It's starting to look a lot like Keto

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

I really didn't intend to go Keto. It seemed so complicated. All those fat-to-protein-to-carb ratios. Getting into and maintaining ketosis, whatever that is. And what's with these little breathalyzer-type tests you can do to make sure you're in ketosis? (I still don't know.)

But, the more I eliminate from my diet, the more I realize that what I am eating looks a lot like Keto. Just need to amp up the fats and scale back more on the carbs.

So excited my local grocery store has started carrying sugar-free bacon. They had a sale and I stocked up!
I've been reading online voraciously. There's a lot of info out there, and I am slowly starting to feel I am finding my way with this. I don't know if I will stick with this particular way of eating forever. Maybe I'll do Paleo or Mediterranean long term. But this seems great for now for weight loss.

Keto does allow for stevia and sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol. I am not using any of these because I want to be totally sugar-free. Even alternative sugars-free. I think using these would just keep activating my sweet tooth.

One thing that bothers me about low-carb diets and plans is that there is a lot of emphasis of "Keto-friendly" cheesecakes and ice cream and cakes and breads. I just don't want to go there. To me, it's like a vegetarian who eats tofu hotdogs. Why? If you don't want to eat meat, why try and copy it? 

Similarly, if I am eliminating sugar, why would I "tease" myself with all these substitutes? Push the whole paradigm aside, and create new ways of thinking about what might constitute a dessert. And ask yourself if you even need a dessert. If so, how about --

  • A parfait glass filled with raspberries,  some homemade (without sweetener) whipped cream, and a pretty mint leaf garnish.
  • Baked apples with cinnamon, chopped toasted walnuts, and whipped cream.
  • A plate of artisanal cheeses with grain-free, sugar-free crackers, toasted pecans, and some fruit.

Right now, I'm not eating fruit, as I mentioned in a previous post. I will definitely add in some lower-sugar berries after I've lost some more weight.

So what am I eating on a typical day?

 For breakfast I have a cup of coffee with a scoop of MCT powder. MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides. It's extracted from coconut oil and has many health benefits. It's just like putting a little creamer in your coffee, no coconut taste and no "oil slick" on the top of your coffee!

For lunch I might have a green salad with some hard boiled eggs, toasted nuts (walnuts or pecans), and a dollop or two of avocado mayo or some no-sugar dressing.

{I have found some good subs for ketchup, steak sauce, salad dressing, and mayo at Thrive Market online. I also get bone broth and many other Keto- and Paleo-friendly items there. There is a fee to join, but then you get good discounts, free shipping (for orders over $49), and fast delivery.}

For dinner, it's usually meat or seafood cooked in butter, ghee, or coconut oil with some vegetables.

On the Keto diet, 75% of your calories should come from fat. To be honest, that makes me feel just a little sick thinking about all that fat!!, but I've noticed that I am not hungry. When I went off sugar and white flour a few years ago, I was hungry all the time!

Do not use vegetable oils at all -- canola, safflower, sunflower, corn, etc. Olive oil is okay.  I'm not going to go into all the science here, you'll have to look it up. They are just not good for you.

I'm still not sure I have all my ratios right. I'm looking at meal plans online and trying to gauge serving sizes from them. But I have lost 8 pounds in just three weeks. And no sugar at all.

The other night my husband and I went out for dinner. We ordered a bacon cheeseburger without the bun and without the mayo. (I'm thinking I might carry a jar of no-sugar avocado mayo in my purse, haha!) It will definitely be harder to eat out, but this is one option.

I add in nuts for a snack. Or a bit of cheese. Or a hard boiled egg. I'm already looking into adding some variety and have got some good ideas for pizza (with a cheese crust), roasted jicama fries, riced cauliflower, kale cooked in coconut cream, and more.
Thanks to several of you who shared your no-sugar successes. It really heartens me to know that it is really possible for the long term. Have any of you tried Keto or Paleo? Please share your advice/experiences.

Motivation to get off the sugar merry-go-round

Friday, July 26, 2019

I have not sat down and planned out an organized list of blog posts on this topic of giving up sugar. I am just winging it here, and posting as things come to mind and as I'm working through them. And please remember,  do your own research. I'm not an expert at any of this, just a fellow traveler trying to seek a better way.

This grapefruit sparkling water is so good, especially served with a couple of wedges of lime in a pretty pink glass. A friend gifted me a set of four of these glasses and it just elevates the experience! You have to find fun ways to be healthy.
I've been thinking a lot about how to make this commitment to a sugar-free life permanent. Worried that I'm setting myself up for failure. Worried that once I lose the weight (6 pounds down, 34 to go!), I will slip into old habits. That I'm being unrealistic in my goals and "should" learn moderation.

But, no, no, no!! I have to remind myself that moderation never worked with alcohol. I tried moderation for 20 years. Finally giving alcohol up for good lifted a huge burden. It was freeing. Such a good feeling not to be trapped by an addiction.

I keep drawing the parallels here with sugar. I have been trying also for more than 20 years to get my weight under control. Losing and gaining. Feeling shame and guilt. Beating up on myself. Letting the number on the scale determine whether I was going to feel good about myself that day. Constant internal battles over whether to have that cookie or not.

