Tag Archives: Carbs

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

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

A Word About: Falling off the Wagon

I’ve had a very naughty week. September is a hard month for me, full of birthdays (including my own) and Father’s Day all of which tend to involve either eating out and cake or just high carb meals at hone….and cake. Usually I make the cake, and usually I’ve got the willpower to withstand the temptation. This last week, however, started with our little holiday. I behaved mostly, save for on our last night when I ate that bloody cake. It was awesome cake and you’ve got to be able to indulge yourself every once in a while or you’re bound to go crazy. Unfortunately for me, it also broke down my willpower for the next few days: my brother-in-law’s birthday was on Friday and I made the most awesome cake. I was actually extremely impressed with myself; so impressed I had two pieces. Again, I felt I needed to let off some steam, and in all honesty I didn’t/don’t feel guilty about it at all, but the physical reaction was quite impressive as well.

I could barely sleep that night: too much caffeine from the chocolate frosting and way too much sugar. Basically, I’d overloaded my system with carbs that it was no longer really equipped to handle. The next morning, my skin was gross – okay, not ‘gross’ but definitely not as pretty as it has been since I started LCing – and my hair was having a bad day. I also noticed that my lymphnodes were swollen and actually quite painful. In other words, all that bloody sugar had instantly compromised my immune system and my body was doing its best to fight off whatever I’d picked up from the Cafe that week. Yay, much fun.

Next problem: birthday cakes tend not to get completely eaten at parties right? And you can only send so much home with your guests. So that meant that there was left over cake in the fridge just begging to be eaten. And guess what? I did. Not all of it, luckily it was such good cake that my non-sweet-tooth husband ate most of it! Phew!

My point is, there’s going to be a week here or there where you fall off the LC wagon. I’ve done it before and I’ve done it again; I’m back on it now, but I know I’ll fall off again. This isn’t always an easy lifestyle decision we’ve made, and I think we all know that by now. We’re going to face temptation, whether it’s at a private birthday party or just at work when someone’s bought everyone coffee with cream and sugar just because. You’re not going to be able to plan the unforeseeable. The only thing we can do, as humans, is navigate those temptations as best as we can and if you fail once or twice that’s okay. I’ve been saying it a lot lately, and I’m not just trying to justify my week of bad eating here; we’re not just looking after our bodies here, people, but we’ve got to look after our minds too and if that means that once in a while you’ve got to eat that cookie: then eat the damned cookie. Just try to hold back and not devour the whole pack okay? And once we’ve had our little day(s) off, we have to climb back on that horse and get back to where we we were heading. Yes, it means you’ll likely have to face a little bit of carb flu again, and yes it means you’ll have cravings, but ask yourself this: isn’t it worth it? Remember where you’re going, not where you fell off your pony.

Clear Skies,

Vee

A Word About: Diets and Vacations

This weekend, the husband and I are spending a few days away from the home. It’s the first time that we’ve had a chance to travel for fun in about three years. Weird. It’s also the first time that I’ve been really away from home since I started LCing. Also weird. At first it concerned me, I mean, we’re going to be out of the house what am I going to eat? Clearly, two choices were available to me:

1. Should I just cheat the whole way through? It’s only two days right? And there’s such awesome food available! This is what I desperately wanted to do, just lash out and take a short holiday from the weight loss. I wanted to be able to enjoy food the way it’s served, without having to requested complicated food changes. That would be a relief. But then I thought, why should I lose all this awesome progress that I’ve made so far? Sure, I wouldn’t lose it all, but I’d stall again and definitely knock myself out of ketosis. Which lead me to the second option:

2. Do I stick with it and persevere? Deconstructed food is also pretty awesome and it’s not like we’re going to be going to a fancy restaurant – this is low key fun! On top of that I don’t particularly want to be bloated and gassy in my brand new bathing suit, I’m already self-conscious about my thighs at this point, I’m not going to be adding unhappy tummy to that.

So in the end, I decided to stick to my LC, with a few exceptions here and there. I decided to let my hair down a little bit but without putting the overall keto at too much risk!

What should you do when you go on vacation? Really up to you. You’re your own person and I’m not going to dictate one way or the other, but let me tell you: you can’t control the temptations you’ll be faced with while out of your regular port of call (so to speak), so keep in mind that despite the many new tasty options available to you while en vacances you can always say ‘no’ and have the duck salad instead, I’m sure it’s just as tasty.

