Jul 13 2009

Starting Fresh

Watching those Gary Taubes videos I posted recently made me realize I’ve been slacking pretty badly on my diet, and I’ve gained a few pounds because of it.  From the outside it probably looked like I was eating right, but it doesn’t take very many “bad” meals or snacks to screw the whole thing up.  There were the sweetened peaches at the bridge party, some dark chocolate on clearance sale at the grocery store, too many peanuts eaten at the keyboard, and so on.

To see where I really stood, I kept track of everything I ate for a few days, and discovered that I was hitting 50-100 grams of carbohydrate each day, even when eating my own cooking at home.  It wasn’t just that I was blowing it at family meals and birthday parties, but I was blowing it on the regular days too.  (Which explains why I was giving in so easily on the special occasions—my insulin was already too high.)  One day it was watermelon: a half-slice of watermelon, when I checked on it, turned out to have 16 carbs!  That’s more than half my allowance for the day, and that was just a snack.

So I started fresh today, getting back to low-carbing the way I did it when I lived 15 miles from the grocery store and couldn’t afford convenience foods anyway.  I ate lots of home-cooked meat, eggs, and vegetables—and lost the first 40 pounds easy as pie.  My limit is 30 grams/day, which is Stage I of Protein Power, and the limit I gave myself that time.  Today’s menu was bacon and eggs for breakfast, a thrown-together cheesy ground beef and green bean skillet casserole sort of thing for lunch, and spaghetti with shirataki noodles for supper.  The spaghetti was 16 carbs, but the first two meals were low so I had a few to spare.  Next time I’ll add more meat and have half as much of the sauce, to get it under 10g/meal.

I’m also outlawing some foods that might be possible to eat on a low-carb diet, but only in smaller amounts than are really satisfying for me.  That makes them dangerous, because it’s easy to eat too much out of habit.  I could have a 1/4-cup of popcorn, for example, but that would just make me sad.  I also think carb-dense foods like chocolate tend to cause more cravings than the same amount of carbs from a food like green beans, at least for me.  So, some favorite foods that I won’t be eating for the time being:

  • Peanuts (if I get started on them, there’s no stopping)
  • Melon (unless it’s a few pieces from a fruit salad, but no whole ones)
  • Chocolates
  • Ice cream
  • Desserts (other than fruit with cream, and that only at the end of the day when I’m sure I’ve still room under my limit)
  • Potatoes, white or sweet
  • Anything with corn or wheat

That’s the plan until I hit 220 pounds, and then I’ll reevaluate, maybe treat myself to a few of those things and start over, or maybe just stay with it until my ultimate goal of 200.  But I think making those things completely off-limits for now, instead of trying to squeeze them into my 30 grams, will make it a lot easier to stick with that plan.  I hope that declaring it here in black and white will help too.  Whether anyone calls me on it or not, I’ll have it in the back of my mind that everyone knows I made that commitment.

Things I will be eating lots of (so it’s obvious I won’t be deprived):

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Bacon (deserves its own mention aside from pork)
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Mayo, mustard, horseradish sauce
  • Cream
  • Cheese (all sorts)
  • Green beans
  • Swiss chard
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage (and kraut)
  • Hot peppers
  • Summer squash
  • Tomatoes (carefully)
  • Herbs, spices, etc.

That should do me just fine, and that’s not a complete list.  I’m not sure whether I’m going to try to track anything besides the carbs or not.  I don’t think so.  It’s nice to be able to point to the numbers later and show that low-carbing didn’t just trick me into eating fewer calories somehow (that’s the excuse mainstream nutritionists give when presented with solid proof that low-carbing works), but that I lost weight while eating plenty of calories and never going hungry.  But I don’t care about that as much as I used to.  The truth about this stuff is out there; I’ve posted enough links that anyone who’s open to the idea can research it and judge for himself.  I have to focus on getting it right myself, and not on whether anyone else is doing it.  After all, if everyone knows me as that low-carb guy who’s still 40 pounds overweight, that’s not exactly a good advertisement for my way of eating.  When I hit 200, maybe that’ll be the time to start caring about whether other people see the light or not.

I’ll be sure to share recipes I come up with, though, and report how it’s going.  Tonight’s supper, for instance, was very simple.  The spaghetti sauce was tomato sauce that we canned last year, so it had no added sugar.  I cooked some chopped onion in a tablespoon of butter, then added ground beef and chopped oregano and basil.  Once the meat was browned, I added garlic powder (the garlic from our garden is all hanging up to dry) and salt and pepper.  I used tofu shirataki noodles, which are made from some sort of gelatin and only have one net carb per serving.  You’ll find them in the health food section at Hy-Vee, and maybe at the new County Market.  I haven’t seen them at the one near us yet.  If you follow the directions on the package, they’re a little rubbery like artificial fishing worms or Gummi Bears, but I boil them 20 minutes and that goes away.  I don’t know why, but it just seems nicer having some noodles with a meat sauce like that.

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