PF Chang’s Menu Sorted by Net Carb Count for May 2018

Let’s be honest – you don’t go to PF Chang’s for their low carb items – you go there because there’s a friend having an event you can’t miss, or some other social necessity. It’s nobody’s fault except yours that you are on some weird diet where you count ‘net carbs’ – whatever that is. Your goal is to go and participate in as normal a fashion as possible while maintaining your diet.

Below is the current PF Chang menu from their website as of May 2018. They have almost 180 different items you can order – and they really go overboard in giving you all the detail on every menu item – check out the page yourself and be prepared for the wall of noise as they overshare information on every item.

I like PF Chang’s – and I like that they provide so much info – but here’s the situation: I’m on a low carb diet and I have to meet a friend there tonight! What do I pick?

No fear. Let’s keep this simple to avoid panic attacks – OK?

Go past the kid’s sides and you’ll see the  Wok’d Spinach with Garlic, the Egg Drop Soup Cup, and the Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed from the kid’s menu. Smile sweetly and tell the server you’re a kid at heart. You can do this.

If you can handle a few more carbs there are more options that aren’t bad a little further down.

As has been the same for a dozen years, I do not recommend scrolling all the way down to the bottom where ‘The Great Wall of Chocolate’ resides at 245 grams of net carbs. That’s more than 12 DAYS of carbs for those of us going for 20 grams or less. I’ve had it – and it’s great – but I wasn’t on a low carb diet at the time.

Category Menu Item Net Carbs (g)
SALADS addon – Salmon* 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Broccoli 0
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Snap Peas 1
KIDS SIDES Kids Steamed Carrots 2
SALADS addon – Shrimp 4
SALADS addon – Chicken 4
MARKET SIDES Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Egg Drop Soup Cup 6
KIDS SIDES Kids Fruit Cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup cup 6
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Wok’d Spinach with Garlic 6
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed 7
KIDS MENU GF Steamed Baby Buddha’s Feast 7
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hot & Sour Soup Cup 9
STREET FARE Edamame 13
SOUPS Wonton Soup Cup 13
SALADS Asian Caesar Salad 17
MARKET SIDES Wok-Charred Brussels Sprouts 17
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
GLUTEN-FREE SEAFOOD ENTRÉES GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce 17
KIDS MENU Baby Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried 18
KIDS DRINKS Kids Milk 2% 18
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (4) 20
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (4) 20
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 22
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Steamed 23
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Vegetable Spring Roll 23
STREET FARE Shishito Peppers** 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Pan Fried (4) 24
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (4) 24
MARKET SIDES Sichuan Style Asparagus 24
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Shishito Steak** 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Pork 24
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS House-Made Egg Roll – Chicken 24
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Singapore Black Pepper Chicken 24
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Pepper Steak 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Kung Pao Shrimp 25
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Oolong Chilean Sea Bass* 25
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Vanilla Ice Cream 25
DESSERTS Good Fortune Cheesecake – Mini Dessert 26
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (2) 27
DESSERTS Miso Butterscotch Pudding – Mini Dessert 27
MARKET SIDES Sauce Trio 28
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Miso Glazed Salmon* 28
MARKET SIDES Chili Garlic Green Beans 29
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 30
DIM SUM Handmade Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (6) 30
ADD ONS – LUNCH BOWLS Mandarin Crunch Side Salad 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Strawberry Lemonade 30
DESSERTS Triple Chocolate Happiness – Mini Dessert 30
KIDS DRINKS Kids Lemonade 31
STREET FARE Dynamite Shrimp 32
KIDS DESSERTS Kids Coconut Pineapple Ice Cream 32
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Salt & Pepper Prawns 33
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (2) 34
KIDS MENU Kids Sweet & Sour Chicken 34
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 34
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Mongolian Beef 34
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 35
DESSERTS Strawberry & Coconut Cream Cake – Mini Dessert 35
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Beef with Broccoli 36
GLUTEN-FREE BEEF ENTRÉES GF Beef with Broccoli 36
MARKET SIDES Brown Rice – individual serving 37
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (4) 38
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Mongolian Beef 38
KIDS DRINKS Kids Orange Juice 38
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumplings Pan Fried (6) 39
DIM SUM Handmade Pork Dumpling Steamed (6) 39
SUSHI Lobster Avocado Roll* 39
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Kung Pao Chicken 39
KIDS MENU Kids Honey Chicken 39
STREET FARE Northern Style Spare Ribs 40
GLUTEN-FREE STREET FARE GF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 40
SUSHI Spicy Tuna Roll* 41
SOUPS Egg Drop Soup Bowl 41
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef with Broccoli 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Ma Po Tofu 41
KIDS DRINKS Kids Apple Juice 41
GLUTEN-FREE SOUP GF Egg Drop Soup bowl 41
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Buddha’s Feast Stir-Fried 44
STREET FARE Chang’s Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps 46
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(2) 48
SUSHI California Roll* 48
MARKET SIDES White Rice – individual serving 48
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Stir-Fried Eggplant 48
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (2) 50
SOUPS Wonton Soup Bowl 50
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Beef A La Sichuan 50
DIM SUM Mongolian Potstickers** 52
SUSHI Ahi Poke Bowl* 52
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Surf & Turf* 53
SUSHI Kung Pao Dragon Roll* 55
STREET FARE Tempura Calamari & Vegetables 56
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Lo Mein 56
DESSERTS Chocolate Dome 56
GLUTEN-FREE DESSERTS GF Chocolate Dome 56
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Walnut Shrimp with Melon 57
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Orange Peel Shrimp 57
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Pork 58
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Shrimp 58
STREET FARE Cauliflower Tempura 59
STREET FARE Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 60
SOUPS Hot & Sour Soup Bowl 60
STREET FARE Crispy Green Beans 61
VEGETARIAN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry 61
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Thai Harvest Curry with Chicken 62
SALADS Mandarin Crunch Salad 63
DIM SUM Hand-Folded Crab Wontons (6) 65
SUSHI Shrimp Tempura Roll* 65
DIM SUM Vegetable Spring Rolls (4) 66
BEEF & PORK ENTRÉES Wok-Fired Filet Mignon* 66
STREET FARE Changs BBQ Spare Ribs 67
SOUPS Chang’s Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup 69
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sesame Chicken 70
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls Small 70
KIDS MENU Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
KIDS MENU GF Kids Chicken Fried Rice 73
STREET FARE Eggplant Katsu** 74
MARKET SIDES Fried Rice (Side) 74
GLUTEN-FREE MARKET SIDES GF Fried Rice 75
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
DESSERTS New York-Style Cheesecake 76
GLUTEN-FREE CHICKEN ENTRÉES GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken 76
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Orange Peel Chicken 77
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Shrimp 78
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Chicken(4) 83
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Sweet & Sour Chicken 83
DESSERTS Vietnamese Chocolate Lava Cake 83
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Chiang Mai Noodle Bowl 85
DIM SUM House-Made Egg Rolls Pork (4) 86
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Crispy Honey Chicken 86
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Mongolian Beef Bowl 87
CHICKEN ENTRÉES Korean Fried Chicken** 89
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Mongolian Beef Bowl 92
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Tempura Bowl 94
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Steak 99
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Steak 100
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Korean Bibimbap with Chicken 101
SEAFOOD ENTRÉES Chang’s Lobster & Shrimp Rice* 102
LUNCH NOODLE BOWLS Tokyo Udon Noodle Bowl with Chicken 103
MARKET SIDES Long Life Noodles (Side) 110
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Beef 120
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Chicken 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Shrimp 122
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Vegetables 124
NOODLES & RICE Long Life Noodles & Prawns 124
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Combo 125
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
GLUTEN-FREE LUNCH – INCLUDES WHITE RICE GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken Bowl 125
NOODLES & RICE Lo Mein Pork 126
LUNCH RICE BOWLS – includes white rice Chang’s Honey Chicken Bowl 134
DESSERTS Banana Spring Rolls 147
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Beef 150
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Beef 151
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Shrimp 152
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Chicken 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Shrimp 153
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Chicken 153
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice Combo 154
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Vegetables 154
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice Combo 155
NOODLES & RICE Fried Rice with Pork 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Vegetables 156
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Fried Rice with Pork 157
SALADS Vietnamese Noodle Salad 160
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Combo 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Chicken 169
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Pad Thai Shrimp 169
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Combo 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Chicken 174
NOODLES & RICE Pad Thai Shrimp 174
NOODLES & RICE Hokkien Street Noodles 219
GLUTEN-FREE NOODLES & RICE GF Hokkien Street Noodles 219
DESSERTS The Great Wall of Chocolate 245

