April 1, 2014: Karen and I are embarking on a three week journey. The destination is a place where we are no longer exposed to whatever undesirable effects there are from a life of sugar addiction.
Just in case there are counted among our friends a few unhappy souls who might be worried that day in and day out exposure to sugar and over-processed foods is having a negative effect, we are going to share the daily details of our experience and path among these posts and publish them to Facebook.
Check back often, the updates will be daily.
April 2, 2014: Twenty four hours down, 480 hours to go.. Day two of my three week sugar-free fast began with good omens. I slept very peacefully through the entire night. There was no dry mouth forcing me to rise for a drink of water, and there was no sweating as my body metabolized that mountain of sugar from the ice cream before bed the night before (since I didn’t do that). As a bonus, I awoke fifteen minutes before the alarm rang at 530AM, feeling completely refreshed.
When I got up I fixed my two fried egg and pulled pork breakfast, the same that I have had for three days in a row now. Yesterday’s lunch was a garden salad dressed with home made mayonnaise only. I also put leftover broiled brussels sprouts in it that I had saved from dinner a couple of nights ago. Dinner was a five-spice chicken and vegetable curry that Karen found online.
Today, so far, I am filled with energy and feeling very clear-headed. My hands feel a little bit swollen and very warm, as though the circulation in my arms has gone up. Maybe it has, but every time I have ever went on a low-carb diet I have had this sensation of warm, puffy hands at the outset.
Yesterday we took a couple of ‘before’ photos of my belly, which is where I carry all of my extra weight. I am that guy who has bird legs, but can look nine months pregnant. Yesterday I looked like maybe I was at five months, six months, tops. I was astonished at how much heavier I looked from the front than the side. I wont post the pictures, since Karen already did in a previous post. My weight was high for me, at 147+, but that is not the most that I have ever weighed. Before I quit drinking beer I weighed in at 160.
I am looking forward to keeping close track of all of our progress. What has me the most excited at the beginning of my second day fasting is the clarity of my mind, and the mental energy that I woke up with this morning.
April 3, 2014: This morning’s report is much like yesterday’s report. My entire body is humming like my hands did yesterday. I hope that it is from the increase in circulation, but I know that it is a sign that my body chemistry is turning from it’s reliance on easy sugary chemicals to metabolize to the more difficult fats and proteins.
This morning’s breakfast was just like yesterday’s was. I almost forgot to make it for myself, and Karen’s timely warning was provided with not a moment to spare. It only takes five minutes to fry an egg and warm up pulled pork…for the record. Another three minutes to eat it all up and clean the plate. Who on earth doesn’t have time for that? It was a good thing I ate breakfast at home, because this morning here at the plant they are having a charity breakfast catered by Chris Cakes. Pancakes and syrup aromas are all over the place. Could I have resisted the temptation if I had missed my eggs this morning? Thankfully we don’t know the answer to that question, because I was defended from that temptation by a full stomach.
Yesterday’s lunch was another garden salad with left over meatloaf crumbled into it. There may have been trace amounts of carbs in the meatloaf, but we will not worry about such things. The dressing was mayonnaise, just two teaspoons mixed in like salad dressing. That really is a great dressing, and if you have not tried it, you should today. Not Miracle Whip or it’s equivalent but Mayo. Break time cravings were satisfied, more or less, by eating handfuls of roasted almonds. Maybe this weekend I will get us some pecans to roast, because I think they are a better snack.
Dinner last night was a Pizza Soup that we found online. The sauce will make a really great marinara sauce and tonight we are going to use the leftovers atop a spaghetti squash that we have just for a no carb spaghetti night. It was REALLY a good sauce, and made a REALLY good soup. Very hearty, very spicy, very filling. Just what the doctor ordered.
Sleep was not as good last night as the night before. More nite time bathroom runs as the carbs leave my system, and late night storms with heavy rain and thunder kind of kept me up. Other than that I was once again up before the alarm (good thing since I forgot to set it).
April 4, 2014: It’s the fourth day of sugar-free month. Yesterday I figured out that if I didn’t quit drinking Coffee Mate that I was not truly living sugar-free. Yes, corn syrup solids are sugar. Who knew? You can’t really taste the sugar in it if you are putting extra sugar in your coffee at the same time. We got some heavy cream yesterday to do the duty of the dairy-free cream without the corn syrup.
Breakfast today was the same as the rest, food without fuss. Sleep last night was restless, I was very near waking all night. Still no return of desert mouth, sinuses may be healing themselves as I starve the bugs that were living there of their sugary diet. At least so I hope.
