Boxing Day Promises

Ah, Boxing Day… I still don’t quite understand what this day is about apart from eating leftovers anf seeing people who couldn’t make it to Christmas Eve/Day. Fair enough. I had a good haul this year, new phone, hair styling thingy, stuff. As Christmas goes, this one wasn’t bad at all. And so here we are on Boxing Day, for unknown reasons (at least, unknown to me, originating from a non-traditional unreligious family) with a great pile of tasty high carb food and the ability to excuse cheating because its the season for forgiveness.

The thought that just zoomed through my head and set off this short and meandering post:

Now, Vee, if you have one more coffee your head will explode.

Happy holidays everyone!

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December Celebrations! Woe!

The holiday season brings delight, laughter, family, and a certain amount of stress. Many of us on a new or existing diet flake out during this busy time; myself included! I tried, I really did, at the start of the month to maintain my control and keep going, but I decided in the middle of the first week that I couldn’t do it. There’s too much going on during this month, between catering to people’s Christmas needs at the Cafe and prepping all the baked goodies for home’s celebrating. We’re not doing expensive gifts this year – there’s just no money for it! – so instead I’m baking people surprises for under the tree. Much yayness! I love baking treats, especially for other people, and presenting them is even more fun. I’m not a great cake decorator, but I’ll try my hand at just about anything.

Long story short, this is a post about picking your battles. December is a battle I chose to forfeit rather than attempt, and I know some of you are in the same boat.

This Keto Life: early days and explanations

Those of you just starting out might benefit from reading this, imo it does a far better job of explaining a ketogenic diet than I ever did. Plus, it’s by a friend so you know, I HAVE to boost it. =^.^=

Clear skies,
Vee

The Fortified Sand Castle

I recently decided that I was tired of feeling sick after eating breakfast. Breakfast was a low G.I. (glycaemic index, for those of you not down with the lingo) fruit free, wheat free, nutty muesli. It was delicious. It was also topped with low fat vanilla yoghurt.

For most people, these would probably be reasonably healthy options. Not so for the Kate. For someone who is not technically insulin resistant (numbers leaned that way, last time they were tested, but weren’t over the line) or diabetic, I have a ridiculous response to sugar.

My breakfast choices have become more and more lean. First, no fructose. Okay, well, that cuts out wheat and a lot of grains, and anything with dried fruits… Then, low G.I. Well, that cuts out a lot of sugary cereal… anything with honey (also a fructose issue)… uhm…

And I stayed on my nutty muesli for a…

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The Cure (to a variety of sugar cravings & bad days)

I was having a rough morning, for pathetic reasons – turns out my old laptop is too old to run the game I’ve been dying to play, yes I know…sad – , but I have fixed it! My day, I mean, not my computer – that would cost nearly as much money as it would to buy a new one, so that’s just going to have to wait.

I’ve been digging around online the last couple of days, trying to figure out what more there is to bake with almond meal, just because well, I bake and I get cravings… I stumbled across a site that talked about using almond meal in combo with protein powder to make pancakes. Now, I’ve never used protein powder – being LCHF makes me paranoid about consuming any sort of ‘substitute powders’, and I try to eat whole food whenever I can – and I don’t have any in the pantry, so I made Almond-Psyllium Chocolate Pancakes instead and slathered them with crunchy peanut butter (because I’m a peanut butter freak!).

The recipe is something like this:

2 Tbs Almond Meal
1 Tbs Psyllium Husk
1 Egg
A pinch of salt
A touch of vanilla essence (organic if you can get it!)
~ 2-5g pieces of dark chocolate, chopped
~ 100ml water, cool

Mix all of it together barring the chocolate. Tip into a hot – buttered! – frying pan and wait till the bottom is sealed. Sprinkle on the dark chocolate and wait till it feels like you can flip it – around 2mins. Flip, seal that side, and flip back over. Use a good non-stick pan to avoid the chocolate from getting stuck! Keep flipping until its cooked through – or whack it under a salamander grill – if you’ve got one – until it’s slightly fluffy. Turn out onto a plate, cover in peanut butter if you want. Devour.

You can technically leave out the psyllium husk and then replace the water with thick cream or another liquid substitute like almond milk, soy, or whatever you prefer. I try to avoid too much dairy, thus the water.