 

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Keto Dining at McDonald’s

Is it right to call the consumption of food at McDonald’s ‘dining’? Is it right to even MENTION the ‘M-Word’ in case some of you are triggered? Might this post be seen as encouraging eating there?

The answers are: no, yes, maybe – but not intentionally.

Let’s face it: if you are traveling, or for some other reason are unable to get your hands on some real food, and your only option is a local McDonald’s – because, let’s face it, there always *is* a local McDonald’s – then knowing there are keto options might just save your bacon (get it?).

Remember though hacking McDonald’s will be hard because the staff – God bless their souls – are not usually accustomed to truly oddball orders. Yes – it is oddball, and yes – you are an oddball for being on a keto diet. Get over it.

So at this point you might be asking yourself: ‘well, how am I supposed to know what to order?’.

Glad you asked.

McDonald’s – in their quest to market ‘America’s Favorite Crap Food(R)’ to everyone regardless of their preferences, has put together a nifty nutrition information gizmo on their website.

You can check it out here: https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/about-our-food/nutrition-calculator.html.

So for instance, let’s take the Big Mac. 540 calories, 28 grams of fat, 46 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein. 46 grams of carbs?!? Ugh. No way.

However, using the tool to remove the 3 buns that make up a Big Mac and it’s an entirely different meal: 330 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of protein.

That can work. Now the problem is: how do they serve this? with a little thinking, they could place the cheese between the patties, but structurally, it might just fall apart. Best to ask for the ingredients in a salad bowl and ask for utensils.

For the Sausage McMuffin with Cheese – my fave – the numbers are even better when you skip the muffin. 340 calories, 29 grams of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and 16 grams of protein. If you can get them to put the cheese between the egg and the sausage patty, you can probably eat it out of the wrapper without too much fuss.

The Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles® also fare well without the bun. 180 calories, 12 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 14 grams of protein. This might be another one to eat in a bowl, however.

If you want to avoid the complication of asking for modifications – and I understand that patiently explaining to the counter staff that to properly assemby your Egg McMuffin without the muffin you want your slice of cheese *between* the egg and the sausage, then put on the wrapper while people are behind you impatiently watch this scene unfold, the Bacon Ranch Grilled Chicken Salad does not seem all that bad. 320 calories, 19 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbs, and 42 grams of protein. A bit high on the protein and also on the carbs, but some of us could manage it.

Oddly enough, the chicken and salads seem more of a problem than the burgers. Just too much protein from the chicken.

Again, I’m not saying you should be eating this stuff as part of a diet to promote overall health, but if you’re stuck in a food desert and McDonald’s is the only choice, it is not impossible to maintain your keto diet without starving to death.

I’m not even going to venture into the drinks. I am of the belief that it’s a toss-up as to whether you’ll actually get diet soda when you order one or if they’ll mix it up with the sugared variety. Black coffee with a little half-and-half or a bottle of water is all I’d be comfortable with – but play around with the nutrition gizmo and maybe you’ll find a hidden gem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PF Chang’s Menu Sorted by Net Carb Count for 2016

IMPORTANT – PF Chang’s has updated their menu -and I’ve updated my post. Check out the updated menu at https://lowcarbconfidential.com/2018/05/20/pf-changs-menu-sorted-by-net-carb-count-for-may-2018/

In 2007 I put up a post – Low Carb Dining at PF Chang’s – that is now way out of date as they have reformulated their menu since then. As we have one nearby, we frequent it often. We love their stuff.

I haven’t been watching my carb count much in maybe the 6 months prior to Christmas. I need a little refresher on what is an acceptable meal for me at the place – and what isn’t (psst! – avoid the gluten free fried rice combo!).

I hope PF Chang’s doesn’t mind me lifting their nutrition info web page and reformatting it fo us low carb folks- I wouldn’t think so because I’m making it easier for low carb dieters to enjoy a meal with friends at their restaurant.

Yeah – all this info is on their site but I included net carbs and sorted it to make finding the low carb items on their 100+ item menu easier. As I mess with data In Real Life every day, this stuff is probably more easy for me than for a lot of folks, so I thought I’d share.

 