Dinner last night was leftover pizza soup over spaghetti squash ‘noodles’, thrice-tossed salad with mayo, and cottage cheese.
By last night I felt achy all over, with pain in my forearms, the tingling was still all over my body, felt a bit tired and lethargic. I think that it’s probably all the withdrawal symptoms that addicts must get through to be free of their chemical of choice. Today will be better.
April 6, 2014: April 5th, a Saturday. First day that I didn’t eat my egg and pork five minute day-starter. Big mistake. Waited until noon to eat a can of tuna with soy sauce, some almonds, and a piece of a green apple. It was too little, too late. The rest of the day I felt totally depleted. Until dinner, which was a great taco meat salad, I felt faint. After I finally had enough I felt normal. I had even ate a footlong bun less hotdog at Costco, but it didn’t really help. My advice, don’t skip breakfast if you aren’t eating sugars.
This morning we had some flour free pancakes using tapioca flour and a bunch of eggs. Came out great. Put a couple eggs on mine and some coconut butter, great day starter. Let’s go, universe!
April 7, 2014: Monday morning. One week down, two to go.
This weekend was hard, mostly because I couldn’t hold to the morning routine that I used during the workweek. I tend to not eat breakfast on the weekends, habitually, and eat an early lunch instead. This route does not work at all on a low-carb diet. Coffee only and no breakfast made for an energy deficit that I just could not make up eating what I ended up eating. My symptoms were lethargy, mild headache, aching muscles and joints, slight pain in the kidney area of my back. Sunday I ate a breakfast of wheat and sugar free pancakes, or crepes with a fried egg. This start was much better, dinner was kielbasa with fried cabbage, green peppers and onions. Very good, filling and held me til morning. This morning was another crepe with two eggs. So far today I feel just about perfect.
Measurements are coming later on today, but I think I have both lost weight and girth.
I went to the store and got myself a bulk size package of foot long hot dogs to keep at work. Quality hot dogs are really good to have on hand to battle cravings that arise when you have to get stuck at work until midnite. That happens to me from time to time.
April 10, 2014: So it is possible to eliminate sugars from your diet. A week away from them proved that to me. Breads, cakes and candies were easy to forego, because we mostly do not eat those things any way. However, it is also possible to kill yourself eating this way, if you are not careful with the processed foods that are on the diet. I would caution each and every one of you to thoroughly cook all processed meat products before you consume them, if you can’t bypass them altogether. Monday I had to stay late at work and have hot dogs that I purchased just for this occurrence. I heated one in a microwave, and ate it right away, noticing as I ate that parts of it were still cool. Parts were piping hot, but the whole thing was not sufficiently warm and within two hours I was already depositing it in a trash can at work. The rest of that night, the next day, and that night were spent in pain, with lots of trips to the bathroom to go from one end or the other. Needless to say, even today I am wrung out, and trying to re-hydrate still. Yesterday I drank a home made Kombucha, ate a nice dinner, had a desert that was a nut-filled baked apple with heavy cream sauce. Maybe we can get Karen to put a recipe and picture on the blog. Today is another story. I ate half of a two egg omelet, drank one cup of coffee, and since then, nothing. Lunch time has come and gone and I have no taste for food. I will keep drinking to see what comes of that.
April 14, 2014: I have lost three inches of adipose tissue from my visceral area. I am down to 34.5 inches of girth measured at my navel. This weekend I also ate a small slice of birthday cake and ice cream while celebrating Kaydence’s birthday. The reason that I could guiltlessly eat cake was that I did not eat a bun on my hamburger, a portion of sweet baked beans, a portion of potato salad, and a handful of Doritos corn chips, and a cola. I ate a naked hamburger patty, a portion of vegetables from a vegetable tray, a portion of coleslaw, and a glass of unsweetened iced tea. While it wasn’t NO sugar, my Saturday meal was practically no sugar.
Had a really good chuck roast this weekend with gravy made from the braising fluid. You must try that. When you braise the roast you should strain off the vegetables and fat and make a brown gravy with this juice. Lip smacking good, and the closest thing to desert on this diet. Here is the recipe, but know that I scaled everything down to normal proportions, one onion, for instance instead of three, and used ghee to cook instead of duck fat, etc. Actually, I used the same spices and cut of meat, used the same cooking method and made the gravy, otherwise it was this recipe. 🙂
It has been two full weeks out of three completely restricting starch food intake and almost totally eliminating sugar from my diet. It has not been hard at all. We don’t drink soda pop, normally. We drink coffee with sugar in it, but coffee with cream in it is just as good. I have noticed that I don’t drink as much coffee per day if it doesn’t taste like candy, too. Score! We would eat desert a couple of times per week, but haven’t been doing that. We have tried some non-sweet deserts, but our success has been less than good.