Clear skies,

Vee

A Word About: Triggers

As the title of this post suggests, I want to talk about ‘triggers’. I was thinking about this last night, trying to figure out what sort of things lead me off the LC highway and up the garden path to the gingerbread house – so to speak. I’ve been falling off the wagon a lot since my birthday in September, and there’s a few reasons for that sure, but there’s also specific things that make me go ‘Oh, I want that and I can’t be f*****  fighting off the craving so I’m just going to have the damn thing’ or just make me crave sugar so badly I feel miserable. I’ve come a long way, so my random indulgences these last four months haven’t made too much of a difference – I’m not at my target weight yet, but, as everyone keeps reminding me (myself included!) I don’t need to be there tomorrow, just some time before May (yay, goal set!) – but obviously identifying pitfalls is a good place to start when it comes to avoiding them.

So, obstacles in no real order:

1. CHOCOLATE. It’s taken me a few weeks to realise (and then admit) that. I notice that when I indulge and have those 2 squares of 80%+ chocolate I start to want ‘real’ sweets, with real sugary goodness to them. Tactic? Avoidance when at all possible.

2. CAFFEINE. I don’t drink anything but black decaf coffee when I do drink it, but it happens without fail that whenever I do have it, I want chocolate, or ice cream, or milk. Tactic? Stop drinking the stuff completely.

3. MENSTRUATION. Okay, this one I can’t really do anything about except combat cravings with more regular savoury treats that are higher in fat and thus, in theory, provide more satisfaction. I was reading a blog entry a few weeks ago in which the author had a separate ‘diet’ menu trageting her time of the month just so she could stay on the wagon, it might be something I need to implement.

4. STRESS/ANXIETY/EXHAUSTION. All of these things take a toll on your psyche, and when I’m feeling down and out I’m more likely to just lose control and stuff my face with ice cream or chocolate or both. Tactic? Try to return to a steady sleeping habit and avoid the other issues – not always possible, and often there are elements that are beyond our control, but we do what we can.

5. MIGRAINES/PAIN IN GENERAL. So I used to get really bad migraines. Luckily since I’ve started LCing, I no longer suffer from them much at all. Great! The trouble is, I do sometimes get them – usually if I’ve had caffeine or artificial sweeteners – and the pain can be so bad that it’s a ‘what the hell, I don’t care’ situation. Tactic? Avoid migraine/headache/pain triggers when at all possible, eat clean and you’ll feel clean! Er…better.

6. ‘SAFE’ SWEETS. Artificial sweeteners, or even natural ones like Stevia, make me want sweet things. It’s like I suddenly realise what I’m missing and thus, I want them. Tactic? Avoidance.

7. SOCIAL OUTINGS. I live in a very outgoing family, we often go out for dinner or coffee or whatnot, and it’s not always possible to avoid carbs while we’re out, especially not since I’m the only fool doing this to myself… Kidding, the family is extremely supportive and even intrigued. Tactic? Do the best I can, there’s no point ruining what little social life I have by curtailing outings just because I can’t eat certain things.

8. LAZINESS & SELF SABOTAGE. Not really a thing, per se, but still relevant. I tend to forget to enter things into my My Fitness app at the time of my meals, so I add them later, and that’s fine, except that something I ‘tweak’ the numbers because I ‘can’t have remembered that correctly’. This leads to carb creep. Tactic? BE HONEST WITH MYSELF FFS. >.<

9. CLIMATE. I eat a lot when it’s hot. I want cakes, cookies, and cream. I crave ice cream. I mean, it’s summer, it goes with the bloody season, right? Winter makes me want warm bread, oozing with butter, custards, and chocolate… I also do less in summer physically because I get tired faster in the heat don’t we all? Tactic? Don’t give in so easily; cool yourself down, or warm yourself up.

And I’m going to have to leave it at 9 I think, since I can’t think of any other things at the moment. Unless you guys have any triggers you want to share? I’m sure I’ve got a heap more that haven’t even occurred to me. Food for thought.

Clear skies,

Vee

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Coconut-Milk Smoothie anyone?