Menu Item Calories Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Sodium (mg) Carbs (g) Dietary Fiber (g) Net Carbs (g) Protein (g)
Crispy Green Bean Sauce 2 oz 310 33 4.5 590 3 0 3 0
Spinach with Garlic — Small 120 8 1 400 8 4 4 6
GF Spinach with Garlic — Small 120 8 1 400 8 4 4 6
Shanghai Cucumbers — Small 70 3 0 1270 7 3 4 4
GF Shanghai Cucumbers — Small 70 3 0 1460 7 3 4 6
Spinach with Garlic — Large 160 9 1.5 790 15 9 6 12
GF Spinach with Garlic — Large 160 9 1.5 790 15 9 6 12
GF Shanghai Cucumbers — Large 140 6 1 2920 13 7 6 12
Chicken Satay 250 10 4 240 7 1 6 30
Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed 60 0 0 50 12 5 7 4
GF Baby Buddha’s Feast Steamed 60 0 0 50 12 5 7 4
Rice Wine Shrimp 430 11 1.5 1420 9 2 7 66
Jicama Lobster Tacos 400 35 11 750 9 2 7 12
Mixed Green Salad with Lime Vinaigrette 90 6 1 55 9 2 7 1
Wonton Soup — cup 60 1 0 730 8 1 7 4
Shanghai Cucumbers — Large 130 6 1 2540 14 6 8 9
Egg Drop Soup — cup 50 2 0 600 8 0 8 1
GF Egg Drop Soup — cup 60 2.5 0 590 8 0 8 1
Sichuan-Style Asparagus — Small 90 4 0.5 1200 11 2 9 3
Asian Grilled Salmon* 610 35 5 1460 17 7 10 56
Hot & Sour Soup — cup 80 2.5 0.5 1750 11 1 10 5
Oolong Chilean Sea Bass* 560 38 9 2240 10 0 10 43
House-Made Egg Roll Sauce 2 oz 70 1.5 0 95 13 1 12 1
Salt & Pepper Prawns Sauce 2oz 70 1.5 0 680 13 1 12 2
Edamame 400 17 2.5 1960 25 12 13 37
Shishito Peppers 150 8 1.5 1760 18 5 13 2
Jicama Kung Pao Chicken Tacos 370 24 3.5 760 17 4 13 21
GF Buddha’s Feast (Steamed) 110 0.5 0 80 22 8 14 8
Kalbi Steak 590 36 9 830 19 5 14 49
Spicy Green Beans — Small 150 8 1 1300 19 5 14 4
Hong Kong Style Sea Bass* 520 38 8 1820 18 4 14 27
Ahi Tartare with Avocado* 320 14 2 530 17 3 14 29
Shrimp with Lobster Sauce* 360 18 3.5 2700 19 3 16 29
Ahi Tartare with Avocado * 450 26 3.5 630 26 9 17 28
Baby Buddha’s Feast Stir Fried 180 8 1 1610 22 5 17 6
Orange Ginger Edamame 440 19 3 4260 31 13 18 37
Dynamite Shrimp 370 30 4 710 19 1 18 5
GF Shrimp with Lobster Sauce* 480 26 5 3010 23 4 19 40
Banana Leaf Rockfish 460 20 9 1560 24 4 20 43
Shrimp Dumplings Pan Fried (4) with sauce 190 6 1 1250 22 2 20 12
Sake Salmon* 780 53 8 1510 27 6 21 47
Jicama Pork Tacos 320 19 4 980 24 3 21 16
Buddha’s Feast — Steamed 260 4 0 300 32 10 22 26
Pork Dumplings Pan Fried (4) with sauce 270 12 3.5 720 25 3 22 15
Sichuan-Style Asparagus — Large 220 8 1.5 2400 30 7 23 9
Pepper Steak 660 37 8 3210 26 3 23 57
GF Pepper Steak 660 38 8 3270 27 3 24 52
Shrimp Dumplings Steamed (4) with sauce 180 3 0 600 24 0 24 12
Seared Ahi Salad* 700 55 8 1490 30 5 25 24
Vegetable Spring Rolls Sauce 2 oz 100 0 0 670 26 1 25 0
Pork Dumplings Steamed (4) with sauce 250 10 1.5 620 25 0 25 11
Kaleidoscope Roll * 280 10 1.5 730 31 5 26 14
Spicy Green Beans — Large 240 8 1.5 2600 38 10 28 9
Crab Wontons (4) with sauce 470 37 8 630 28 0 28 5
Chang’s Kung Pao Shrimp 780 51 8 2790 45 16 29 37
Beef with Broccoli 670 35 8 3260 33 4 29 56
Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 460 10 2 2320 38 8 30 53
Salt & Pepper Prawns 590 30 3.5 2630 34 4 30 48
Mongolian Beef 720 39 9 2700 31 1 30 61
Handmade Dumplings Shrimp — Pan-Fried with sauce 300 11 2 2000 34 3 31 17
GF Ginger Chicken with Broccoli 510 14 2.5 2510 40 8 32 60
Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps 610 36 4.5 2300 39 7 32 25
Wonton Soup — bowl 250 3.5 2 3360 37 5 32 19
GF Mongolian Beef 780 44 10 2900 33 1 32 62
Kid’s Sweet & Sour Chicken 300 11 1.5 400 32 0 32 17
GF Beef with Broccoli 690 36 8 3430 40 7 33 55
GF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 530 26 6 3030 39 6 33 34
Korean Steak Bulgogi* 800 30 9 1780 38 5 33 91
Chang’s Kung Pao Combo 830 49 7 2750 46 12 34 50
Handmade Dumplings Pork — Pan-Fried with sauce 420 20 5 1200 39 5 34 23
House-Made Egg Rolls (2) 280 10 2 1210 37 3 34 9
Vegetable Spring Rolls (2) 210 5 1 860 37 2 35 3
Coconut Curry Vegetables 1050 77 24 1220 47 11 36 43
GF Coconut Curry Vegetables 1050 77 24 1220 47 11 36 43
Chang’s Kung Pao Scallops 830 48 7 2600 44 8 36 56
Shaking Beef 800 49 18 2940 42 5 37 47
GF Shaking Beef 800 49 18 2930 42 5 37 47
Handmade Dumplings Shrimp — Steamed with sauce 290 6 0.5 1030 37 0 37 18
Lobster Avocado Roll * 410 19 2.5 740 46 8 38 14
Ma Po Tofu 1030 70 13 3780 44 6 38 60
Hunan-Style Hot Fish* 650 32 4.5 2910 42 4 38 50
Handmade Dumplings Pork — Steamed with sauce 390 17 2.5 1050 39 1 38 17
Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps 530 24 6 2090 47 8 39 32
Almond & Cashew Chicken 640 25 4 3780 46 7 39 61
Northern-Style Spare Ribs 1120 63 18 3070 41 2 39 97
Egg Drop Soup — bowl 260 9 1.5 2900 39 0 39 5
GF Egg Drop Soup — bowl 290 12 2.5 2880 39 0 39 6
Stir-Fried Eggplant 1010 88 13 3790 50 9 41 7
Saigon Summer Rolls 370 15 2.5 790 45 4 41 12
