Tag Archives: Food

Acid vs. Alkaline

I often find that comparing our bodies to cars works really well: we’ve got intake systems, and output systems, and we require fuel to keep ourselves going. Fuel intake depends on the size of the model, and different fuels have different effects, etc. I’m not really very good at the mechanics or the engineering side of cars, though, so I’m going to have to find another analogy for this particular post.

Our bodies are a little bit like water…and given that we’re made up largely of water, that shouldn’t really be too far left field. Water has pH levels, dictating its acidity of alkaline levels – acid, sour; alkaline, er…not-sour? Help me out here, chemistry majors – and so do our bodies. One of the most acidic materials we produce as human beings is bile and stomach acid, which help us digest our food by breaking the substances we consume down into absorbable bits. Fairly straight forward.

For most healthy people, that’s a simple fact of life: you eat, your body digests, you go to the bathroom. Simple. For those of us struggling with health issues – whether it’s migraines, diabetes, PCOS, gall/kidney issues – this gets a little trickier. We might be on a variety of medications that can upset our digestion, or we might be on a particular diet that isn’t necessarily easy to digest, or both. For example: I’ve written about how I had my gallbladder removed in 2012 here, and have subsequently gone on to talk about the agonizing ‘phantom gallbladder attacks’ – a.k.a. bile-dumping – which still occasionally cause me great discomfort and pain. No fun. Lately, I’ve had very few issues with it, a fact which I attribute to switching to this LC diet I’m on: less processed food/sugar to digest has made it a lot easier for my body to regulate its bile production.

Every now and then, however, I do get an attack. They usually happen when I’ve consumed a particularly fatty meal for dinner – not exactly unheard of in an LCHF (Low-Carb High-Fat) diet! – and gone to bed before it’s had a good chance to digest. It starts off like heartburn and escalates to the feeling of someone driving a red hot knife up through my ribcage. Agony. For you girls who, like me, suffer(ed) from menstrual pain, this is worse. Usually rolling over to lie on my left side – not my preferred side – helps, otherwise I need to reach for the Quick-Eze or antacid meds, which usually knock me out of ketosis >.<.

A week ago, this was happening more and more, and I was getting more and more confused. After all, I’d had no trouble since I’d switched my eating habits, so what was the problem now? Turns out all the protein I’d been eating that week – primarily red meat and yes, cheese – was raising the acidity levels in my system to the point where the bile that my body produced to deal with the protein I’d consumed was so highly acidic that it was just agonizing in even small amounts.

Once I’d figured that out – thanks to Google and my GP – I immediately took action. This meant adding hot-water with lemon to my morning regime, and drinking water with apple cider vinegar in it throughout the day. For whatever reason, drinking these diluted acid compounds will raise your alkaline levels. Go figure. I’m sure there’s some sort of sciencey math in about it, but I haven’t got a head for that sort of thing… It’s meant to be really good for your overall health too, not just digestive.

What I’m getting at is that it’s important to maintain your body’s internal balances, especially when you’ve changed your eating habits or had some sort of digestive intervention.

If anyone finds any good sources for this, let me know? I’m keen to add to my reading list!

Clear skies,

Vee

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Then that happened…

I’ve had a weird week, well, fortnight really filled with my birthday, money stress, and many nights with little to no sleep. I blame my birthday indulgences and make a variety of excuses for my inability to deal with the minor bout of carb flu. And while I’m sill low carbing, I know I’m not in keto; also not the end of the world, and wholly my own doing. The trouble when any of us get into this sort of state, is that we end up fighting temptation while also combating exhaustion and stress. Truth is, something has got to give and some days are better than others. I’m not writing a self winging my life sucks entry, I don’t do those. But everyone goes through tough times, it’s all part of life, especially in this day and age with shifting economies and global chaos. So you just roll with the punches and redo your personal budget accordingly; so what if your clothes don’t git anymore because you’ve lost heaps of weight…that’s kind of the point! And if we can’t stick with our program every day of every week, fine, we can work through that.

The important this is to persevere, and not just write off your healthy future because your present isn’t where you want it to be. And yes I may just have eaten an entire block of chocolate, but guilt isn’t going to get me anywhere. Sticking to your guns day in and out can get tiring, sure, exhausting even; but at the end of that rough day – or week – you’ll remember that the guns are in your holsters for a reason and you’ll cowboy up and get back on your horse because guess what? You’re an awesome, strong person and you’re not about to let yourself down.

You’re number one. Don’t ever forget it.

Clear skies,
Vee

Birthday Plans with Psyllium

It’s my birthday today, and I’m determined to not blow myself out of the water completely – so to speak. So far so good, with the support of my husband and my adopted sisters – yes, you know who you are – I haven’t stuffed my face yet with the chocolate cake that I made yesterday for the Cafe, and this despite every opportunity presenting itself. Nor have I eaten a single piece of the amazing rocky road I made – stuffed full of dates, prunes, walnuts, and yes, marshmallows – so, in other words, I believe I’m doing pretty darned good. But it’s only 11:30 in the morning and it’s going to be a long day. In an effort to be mostly good, I’ve just made myself eat psyllium porridge, which tends to keep my hunger and cravings at bay.