Clear Skies,
Vee

Weigh Your Words

I envy people who can eat whatever they want and not bear any consequences. You lot are extremely lucky! I think we are all aware that most of us don’t have that luxury. Whether it’s because of PCOS, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, cancer or whatever other reason, some of us really need to watch what we eat.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I sometimes get really annoyed by naturally skinny people – and not to be sexist, but yes, its primarily other women – waving a dismissive hand and saying something like ‘Oh, surely it isn’t as bad as all that, I don’t have to keep track of what I eat no reason you should.’ I respect that people who say things like that aren’t concerned with their own weight or size, and in all honesty that’s super for them, but the reality of this all is: you simply cannot compare one person to another. Especially not when it comes to weight, health and/or necessity.

This doesn’t just go for people not trying to lose weight mind you. This also goes for the lot of us who do watch what we eat. I may lose 2kg this fortnight while you only lose 0.5kg even if we are doing the exact same thing. Why? Because our bodies are different. My metabolism might be a little quicker than yours, I might be less further along in the weight loss than you at a point where I dot have to inrease my kj deficit yet. There are a whole range of reasons why two people may not lose weight the same way.

This is why I always get so worried when a friend tells me they’re on the latest celebrity diet because such and such lost 20kg in 6 weeks. Not only is that unhealthy and puts you at risk, it’s probably unattainable unless you’re a celebrity with time and money on hand to fix your diet. It’s also stupid. The quicker you lose weight the faster it’ll come back, which is really why you need to set yourself reasonable targets. Me, for example, I need to lose 30kg in total and I originally aimed for the steep 1 year timeframe. I’ve amended that to 1.5 years because while the initial burst of weight loss was awesome, I do nit just want to gain it all right back again and that means slowing down a little and adding in more exercise. By May next year at the latest I aim to weigh 52kg, so I’ve still got a little ways to go, but I’m nearly through.

The other type of person I have trouble with is the obese person who excuses their weight by saying ‘It’s okay, I’m healthy’ or that they’ve tried dieting and exercising but ‘it’s just too hard’ or ‘it didn’t do anything for me’. Now, its really none of my business, your weight and health don’t really affect me, but when I hear that I just want to throttle them. When I hear that I feel like my battle against obesity – and let’s be honest here, it is a battle – is being dismissed as some sort of vain attempt to conform to society. I’m being trendy, clearly. I find it rather upsetting and lately it’s been getting under my skin; I know, not very professional of me.

The truth is that Western society does seem to promote skinniness as being ultra healthy, thus the rise in eating disorders and fad diets, but on the flip side we are also plagued with obesity to such a degree that people do get dismissive about their weight. The truth is, if you are obese, you are not healthy. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Forget how much you weigh, studies are showing that increase in waist size along can lead to diabetes and other problems. I’m sick and tired of people saying ‘I can’t’, the answer may not be Low-Carb for them in particular, but there’s something out there so grow a spine and lose the extra kgs before you keel over and die. Seriously, people, your health is important! If you’re thinking about losing weight but doubt whether you can, your first step is always to say:

Yes, I can!

Clear skies (with apologies for the slight rant),
Vee

The Art of Deconstructing Meals

The skill of deconstructing food is one that any LCer should explore.  So what do I mean by ‘deconstructing’ food? It’s something I’ve become rather good at, even if I say so myself. It came about when my husband decided we were going to have hamburgers for dinner one night; naturally that meant no bread for me, no ketchup, no caramelised onion. What it did mean was that I received a plate with two hamburger patties – made from scratch, no breadcrumbs, and only a little red onion! – served alongside beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and a lightly-spiced mayo. It was, literally, a deconstructed hamburger – and I ate every last bit of it.

So, clearly, deconstructing is all about serving food in such a way that you’re not eating the wrong carbs. It’s easy enough to do with homemade hamburgers, but what else can you do? Pasta and sauce? Spaghetti bolognaise? You’ve been avoiding these, no doubt. My mother-in-law has taken to replacing my serves of pasta with gently-boiled cabbage instead – not quite the same, but definitely better than just sauce. Speaking of, try to make your sauce from scratch, that way you know what’s gone into it and you know that you’re not eating hidden carbs in the form of sweeteners or thickeners.