Spicy Tuna Roll * 280 3 0 930 45 4 41 17
Buddha’s Feast — Stir-Fried 420 12 1 3440 52 10 42 29
Kid’s Chicken Lo Mein 340 11 1.5 1590 45 2 43 16
Hand-Folded Crab Wontons 700 55 12 930 44 1 43 8
Hot & Sour Soup — bowl 380 11 3 7980 48 4 44 22
Sichuan Chili-Garlic Chicken 1290 88 15 2180 51 6 45 66
Citrus Chicken Teriyaki 710 25 6 2320 50 5 45 67
Handmade Dumplings Vegetable — Pan-Fried with sauce 320 8 1.5 1050 50 5 45 11
Rainbow Quinoa — Small 300 5 0.5 700 52 6 46 11
Cantonese-Style Lemon Chicken 750 37 7 1140 47 1 46 53
GF Cantonese-Style Lemon Chicken 750 37 7 1140 47 1 46 53
Steamed Korean BBQ Chicken 580 24 4 1400 53 6 47 50
Dynamite Scallop Roll * 400 12 1.5 1190 52 5 47 20
Vegetable Spring Rolls (4) 330 11 1.5 1090 50 3 47 6
Chang’s Kung Pao Chicken 1070 64 10 2410 56 8 48 70
California Roll 340 9 1 1140 54 5 49 13
Lemongrass Prawn & Papaya Salad* 640 26 3.5 2980 60 10 50 35
Beef à la Sichuan 680 32 7 2820 54 4 50 47
GF Beef à la Sichuan 720 34 7 2980 56 4 52 48
Handmade Dumplings Vegetable — Steamed with sauce 310 6 0.5 990 54 1 53 9
Chang’s Chinese Chicken Salad 620 27 4 2270 66 11 55 30
Crispy Green Beans (no sauce) 760 55 8 520 63 7 56 7
Kid’s Honey Chicken 410 11 1.5 650 56 0 56 17
Pepper Crusted Steak Frites* 1860 128 52 2880 77 17 60 100
Walnut Shrimp with Melon* 1380 104 16 1830 74 14 60 39
Thai Steak & Noodle Salad 790 43 10 1990 70 10 60 38
GF Flourless Chocolate Dome 570 33 23 280 66 5 61 6
Brown Rice 6 oz 310 2 0 5 66 4 62 6
Orange Peel Shrimp 660 28 4.5 1950 79 16 63 27
Chang’s BBQ Spare Ribs 1230 64 18 3750 67 3 64 98
Korean BBQ Chicken Stir-Fry 870 44 7 1400 70 5 65 60
Salt & Pepper Calamari 710 37 4 1860 68 2 66 26
White Rice 6 oz 300 1 0 5 68 1 67 7
Kale & Quinoa Yogurt Dip served with Sesame Salt Wonton Chips 650 27 4 1570 77 9 68 19
House-Made Egg Rolls (4) 560 20 4 2420 75 7 68 18
Handmade Butternut Squash Dumplings 1110 86 53 2980 72 4 68 12
Chang’s Chicken Noodle Soup — bowl 620 22 3.5 2720 74 4 70 33
Rainbow Quinoa — Large 470 8 1 1190 82 9 73 17
Chang’s Spicy Chicken 820 34 6 1810 73 0 73 59
GF Chang’s Fried Rice (6 oz without Protein) 460 11 2.5 820 76 2 74 16
Sesame Chicken 890 35 6 2250 82 6 76 66
Orange Peel Chicken 980 42 7 1560 87 8 79 67
Crispy Caramel Chicken Wings 1530 115 23 1930 82 3 79 41
Sweet & Sour Chicken 770 32 4.5 760 85 2 83 40
Vegetable Lo Mein 490 6 0.5 2870 94 6 88 19
Vegetable Lo Mein 490 6 0.5 2870 94 6 88 19
Lo Mein Vegetable 490 6 0.5 2870 94 6 88 19
Lo Mein Shrimp 610 13 2 3150 96 6 90 29
Lo Mein Chicken 710 18 2.5 3040 98 7 91 42
Lo Mein Beef 720 22 4 3180 97 6 91 40
Sweet & Sour Pork 710 25 6 1460 94 3 91 30
Chang’s Lobster Rice 1010 48 14 2120 98 5 93 43
Orange Peel Beef 1130 60 12 1960 108 14 94 44
Lo Mein Pork 760 25 5 3130 100 6 94 37
Lo Mein Combo 880 31 6 3400 101 6 95 55
Kid’s Chicken Fried Rice 610 15 3 1020 98 2 96 25
GF Singapore Street Noodles 710 13 2 1720 105 8 97 21
GF Chang’s Spicy Chicken 710 13 2 1720 105 8 97 21
GF Kid’s Chicken Fried Rice 580 10 2 1120 99 2 97 26
Apple Chai Cobbler 620 22 16 320 101 2 99 7
Crispy Honey Shrimp 760 28 4 1320 108 2 106 13
Crispy Honey Chicken 1140 49 7 1270 114 1 113 57
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Shrimp* 940 27 4.5 3090 130 15 115 47
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Beef* 1050 36 7 3120 129 14 115 56
Singapore Street Noodles 920 21 3.5 2750 127 11 116 29
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Chicken* 1040 32 5 2980 132 15 117 60
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Combo 1230 45 9 3200 134 15 119 73
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Pork* 1080 38 8 3060 133 14 119 55
Chang’s Quinoa Fried Rice Vegetables 990 31 5 2820 144 19 125 38
Garlic Noodles 720 11 1 2990 136 5 131 23
Pad Thai Chicken* 1160 30 5 3720 153 11 142 45
Pad Thai Shrimp* 1070 26 4.5 3840 152 10 142 33
Pad Thai Combo* 1110 28 5 3780 153 10 143 39
Chang’s Fried Rice Combo* 1210 36 8 2440 157 4 153 62
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Vegetable* 980 21 4 2070 168 9 159 28
Chang’s Fried Rice Vegetable 980 22 4 2150 169 9 160 26
Chang’s Fried Rice Shrimp* 1140 21 3.5 2160 204 6 198 44
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Beef* 1220 26 5 2380 204 6 198 51
Chang’s Fried Rice Beef* 1240 28 6 2180 203 5 198 53
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Chicken* 1210 22 4 2240 206 7 199 54
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Shrimp* 1120 18 3 2350 205 6 199 41
Chang’s Fried Rice Chicken* 1240 25 4.5 2050 206 6 200 57
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Pork* 1260 29 6 2330 208 6 202 49
Chang’s Fried Rice Pork* 1370 41 8 2130 207 5 202 51
GF Chang’s Fried Rice Combo* 1360 33 7 2580 209 6 203 62