Someone once said you will find the courage to change once the pain of remaining the same becomes too great.

I am really starting to feel that a life without sugar is preferable to my current life.

Can any of you relate to the following scenario?

You wake up in the morning, determined to start the new diet. Then you remember that there is some leftover pie in the kitchen. It sure would taste good with a cup of coffee. And it would be wasteful to throw it out, right? Just enjoy it, and then eat healthy the rest of the day. So you have it for breakfast, but by 1030 a.m. you're hungry. You tell yourself that this is the price you have to pay, you were a bad person, now you have to deal with the consequences. At lunch time you have a healthy lunch. You even manage to eat well at dinner. Then your book club comes over. Everyone brings snacks and you yourself have laid out some snacks, maybe even something healthy like vegetables and dip or cheese and crackers. You tell yourself to only have tea, no snacks. Everyone goes home and you're cleaning up at 1030. You had dinner early and now you're hungry. Those snacks sure look inviting. So you start nibbling on them and pretty soon you've had a piece of cake, some pretzels, a couple pieces of candy, and even finished up the cheese ball. You are disgusted with yourself for your lack of self-control. You wake up the next morning, a pound up, and feel shame and guilt. You give yourself a stern lecture, decide there's no more fooling around. Today's the day, no ifs, ands, or buts. You crack the whip and buckle down.

Until the next time. And then the cycle continues all over, leaving you feeling defeated and shamed and embarrassed and guilty.

Wow. In black and white it all looks pretty painful. Do I really want to live like this?

If I acknowledge that, for me, moderation doesn't work, why wouldn't I want to just get off this merry-go-round all together?

Why would I continue to treat myself so poorly? The lectures, the stern talkings-to, the guilt, the shame, the embarrassment. Why? I wouldn't treat an enemy like this.

Imagine a world where I can just set all of this aside. Where I can walk away completely. Where I am no longer arguing with myself or debating whether to have that piece of pie or that scone. Where I don't feel I have to have it in order to "celebrate" some occasion. Where I've set down that burden and am walking in the freedom of health and well-being and self-respect?

Sounds good to me. Sounds better than a few cookies, for sure.

{This article reinforces my thoughts about how addictive sugar is.}

It's not just sugar . . .

Monday, July 22, 2019

In my last post, I shared with you my decision to give up all sugars. For life. Thank you to those who encouraged me to continue to blog about this. It will help me to stay on track and I hope it will help somebody else as well.

It hasn't taken me long to realize that "giving up sugar" means a whole lot more than just giving up sugar. It also means, for me:

  • Giving up "whites" -- white flour, white rice, pasta. Because all these convert rapidly to glucose in the bloodstream. The net result is almost the same as it would be if you consumed sugar itself.

  • Dramatically reducing the fruit I eat. I love fruit and eat a lot of it. But it, too, contains sugar. Yes, it is natural sugar combined with fiber and therefore hits the bloodstream more slowly than refined sugars, but it is still sugar. I do not plan to give up fruit for life. But for these first few weeks, I am avoiding it, and will then eat it with intention. I will especially avoid mindlessly consuming lots of high-sugar grapes, for example, and stick to antioxidant-rich berries. Dried fruit is definitely out, as it is super high in sugar.

  • Giving up my sleep medication. This is HUGE for me as I have had a sleep problem for close to 20 years. But my doctor thinks it may be hindering my weight loss. And, to be honest, it doesn't always work that great anyway. Without it, I'm up until 5 a.m. maybe four nights a week. But even with it, I experience at least one night like that a week and regularly need an hour or two to fall asleep every night. There has to be a better way! (I am trying to use a cognitive behavior therapy program to help with sleep habits, but that is another post.)

  • Which brings me to exercise. That helps with everything! I just read that smokers who exercise have better health than nonsmokers who don't! I have no idea if that's true, but I've also heard that sitting is the new smoking. If there is a cure-all for everything, it's exercise. And I don't do nearly enough. I know it will help with my sugar cravings and my sleep and a host of other issues.

  • Reducing caffeine. Mostly to help with sleep. I'm trying to have just one cup in the morning and no decaf at night, because there's a little caffeine even in decaf. Herbal teas are not my favorite, but I am going to try and make friends with them. 

  • Giving up vegetable oils. These are just not good for you. Canola oils, sunflower and safflower oils, corn oils -- they're in many processed foods, but also in many "healthy" foods, too.  I know I need good fats in my diet, like grass-fed butter, coconut oil, ghee, and olive oil. These fats are helping with the cravings and helping with satiety, so I don't feel so hungry.

I'm not sure that what I've set up for myself here is the wisest thing to do all at once. Some nutritionists urge going slow in implementing such radical dietary changes. But I seem to be an all-or-nothing type of person. Moderation doesn't work. Cold turkey, just like I did with alcohol, is best for me. And once I set my mind to something, I want to do it!

