride daily.  Learning to ride a bike on gravel lanes downhill is no easy feat, which is why it hasn't happened for them until 9 and 10 years of age.  Now that they've got it down, however, they are hooked.  Those of us not on bikes are walking our beagle and sometimes carrying one of our cats who insist on tagging along, but then bawl the whole way.

Additional New Things We Are Trying:

*Once Upon a Time.  I know we're a little late to discover this, but we have not had cable or satellite television for years.  We do now have Netflix, which is where we found the first four seasons of this ABC television series.  I really didn't think I would be interested in it, but I chromecast it for our children one day, and now we are hooked.  Fairy tales with a modern day twist, this show holds the interests of everyone in our family.  With Netflix, it's tempting to bingewatch all the episodes at once, but we are restraining ourselves and limiting it to two or three episodes at a time to make it last.

*Violin lessons and Band.  Our youngest decided to give up ballet and start playing the violin instead, so this week begins lessons for her for the first time.  Our younger boys are continuing to take lessons in trumpet and clarinet, but this year they will also participate in their new school's band.  Our ten year old is my only one who doesn't like to be in the spotlight, but he assures me that since he'll be on stage with other performers, he'll be fine at the concerts.

*Learning Spanish.  I'm so excited to begin learning Spanish with our homeschooled son via Rosetta Stone.  I had four years of French in high school and college, plus a year of Italian, but I have not yet learned this romance language other than what I picked up on Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer when we had preschoolers.  I can't wait to get started.

*Lots of new books.  We just got a library card from another public library that is close to our children's new school, and I found shelves and shelves of books that I have been wanting to read.  I am a closet sociologist (well, I guess I'm out now) and I had to restrain myself and not check out an entire shelf before vacation.  I just finished reading these five and can't wait to go back and check out more:  Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America by Barbara Jensen; When Did White Trash Become the New Normal:  A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question by Charlotte Hays; Class Matters by correspondents of The New York Times; The Middle-Class Millionaire; The Rise of the New Rich and How They are Changing America by Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff; and Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich by Robert Frank.

I hope you and your family are finding new things to try with the changing seasons.