A Tip For Getting Through the Upcoming Holidays Low Carb

Holidays are always rough. Jeez – even getting my diet *started* has been rough! I’ve concluded that portion-control of high-carb stuff might work for some people – but it doesn’t work for me. If *I’m* going to make it through the holidays, it’s going to be by saying ‘no’ to a lot of foods. Telling people you are ‘on a diet’ usually gets an eye roll from them, but I had a houseguest that thought it would be a generous gesture to buy a lot of beer and for us to get drunk together. I got out of that one by saying: “I’d love to, but I’m on a medication where I can’t drink.” People don’t pry much after that, and they can’t really be insulted.

That might work for alcohol, but what about food? I myself am thinking of conjuring up a lie for well-meaning friends – something about: “I am on a special diet that, if I don’t follow, My doctor told me I’m going to have to end up being put on a lot of medications.”

This is technically true. Given my family history of diabetes and the fact that both my siblings developed full-blown diabetes a decade prior to my current age – and the fact my doctor said: “You KNOW you’re going to develop diabetes.”, it’s not exactly a lie. It also seems like the type of thing where most people won’t pry further – and you’re not discussing discussing diseases at a holiday table.

Mentioning a ‘doctor’ also helps. They hold magical powers – similar to priests in the middle ages.

There is also the wonderful thing about low carb in that most meals. with a bit of substitution, can lend themselves to low carb. Thanksgiving dinner can be turkey, gravy, and whatever low carb vegetable they make. Eating beforehand can also help. You seem like a character out of a vampire novel, seeming to eat, but not really. If food pushers – the nicest, but least helpful people to a dieter question it, pull out the ‘I have to watch what I eat of I’ll be on a lot of scary meds’ line which should shut them down.

Maybe there’s something in that you can adapt for yourself.

My Next Approach to Low Carb

Perhaps taking a vacation from blogging – and low carb – after a decade of thinking about the diet *every damn day* was a good thing.

As mentioned previously, I gained weight toward the end of last year and no matter how much effort I put into low carb – even going so far as to go on an extreme low carb diet  used by some cancer patients along with calorie-restriction, my weight didn’t want to move much outside of a 220-225 range.

I then just gave permission to myself to forget about low carb and blogging for a while. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. Now doing a low carb diet for a decade certainly changes your habits quite a bit so the ‘eating what I wanted’ still had a lot of aspects of a low carb diet. While I stopped monitoring and measuring things, I did form a routine of sorts that, while it did not lead to weight loss, did not lead to weight gain, either.

This routine left me way more relaxed about eating and removed a lot of the obsessiveness about food. After all these years, removing this yoke was a revelation.

I realized that for a decade, there was an extra family member besides myself, my wife, and my two daughters: my diet.

Like every other family member, this apparition had wants and needs and was part of many conversations. Every family member needed to make room in their lives for this apparition and put up with its peculiarities.

And now I saw clearly what a burden this family member had become.

It’s presence in a household of foodies that all enjoy good food and enjoy the ritual of enjoying good food together led to a distancing between us. Everybody seemed to eat on their own schedules and there was no such thing as a ‘family meal’ at home except on the rarest of occasions or when entertaining.

This summer I consciously began to form a new ritual of a family meal. Sometimes it was my wife who would cook. Sometimes it was me. Sometimes it was my older daughter. Sometimes everybody pitched in. Whatever the result, and no matter the carb count, we all sat down, held hands, said a prayer of gratitude to whatever-the-hell allowed us to have the great fortune to be together at the moment, with a roof over our heads, sitting around a table sharing a meal of good food together. The incessant TV in the background, mumbling and laughing and crying and screaming at random times, got turned off. The iPhones, and iPods got put away, and we all leisurely spent some quiet time eating and talking and enjoying the moment, the food, and the company of each other.

It was unexpected to see that such a simple thing as a common meal held so much power. I suppose it is a ritual etched in our DNA: the communal meal, another day without starvation, another victory against the misfortunes of life that permitted at least one more celebration of life and of food together as a family. So many of us lack one or the other – or both. The kids are getting bigger and this brief window of time where we will all be able to sit and talk and eat will quickly pass.

Low carb, the extra family member, helped prevent this from occurring. It wasn’t the sole reason, but it was a part of it.

This summer we also put a major dent in the family finances and went to France. While my bank account will need to endure a long convalescence to recover, it was a transforming experience for me.

It was a life-long dream of my wife to travel there. I am a reluctant traveler: I like having traveled but do not like traveling. for years I made excuses and we would go places less expensive and easier to get to – and my wife accepted these consolation prizes in place of the Grand Prize she had always held on to.

When she announced that she had found insanely-cheap plane tickets due to a combination of luck, mileage points from some business travel, a credit from the airline that was expiring in October, and other savvy-traveller tricks she pulled out of her bag, I decided that now was the time for her to have her dream – and I would do my best to suppress my bundle of anxieties about traveling and let her have her experience – and allow myself to fully enjoy it as well, because if I brought my anxieties along (another family member), they would reduce my wife’s enjoyment of the trip.

I couldn’t entirely dismiss my traveler’s anxiety, of course – we can’t simply turn off our anxiety. Instead, I prepared and did a bunch of things to reduce it. I am sometimes considered negative because whenever I am involved in a project I think of all the things that can go wrong at the outset. People take this as negativity but I see it as a necessary preparation to prevent things from going wrong. 

I like my optimism to be reality-based, so I worried to myself about things like keeping the house safe during our trip, reading about problems American tourists have in France so I could avoid these, while my wife read the travel books and thought about where we would go and what we would see.

I learned that pickpockets are a big problem in France, for example, and got myself a travel wallet that hangs around the neck. I also jury-rigged a little device with my iPhone and a gizmo to find your keys and had my younger daughter wear this around her neck. The crowds of tourists in Paris can be a crush in August as I read, and this gizmo would go off if she strayed too far from me.

I was also anxious about the tales of French rudeness to American travelers and wanted to know why. I started from the proposition that it wasn’t them – it was something about us that galled the Gauls, so I talked to a person that taught courses in intercultural relations for business people and was recommended two books on how the French think. After all, we were going to be guests there – the least we could do is be well-mannered guests and not do the international equivalent of sticking our napkins in our shirt collars and picking our teeth at the table with the steak knife.

I could not be more amazed at what I learned. The French are a people with a very different worldview than Americans. They are proud of their country, their government (though they are almost always protesting something or other), and their culture. When in public they tend to be more formal in their interactions with other people because for them it is a sign of respect. They also believe in projecting an image of being ‘well put together’. It’s not that you need to dress formally, but walking around in shorts wearing a T-shirt that says ‘I’m with stupid’ or some other typical American casual dress projects to them that you don’t have respect for yourself.

I left my shorts home and dressed ‘business casual’ for the most part, which meant that you might not have been able to tell we were tourists from a block away.

They also always greet people with a formal ‘Bonjour, Madam’ or ‘Bonjour Monsieur’, and expect a ‘Merci, au revoir’ when leaving their presence after an interaction. Again, to them it shows a respect for the individual. I see nothing wrong in that. We Americans once also had this same sense of formality but seemed to abandon it a number of decades ago when we embraced an casual ‘Hey-buddy!-anything-goes-wear-sweatpants-to-church’ informality that didn’t expect such niceties to be the standard.

You could argue that their way is a bit stuffy – but that wasn’t the point.

I didn’t want to change France – I wanted to see if France might change me. Perhaps there would be lessons learned here that might make an understanding of the culture I was about to immerse myself in make the trip more than just seeing sights and taking pictures in front of monuments as a sort of trophy to show off on FaceBook.

I think it did change me. It went way beyond a ‘vacation’.

Paris was a breathtaking experience The grandeur of the place, the almost seamless mix of ancient and modern, great works of art and architecture a part of any glance in any direction, with charming little bistros, brasseries and cafes on every street seemed surreal, perplexing – and unnecessarily expensive to a practical mind. So many things useless except to look at in awe in every direction. No sane US citizen would put up with the taxation necessary to erect and maintain such uselessness which is why we’re a nation that has left behind marble and gilt for Tyvek and vinyl siding.