In our household we also get spectacular salads with every dinner meal; which is fantastic, except that sometimes there’s bits in there that I’m not eating like onion, shallots, or crunchy noodles. That’s alright though, I just scoot those to the side and don’t eat them; it’s a fiddlier form of deconstruction, but it’s still a deconstruction!

There’s a whole heap of meals you can do this with, especially if the rest of the household/family isn’t eating LC. Just make sure you’ve got an idea of what’s actually gone into the food and you can pretty much work around the carbs. Obviously there’s meals you can’t do this with, but for the most part a little ingenuity goes a long way.

Anyone have any deconstructing stories, ideas or tips? I’d love to hear about them!

Clear skies,
Vee

Vitamins & Supplements

Today, I want to take a look at vitamins and supplements. I take a lot of vitamins and supplements because of my PCOS, the lack of a gallbladder, and now because of LC. So, just off the bat here’s what I’m taking – I’m not sure about the doses:

  • Women’s Multivitamin
  • Magnesium
  • CoQ10
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc + Vitamin C (I usually only take this one when I’m feeling extra run down)
  • Dairy-Free Probiotic
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Iron + Potassium (only every other day during my period)
  • Fish Oil Capsules (or Krill, depending on what’s on the shelf at the moment)

 “Hang on a sec, Vee,” you must be thinking, “you’re doubling up on a few things there aren’t you?”

Yes, I guess I am. Obviously a multivitamin has most of those things in it already, but along with all the other things you get in it – ginseng, green tea extract, or whatnot – you don’t really get enough of any of the things you need, possibly with the exception of folic acid – which you’d be taking in larger amounts if you were trying to conceive!

Most of these things we should be getting from our food, but sometimes, especially when we’ve cut out certain things to attain a healthier weight, that’s just not possible. Before I go any further I’d like to suggest that you all go and see your GP and ask about getting yourself testing for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies, that way you know what you should be targeting!

I haven’t taken my own advice here yet, but the next time I visit with my GP I will definitely ask her for a test! Things I think I should probably be taking but aren’t sure about:

  • Chromium (again, only when I’m feeling like I really need an extra push)
  • Calcium

Let’s break it down so it doesn’t get all muddled:

Magnesium

We need magnesium for more than 300 different bodily functions. A lot of us don’t get enough magnesium through our diet, and that’s not our fault, we just don’t eat enough of the right foods to get the requisite amount. On top of that soil – especially in Australia – is low in magnesium so plants that normally have perfectly adequate amounts of magnesium, don’t. So if you’ve ever suffered from cramps – either stomach cramps, leg cramps, or what I used to call ‘growing pains’ even as an adult – you might want to look into magnesium. Ladies, lots of studies show that women with PCOS tend to be low in magnesium so it’s a definite go for us!

Vitamin D

The sun’s gift to all of us! Except that for one reason or another, most of us don’t get enough. By most of us, I’m primarily referring to those of us who work indoors for most of the day or live in places around the world where we don’t get a lot of direct sunlight. There have been direct links shown between depression and lack of Vitamin D! Not to mention the fact that D helps us absorb and regulate a whole heap of other vital minerals such as calcium and iron. So, the easy way to get your dosage, is to spend some time in the sun – I think the approved time is somewhere around half and hour with your legs and skin bared, but be mindful of any UV issues you might have! Too much sun is dangerous! The other way you can do it is to hop over to your local pharmacy and buy Vitamin D3, make sure it’s D3 and not D2. D2 is not the same as D3. When we absorb Vitamin D from the sun it’s D3, not D2; in high concentrations D2 can be toxic.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid, we rely on C to boost our immune system, keep our skin healthy, and a whole bunch of bodily functions most of us aren’t even aware of. It also helps us absorb things more easily, like iron and potassium. Most of us make sufficient amounts ourselves, but sometimes, like when we’re sick, not eating well, or stressed, a little boost can help us out of a rut.

Vitamin Bs

Here’s one you really should be taking, especially if you’re on an LC diet and/or have PCOS.  Vitamin Bs help maintain and control blood sugar levels and are vital in ketosis; if you don’t have enough B in you, your body won’t be able to efficiently render energy from non-carb sources.