Watched a documentary from HBO last night called “Weight of the Nation”. The first show in the series sets up the cause for change. As a debater I knew that I was watching the reasons that we should be doing something, setting the stage for later episodes which will show what we might be doing…very sobering. For instance, 50% of children in elementary school in some states, as determined by autopsy of those that died of other causes, are already showing significant liver fat (bad) and artery diseases that lead to heart disease. Watch the film. I will post more on each episode here, but not more detail than this, because you should watch the film.
Someday, when portions of our nation can no longer look at chronic disease as a piggy bank, (soon, I hope) we will admit that food diseases are caused by food. We will admit to ourselves that if you run a boiler with the fuel valve wide open that it will explode the boiler. In order to cure obesity we have to limit the allowable sugar in all foods, and we need to find ways to force people to exercise. No parking spaces close to work or shopping, for instance. Elevators that only go down to the third floor, maybe, except for cargo. Large doors in the grocery store that allow everyone to buy vegetables, but to get at the cookies, cakes and ice cream a very narrow door, with a large window in it where you can see the goodies, but cannot get to them if you are too wide.
We talk about our kids, sometimes and wish that we could tell them how to eat and they would mind us. Sadly, those days are gone, because we know more now. Our advice would be good advice, but all we can do is lead by example these days. Start a blog, write it down, maybe they will read it and heed it. Life is busier when you are young. You tell yourself you dont have time for anything but a pizza out of a box, a breakfast out of a box, a lunch out of a box. Really, though, if you plan, breakfast is faster when you make it for yourself, lunch is some of yesterday’s great dinner, dinner is the only hard one to make. Dinner is the key to eating right and if you can eat dinner right the rest of your diet falls into place. Are you listening, kids?
April 15, 2014: Less than one week to go. I feel like I have already accomplished my goals for this detox. I have lost the basketball in my shirt, I can sleep all night long without drying my mouth out by having it open all night long, I can go a day without sugar now without my hands feeling swollen and hot. On the other hand, because I can’t eat a quick fruit, and my only snack is roasted almonds or pecans, I have a constant low-grade hunger, even right after a full meal. Last night after dinner I sat there very hungry still and decided to eat whatever of our shrimp soup that would not fit into a quart jar. It turned out that there was another full bowl of soup left, which I ate with no problem. I still felt like I could eat more, but within the hour that feeling passed. It takes some getting used to how long it takes to feel full on a no starch no sugar meal plan.
I am beginning to think about next Tuesday, though. For certain I know that I won’t get a box of donuts and eat them all, I wont get a loaf of bread and make sandwiches out of every piece of bread and eat them. In fact, except for eating fruit again I dont think I will change anything. One thing that will be more interesting is desert. Here is a particularly tasty idea for the kind of thing I have in mind.
Lunch will be just like always, without ever drinking another pop.
My sodas will always be from home made syrups, or my own ginger ale, from my ownginger bug. I have an ISI soda bottle that I use to put bubbles into otherwise flat drinks, to add a little sparkle and really sometimes it seems to liven up the flavor as well. Try it in orange juice, for instance. If you want something with no sugar that tastes like root beer, then try this licorice drink with a shot of soda water from your soda siphon.
Other drinks will just not have any sugar in them. Tea is very good without sugar in it. Coffee is very good without sugar in it, and if you start with very good beans, the coffee is very very good.
Dinner will have the occasional potato, yam, breading, cracker. The party Saturday showed me that there is plenty to eat without making any one thing (except plants) a dominant thing. A little bit of meat, a little bit of starch, no sugar, lots of vegetables is a great plan for the future. If every meal was like a soup, stew, chowder, or stir fry then you would have the idea of what I have in mind.
As far as lifestyle changes go, this one is pretty easy to manage. I can stand to look longingly at the container of M&Ms in my living room, and I can have some as long as I don’t have sugar in every other bite of food that I take during the week.
April 16, 2014: Change one small thing at a time. When that change is part of your routine, change the next thing. This is the first advice that they give in the HBO documentary “Weight of the Nation”, it is the most important one to follow if you want the rest of their advice to stick.