I have given away boxes of food. And really, my cupboard maybe only had one box of cookies, and my freezer a couple pie crusts and a cake. The rest was pasta and flour and molasses and canned goods with sugar in them, and condiments (steak sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, salad dressings). I found beef broth that had sugar in it, as well as cans of spicy black beans with added sugar (who knew?!). I found sugar sprinkles, cake decorating bags, confectioner's sugar, hot chocolate. Every day I thought I was done and then I'd run into more items that contained either sugars or white flours or vegetable oils.

People, it is everywhere.

I wish I had a "before" picture of my pantry. There were no empty spots on the shelves.
I am slowly sourcing foods to replace these items. My husband, who has agreed to do this with me -- yay! so thankful for that -- likes his steak sauce and ketchup, so I have found no sugar-added versions (not made with artificial sweeteners, a big no-no for me).

To keep me motivated, I made a quick list on my phone of the detrimental effects of sugar. I have been reading this list every day.

  • Constipation -- colon cancer (I have had (benign) polyps on two colonoscopies, so this is a real motivation)
  • Saggy skin and age spots (sugar breaks down collagen)
  • Belly fat
  • Insomnia (sugar can speed up my heart rate and "juice" me up)
  • Cancer
  • High cholesterol (studies have shown that it's sugar and vegetable oils that cause high cholesterol, not saturated fats)
  • Achy joints
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression (already prone to this, so don't need to add any more contributing factors)
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue and lethargy (all those blood sugar spikes and crashes)
  • Cellulite (wouldn't it be nice to get rid of this?!)

And to motivate me further, I wrote this:

Do I want to be an obese old woman with sagging, wrinkled skin and age spots, constipated and unable to move around and participate in life,  diabetic and cranky and depressed? Suffering from insomnia? Prone to deadly disease and an early demise?

Yes, I have to make it dramatic and awful-sounding. Although it's probably not far from the truth. 

I want to be able to play with my grandchildren. I want to be able to travel. I want to be able to live as a healthy old woman, and do the work God has for me. You have to find your own motivation if you want to implement such a radical lifestyle change.

One of the most important things I am doing here is praying. I know that I can't do this on my own. Willpower alone isn't enough. I'm also praying to try and discover reasons for my sugar addiction and overeating. I'm looking for ways to take care of myself rather than numbing with sugar. Just being mindful is a big step.  

Next time, I'll give you an idea of what I'm eating these days, and share some of the sources of good, healthy, sugar-free foods I've found. And some of the websites and books that have helped.

Please note: I'm not a nutritionist and I'm not following any particular advised protocol here. I'm just doing my research and learning from my own experience. Please don't take any of this as medical advice. Do your own research!

Giving up sugar

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

I'm a week in. Eight days actually. And I can't believe I'm really doing this.

Giving up sugar. Not just white sugar. All forms, including brown, powdered, coconut, and date sugar. Maple syrup and sucanat and molasses and honey. All the glucose, fructose, dextrose, corn syrup. All the artificial sugars, including Nutrasweet and Splenda. Even Swerve and 
xylitol and erythritol, which aren't supposed to spike blood sugar levels.

Why would I do something so drastic? And why am I planning on making this a permanent -- gulp! -- change?

I've always loved to bake. I will need to find other ways to be creative in the kitchen.
A number of reasons, really. It started off because I am so tired of carrying around this extra weight. But the more I read and learn (and most of this is just relearning what I already know), the more reasons I come up with.

The biggest reason is that I'm finally admitting that sugar is a real addiction for me. I have a problem with alcohol. For 20 years I told myself I could practice moderation. I never drank when I was pregnant. I could go weeks without a drink. No big deal, right? But once I had one glass of wine, I had to have another. And another. I finally had to go cold turkey, 11 years ago. It was an addiction.

And I've been telling myself for 20 years now that I can have sugar in moderation. I've lost weight (I blogged a few years ago about how I lost 30 pounds), and then as soon as I allow a little sugar back in, it just escalates, and the weight piles back on.

I never thought it was realistic to cut sugar out completely from my diet. Why couldn't I just practice moderation? What was wrong with me? And what about Christmas and Valentine's Day and all the other holidays? Birthday parties? Why couldn't I be like my husband or my thin friends and just practice self control?

I've come to the conclusion that sugar is like alcohol for me. It's an addiction. There's nothing "wrong" with me because I can't enjoy it in moderation.

Studies have shown that sugar reacts in the same way as cocaine does in rats' brains. It is a drug. And for those of us sensitive to it, just like a drug addict, we keep needing bigger and bigger hits of it. And yes, I'm here to admit that I've binged on jelly beans and other sugar-laden junk more times than I care to remember.

So this is a huge lifestyle change. I'm excited. I'm nervous. I'm wondering if I have the willpower to do this. (No, I don't. I need help.)

My new best friends.
I'm thinking of doing some regular blog posts about my journey. Like how I had to remove literally boxes of stuff out of my kitchen. Like how sugar is in everything. Like how to eat out. How to manage holidays. What to eat to manage cravings. The whole psychology of cravings. 

Would you be interested in hearing about this journey and riding along with me? I'm thinking I might post a couple times a week about it. Let me know if you'd be interested or if you have considered this for yourself.

And if you are the praying kind, I would definitely appreciate prayers! xoxo
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