Tag Archives: LC

What’s in a name?

Someone asked me the other day why I called my blog an ‘odyssey’. There’s a straightforward answer and a slightly more roundabout one to that question.

So let’s start with the straightforward one and save those of us with lives the much mumbling of the longer version. Short answer: I called it an ‘odyssey’ because it’s a journey, a fairly long journey, with plenty of ups and downs. As most of us know, weight loss is not – and should never be! – an overnight thing; healthy weight loss takes time, patience and perseverance. I knew that going in, and thus the ‘odyssey’ name.

The second, longer-winded answer goes back to my love for classical mythology. Some of us may know what I mean when I refer to the great poetic saga ‘The Odyssey‘ by Homer; others may be frowning and wondering why I think that Homer Simpson is capable of writing anything, let alone poetry; I’ll forgive you, mostly. For those of you not in the know, the Odyssey tracks Odysseus on his journey home from war-torn Troy to Ithaca, a journey which takes many years – even though it really shouldn’t – and throws countless obstacles at him and his crew – sirens, rough seas/winds, sorceresses with a tendency to turn people into animals, that sort of thing.

This is why I call weight loss an odyssey: because it’s a journey, often long, and there’s always unexpected things along the way some of which try to drive you from your path and others which reinforce why you’re on it in the first place. The most important thing in Homer’s poem, however, is the theme of perseverance and courage; when any of us embark on a weight loss journey, we’ve got to be prepared to face ourselves and all our fears, so basically we’ve got to stand up, swallow the panic, and deal with whatever gets swung our way.

It’s never as easy as it sounds, but guess what, the point is that we fight for it right?

Clear Skies,

Vee

Opinions and Judgements

There’s a lot to be said about words, in words, for words; but I think we can all agree on the fact that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words…etc.

“Where did this ridiculous insight come from?” you wonder?

From overhearing various people talking, on the bus, at the Cafe, on the street, in the check-out line at the IGA or Woolworths, you know, just regular places people talk freely. Now, don’t get me wrong, everyone – and I really do mean everyone – is entitled to their opinion – provided they’re not trying to shove it down your throat: I’m looking at you would-be-converters! But nevermind that right now! Without our opinions we can’t really call ourselves human; and let’s be honest, most of us have opinions about pretty much everything; whether it’s the food we are served in a restaurant, the car our neighbours just bought, the state of politics in our country – I’m not even going to try and touch that one with a barge pole – and yes, we’ve all got an opinion about our weight and the weight of the person sitting next to us on the train or in the cubicle two seats down at work. We might be envious of Sally’s ability to roll out of bed and look like a movie star, or we might be a little judgmental of Marshall’s inability to regulate his eating even though he’s morbidly obese. Let’s face it, as humans we tend – largely – to be a judgmental and opinionated lot.

On the whole that’s okay, we’ll keep most of the negative opinions to ourselves or air them in the appropriate arenas – having a little giggle with your partner about how fat that woman was in the supermarket and would you just look at what she was buying! Well, we all do that. It’s not exactly the nicest thing to be doing, but let’s face it, the woman in the supermarket won’t have heard us and as a result she won’t be hurt by our commentary. Likely enough, she knows she’s got a weight problem and has enough on her plate dealing with it.