Since I was old enough to remember, I have always heard my elders and instructors say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In practice it always seemed that dinner was a far more important meal. Dinner took longer to make. It took place at a table where the whole family was present. It took longer to eat. Dinner leftovers got saved. How could breakfast be more important than dinner? For the past few months I have had breakfast every morning, and I can tell you that now I understand (at 53) what they were trying to tell me. Now that I eat breakfast I don’t think about food again until lunch, which means that my body does not think about food until lunch. Your body thinks about food way before it rises to the level of your conscious mind thinking about it. Frying a egg and warming some breakfast meat up for five minutes in the morning while my French Press coffee steeps does not add any time at all to my morning routine, but it frees up my mind and body to think about and do other things for the rest of the day. It was a small change. It is part of my routine.
I used to make a french press of coffee each morning and each of the three cups out of it would get one teaspoon of sugar, and one teaspoon of Coffee-mate non-dairy creamer. If you are counting, that is more than one teaspoon of sugar. For the last two weeks I have stopped using Coffee-mate and I have stopped putting the teaspoon of sugar in. In way less than two weeks I am used to the taste of unsweetened coffee. It’s just as good. It is better in fact because it does not contribute to the plaque on your teeth, or the plaque anywhere else that it may grow due to sugars in your diet. This is a very small change, it is now incorporated. This also goes for iced tea, no more sugar.
For the record I don’t hate sugar, and I don’t think that I plan on avoiding it like poison. However, I think that in the future when I eat sugar it will be the point. When I eat an ice cream, a cake, have a Vietnamese iced coffee, the sugar will be the thing I notice. I will savor the flavor, and I will recognize that I am eating sugar. The problem with the way I ate sugar two weeks ago is that it was going unnoticed. Sugar was an invisible and unaccounted for ingredient in my day. Three teaspoons of sugar plus Coffee-Mate in each morning’s drinks of coffee, two teaspoons of sugar in each glass of iced tea in the evening, ten teaspoons of sugar in that Coke at lunch, teaspoons of sugar in pasta sauces, sugar in breads, sugar hidden in low fat milk, low fat yogurt, low fat anything. Then, you add on the sugar in that ice cream and it’s easy to see how it goes unnoticed.
In the second episode of “Weight of the Nation”, “Choices” there is a scene where people are learning to be mindful of their eating. They wait and think about what they are doing and appreciate all angles of the experience before they begin it. That is the next little thing I am going to incorporate into my life. It is alluded to a little bit above, where I talk about eating sugar only when sugar is the point. Balaclava, where the subtle tastes of honey and rose water make the sweet treat more pleasant than sugar. Ice Cream where the point of ice cream is the velvety wrapping of your tongue in the flavors of fat cream and smoky vanilla. The sugar is the point, and it is special, a treat. Not a treat piled onto all of the sugar that you have had in every bite of food you have eaten all day long.
April 17, 2014:There are a lot of holidays that seem to have special meals associated with them. Easter is the one we are going to have this weekend, and it is a sugar-friendly day. Easter candy and Easter dinner are both areas of concern for a person who is watching his sugar consumption. Even an atheist has to watch out for this weekend, because the end-caps and special displays at the local grocer are packed with spring-themed chocolates, Cadbury Peeps, imitation eggs, gaily colored cakes and cookies. The sale fliers are all hawking insulin-inducing treats of every description, all at special prices. Everywhere you turn there is a temptation, if you are prone to being tempted.
Social events this weekend will be loaded with delicious temptation. The Easter family meal will be loaded with temptation. All of our well-meaning friends and family will be bringing goodies to the pot luck dinner, lunch or breakfast. If you are well informed, the discriminating diner can easily avoid the taboo foods and single out the carb and sugar free alternatives. A glazed ham is not candy. A sugar-cured ham is not a desert. However, hidden in a lot of your entrees, sides and appetizers are hidden sugars, syrups and starches. If you keep it simple, then you will not be consuming any candida-promoting foods. Broiled chicken, baked ham, roasted meats are all going to be obviously safe for us. Gravy of any kind, while it may be just a sauce reduction, probably will have a starch in it that is making it thick. If it looks like syrup…it probably is. Sugar beets are where sugar comes from, candied yams are not falsely labeled. Sweet corn is diluted high-fructose corn sweetener.
The drink table has one sure bet on it, water. After water you will have more limited options. Fruit juices are not natures way of getting you the natural goodness of apples, oranges or grapes. They are a way of getting a lot of sweetener into you without that pesky full feeling that real fruit causes. Drink any Coke or Pepsi, even the diet ones, and you will suffer a setback because of it. Unsweetened ice tea is not a horrible option, it’s just not as good an option as water is. In my case, I will stick with water.
