The April Fool Day 7: Low Carb…or Else

Monday, April 7, 2014 – 229.4

A comment by a long-time reader misinterpreting my existential despair post from the other day made the following comment:

If you had an anaphylactic reaction to carbs and they were going to kill you….you’d find a way to stick to your diet.

Well, anaphylactic shock – which can be caused by a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting or nuts in sensitive individuals – doesn’t exist for eating cookies…or does it for me?

I won’t bore you with my transgressions, but it did involve carbs eaten late at night and the attendant thirst that I typically get when I eat too many carbs. In terms of overall eating for the day it wasn’t all that much of a transgression – given I didn’t eat a good part of the day a total tally would have probably landed me within the normal 200 grams of carbs and caloric intake that was high-normal.

The result of this venial sin was epic, however.

At about 12:30am I awoke choking. I’ve never been diagnosed with GERD, but I would imagine that a combo of eating carbs late at night caused my stomach contents to leak into my lungs. I have experienced this on occasion since my 20s when I was about as fat as I am now – my first experience being with an overindulgence in Eskimo pies late at night.

I never get this when eating low carb.

The feeling is what I would imagine drowning in hydrochloric acid might feel like. The burning in my throat was unbearable. No less than a baker’s dozen of Tums were needed to control the burning somewhat. Even after the fire got put out there was still gurgling in my lungs when I breathed.  I was choking and coughing for at least 20 minutes until I had cleared my lungs and the gurgling stopped. Each cough that cleared my lungs burned my throat again. Both my wife and my older daughter – who I woke from my coughing and came in to see what was going on asked: “Are you OK?”

I gave them a thumbs up, which really meant: mind your own business.

Maybe an hour later I was able to get back to sleep, but this time lying with my head up to prevent another incident.

I awoke exhausted.

It’s not anaphylactic shock, but it’s a damn good reminder as to *why* I can’t eat like a normal person. I’m not a big fan of negative reinforcement as motivation, but this is not something I’d like to experience again. Negative experiences do sometimes result in positive outcomes – a good health scare sometimes works wonders to change long-term behaviors.

I’m more the ‘carrot’ than the ‘stick’ kind of guy with myself and others, but the beating I took from this stick is worthy of remembering – and might just tip the scale towards me being more careful about my diet.

If my transgressions have such dire consequences, it might be prudent for me to remember this.

 

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The April Fool: Day 1

Day 1: Tuesday, March 1, 2014 – 225.4

On day one of my ‘real’ diet I had my usual breakfast of coffee and cream – that’s not changing anytime soon. I did read an article that said that drinking dairy with coffee and tea blocks the absorption of antioxidants, but I don’t care. I take nutritional supplements only on occasion. While I was once quite a believer in supplementation, I’ve come to think of it as modern snake oil. Besides, there have also been studies that have shown antioxidants in our diets either have no effect on our health or even a negative effect on our health. Here’s just one example.

Since there’s an almost endless supply of studies from both sides of this, we can debate this endlessly if we like – but I’d rather stay out of the fray, skip the supplements except for a multivitamin every few days, and take the approach that a diet of high quality unprocessed foods, with even only a moderate amount of variety, is probably adequate. The body manufactures its own antioxidants – and it is also believed that oxidation is used by the body to fight infections as well as cancer, so perhaps I’ll not concern myself with an obscure body process we are yet to fully understand, skip the pills, and get on with my life.

There’s also the ‘Magic Amulet Effect‘: if I eat supplements they will magically protect me from my diet of Twinkies washed down with beer.

Like I said: I used to be a big believer in them. Searching this blog might still turn up the massive list of potions I used to take.

Now it’s a multivitamin every few days at most. It’s a personal choice, based on drawing my own conclusions.

Feel free to agree or disagree if you like: I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything.

Anyway, when I got to work I grabbed a sheet of copy paper and did the origami to make my little 8 page book. (There’s instructions here on how to fold it.)

I’ve found there’s an art to this: too many things and it becomes overwhelming and I don’t look at it. I also find that writing things in a particular style helps. Next, the act of writing seems to make it more powerful than typing it. Lastly, each book is designed to last for a week and then put into a pile. I have hundreds of these going back years and they act as a diary of where my head was at in any particular week.

It’s cheap and easy and less ephemeral than an electronic task list where tasks disappear when done. I have tried every app there is – a piece of folded paper and a pen has given me the best results so I’m doing it again.

I start the book by putting the span of time it cover on the front: 4/1 – 4/7/2014.

On the first inside page I list my goals – big goals. Not unachievable goals – realistic ones. I try not to write negative goals – ‘I won’t do X’ – negative goal are harder to wrap your head around than positive ones. As much as possible I try to quantify them with numbers and dates.

Here’s some of what I came up with:

  • I am 185 pounds by September 1, 2014

  • I eat mostly unprocessed foods

  • I swim twice a week

  • I eat until almost full. If there’s leftovers I store for later or toss

  • I only drink martinis – and only outside the house

  • I avoid nightshade vegetables

  • I cook more

Now I’ve broken my own rules here on some of them – how do you quantify ‘mostly’ or ‘more’?