This left me obsessing over the question: “What kind of people would create a city like this?”

Thankfully I had my two books on France and the French that answered a lot of questions. I read these in my free time back at the hotel. I certainly did not turn into a French cultural expert overnight, but some of the insights at least began to explain some of what I saw.

At one point in the trip I stopped taking pictures. I realized that you can’t fit Paris into a rectangle. Go to the Louvre and stand in the center courtyard and try to take a picture. Compare it to what you see standing there. Nope – doesn’t cut it.

Throughout our trip, almost every French person we dealt with was friendly and gracious. We met many who spoke perfectly acceptable English and patiently put up with our horrible French. I suppose it came down to: treat people as you would like to be treated. It also might have been because it is said that everyone goes on vacation in Paris in August and the city is left to those who remain behind – and to tourists.

Perhaps we might have encountered more grumpiness in September when the Parisians return to take their city back from the tourists – I don’t know.

We also ate their food. Funny: I was asked that question twice. “Are you going to eat their food?” That would be like asking me if I was planning on breathing their air.

The first memorable meal was some duck cooked rare in a raspberry reduction with mashed potatoes. No vegetable side. Each flavor and texture complemented the other. We didn’t eat at any fancy places – just some of the many bistros that don’t get listed in travel books – yet all the food was prepared with such concern for the ingredients that each meal, no matter how humble, was like the random art found around every corner in Paris: unexpected and pleasurable.

To keep costs down we found a French grocery store across the street from our hotel in Paris and ate some meals of fresh baguette, foie gras, sausage, and cheese in the hotel room.

Over the weekend we spent there we left Paris and went to Amboise, a town of about 10,000 people less than 2 hours by train outside of Paris. The centerpiece of the town was a castle-fortress and not too far from there, a short walk down a cobblestone street, was Leonardo Da Vinci’s home for the last few years of his life.

This was wine country and we just happened to arrive during a wine-tasting festival with a downtown marketplace with the most amazing foods and local crafts. Very little in the way of tourist trinkets of the Eiffel Tower made in China – this market was for the locals. The wife and I tasted wines while the kids took a nap back at the hotel (a 5-minute walk from the center of town where the festival was held). We bought some brioche and other foods from the market and a little sweetshop across from the open air market and the next day a much larger weekend market filled a parking lot a 10-minute walk from the hotel. Farmers from miles around brought their fresh-from-the-farm goods and there were many booths cooking fresh food. We bought a huge container of paella from one vendor and bread and foie gras from another and had a picnic on the banks of the Loire river just steps from the hotel.

The way the French eat has always intrigued me. I don’t recall seeing a single fat French person. They ranged from rail-thin to plump, but no one was obese in my estimation. How could they eat like this? Yeah – they eat a lot of fat – but they love their bread and their sweets as well.

The answer was in one of the books I was reading and had to do with part of the main reasons why Americans think the French rude and they think we are rude: a difference in what is considered ‘public’ and what is considered ‘private’. This was a fascinating read. The French consider money to be vulgar and tend not to discuss it in public, don’t want to be asked ‘what do you do?’ in conversation, consider a stranger asking their name to be rude, and if they were to invite you to their home would most likely NOT ‘show you around the house’ or want you to peruse their bookshelf unless invited to do so.

And unlike Americans, they consider eating to be part of the public sphere. Eating is a social activity in France. Meals are meant to be lingered over, preferably with friends and family, and no self-respecting French restaurant would ask you to leave even if you only bought a single espresso and were still hanging out 4 hours later.

Americans, on the other hand, consider most eating to be a private activity: hence we snack, and they – for the most part – don’t.

This brought me back to the ‘family meal’ that I had begun to enforce a month before we left. My seemingly retro notion of a family meal in our house was enshrined in their culture. They lingered over their food and this gave them time to digest and feel fuller on less. They simply ate less of high quality food because it was all they needed and they never ate mindlessly like so many Americans do – hypnotized by the TV with a bag of chips on their laps vanishing bit by bit without being noticed.

Not realizing it, I had hit on something that I thought would derail my diet but now I was thinking might become the center point for it.

The funny thing about the family meal was that I found myself not picking much afterward. There was little ‘raiding the fridge’ after eating whatever meal I had when I came home. We ate later than usual, ate slowly, and ate with a mindfulness – discussing the food itself, it’s preparation, how the different ingredients went together. We discussed future meals – and what we tried that wasn’t liked (while peas were a comfort food for me, neither my wife nor kids like them).

There were also complaints from the family when we couldn’t follow the ritual. It seems it wasn’t something the rest of the family just ‘went along with’ – it was valued by them – despite the prohibition on electronics and the TV.

Perhaps ‘meals’ are more important than ‘eating’. Perhaps ‘dining’ is more valuable that ‘3 squares a day’. So where my head is at present is as follows:

My Low Carb Diet must become invisible

I’ve concluded that talking about diets – especially at a meal with others – is vulgar – akin to talking on the cel phone at a movie theater. It detracts from the enjoyment of others in your company. Discussions about food at meals should only be ones that discuss it as a means to pleasure. Discussing how well the peas and onions complement each other is perfectly acceptable – the carb count, or the discussion about any chemical in any ingredient being shown in studies to do X – is not. Certainly, there is a time and a place for such discussions – like here – but at the table, with dinner companions, conversations about calories, nutrients, and the long-term ill-effects of a particular food is not one of them. I’m going treat any food placed in front of me as I would a guest and not be rude nor denigrating to its presence. Like someone at a party I don’t particularly like, I can avoid them yet still be gracious.

Now, this does present a tricky problem: eating with companions or with family and friends means dealing with what dieters call ‘food pushers’ who might ‘derail your diet’. I’m beginning to think that this sort of thinking might be a misstep. Looking at food from a cultural and communal standpoint, offering food to people is one of the grand gestures of friendliness and kindness that one human being can give to another. In a world that has arisen from one where starving was a very real possibility every day, this gesture is the utmost hospitality – and we dieters reject it. Instead of embracing our humanity we bring science to the table and tear up the social contract that has been built up over thousands of years across almost every culture on Earth.

The diet problem is still there, of course: anyone reading this has probably concluded that they need to control their diet and that certain food should be avoided. I’m beginning to think though that perhaps, once at the table in a social situation, we might be better off focusing on the metered enjoyment of the food we are presented with rather than reciting our list of prohibitions to a table that is more interested in enjoying a meal rather than hearing about your ‘diet’. Again, taking the mindset that the food itself is a guest of sorts, and imagining it as a person you would rather avoid that you bump into at a party, you would probably NOT bring up your list of grievances with them in a public setting, though you might limit your time with them. Do the same with food.