Our holiday this year will consist of ham. Breakfast, lunch and dinner will all be featuring smoked ham. Our vegetables will be sauteed or steamed. If there is any sauce for the veggies it will be a simple reduction or cheese sauce. The thickeners will all be time at temperature, instead of flour. There won’t be any snacks, deserts or decadence of any kind. Friday will be filet mignon on the grill. Saturday will be ham and something. Same for Sunday and every following day until the hams all gone.
April 18, 2014: Yesterday I ate meals just like those that I have eaten for the past 18 days. Two egg and meat breakfast with coffee and cream, leftover lunch that left me slightly hungry, normal portion of nightly dinner. I have pretty much felt hungry all the time that I have been on this diet, and I just didn’t know why.
I know why now.
Yesterday I decided that the online food journal that i would use would be MyFitnessPal. It has both a desktop and iPhone client, access to a large database of foods, a way to put your exercise routine in there (if I should ever develop one) and other features that I have not gotten into yet. Yesterday I put down my breakfast foods. 2 Eggs, Canadian Bacon, three KCups of coffee with a teaspoon each of heavy cream. 299 Calories. Lunch was sauerkraut, pork tenderloin and a spring mix salad. 155 Calories (sauerkraut is like calorie free food.) Dinner was meatloaf, cottage cheese and boiled cabbage. 302 Calories. I ate a banana snack when I got home. 38 Calories. That was 796 calories, out of a daily goal of 1330 calories which would put me at a target weight of 135 pounds in 5 weeks. I have for yesterday a 534 calorie deficit from my cut-down calorie goal of 1330. I am not eating enough, for the last 18 days, and if I had not gotten this program, that I the idea for from watching ‘Weight of the Nation’, I would not know it.
No wonder I always feel like I am starving. I am. I weigh 143 pounds now. I am going to have to figure out how to get more calories into my diet without starch or sugars. When I can add fruit back it it will be easier, but for now, I guess I just have to eat more of everything i am currently eating.
April 19, 2014: Half of a great steak and half of a large wedge salad at Anton’s Taproom was enough to finally dull the edge of the constant hunger I have been feeling. After work yesterday, I came home to a sliced apple, cheese and canadian bacon snack. I ate five out of eight pieces of this, then we went out for dinner and a movie.
Anton’s is at 16th and Main, and they cut and age their own meats, which they also sell in the butcher shop attached to the Taproom. The bar and beer selection looks good, but I don’t drink any more so I can’t speak to that. The steaks are all big enough that you can just get one order and two plates, for which there is no extra charge. We got the ribeye cooked medium and the large wedge salad which comes with blue cheese crumbles, the restaurants own cured bacon, and a tasty house ranch dressing. After all of that, I was finally out of starvation mode.
This morning instead of eggs we ate scones from a recipe in “The 21 Day Sugar Detox” instruction book, which you can easily purchase online. Our scones were modified a bit by adding some essential oils and other love touches by the sous chef in our home. It’s hard to count calories this way, but the important thing for me is to get enough of them.
April 21, 2014: Easter Dinner was a great chance to prove the feasibility of holiday meals without any added sugar or starch. This weekend, the last weekend of our sugar-free detox, was perfectly normal compared to the last two weekends without it. Except that we had a family dinner, where we entertained six extra adults and five children, 13 total, with a meal that held to our food restrictions, and nobody noticed. I believe that had we not warned guests to bring their own sugary foods if they couldn’t do without, they would not have seen anything unusual in the holiday meal that was prepared.
I smoked a whole ham, we made a cauliflower and bacon casserole, we had a sauteed kale salad, and a spinach spring mix salad, there was a vegetable and hummus snack tray. We had cottage cheese and water or unsweetened tea. There was a desert of baked apples with pecan and cream filling–no added sugar. I ate like a hog and still didn’t get to 1200 calories, total for the day.
I wish I had thought to take a picture of the table loaded with food, surrounded by smiling faces. I guarantee you that not a person in attendance thought they were eating dieting food, because the were not. If you call it a diet, it automatically takes on the persona of the work-to-live mentality of denial. We were not denying our guests anything, there was plenty of food left over, and nobody left the table wishing for more food. Even the kids ate and were completely satisfied with a meal without sugar.
Today is the final day for living without fruits or starches, but it is only another day in my life without added sugar. I just can’t imagine now putting sugar in my tea, in my coffee, in my meals for no good reason. It is just too easy to do without it. A great new thing for me is drinking tap water at room temperature with meals, and drinking tap water when I am thirsty during the day. Now I drink tea when I want that flavor, coffee when I wake up, and water at all other times. Makes dining out less expensive, for sure.