2 Tbsp Psyllium Husks
2 Tbsp Thick Cream (make sure it’s not wheat thickened, people!)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I always use the organic pure, real stuff, not the fake stuff!)
2 tablets of Stevia (or whatever sweetener you’re comfortable with)
Add hot water to your taste, mix, and endure – I mean, enjoy.

If I’d had a little more headspace and foresight, I’d have made Chocolate Psyllium Puddings instead, but silly me didn’t, so porridge it was. The Chocolate Psyllium Puddings – I think I mentioned them in the previous post – are a tasty treat, completely sugar-free and fill you up while satisfying your brain with the idea that you’ve just had something bad, especially if you add whipped cream to your treat.

2 Tbs Psyllium
1 Tbs Thick Cream
1 Tbs Cocoa Powder (I use Cadbury’s Bourneville)
2 tablets of Stevia
~ 200ml boiling water

That should make around two serves – I split them across two little ramekins so I can fridge them and eat them individually. They do need a little while to set, unless you like them runny, but they are well worth the sit! If you’re throwing a party, they’ll make for tasty desserts that you can enjoy right alongside your guests without feeling guilty!

Psyllium also regularly makes it into my eggs – scrambled, omletted, or otherwise – and after a while you get so used to them you don’t even remember that they’re there. Much awesomeness. Just always remember to drink enough water or you’ll give yourself a stomache-ache from hell, if not worse.

Clear skies,
Vee

A Word About: The Dangers of Boredom and Cookies

So I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to get bored. Not just with what I can eat but just in general: I get bored. The boredom really hits home when there’s nothing going on at the Cafe and I’m surrounded by food that I shouldn’t be eating. No fun really. The troubling thing is, the boredom tries to translate itself into eating. This might also be because I tend to start baking when I get bored and there’s nothing going on. For example, the other day the Cafe was dead and I really do mean ‘dead’; a handful of customers, nothing to do, all the cleaning done, nothing to tidy up…so. bored. So, to alleviate said boredom, I decided to bake cookies. In this case, Chocolate-Marbled Shortbread. I can’t eat it on my current carb count, but they sell quite well and I was out so hey, what the hell.

Hurdle 1: do not eat the cookie dough. Easy enough with a little bit of stubborness. Hurdle 2: do not ‘accidentally’ make a tiny cookie that you can’t sell so you need to eat it. Also done. Hurdle 3: don’t eat the batter while you’re making the cookies! Harder, but done. Into the oven they went. Awesome, twenty whole minutes of not being able to eat a cookie even if I could! I busied myself tidying up the mess I’d made while getting the cookies together; boredom alleviated for ten minutes.

Made some Cocoa-Pysllium Pudding for tomorrow – that’s another five minutes gone, and at least I’ll have a guilt-free treat for tomorrow if I feel the need for something sweet (yay for stevia!). And then the oven timer goes off, and the cookies are ready.

Nothing in the world is harder to resist than freshly baked, straight out of the oven, shortbread chocolate cookies. At least for me. They are my nemesis right alongside cranberry-chocolate scones. That nemesis-status gets amplified tenfold when I’ve got nothing to keep myself occupied: boredom is evil! So they were sitting their cooling on the rack while I wrote a little bit, mulled over the wording of a poem, got bored with that and scrubbed some dishes instead. They’re still cooling in the background, spreading their delicious, decadent perfume through the Cafe – hopefully inducing customers to come in, but no such luck. Just me, the husband, and these damned cookies.

Hurdle 4: do not eat the cookies. 

That’s it. Just don’t. Don’t let the boredom win. Find something else to do, even if you’ve already done it: polish a window, scrub the floor, take out the trash, go for a run, make up a game using chopsticks and a hairdryer (safely!) but whatever you do: do not let the boredom make you eat those cookies!

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

Fibre Is Your Friend

First off, a remembrance to those who lost their lives on the 11th of September. Thoughts, wishes, and hopes to all the families and loved ones.


Most of us don’t get enough fibre in our diet, whether we’re LCing or not. Fibre is a vital part of anyone’s diet, nutrition and yes, overall health.

“…it seems everything at the moment is ‘vital to overall health’,” you might grumbled sarcastically.

You’re not wrong, a lot of things in the weight loss scene tend to go through phases where they are the most important, bestest thing you can do or your body. And in truth, a lot of them are important, just not to the exclusion of all other things. That goes for fibre as well: it is important, very even, but not in place of everything else thats good for you.