I know I’ve written a little bit about this before in Weigh your Words, but I think it’s an important issue so I’d like to touch on it again. The reason why this has come up again is because I just got abused by a woman in the street for ‘not understanding what it’s like to be fat’. Here’s what happened, so you have the full context: I was walking down the street back to the Cafe, minding my own business, when this woman, rather large but nothing particularly massive or anything – I mean, I’ve seen worse! – steps out of her car into the street in front of me and begins to make her way up the hill. She’s breathing fairly heavily, and she’s carrying what looks like a rather heavy bag full of who knows what. I felt for her; I mean, a few months ago that was me! But I needed to get back to the Cafe, so I murmured a polite ‘excuse me’ and slipped by her with a bright smile. I am not  a confrontational person in the least, and I believe in respect for everyone without exception. As I slipped by her, I may have accidentally bumped in to her a little bit – no harm done, but the footpath is narrow enough as it is and she…well, you get the picture. I apologised, of course, and instead of the usual ‘that’s okay’ I was expecting I got this tirade about how slim people should really pay more attention to their surroundings and be more spacially aware. I won’t go into the details, but the gist of the argument went along the lines of: because a slim person is slim they have no understanding of the spacial requirements that a large person needs to get around. Or something. I stood there, more than a little dumbfounded, but before I could apologise again – as is my nature – she went off again with how I had no idea what it was like to be her size and the hardship she went through and, again, in essence, how ‘pretty people had no troubles in life’ and ‘doors just open for them’. Funny thing is, I don’t necessarily disagree with her – we do  live in a world where slim ‘beautiful’ people seem to get ahead more easily than others. It’s kind of like a backhanded slap to the face: obviously she thought I was ‘pretty’, which is very flattering, but the weird thing is, I never really considered myself pretty, let alone ‘slim and pretty’. So backhanded self-esteem boost coupled with a full slap to the face of ‘you made someone feel bad’. Now, obviously – I picked up on this fairly fast – she was having an awful day and the last thing she needed was me to say something about the fact that I’d lost 20kg in the last 9 months so I knew exactly how she felt – when you’re feeling down you don’t really need to hear about the you who’s been successful at the weight loss game. So instead I waited until she’d stopped shouting and I apologised again, asked her I’d hurt her, and when she seemed slightly surprised at my calm rejoinder I told her I understood exactly what she meant and that I had had to fight to get to this shape and weight and I didn’t mean to make her feel bad. Then she apologised, realising that she’d been out of line…and, well, that was it.

Much fun.

What this raised in me was an interest in the psychology behind the perception of weight loss. I don’t see myself as slim. I should, clearly, since I have lost all that weight and I now have a waist that could be defined as ‘slim’. I’m happy with my body for the first time in decades; sure I have a few problem patches that I’m working on, but clearly I need to take a look at myself in the mirror and redefine how I see myself. This probably means thinking about how other people see me too, and that’s always tricky. End result? A stranger on the street isn’t going to know the uphill battles we’ve fought to get to our target weights, they’re just going to see the final result and hold their opinions and judgements about that. It’s silly, and yes, it can be petty and even hurtful, but it’s important to remember that you and I were both there at that point. Next time you see a ‘slim’ person walking down the street, don’t just assume they were born that way, because they might not have been and might be in the same boat you are.

Food for thought.

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

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

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

Sites of Interest: ‘Fat Girl Living Low Carb’, ‘Linda’s Low Carb Menus & Recipes’ & ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” ~Maya Angelou

So, my second ‘Sites of Interest’ post! Exciting. I’m going to try and do one of these every month so that you’ve all got fresh information to look at instead of getting stuck with my rambling words every day.

This month we’re taking a look at my new favourite blog for motivation and recipes: Fat Girl Living Low Carb. I stumbled across this blog quite by accident only to find a wealth of information pertaining to LC recipes, foods, ideas, and just general fun. Those of you who are stuck for something to eat really need to hop over there and have a look! Her writing style is fresh and entertaining, and her articles are always honest and tend to be accompanied by fantastic pictures. There’s nothing like some serious visual aids to help the imagination along. The recipes she provides are very simple, but provide beautiful complex flavours, and on top of that, they’re divided into categories for easy access!

If you need even more recipes, why not jump over to Linda’s Low Carb Menus & Recipes, another great resource for a diverse amount of recipes. Linda’s got a great variety, classifying all her recipes into courses and including some scrumptious snack and dessert recipes. This site also has a page dedicated to ‘Odds and Ends’ which contains all sorts of useful tools for anyone’s weight loss journey,  such as tips and notes on sugar-free syrups, exercise tapes and dvds, and a hidden carb calculator. I like using this site for ideas and its resources, the links Linda provides are very useful and should be part of an LCers arsenal.