So I was mucking around online today at the Cafe waiting on the cakes I was baking to finish baking, which, as we know can often lead to my ‘hmm, I’m hungry, I should eat something, but what?’ moods. Clearly the answer lay within Google, because well, don’t all answers hide there? I came across a variety of smoothie recipes that I desperately wanted to try, except all of them use coconut milk, and to be honest, I don’t really like coconut. This can be an issue in a low carb lifestyle since coconut derivative products are really, really awesome when it comes to substitution. I then realised I’d never actually tried making anything with coconut milk or cream, and it’s not like I’d never had it in curries or stews or anything growing up. My mother certainly never heard me complaining about her use of it in Indonesian cooking. So, what the hell! I figured I’d try it out. Turns out the stuff is bloody moreish and an absolute killer of sugar cravings, dairy cravings, and hunger. I had to restrain myself quite drastically from drinking the whole lot straight up. So here’s what I made:

Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Coconut-Milk Smoothie

1 400ml Can Coconut Milk (I use Nakula Organic Coconut Milk since that’s what we stock at the Cafe)

1.5 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa

1.5 Tbs Peanut Butter

2 Tablets Stevia (or equivalent)

+ a handful of ice if you want it.

Whack the lot of it in a blender and blend away until smooth and creamy.  Now, this next bit is important (unless you’ve got a will of iron!): divide the mix up between four small cups and remove three of those cups from your immediate reach – for me that meant the freezer! Then drink the remaining cup. I’m not kidding, especially if you haven’t had dairy or something creamy for a while, these things will hit the spot like a sledgehammer and you will want all of it. Which is fine, if you’re not counting the kilojoules…

1 Serving is roughly 995kjs,contains about 20.5g of fat (which is awesome for an LC diet!), 29.4g sodium (I don’t keep track of my sodium intake so I don’t know if this is high or low or whatnot), approx. 5.3g carbs net, 3.5g protein, and a small %1 RDI Iron.

I’m currently seeing what happens if you freeze them – hopefully one side effect will be to stop me from devouring the entire batch next time – and it’s quite muggy/warm/humid/hot here in Melbourne so I can do with an ‘ice cream’ that won’t kill my lifestyle choices again…

Clear skies,

Vee

Lifestyle vs. Diet

Today I want to ramble on a bit about what it really feels like to change your lifestyle from whatever it was before to a LC one. Please note that I use the term ‘lifestyle’ here; I know I’ve called this a ‘diet’ in the past, but I’m not comfortable with the connotations behind that word so I’m going to elaborate somewhat. For me, the word ‘diet’ infers either a temporary change of what you eat, or, to follow the literal definition, simply ‘what you eat’.

So what’s the difference then between a LC diet and a LC lifestyle?

Simply put: an LC diet is a temporary diet change that will – in theory – let you lose weight over a set amount of time before you go back to eating whatever it was that you were eating before. Like most ‘diets’, doing this is likely to cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost over time, but we don’t judge, so if you’re aiming to lose those 10kg before your wedding next year, by all means go for your life. A lifestyle change – no matter if it’s dietary, physical, whatever – is permanent. And by permanent I mean, ongoing for the foreseeable future. I’ve made a lifestyle change, as I know most of you have too. For me this means reducing the amount of carbs – especially processed ones! – that I consume for the rest of my life. It’s not just a passing fad for us ‘LC lifestylers’, but before any of you start to pity us, it’s okay. Just because we’re in this with both feet, we’re also in it with both eyes open, and if that means we’re going to need a cheat week once every six months, hell, let’s do it! It means that we’ve committed to a dietary lifestyle that aims to keep our blood sugar level by eating low carb and/or low gi. We – mostly – avoid caffeine, fight off cravings by dealing with their chemical and psychological sources, manage our constipation with high-fibre foods, and above all, aim to maintain a healthy weight – this is after we’ve lost the excess! It’s not a constant battle, per se, but rather, it’s something that we’ve chosen. It’s a way of life, just as say, vegetarianism, veganism, or halal choices are a lifestyle/cultural/religious choice, low-carbing can be a choice as well.

Some of us have made the switch for health reasons – like me, with the PCOS and the no-gallbladder thing – while others want to avoid certain processed foods and have made the decision to eat ‘cleaner’. Whatever the reason, it’s an acknowledgement that some things just don’t have quick or easy fixes and require a complete change of living.

When you start out, it’s important that you keep that in mind: what are you doing? Is this a lifestyle change or a diet? Are you going to be in it for the long haul or just the short term? No judging, just make sure you know what you’re going to be doing: this is a commitment thing. If you’re going to do this, make a plan for it. For example, last year in November (2013) I weighed in at 82.2kg. I set myself the rather steep goal of losing 30kg in a year. As I progressed, I realised this wasn’t going to be that easy, given the pitfalls and curve balls that life throws, so I extended that to a year and a half. It’s November 2014 and currently weigh 60.8kg. That’s a 21.4kg loss and that’s bloody awesome, but yes, it’s around 9kg short of what I’d aimed for in the beginning. I realised about half way through the year that I was losing weight too fast; I admit I kind of freaked out when I realised one week that I’d lost 3.4kg. That’s too fast, and not sustainable, so I readdressed the weight loss and now I’m more comfortable. Keep in mind that I’m not in a rush, sure, I’ve set myself a timeframe in which to lose the weight, but I’m more concerned about maintaining it when I get there than getting there as fast as I can.