Your diet isn’t ‘blown’ if you participate with smaller portions. At a restaurant you can ask for a double portion of vegetables instead of the side of mashed potatoes. You can still avoid sugary drinks and skip the bread brought to the table. These will be almost invisible to your companions. At a family meal or a when entertaining friends, certain items can be safely avoided – like chips placed on a table before a meal. At the actual meal, where there is some social expectation of participation in the various dishes, taking a small portion and allowing yourself to enjoy it might be more sane and more in the spirit of things than to express your prohibitions.

Either become a monk to your diet or accept the fact that there will be times when the best course of action is the practice of a concealed metering of eating what is being graciously offered.

One meal does not ruin a diet: it’s a series of meals that does that to you. Allow yourself the pleasure of food with family and friends, participate in the bounty we’ve been given, and work to develop the ability to participate fully while watching your diet as much as possible without others noticing you doing so.

Make eating a communal event as much as possible.

A diet is in some ways chasing after wind: “When I get to be my goal weight I will be happy.”

It doesn’t work that way.

Goals are great, but I assure you – you won’t be continually ‘blissed out’ when you attain that magic number on the scale. I’m not saying you won’t be filled with a sense of accomplishment, better physical health if done right, and a host of positive emotions – it’s just that these will fade into the background of your life after a time. Studies have shown that people who win the lottery, within a few years, return to more or less the same level of happiness they had when they weren’t rich. We adapt to our situations – good and bad – and while being thin might bring you all sorts of things you don’t have now, we humans have a tendency to take things for granted after a while.

Make sure you don’t postpone your happiness entirely until a certain number on the scale appears. We don’t know how much time we have left. Our expiration dates can’t be found on any label attached to us. Enjoying a meal with others when possible, when done the right way – focusing on the food with other people who know how to truly experience the pleasures of food – will bring greater happiness to every day of your life.

Should death tap you on the shoulder and tell you you’ve got only a few more moments, I guarantee you: your diet will be the last thing on your mind. Don’t give up the pleasure of good food with good company because of a ‘diet’.

Again, your brow might be furrowing as to how you follow this advice and still lose weight. It seems easier from one perspective to set a goal, sacrifice for it for a certain time, and achieve it. That’s how Americans do it.

That might work for things like passing a test or building a business, but we don’t ‘own’ or bodies in the same way as we might own a car that we’re restoring or own a business or have responsibilities to a job that we can work to excel at. Our bodies allow us to inhabit them, but they breathe on their own, the blood flows without our consent, our hearts beat to the rhythm they choose.

One thing we pretty much know about our bodies is that they are resistant to weight loss once the weight is gained. Respect this and embrace the notion of slow and gradual weight loss. I know this goes against every notion in a time-bound, deadline-obsessed culture, but your body doesn’t exist in that artificial world that lies outside of it.

So accepting this and making eating a communal event as much as can be managed involves cultivating a pleasure in good food shared with others. The secret to the power of this in an attempt to lose weight is eliminating the notion that eating alone on the couch in front of the TV is acceptable. You are replacing one with the other. Public eating is conscious eating, and conscious eating never ends up with an entire pint of Haagen-Daz disappearing while watching ‘The Biggest Loser’ along with a bag of chips now empty without you not quite remembering how it happened. Communal eating is also conscious eating with little effort. Instead of meditating on each bite of your meal alone, doing it with others occurs in an atmosphere that makes it more effortless.

Of course, if you are coming off of years of binge-eating, there’s work to be done here in terms of portion control and selectivity. Work on that rather than pursuing the goal of ‘hermit dieter’.

When eating alone, make it monotonous

You won’t be able to make every meal a communal one if you are anything like most of the people I know. In a culture obsessed with busyness, schedules conflict, things pop up, and families are separated by work, school, and separate activities. What to do then?

Well, what I am attempting to do is pursue the notion that these meals are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. I don’t want to have to think about my lunch at work, which is usually alone because ‘lunchtime’ is not a certain hour in my business and tends to be the time one can squeeze in between meetings and phone calls and can land anywhere between 11am and 3pm.

What I’ve been doing is enforcing a very small and rigid set of food choices that allow me to not think about preparing a lunch. As I work in an office, I have this luxury, so this is not in any way a recommendation, just an example of what I’m doing.

I’ve narrowed down my daily eating to the following items:

  1. Coffee
  2. coconut oil
  3. Lindt 80% dark chocolate
  4. Macadamia nuts
  5. eggs
  6. Chicken broth

Now, my particular constitution allows me to go long periods without eating with no ill-effect. Perhaps I’ve been in ketosis so many times that my body finds it easy to pull from my fat stores and run on ketones to keep me humming when I haven’t eaten in more than a dozen hours. Maybe my body is like a hybrid car than can run happily on gasoline or propane. So again, this is not a recommendation – it’s just what I do.

My breakfast is always coffee and cream, providing me with a little ‘get-up-and-go’ with between 100 and 200 calories of pure fat.

Around 6 hours later, a half cup of coffee with either 2 squares of dark chocolate or coconut oil melted in it is my next feeding – another 100 to 200 calories of mostly fat.

A few times a week, anywhere from the noontime coffee break all the way to almost before I leave work, I might have a cup of chicken broth with two raw eggs broken in it and nuked for 3 minutes. Or maybe a 20 or so macadamia nuts, totaling somewhere between 200 and maybe 350 calories.

So for 12 hours of my waking day, my input is almost zero carbs, mostly fat, maybe some protein from the eggs, and a calorie intake of anywhere between 200 calories and 750 calories.

Given I’ve eaten almost no carbs, this leaves room for the family meal in the evening. While at present I’m eating anything, my intention moving forward is to continue the ritual – except to artfully cut back on the carbs. Pasta and meatballs with Italian bread? I can have a taste of the Pasta and the bread with butter, and have mostly meatballs. Pork belly with gravy, vegetable and mashed potatoes? Same thing: a taste of the potatoes and vegetable if it’s high-carb, and focus on the pork belly and gravy.

The room that I’ve left in my daily food intake for a family meal allows some decidedly un-low carb foods in small portions to enjoy while also allowing me to keep both calories and carbs within limits that still mean I’m on a ‘low carb diet’ without the appearance of being on one.

 The one prohibition

If there’s one thing I have learned in my decade of low carb, it’s that without exception, no weight loss occurs if I drink alcohol. So in an effort to make the notion of social eating work as part of a weight loss strategy, I am going to sacrifice the conviviality of social drinking. I was never much of a barfly anyway, and most of my drinking was drinks after work at home – nothing that added much to the joy of life as much as calmed the nerves after a hectic day. For many months now I’ve been adapting to not exciting my nerves unduly in the first place – the 3 pots of coffee I once drank is down to a cup and a half, so a less jangled nervous system should be able to forego the drinks I now realize I once needed to unjangle it.

Now comes the hard part

Pretty words you got there, you might say. will it work?

I dunno.