Tomorrow I am planning on eating brown rice. I don’t know what with, yet, but starches have a future in my diet. I plan on eating fruit tomorrow with my breakfast, because fruit has a place in my diet. From now on I will be journaling my meals, tracking my feelings, logging my exercise and activity.
My waist now measures 34.5 inches at the thickest point. I weigh 143 pounds. When I get out of starvation mode, because I have not been eating 1200 calories per day consistently, then I expect to lose even more girth and mass. I won’t be hungry after every meal, I won’t resort to sweets or empty calories like cookies, crackers, confections to do it. I am very happy with the decision to go this route, and after watching three of the four episodes of‘Weight of the Nation’, I feel reinforced to evangelize this way of beginning to regain control of one’s health and fitness.
April 22, 2014: Last meal of the 21 day sugar detox had zero sugar calories. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it was a 1200 calorie meal, all by itself. We went to Rancho Grande Cantina for dinner and I got 3 deep fried beef tacos, at 427 calories each (according to MyFitnessPal’s database). I enjoyed every calorie, and my body is thanking me this morning for breaking the drought. We ate a few chips and some of their guacamole before the tacos came out, too. We earned it!
I plan on continuing to use MyFitnessPal from now on. I find it very interesting to count the calories and nutrients that I am consuming, and it gives me another reason to love my phone and the internet. The data analyzing is fun to use, the charting is a great touch, because what is not to love about watching that weight and waist curve march down the chart?
Another great thing is finding out when your healthy living habits are spreading by your example. Last night we learned that someone close is now cutting sugars from all of their drinks. This is a huge first step, necessarily taken at the beginning of the sugar free journey. A person can cut out half of their sugar consumption by just not ever drinking another sweet drink. A Starbucks Latte has 25 teaspoons of sugar in it, a 20 oz Coke has 15, so eliminating these sources from your day makes your day a lot sweeter in every other way. The moral is MAKE YOUR OWN. Can you imagine spooning 25 teaspoons of sugar into any drink you made at home? WTF!
So, from here, we continue down the road that has been working so well for us. I am immediately adding fruit back into my diet. I never was a daily fruit eater, but now that I have three weeks of no sugar under my belt, I am really craving the natural sweetness of fresh, ripe fruit. I was able to eat bananas, and I did. I really like bananas, and I plan on eating plenty of them, because they are such a treat now that every drink I take isn’t candy-sweet.
We are going to add starch back into our diet, because I love potatoes and brown rice is not anything like white flour in it’s effect on the body. There are 195 calories in a cup of brown rice, compared to 455 calories in a cup of white flour.
I am going to make up a batch of my breakfast cereal that I love and miss, but I have learned that my egg and breakfast meat beginning to the day is just as fast and convenient and takes me to lunch without problems just like my cereal did. I already knew that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
So the total losses for the three weeks are three inches around the belly and seven pounds. Two pounds per week is about as good as can safely be taken off, and we know this because I starved myself from the time I got food poisoning until yesterday. My food journal app revealed that I was not consuming enough food to keep me out of starvation mode, which makes weight loss more difficult to achieve and sustain. A little bit of my own research leads me to think that starvation initially leads to energy coming from internal organs and some muscle, but that after three days, the liver is converting fat into ketone bodies that your brain and heart can use instead of glucose. At any rate, the starvation days are over, and from now on we will be floating slowly down to my target weight of 130 pounds.
The purpose of the sugar fast was never to lose weight or inches. The purpose was always in my mind to change the composition of my microbiome in my gut. By starving the sugar-eating bacteria it encourages the rest of the bacteria to restore their numbers to a more normal natural level. I am not so much interested in keeping fat from being produced by my body as I am in feeding the bacteria that compete with the natural, but not so beneficial yeasts that have been flourishing on what I have been flourishing on!
According to this article in the Washington Post:
…a growing body of evidence suggesting that naturally occurring bacteria and other microbes in the body, and possibly even viruses, can influence weight in ways that scientists are only just beginning to understand. Numerous studies are underway looking at the role of intestinal organisms in obesity, with a focus on how they extract energy from food and how this affects weight gain or loss.
And, if the idea doesn’t sound to reasonable to you, there is this experiment that was conducted:
Studies in mice have shown that intestinal microbes may contribute to weight gain. A novel experiment published this fall, for example, took gut bacteria from human twins — in which one was lean and the other obese — and transferred them into lean mice. The animals with bacteria from fat twins grew fat; those that received bacteria from lean twins stayed lean.