Iron

This comes in two forms: heme and noneheme, both of which are found in animal and plant matter. Most of us will get our iron in it’s heme form, usually through the vegetables and meat we eat. Iron helps keep the immune system running as well as being a vital component of our circulatory (blood) system. Those who don’t have enough iron in their system become anaemic, and often experience dizziness, nausea and lack of energy. This is especially true for those of us with PCOS! If we aren’t regulating our periods, we might experience heavy ongoing bleeding: that’s blood loss, girls, and iron loss to boot. Try and take a supplement of iron, Vitamin B and magnesium and see if you don’t feel better!

Probiotics

Sometimes you’ve eaten or drunk something that hasn’t done you any good – say you’ve had just a few too many red wines on a cheat day or something – and you feel awful, and I don’t just mean hungover! Your digestive system has a whole heap of helpful bacteria helping you digest whatever you’ve consumed. These little guys are awesome, but sometimes you need to send in some reinforcements. This is especially the case if, like me, you have no gallbladder and really need all the help you can get to digest whatever it is I’ve eaten this time. If you take nothing else I highly recommend taking at least a probiotic a day along with a multivitamin. Not only will your digestive system run better, but you’ll notice that your skin starts looking just that much more awesome. I specifically take a dairy-free one because I find that sometimes the dairy ones just don’t sit right with the phantom gallbladder attacks, but that’s just me.

CoQ10 – Co-Enzyme Q10

You’ve probably never heard of this, right? That’s okay. The thing is, I hadn’t heard of it until I’d started doing some research into PCOS and then into insulin resistance. Turns out, CoQ10 is a vital enzyme needed to ensure that body cells function properly. There are current studies showing hopeful results in using it to help deal with the symptoms of heart conditions, PCOS, cancer, diabetes, and a whole host of other diseases. The older you are, the more you’ll likely need to take a supplement. I would advise that you ask your GP about this before you start taking it, however, seeing as how some people can suffer from side effects like heart palpitations and the like. SO CHECK FIRST.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids  

Found in abundance in fish or krill oils, these little puppies not only help with your digestive system but are also an immune booster and it helps maintain healthy internal organs. The body cannot make this stuff itself so it’s essential that it comes from your diet or a supplement.

Zinc

Like iron, we need zinc to fight off viruses and bacteria. Children and infants need zinc to develop their bone structure and brains so it’s likely to be included in any pre/post/pregnancy multivitamins for those of you who are headed that way. Most of us get our zinc through the foods we eat: red meat, poultry, crustacean seafood, beans, and nuts. Some of us might be low in zinc due to geographical reason – like magnesium, the soils growing your foods might be low in zinc. In addition, you could be low in zinc if you’ve had a loss of gastrointestinal surgery, digestive issues, or Chron’s disease. Just something to keep in mind.

 

I’ll leave the list at that, we’ll probably end up revisiting this since I’m constantly finding out new things!

Keep in mind that we should be getting enough of all of these things through our diet, but most of us won’t be. In addition, those of us on an LC diet will be losing more amounts of minerals and vitamins more rapidly because we’re losing fat and water: two things which vitamins and minerals need to be absorbed correctly into the body! So make an effort to check out what you’re low in and either build those things into your diet or take some appropriate supplements.

Clear Skies,
Vee

Recommended reading:

National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements    

A Word About: Sugar Alcohols

A lot of us on LC will explore the constrictions we place upon ourselves, and that often means we will jump for joy when we discover something that has ‘sugar-free’ or ‘low carb’ written on it in big fancy letters. Let’s face it, we’re putting ourselves through a series of serious changes by cutting out things we like; we’re going to be looking for alternatives for the things we can’t have. That means trying to substitute flour things with cauliflower crusts, or almond meal, or something; we’re only human, we’re going to want to duplicate our favourite carb foods. Imagination is the only limitation here!

But what about sugar? I used to like sugar in my tea, I certainly miss my ability to eat muffins and cakes. Well, there’s a whole host of artificial or alternative sweeteners that we can turn to, but this is where the waters get a little muddied. We don’t want to ingest anything that’ll mess up our good record so far; so nothing that affects our insulin levels, and you probably want to avoid anything with a high kilojoule count. So where does that leave us?

Well, we’ve got a few choices: artificial sweeteners, stevia, or sugar alcohols. There’s a lot of drama revolving around artificial sweeteners, a lot of arguments saying that they’re carcinogenic and have other detrimental health affects. In all honesty, I don’t know. The research is still inconclusive and wherever you look there’s conflicting data. I’ll try to explore a little further and get back to you in a later post. I’ll do the same with stevia, the natural alternative to sugar – I really want to focus on sugar alcohols in this post.