If I can navigate the shark-infested waters of carbs setting me off for an evening of overeating, if I can watch my portions, if I can make it second nature to balance on this knife edge, perhaps it can work. It sounds sane and life-affirming as a lifestyle – but can it lead to weight loss?

I suppose we’ll see.

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

The April Fool Day 8: 225.0

Down almost 5 pounds from one day of restraint. Blood glucose 101 without medication (I always forget that pill). Black coffee in the AM, though I had some Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee instead of my organic stuff and my stomach rebelled. I used to live on the stuff and now I can only handle the organic stuff? I’m such a wuss nowadays.

I had to eat to deal with the stomach-ache so had the usual Fage Yogurt and EZ-Sweetz, then the last of the burgers I cooked over the weekend with American cheese and LC ketchup. Felt better after that.

The rest of the day was NOT one of restraint – but it WAS low carb. Circumstances led me to eat almost a bag of pork rinds during the car ride home, as well as some of the cheese I had bought to work. As my wife had an evening meeting at work, I took the kids to that American institution found in abundance in the area surrounding New York City: a Greek Diner. They are typically run by Greek emigrants and their extended families and while each is independent, the families are tight and know each other. There’s a good example not far from my home and the kids love it. It is a quintessential American regional thing. The food is not Greek but rather a large variety of fare for all tastes, though you can find Mousaka – which is a casserole that kind of reminds me of lasagna, but with eggplant, potatoes and sometimes nutmeg. The exact recipe varies greatly depending on the cook, so it always a treat to try the different variations. I always think that the owners enjoy serving it because it’s a personal dish – one reflective of their culture – though I think my mousaka-sampling days are over. Like I said: while it’s a ‘Greek Diner’, unlike other ethnicities, they don’t serve a lot of food from their culture: they cater to their clientage and the menu is more typical American.

We all ordered breakfasts. The kids got pancakes and omelettes. I got eggs over easy with sausage and bacon. It always comes with ‘home fries’ – potatoes sliced thin and lightly fried – and toast. I gave these to the kids and just ate the eggs, bacon and sausage.

The portions are large and although the kids were hungry, they both ate themselves into a food coma, almost falling asleep, far from done. I was pretty much in the same situation. We wrapped up the extras and brought the rest home. The kids were soon asleep as so was Dad. I had tried reading but soon nodded off.

I had drunk a lot of coffee and water and had eaten a lot – but it was all high-fat, little carbs. Unlike the other day where I ate a lot, I slept like a baby WITHOUT waking up choking from my own gastric juices.

It was a clear personal demonstration that it wasn’t the quantity that caused the GERD – it was the food.

Perhaps I need to embrace the thinking that rather than low carb being a choice, it has become a non-negotiable aspect of my life – like the glasses I now need to be able to read. While it would be nice to eat whatever I want, if that’s not possible, low carb is a damn fine consolation prize. The food might be restricted and leave out a lot of goodies, but what you can have can be thought of as supremely decadent – at least by the likes of two generations of fat-phobic Americans.

Fat, Dumb, and Happy: Day 3

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A rather scary looking roast beef and cheese in romaine lettuce leaves wrapped in saran wrap

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 – 4pm

I made a ‘wrap’ for lunch. I’ve always found it a big problem replacing the utility of something between 2 pieces of bread that you can eat on the run. My solution was to use romaine lettuce leaves as a ‘wrap’, fill with roast beef, cheese & Mayo, then wrap it in saran wrap so it looked like a cucumber.

This worked surprisingly well for dining ‘Al Desko’ (aka eating at your desk).

Not much in the way of a headache, but the keto cutover can be bumpy as energy levels go up and down – sort of like a car backfiring, or a car with a little water in the fuel line, there’s a certain inconsistency to how you feel which I could imagine would feel scary to one doing this for the first time.

I’ve been through it at least 100 times. It’s the normal abnormal. If I continue like this, the ups and downs will diminish as my body acclimates, and there’s usually an overall energy level boost after a few days to a few weeks. Despite the physical feeling, my minds feels clearer – and I am doing a lot of brainwork. The neurons are firing like they should even if the body is balking a bit at the moment.

So the big question that looms ahead – and the reason why I am trying to chronicle this a bit more closely is: just what is going to screw me up? As I’ve probably gone into ketosis 100 times, I also went OUT of ketosis 100 times – why? Unless the 100th time’s the charm, it will happen – and I’d like to catch clearly what causes this so I can hopefully avoid it. All the goodies still surround me in the house, the work stress is still here.

In the evening I ended up at a diner with my younger daughter and had 3 eggs, bacon and a sausage. I could have eaten more but I didn’t. Home late, I went to bed after getting my younger daughter ready for bed.

March 13, 2014 – 5:30am – 220.4

Given my diet and the second day of ketosis, the one pound loss is probably indicative that I’ve lost all the water weight and the water that I’m carrying now isn’t due to carbs. Your body simply does not lose fat that quick – it is physically impossible without liposuction. It’s probably fair to say that any loss from here will be mostly fat. Studies can be found that show low carbers are less likely to lose muscle during weight loss than people on other diets. Don’t know if it’s true, nor do I know if that applies to my unique biochemistry.

That’s the problem I have with much nutrition science: it makes generalities that only *might* be true, and if true, might not apply to me because I am not a generality.

If some of you are thinking: if I did what this schmuck did, would I lose close to 9 pounds in 3 days? I have no clue.

All I know is that what I am doing has caused this weight loss. Past experience shows it will continue to slow. It will certainly stop if I eat any significant amount of carbs or start eating stuff like low carb bread and Atkins bars. I will gain if I go to The Cheesecake Factory and order a bowl of pasta.

I will make another one of my lettuce-leaf roast beef and cheese wraps and see how today goes – again watching for: what circuit do I trip that makes me screw up and cheat? If I was talking to you in person, you might try to encourage me: “Aw, don’t think like that – you’re doing fine!”. But this isn’t about positive thinking or negative thinking – it is an honest experiment in trying to identify the series of events that cause me to lose my groove – not because I want to fail, but because I want to pay close attention to how and why I fail when it happens so I can have something to work with and not give myself a vague and useless answer like: I was tired.

Everybody gets tired. If it is ‘tired’ for example, I want to be able to drill into that experience to see the exact mechanism, take it apart, and clearly note the sequence of events and feelings that led to it in the hopes that knowing more will give me clues on how to stop it from happening again – or at least lessening the time between restarts.

I feel OK. Despite the stress of work and the usual stress of an overbooked modern life, I am eating to plan, don’t particularly have cravings that drive me crazy, and am not hungry. Mind is clear, and I will go into work with a very complicated set of tasks that I know need to be done and will probably do them pretty efficiently. My mood is certainly not ‘blissed-out grinning idiot’ – I’m at turns mentally fatigued, anxious, rushing, and trying to solve puzzles with a deadline, yet the emotions I feel about these things don’t feel as extreme as a few days ago where I felt almost as if I was suffering an existential crisis.

Let’s see how *this* day goes.