Of course, the Health Industrial Complex is working on a way to give you a pill that contains whatever the microbes create when they consume your food, or perhaps a pill that contains ‘colonies’ of the microbes that do this work. However, the microbes are in you since birth and breastfeeding, passed on to you by your mother and environment (remember putting all that stuff in your mouth when you were a baby?) What you have done to those microbes is feed the competition, and starve them. You don’t need a pill you need a healthy balance restored, which does not mean diet, it means NO SUGAR.
April 24, 2014: This lifestyle change is really starting to take hold now. I automatically get up and throw my little non stick frying pan on the stove to warm up, getting it ready to warm up a couple of eggs. I throw a piece of fruit into my lunch sack without having to think about it. Dinner is always planned with the thought of how well it will carry into the next day’s lunch sack.
I wake up hungry. That is a good thing. That is something I never used to do, and I don’t think it’s because I am not eating enough food, I think it has more to do with my body now planning it’s energy day, and letting me know that I shouldn’t forget breakfast. Even a small breakfast gets me all the way until noon before I get hungry again, unless I starved myself a little bit the day before. If that happened then I am hungry after breakfast and all the way to lunch, lunch wont fill satisfy that hunger and I am slightly hungry all the way to dinner. That is the experience that I had until I got my food journal program, and discovered that I wasn’t getting enough calories into me to take care of my basic needs. If you don’t get enough, then your body chemistry shifts over to other places to find the energy your heart and brain need, it causes discomfort in other ways besides just hunger. I could post a link here, but…
Now that we are not on our detox diet any more we can once again eat starches and sugars. So far I have had potatoes and some corn tortillas with several meals. I know that if you add those things into your meal, it is a whole lot easier to eat enough calories to not be in starvation mode. I read in an 1896 cookbook, which I will not link to here, that a person should eat 20% of their food by weight in starches. Calorie-wise, that would add a bunch of calories to the day. I don’t think that I have even once ate 20% of my food in the form of starches since the 21st. I think that the mix I am having is just about right, right now. I love the texture and flavor of the starches, potato, corn, hominy and the rest. No need to go crazy eating them up. Still mostly vegetables in my meals. According to the old cookbook, the active adult should eat four and a half ounces of meat per day. That’s right, the equivalent of the patty on a quarter-pounder. One a day. I saw once, on a show where a family lived for six months in a museum in England as though it were 1900 that instead of meats people mostly got their proteins through eating eggs. Makes sense then that you could just eat 4 ounces a day.
Yesterday we had dinner at Red Robin. The salad that I got was actually listed by name in MyFitnessPal. That was handy. I ate about half of this salad, and all of the chicken breast that was in it. According to my calorie source the entire salad only had 379 calories. I literally could not eat the whole thing, it was pretty big. If you were to try and eat mostly vegetables in your diet, there is just no physical way you could be overweight or get too much to eat in a day. I was packing it in and just ran out of room. I told the wife that I thought maybe my stomach had shrunk some, because I couldn’t get it all in there. Maybe I got 325 calories into me out of that 379. I could have easily added 50% more calories to this meal if I had eaten crackers with it. My daily calorie minimum is 1200 and if I had eaten crackers with my salad it would have consumed almost half of my daily food budget. Amazing to me.
UPDATE: My Calorie counting program led me astray. I actually ate a salad that was 950 calories, instead of 379. I only ate about 3/4 of it so I didn’t exceed my calorie budget for the day by much. The salad I picked in MyFitnessPal was the right salad, but it had been modified and a lot of the higher carb things in it were left out (obviously). Also, I still stand by the notion that eating crackers with it would have made it even more ‘energetic’ of a salad.
April 28, 2014: This was the first weekend this month that we were not on dietary restrictions. The sugar detox is in the rear-view mirror and with the speed limit signs covered how did we do? On Sunday afternoon we got some potato chips and had a snack tray with sliced cheeses, chips and potato chips. We ate french onion dip, we split a home made ginger ale. As far as blowouts go this one was nothing to worry about.
We continue to eat our meals sugar-free, and we have let the potato and sweet potato back on the menu. Corn nor rice have been back yet, but we have only had just a weeks worth of meals since we could, and lots of those days I found myself cooking for myself. On those days I went to the grocery store and bought myself a rotisserie chicken–the sugar free kind.
Now that I have been four weeks eating without sugar, I can safely say that it is gone from the normal diet and is now firmly on the ‘special’ section of the menu. If I eat sugar now, it will be in a desert, presented in the best possible way. Sugary foods now will be eaten mindfully and treated with the caution that they deserve. There are people that believe that sugar is toxic and deadly when abused, just like any other drug. I am slowly converting to that camp.