Sugar alcohols derive their name from their molecular structure: kind of halfway between an alcohol molecule and a sugar one. They’re not either of those things: they’re not sugar, and they’re not alcohol.  What they are is a type of carbohydrate also called ‘polyols’. They occur naturally in plants and are extracted from plants as syrups or powder. There’s several different types of sugar alcohols, but if you’ve been browsing labels and ingredients lists you’ll most likely have come across these three: xylitol, malitol, and sorbitol. Good on you for taking notice and doing the research!

Alrighty, down to the nitty-gritty we go.

Sugar alcohols taste sweet – though maybe not as sweet as actual sugar – and are often used in products promoting themselves as sugar-free. Unlike sugar they don’t mess around with your teeth and so people use them in sugar-free chewing gum – go ahead, check the side of that packet, is one of the three in there? I’ll bet it is! These substitutes, however, also come with a bit of a warning: they’re not always completely digested or absorbed by our bodies and that can lead to some serious gas, bloating and stomach aches, not to mention diarrhoea and burping! These affects vary from person to person and depend on which sugar alcohol is ingested. For example, remember those sugar-free liquorices I was talking about when I was sick? Yeah, those had malitol in them. I thought nothing of it because I have little to no reaction to sorbitol or xylitol  – and I do love my sugar-free gum.  Apparently, however, malitol is my worst enemy.  I had an immediate reaction: bloating, gas, and a stomach ache. I was blocked up for days! I’ll not be doing that again, let me tell you; no more malitol for me, ever. Apart from the occasional stick of gum to help with nausea, I’ve managed to avoid sorbitol and xylitol, but I’m glad that I can have something if malitol is definitely off the menu.

Which brings me to erythritol. Unlike the other three, a large amount erythritol does manage to get digested and absorbed so there’s less left in the intestines to fester and cause any ill side effects. In addition, it’s meant to have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels. I have yet to experiment with this, so I can’t really give you an real world experience, but if you have used it – had it in candy, baked with it, etc., I’d love to hear about it.

Remember: whatever you’re replacing anything with go with moderation, start slow and build up, don’t go crazy all at once because you’ve done the research and it says you can definitely eat this! The theories are there, but your body might react differently to things! No one is the same, we’re all special and unique snowflakes (etc.,etc.,etc.) so just keep that in mind: you might have a different reaction to something than the next person. So go carefully!

Clear skies,
Vee

A Post-Flu Report

So I’ve nearly kicked the flu to the curb and I finally feel up to writing again. I suppose it’s just as well that I’ve experienced this flu for you and the issues that come along with a low carb lifestyle, especially for those of you who have yet to get sick on LC.  In my previous post – excluding all the pre-scheduled quotes – I was trying to tackle the issue of what to eat while sick, and I’ll confess I didn’t do a great job of sticking to LC while I was down and out. I wasn’t bad, but I wasn’t great either.

Things I’ve discovered that worked for me:

Firstly, I upped my intake of water. Not tea, for some reason I just didn’t feel like tea, I just wanted water. Cool, refreshing water. I mainlined about 3liters a day. At night I made myself have a cup of fennel tea, just because it soothed my headache and my stomach.  Higher Living do a marvellous ‘Evening Tea’ that has a variety of different herbs in it ranging from lavender to peppermint, and it’s marvellously relaxing. Keep in mind that I was still working during the day – no staff meant I couldn’t leave my husband to run the Cafe alone, especially not over the weekend – though I did get to take Thursday off and spend it on the couch like I wrote about last week. I thought I had it beat then, I’d maintained my low weight despite the cheat day on Wednesday; but our power went out and didn’t come back on until Saturday. Now, I live in the Dandenong Ranges, it’s winter time and no power meant no heating. Friday night was awful, actually the coldest day we have had in a long, long time; and I remember thinking that your breath shouldn’t be fogging in the middle of your lounge room. I was wearing around five layers of clothes, and when I finally braved the icy bed I wore two. We had five blankets on the bed, plus a dog and two cats. And yet…still freezing!