Finally, you’ve got to look at Mark’s Daily Apple. Focusing on a ‘Primal’ diet, this site is chock full of awesome information, tips, links, and resources. If you’re looking for a place to start a Primal LC diet, this is the place to go. The only ‘downside’, if you can call it that, is that is a sponsored site; I don’t really care about that, but someone else might so I thought I’d put it up there. But hey, keep in mind that sometimes you’ve got to consult expert advice to temper all the great grassroots information we’re building here! 🙂

And that’s it from me for today! Happy browsing and happy Low-carbing!

Clear Skies,
Vee

Weigh Day Blues

Yesterday morning after celebrating a family birthday the night before, the scales showed that I’d ‘gained’ half a kilo again. I know that it’s probably just water weight and it’ll disappear quickly enough, but there’s still that psychological blow that you get dealt when you see the scales going in the ‘wrong’ direction. That psychological affect can be just as detrimental to your health as obesity, so today I want to talk about weighing in, guilt, and the stress that can come along with the battle against obesity.

I used to weigh myself every Monday morning after my shower, before breakfast. I felt like this week-by-week weigh in gave me good oversight of how much weight I was losing. It did. In the beginning I was losing between 1.5kg and 2kg a week, perfectly healthy; but then my husband and I moved homes, and the stress of the move, combined with the new routines and cooking patterns put my weight loss in a stall. It was incredibly frustrating, and in a desperate attempt to keep myself motivated and accountable, I started weighing myself every morning.

Let me say right off the bat that weighing yourself every morning isn’t going to give you the best picture of your weight loss journey; we gain and lose entire kilos day in and out while on this LC thing, and trust me when I say it can get incredibly frustrating and depressing to watch yourself go up and down like that despite your best efforts. Now, knowing that – and having told myself that countless times – I’m still stuck in the habit of weighing in every morning. It’s a habit I’m going to have to break, so, I’m going to take a page out of I’m Done Being a Fat Girl and, just like her, make a Weigh-in-Wednesday aside post. I like the way it rolls off your tongue and with any luck it’ll stop me from obsessing over my day-to-day weight and keep me on the straight and narrow during the week!

Which brings me to the guilt and stress I mentioned earlier: no matter how strong we are, no matter how high our self esteem, we all have our pressure points. If we’re trying to get to a target weight, repetitive setbacks and stalling is going to be one of those pressure points. We’re all going to have a month or so where nothing’s changing, hell you might even have a week where you’re putting on  a kilo instead of losing any.

“I know exactly what you mean. It’s frustrating, it’s annoying, and it can be downright depressing! I hate it!”

I know. It’s almost painful, especially when we’ve been so good and then bang! No loss anywhere to be seen, not even in measurements! ‘Frustrating’ doesn’t really cut it. I had a morning last week where I was literally ready to throw the towel in and have that damned piece of toast because nothing had budged for a whole week. Luckily my husband just mentioned off hand that I looked amazing, and that lifted my spirits to the point where I found my willpower again.

The point I’m trying to make is that yes, it can get hard but don’t ever let your new lifestyle get into the way of your happiness. You’re not only taking care of your body here, remember? You’ve got to look after your mental health as well. I’m certainly not saying that you should give up when you have a bad day, instead, I suggest you dig deep and hang in there: you’re a beautiful human being, you’ve put in so much effort already, why waste it? You’ll get there! Find something positive to think about and focus on that, you’re in control here not the diet. We don’t do this to torture ourselves. We’re doing this to become the person we want to be, inside and out. That goes for all genders, male, female, and all other varieties: you’re your own person, don’t let the down and outs of the day depress you, be positive.

“That’s well enough for you to say, Vee, but some of us can’t seem to do that!”

I get it, and I know that I’m stubborn and some of you might find this whole thing a lot harder than I’ve found it. In that case, remember that it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not losing weight as fast as someone else –no one’s the same. Don’t drown yourself in guilt if you just can’t stay away from those pastries: work on it, one day at a time, cut back one muffin at a time, it doesn’t all have to happen at once. Build your diet the way you think you can handle it and if that means having a cheat day a month, that’s fine. Most of all, and this one is vital to remember: don’t ever let someone else make you feel guilty for eating or not eating, they’re not you, you know yourself best.

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