That’s the beauty of this system: next week I will write my goals down again – without referencing these goals. Every week you rewrite them – and each week you restate and refine your goals based upon your experience the previous week. It’s a great way to internalize and constantly tweak and perfect your goals. The ones that are wrong for you can disappear or change – the ones that are right for you get more focused.

During the week I attempt to reread what I wrote. As I also keep mundane things in the book (‘fertilize lawn’) I have to reference it just to run my life – but my goals are alway in the front.

Considering it costs a sheet of copy paper and a little ink each week and take up as much space and a few folded dollar bills, I recommend you experiment with it – you might be surprised where it takes you.

One other note should you try this: don’t write anything down that could be potentially embarrassing should it get lost. I don’t write my name in it or put other information that would identify me. I also don’t write things like: ‘buy cream for rash on ass’ just in case it is found and associated with me. I follow the rule: don’t write anything down you wouldn’t be willing to stand up in court and defend.

My entire eating at work consisted of two hard-boiled eggs with ketchup. I’m glad nobody saw me. I kinda like hard-boiled eggs with ketchup, but I need to be cognizant of not eating it again for a while. I’ve paid lip-service to variety and taken the easy way out and went along with a natural tendency to enjoy the same thing over and over, but perhaps I’ve taken it a bit too far and a focus on variety might be one of the tricks I haven’t really explored yet.

At home there were more eggs but I didn’t go there. Instead, I found leftover chicken legs. I cut the meat off, crumpled in some leftover bacon and nuked for a minute and a half. Then I ate with sour cream – and did not finish the bowl even though only a tiny bit was left. It went in the fridge and I finished up with two baby cucumbers with a little salt.

A little later I had a Fage yogurt with a little vanilla and sweetener, then munched on some dark chocolate and a bit later after that, munched on some pork rinds.

So on day one I succeeded in three of the goals on my hit list: variety, veggies, and not eating to the container. I might have eaten a bit much but to expect to be firing on all cylinders the first day out is perhaps unrealistic for me.

After getting into my bed, I noticed that my younger daughter had left a large rabbit-shaped sugar cookie on my nightstand. It’s as if I live my life in a novel at times. Of course the character on the low carb diet finds a rabbit-shaped sugar cookie on his nightstand after starting his diet – it’s a symbol that temptation follows the character throughout the narrative – he can’t escape it.

Except this isn’t a novel.

The April Fool

Day 1 – Tuesday, March 1, 2014 – 225.4

OK – maybe the last month was a ‘test’ – a baseline to see where my problem points were.

It was also a month that saw a decade’s worth of work end for me as it was turned off, and a new system turned on. I sweated the details of this cutover and all the work seems to have paid off so far. Still some kinks to fix, but on the whole I think we’ll come out fine.

I’m going to lay my abysmal performance last month on the diet to that.

There. As if by magic, I am blameless.

Unburdened now from any guilt in my flubbing it for the past 21 days, I can review my spreadsheet and come away with a few observations:

1. I keep trying to prove I can drink and lose weight but I can’t drink and lose weight. Sucks but true. Alcohol is it’s own ‘nutrient’ with 7 calories per gram. Its high in calories and those calories have to be dealt with ASAP by the body. When you are burning those calories, you ain’t burning fat. Alcohol can also trigger hunger for me. If I have a martini out at dinner here and there, that’s fine – but the number of times I have it per month should be less than the fingers on one hand.

2. My chart for last month that showed how many days I ate a given food revealed that I ate about 70 different foods – only half of them I consider to be good for my diet. It also showed I ate way too few different ‘good’ foods, as can be evidenced by my having roast beef 13 times. No wonder I am *sick to death* of roast beef. The chart I made for this month lists over 40 foods that aren’t a problem on a low carb diet. I am going to make a conscious effort to increase variety as I believe this was part of the problem. I am going to try to not eat the same foods more two days in a row – with the exception of cheese and dairy, which I could eat every damn day in all it’s varieties.

3. I am still going to try to steer clear of nightshades – peppers and tomatoes – for the month and see if I notice a difference.

4. I’ve added more veggies to the list. There was a paucity of veggie variety last month – I’m going to try to add more.

5. I have a deep-seated disinclination to throw food away. I am going to have to work on this one because, while noble from a ‘people are starving’ standpoint, it does me no good in the weight department. I am going to make a conscious effort to not eat to clean the plate of empty the container, but consciously leave a little food for the trash. Ugggh – just *writing* that makes me cringe.

6. In my blog I’ve detailed over 150 recipes – most of them relatively fast and simple to make. I’m going to go back and resurrect some and maybe try to make them faster and easier.

7. I’m going to allow myself a few processed crutch foods to help me out. I’ve got the EZ_Sweetz – a true zero-calorie sucralose as a sweetener. Low carb ketchup as a low-brow favorite. Almond milk – a processed food and I am somewhat suspect of ALL processed foods, even those that claim to be healthy – but I love the stuff and it works as a great low carb alternative to milk, which has always been a comfort food for me. And my old friend mayonnaise – high in Omega-6 fats which I avoid, but if it’s the only component of my diet high in Omega-6 I should be OK.