Needless to say, that didn’t do my flu any good, and it was back in full force on Saturday. I spent every spare hour at home after work napping on the sofa, an absolute ball of miserable snot. I couldn’t focus on my lc, I just felt too awful, so I ate what came across the table – not that I was eating much, as something – I suspect it was the Olive Leaf Extract I’d taken in the morning – had set off my phantom gallbladder pain.

I ate around 900kj that day. Not good. I knew it wasn’t going to be good because the lack of kilojoules, my flu, and of course, the cold, were bound to have slowed my metabolism down considerably. So the next day I stuffed myself a little silly, and yes, I had a little bit of bread. My sweet spot for a comfortable kj deficit appears to be around 3500kj at the moment, and without trying I ended up around that mark. So, day post-900kj the scales read 63.3kg (just over a 2kg increase!); day after upping intake of food to ~3500kj, the scales weighed back in at 61.3kg. Much better.

In other words, what I’m trying to say is that while you’re sick, you’ve got to feel out what you can manage and don’t stress too much if you find you can’t manage to stick to your extreme low carb count: boost it up a little, you’ll bounce back!

Clear skies,
Vee

 

Low-Carb ‘Morning Sickness’

A couple of days ago I rolled out of bed, went through my morning routine and headed off to the Cafe. Nothing new, nothing different, except that about half way there a wave of unbelievable nausea hit me. No, I’m not pregnant; though, ironically, diet-change nausea is remarkably similar to morning sickness!

I’m sure some of you have experienced the nausea, the headaches, the dizziness – and not necessarily during the first weeks of carb flu hell. Don’t worry, this is a normal thing, though, if you’re doing things right you shouldn’t be experiencing it more than once in a while. If you’re experiencing constant or regular dizziness, nausea, or other symptoms you find worrying, see your GP. The reason why we experience these symptoms is – sardonic drum-roll, please – because of our blood sugar. So say you’ve had a great LC day, you’ve been exceptionally good and you’ve even managed to squeeze in some exercise time! Awesome. Now, make sure you have a snack before you go to bed, preferably something protein or slow-burning carby – like, say a bit of cheese, or some nuts.

“Why?” you ask.

Remember, you’ve been eating regularly ever two-three hours while you’re awake – theoretically, anyways – to keep your energy levels up and your blood sugar steady; you’re not doing that while you’re asleep. So say you sleep for 8-10 hours, that’s a long time for your newly programmed body to go without fuel, and sure, you’re not using as much fuel as you would when you’re awake, but still… What I’m getting at is that by the time you wake up your body’s out of fuel to burn up so you’re running on left over energy. This means your blood sugar’s going to drop drastically, so until eat you’re going to feel off. Sometimes it can just be that feeling you have normally when you first get out of bed – especially if you’re not a morning person! – but other times, if you’ve had a particularly low carb day the day before, you’ll feel the heavier symptoms of nausea and dizziness etc. This is exactly what women go through with morning sickness as their body’s adjust to their new physical needs. It’s normal, and it’s easy to fix.

“Okay, that’s interesting enough…but how do you fix it?”

Easy: eat something! Just don’t go nuts – er, crazy – eat something simple that your body’s not going to throw right back up. For me that usually means avoiding my usual breakfast foods of eggs and ham and avocado, so I’ll have half a tomato with some salt on it. I’ll wait half an hour after that, then have some more – the other half of the tomato with salt – and if that settles it I’ll try a proper breakfast. Due  to the fact that I no longer have a gallbladder I have to be extra careful, so you might find you can eat heavier foods to fix your ‘morning sickness’, it’s really a matter of trial and error. The things I would definitely avoid however are dairy products, they are just too fatty + carby for an instant fix. It you’re really not getting anywhere with light foods, try getting a whole-grain cracker – like 9 grain Vitawheats, for example – and munching on one of them. Check the box and count the carbs to see how many you can have to stay within your limit, for me that’s usually around 2-3, but I only ever eat them if I’m desperate for something that feels like a cookie.

The other thing I can advise is peppermint or spearmint tea. I use it pretty much as a cure all for headaches and nausea but not everyone likes the taste – especially not without honey or sugar. So if you’re really stuck, say you’ve got a meeting and you really need to be able to concentrate, get some sugar-free spearmint chewing gum and chew on two of those for a while; the menthol and spearmint flavouring should fix your nausea, but keep in mind that it does contain sorbitol – which is a sugar alcohol, something I’ll discuss in greater detail later.

Clear Skies,

Vee