April 29, 2014: Eating healthy (my definition of healthy) is really easy to do, no matter what kind of special day it might be. The wife celebrated a birthday with me last night after work and the special event was dinner, prepared at home, fully in compliance with our ‘eat no added sugar’ mentality. Years ago on the cooking show “Good Eats”, Alton Brown introduced us to the wonderfully decadent dish Steak Au Poivre.
Steak Au Poivre literally means steak with pepper–lots of pepper. The cut of steak is the filet. Amazingly, all of the pepper that you encrust your filet mignon with does not make this a spicy dish. You salt the meat, dredge it in cracked black peppercorns, fry it in butter, deglaze the pan with cognac, then make a heavy cream reduction sauce. To finish you rewarm the steaks in the cream sauce. Right after tasting this dish for the first time, some French chef dreamed up the word ‘decadent’.
Since at our dinner table we can’t just eat meat, I also made a cooked puree’d salad, with a beef broth dressing. Actually it is listed in the soups section of the food website atWWW.cooking.com, but the recipe for leek, asparagus and herb soup was every bit of a salad that you could eat without teeth. It should probably have “Cream Of” in the name, because there is two cups of whole milk in my version, and this soup actually held its own against the desert-like main entree in our dinner.
You start the soup ahead of the steak if you want to eat your steak hot, it takes a while to make, but doesn’t take any kind of special skill or tools in the kitchen. It did come in handy that we have a vita-mix now to do the pureeing, but it could have been done in two batches in a regular strength blender. After dinner i bottled a full quart of leftover soup. I don’t know why I didn’t bring any of that to work today for lunch….hmmm.
There was just no sense in having a desert last night. The richness of those two dishes made for a very full belly, although it was the kind of dinner that you really wish didn’t fill you up at all. I can say that it put the birthday girl to sleep very soon after dinner, and that is high praise for food that does not include lots of sugar or starches. An after dinner coma usually comes from whatever that turkey-chemical is or the blood sugar crash, but without either of those things when it happens it is from pure satiation. Decadent!
April 30, 2014: If my actually caloric intake equaled what my calorie counting program says it is, then I should be dead by now. Yesterday I ate leftovers (pork chops, fried sweet potatoes and a portion of salad) for lunch. It was good, I was satisfied, couldn’t even eat every single bite, so some went to waste. 367 Calories. Had water with it, no calories there. Dinner was about two cups of spaghetti squash with three meatballs and some marinara sauce. Had a salad, with a nice creamy sauce. Threw in a little Asiago cheese. 379 calories. Didn’t eat breakfast just had coffee. Total for the day, 875 calories.
Am I just used to starving now? In weeks past I would be hungry every moment of the day after taking in so few calories. Maybe the people starving around the world are not suffering that much, once they get used to it. Or–maybe my calorie counting program isn’t that good at figuring out what I am eating, maybe I am inputting the numbers or portions wrong. The software complains any time I don’t get 1200 calories and if it is to be believed, I am a good 30% short of that number.
There is a feature where I can add my own recipes to the day’s food. I used it to calculate what my Steak Au Poivre was worth, for instance. If I go to a nutrition site and search for it I get a calorie count of 497, and when I put it in the software I get 415. That’s a pretty big difference. I suppose I shouldn’t worry because my body has been good at telling me that i need more, just like it was good at telling me I needed less.
Dinner yesterday was a half a spaghetti squash smothered in marinara sauce and three Italian meatballs. In times past I have had this and I hated the squash as a replacement for the pasta. I think I had been cooking the squash improperly, because this time, it was a very good replacement for the pasta. I could hardly tell the difference, the texture was right, and the flavor, well, neither quash or pasta really adds too much flavor to spaghetti dinner, you have to admit. Maybe it was the addition of asiago cheese to the dish, in place of the normal Parmesan cheese. Asiago cheese smells like it’s namesake ass, so there is a lot of flavor when you add it to your dinner.
Had a great desert, it was a pecan half smashed into a flavored butter, smashed into a half a date, and slightly frozen to firm up the butter. Tasted like a caramel. I will try and get the recipe for it, because it was something you will want to eat if you are giving up table sugar.
If I am getting used to less–less sugar, less food–then this life change has truly been life-changing. Not three weeks ago I was dragging around like I had a boat anchor on my shoulders, and now I don’t feel run down or hungry, but I have not started eating more or doing less. We are working ten hour days, Karen is working more than ever, but our output or emotions have not suffered, we don’t pine for the day when we can start putting sugar in our morning coffees. Time will tell but it is going to be easier and easier, which will let us change something else for the better.
One little thing at a time is the best method of making everything better.