Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Low Carb

We've been eating a low carb diet for three months since Luke read Why We Get Fat after I read about it in Gretchen Rubin's Better Than Before. We wanted to lose some weight (like everyone else) and reduce our sugar consumption. Luke has gone on calorie deprivation diets before that made him (aaaaand those around him) grouchy and irritable. I was particularly interested as I'm cruising toward diabetes if I don't take serious measures - my A1c is elevated, I came close to failing glucose tolerance tests during my pregnancies, and I have a strong family history. Yikes.

First to go were pasta and bread. Buttered noodles and sandwiches were lunch and dinner staples and they were out. I started stocking the fridge with meals of meat + veggies or eggs + veggies. That eggs reheat well was a happy discovery. Breakfast is usually a bulletproof coffee or chilled coffee + a glug glug of chocolate milk (unbelievably delicious but has too much sugar).

In order to keep up with two (or more) meals for two adults a day, I've found I have to do a little bit of cooking everyday. To paraphrase Glengarry Glen Ross, ALWAYS BE ROASTING.

Glengarry Glen Ross quotes

I'll oven bake bacon and then roast veggies because it's tasty and less clean-up.

these are too crowded -- they'll steam not roast

Bratwurst and green beans, pork tenderloin and green beans, sirloin with vegetable kebabs.

Some favorite meals:

Broiled pork tenderloin - only clean up is the cutting board (recipe here if you're a member)
Bacon and eggs and veggies
Sausage cut into coins for easing of eating al desko
Sausage, acorn squash, onions
Flank steak
Veggies that hold up well in the microwave: green beans and brussels sprouts
Chicken is best eaten that day -- neither of us like it that much, particularly as leftovers, so I've given up on make-ahead chicken to decrease waste (exception: chicken salad)
Salads of spring mix, salami, olives, goat cheese. Umami!


Luke has lost weight, I haven't. Boo. He is also much more conscientious about the diet which unfortunately isn't a diet with an expiration date but the way we plan on eating forever. The science backs it up. My meals are low carb but the treats remain... even so, I'm eating far fewer carbohydrates (50-100 grams per day - I track everything in MyFitnessPal) and less sugar.

Because of his strictness, Luke can perceive a difference in his mood and energy level when eschewing carbohydrates (stable) versus a high carb day (erratic). Even if some of it is a placebo effect, it's still powerful and motivating.

The girls eat fewer carbs too although they often manage to get two bananas a day apiece which is 28 grams of sugar! We feed them meat which they like, veggies (which C refuses), fresh fruit, hummus, cottage cheese. No more yogurt. Pasta is infrequent and usually reserved for those Friday nights when everyone is exhausted MACARONI TAKE THE WHEEL.

Meal prep has made me a much happier person. Dinner was always a stressful scramble - either trying to make something when I got home from work, reheating lasagna or enchiladas or some other 9x13 meal, or getting takeout. Now everything is already in the fridge. Oh - that's something else. If your family balks at leftovers this won't work. Neither of us mind reheated food so it works swimmingly for us.

The food is rich and satisfying. Who doesn't want to eat bratwurst? Incorporation of more chicken and fish is the next hurdle.

What's missing from the diet is CRUNCH. (Funnily enough, Quealy Watson just mentioned the extreme palatability of crunch in the ATK podcast I listened to recently). Luke and Josie love pork rinds (zero carb).

It's expensive. Responsibly sourced meat and eggs are expensive but worth it.

It's a little bit of work everyday to stay ahead.

Sauces are important - guacamole and sour cream are favorites. Store-bought sauces, especially barbecue sauce, are sugar bombs. I've been a diligent label-reader for years yet the insane amount of sugar in innocuous products has taken me by surprise. (My nutritionist set a maximum sugar goal of 38 grams per day; the WHO recommends no more than 25 grams. Guess how much sugar is in one Cadbury egg - 20 grams! One banana - 14 grams!)

Grocery shopping has become much, much easier. 1) I have some go-to items: pork tenderloin, chicken breasts + jar of salsa verde for the slow cooker, veggies, HEB ready-made jalapeƱo poppers and guacamole, lots of eggs. 2) I'm no longer zooming around looking for a can of this, a bottle of that. I shop the perimeter of the store.

Bulletproof coffee for breakfast is a breakthrough. Gretchen Rubin's book discusses how we have a finite amount of self control each day and the more decisions we can automate, the more we well up those reserves. Deciding to have the same thing for breakfast everyday is another decision I don't have to make. Forgoing the cinnamon roll* is easy because "I have bulletproof coffee for breakfast." It keeps me full and energized for three to three and a half hours until I'm suddenly STARVING. Then I'll have a mini meal of bacon and eggs and perhaps another mini meal at 2 or 3 (salad or meat/veg). When I arrive home I'm not ravenous. [This is an ideal day - most days are degrees of imperfect and sometimes it's birthday cake for lunch. Whoops.)

*I love to bake and still do but give everything away or freeze it. Like I said, the treats remain.

Carb-rich foods are better and luxurious now, perhaps because we hold out for delicious pizza or really great tacos or housemade pasta at a restaurant.


This is our new low carb lifestyle! I have a long way to go in terms of cravings, better adherence, preparation of chicken and fish and leafy greens, and modeling healthy eating for the kids but I am encouraged by the strides we've made so far.


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