So what does it feel like? I feel better! I feel awesome. It’s not just the clear headedness that comes from removing processed junk out of my system, but also from losing all that weight. I look at pictures of myself from a year ago and wonder how I didn’t notice that I was lugging all that extra around. At the time I didn’t think it made much of a difference, but golly gee wiz, it makes a difference! I feel more energetic, and yes, occasionally when I slip up some I feel dizzy or nauseous, but I know how to fix it now. I’ve become more in tune with my body, and I know what to listen to and what to ignore. I know that dizzy means I need some protein, nauseous means I need a low gi hit of ‘good’ carbs – usually a carrot or a tomato with some salt! – and I know that headachey means I need to eat now. I also know that I need to eat every 2-3 hours or those symptoms start. This means I now carry snacks around in my bag to avoid me turning to easy available things that might lose me my carb count. I’m being overly cautious at the moment, obviously, because I’m still in the losing weight part of this lifestyle. I’ll tackle the ‘maintaining weight’ bridge when I get there…

Clear skies,

Vee

Weigh-In-Wednesday

After a week of being an absolute rule-breaker – note to self: don’t ever forget to refill BC script again! – I’m rather un-disasterously at 60.8kg. And trust me, after all the ice cream, chocolate, lasagne, bread, pastry, cake, and fruit I consumed last week, the fact that I’ve not gained 5kg is a miracle…

Clear skies,

Vee

The Carb Binge

Most of us on an LC diet develop coping methods to deal with our cravings. I’ve discussed some of these coping methods before, so excuse me if I repeat a few things, but hey, if it’s worth saying once it’s probably worth saying twice.

Let’s start with guilt. We wield guilt with great precision and skill to stop us from raiding the fridge at all hours of the day/night; think of it like a scalpel we can use to cut through our cravings. Just make sure you don’t cut yourself in the process, targeted guilt is fine, but don’t bring yourself down. Stay on target.

Another tool we find in our arsenal is substitution. I know I sometimes call this ‘transferrance’ – and no, I didn’t get that from a psychologist but rather from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld’s League of Temperance. The idea here is that rather than giving into the craving you substitute something else. Some people drink a glass of water or have a handful of nuts. I’ve gone the way of herbal tea. It does work, if you let it.

The next thing we can do is distract ourselves from the desire to eat. Read a book, go for a run, write… Treating our carb craving like a craving for addictive substances often helps. (This is not meant to undermine people who suffer from serious addictions, it’s an appropriate analogy however!) For example, if you find yourself sitting in front of the TV thinking you should be eating, is that a desire to be doing something with your hands or chewing? Are you actually hungry? Take up knitting, or get one of those hand crunch exercise thingies. Distract yourself until you can overcome the craving!

The next technique is something I like to call ‘self talking’,  but it probably has a better word in more knowledgable circles. This basically involves talking yourself out of the craving by convincing yourself you don’t actually need what you want. Sometimes this has the best effect when addressing yourself in a mirror. Give it a try.

Then there’s always the remove temptations from your home, or remove yourself from temptations. This isn’t always possible, especially if you, like me, work at a cafe or bakery. You can’t always stay away from the things you need to avoid, I mean, hey! You need a life too, and not just one that revolves around your new lifetstyle. You also don’t want your friends to dump you cos you keep saying ‘no’ to every proposed outing in your attempt to stay away from things that might tempt you.

And finally, my weapon of desperate last resort, and the reason for this long-awaited post: the carb binge. Sometimes I just can’t stand it anymore, and for whatever reason I can’t fight any more I just give in and stuff my face with whatever I want. I pay for it the next day: bloating, tummy aches, sore throat, lethargy, and sometimes a headache, but at least I have my cravings under control. In the last year of weight loss, I’ve let myself go like this maybe three times. It really is a last resort and I don’t recommend it as it will make you feel like you’re starting over the next day, but if you have to, you have to, just don’t let it become a regular thing or it’ll beat the point!

And that’s all I’ve got for us at the moment. Any ideas? Comments? Coping mechanisms? Share share share!

Clear skies,
Vee

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