So first up, what the hell is fibre really? Must of us assume that it’s ‘ruffage’, the stuff that’s physically fibrous and helps clean out our intestines as it passes through. You’re not wrong. Basically, fibre is stuff that the body doesn’t conpletely digest – certain seeds, husks, grains and certain vegetable fibres that the body has trouble dealing with. These ‘pesky’ things work their way through your digestive system as a goop that clears everything out. Think of it like a scrubbing brush that cleans out your insides.

“Sure, whatever…why is it important then?”

It’s important because if you’re not getting enough fibre in, you’re going to get stopped up. And by ‘stopped up’ I mean constipated like hell.

Constipation isn’t just irritating, its unhealthy. Think about it, you end up with waste just stocking up in your bowel where it’s not just sitting, by the way, but decomposing, fermenting and going through all manner of chemical changes that are causing gas, bloating and stomach aches. Worse, you leave it there long enough and certain bacteria and other elements can sneak back up into your digestive system and cause all sorts of havoc. In serious cases, some studies have shown that repeated constipation can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and/or cancer.

So what is the recommended amount of fibre a day? I’m sure there’s a whole lot of data put there that gives out a specific number, but I’m of the firm belief that if you’re having bowel movements daily or every other day and they are smooth and easy to pass, you’re getting enough fibre. If you’re struggling with regularity, you’re going to need to add in some more fibre and likely up your water intake as well.

Regular exercise also helps. Myself I go for a good combination of insoluble and soluble fibre, just to make sure I’m covered. That means I eat a lot of green leafy veggies and I have two table spoons of psyllium husk every day – in some form or another. Psyllium husk is cool because you can do all sorts of things with it like eat it as a porridge – with dairy alternatives or cream and hot water – or you can mix it in with some egg and make a faux pancake. Just be careful to go slow if you start taking it! I had the misfortune a few months back to go a little crazy with it. The result was not pretty, and trust me, you do not want to lose 2kg in a day by puking and er…flushing your guts out. It’s not fun and it’s not good for you! My advice is: yes, lots of exciting recipes about ‘psyllium bread’ and the like but remember that this stuff turns into a gel-like substance that absorbs liquids! This means that if you’re not drinking enough water, you’re eating too much of it, or both you’re going to get a serious bowel obstruction and that is not fun. So go slow! Most people advice that you start off with one tablespoon and plenty of water and do that for a few days before upping your intake. Pay attention to how your body reacts. You can buy psyllium husk (and flaxseed meal, which has a similar effect and a slightly different taste!) in most health food shops and some supermarkets; for those of you in the area, I do have a stockpile here at the Magpie Cafe (48 Main St., Upwey VICTORIA) for a reasonable price. If you’re looking for recipes, a quick Google search will yield plenty of results, just keep my advice in mind and go slow to start with.

And I think that’s all I’ve got for you today. I hope it helped some!

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

Low Carb and PMS

Firstly, welcome to all the new followers! Thanks for sifting through everything and tuning into LCO. 🙂

Today I want to briefly touch base with all you women out there who go through the irritation that is PMS. (Guys, clearly you don’t have to read along here, but hey, you never know when this information might come in useful to help your significant other!)

So, then: what is PMS and how might LC effect it? The first thing we should clear up before we dive into that is that not all women will ever experience PMS, some of us may suffer through some symptoms of it, while others get the full whammy. So, PMS: Pre-Menstrual Syndrome describes the symptoms prior, during, or even after a women’s monthly period arrives. Generally speaking these symptoms can include things like bloating, water retention, cravings, abdominal cramping, muscle pain, back and neck aches, headaches, gas, and/or migraines. Some of us might have all of them, others none! I tend to trade potential muscle aches for breast tenderness, no fun. Another thing many women.experience are mood swings, crankiness and depression.

Most of us assume that all this is due to hormonal swings as our body goes into its cycle. That’s not entirely accurate; hormones are certainly a piece of the puzzle, especially for women with PCOS – estrogen excess and progesterone deficiency can definitely be a factor. Other possible causes are a lack in Vitamin B6, abnormal glucose metabolism – i.e. high insulin resistance – and electrolyte misbalances. In addition, you’re more at risk of developing PMS symptoms if you smoke and/or have a BMI of over 30.

And this is where the LC comes in. Some of us may have gone to the doctor to ask about these things we go through around out period, and we might have been told that weight was a factor. So we troll the Internet and decided to try an LC diet since it seems to be the current thing to be doing. Great. Just be mindful that weight loss will initially mess around with all your internal settings, so make sure you’re taking the appropriate minerals and vitamins and keeping your electrolytes up. Cutting out foods you’ve been eating your whole life can lead to a sudden deficiency in certain essentials, so just be mindful of that.

Something else to keep an eye on is that some people appear to get worse PMS symptoms while on LC I honestly don’t know why – and I’ll try to find out, so stayed tuned!  – but it can get pretty bad. My advice is, if you’re one of these people, to up your carb count when you feel it start to get bad. If you do find that your PMS gets worse while on an LC, I would love to get your pointers and opinions.

Clear Skies,
Vee