8. I’m not going to measure quantities – at least yet – but just become more aware of them. My food tracking system only counts the eating of a given food as ‘I ate it’ – it doesn’t care if I had a bite or a case. I don’t want to pull out my electronic scale and start weighing stuff, nor do I want to fire up my calorie-counting app just yet.

9. Lastly, I’m going to revive an old habit of keeping a tiny little paper booklet where I kept long-term and short-term goals, my to do list, a shopping list, and things I was waiting for. Despite all the iPhone apps I’ve tried and being surrounded with computers that will happily track this stuff six ways to Sunday, there was something empowering in this little booklet.

Let’s see how THIS goes.

 

Fat, Dumb & Happy Day 19: I Screw Up

March 25, 2014 – 222.8

(Continued…)

I ate lunch at noon – two ‘sandwiches’ consisting of mortadella between slices of the Kerry Gold Irish Swiss cheese with mustard. Satisfying. Mid afternoon a wave of tiredness made me get more Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Late in the afternoon I had perhaps 20 macadamia nuts before leaving work.

Today was the day I screwed up. I had some wine, then went to the fridge to grab some pork shoulder after making pasta for the kid. I had a little bit of the mortadella left and was going to finish it up.

There was leftover toast by the fridge, made by one of the kids, untouched. Without thinking, I ate it – then the ‘What the Hell Effect kicked in. A tiny bit of pasta and Trader Joe’s mini meatballs, 2 small bread rolls with butter, and 2 regular chocolate candies later, I went to bed.

As binges go, this was small potatoes (small potatoes….yummmm). I had been waiting and waiting for when I would screw up – then stopped waiting for it. It wasn’t stress or even a particularly strong craving. Like a lot of criminals, it was a crime of opportunity.

Maybe the ‘reward’ of the mortadella had something to do with it. I love the stuff and it’s certainly low carb, but I don’t believe that it’s good for you. I’m not even saying I know that as a fact or not – maybe mortadella has life-extending properties unknown to science for all I know – it’s the *belief* itself – in it being a ‘reward’ and being ‘bad for you’ that might be the culprit here.

I didn’t want to go all ‘pop psychologist’ in watching for the steps that lead to a failure, albeit a small one. There’s nothing much to see here: maybe some moral licensing mixed with opportunity, with a dash of the regular stress and fatigue thrown in. Boring.

Maybe the interesting part is not preventing the fall off the horse but ensuring you get right back on after the fall?

March 26, 2014 -223.6

Still in ketosis – at least this morning. Sometimes there’s leftover ketones that will disappear from the afternoon measurement. What’s concerning is the blood glucose: 135. I believe that’s an out-of-shape glucose regulation mechanism responding to a small amount of carbs.

I could have recovered there – but I didn’t. I thought I was going to. I bought more cheese and roast beef and was prepared to get back on the horse…but there’s no pizza on the horse, so I stayed off the horse and had 2 slices of pepperoni pizza after having my low-carb-friendly cheese and roast beef with what turned out to be a not-so-friendly leftover salad dressing that was obviously sweetened with sugar.

Then, to ensure that I screwed up big for the day: 2 crappy energy drinks and a small bag of chips for the ride home.

I felt wasted and bloated by all this. When I came home I didn’t have much of an appetite. The kids had some coconut shrimp, and I had a few of those – and that’s it except for water.

March 27, 2014 – 225.6

Any reasonable person, assessing the current situation of my diet, would most likely throw in the towel and begin looking elsewhere. There’s plenty of new diet books out there – there always is.

I suspect that diet books have become a trope: there are standard devices and conventions for these things, and all you need is a good ‘hook’ – the diet book equivalent to the guitar intro to ‘Smoke on the Water’ by Deep Purple – or a celebrity, or a reasonably attractive and slim author for the cover.

Lastly you need a good title. ‘The End of Dieting’, currently on the bestseller list, is a common title convention: the ‘This-is-Not-a-Diet-Book Diet Book’. It promises something different, but it’s another diet book.

Then there’s ‘Hungry Girl Diet’. Since most diet book purchasers are women, they take the risk of leaving the fat guys behind by making the women feel like it’s especially for them – a girl’s club. It’s worked for this title – it’s #1 at the moment.

Where’s the diet for the guys? Oh, there it is: ‘Super Shred Diet’ – that sounds macho. And there’s a manly man on the cover.

Then there’s the nerd diets that blind you with science: ‘Wheat Belly’. Cute, yet sciency for the folks that want real data. Invent a disease, then cure it with your diet. I haven’t read this one, but I might add it to my collection as this is the one that most appeals to my particular sub-genre of diet book reading.

For those of us that want to hear from an actual doctor, there’s ‘The Doctor’s Diet’. You buy that one on the basis of an authority, though doctors have failed to halp anyone lose weight for 50 years, so I don’t necessarily see the allure. It’s probably for people who haven’t thought this proposition through.

Smoothies are cool. They’re fast to make and convenient for busy folk, so of course, there’s a Smoothie diet on the bestseller list, as well as a Paleo diet book. There’s also a book on dieting with Intermittent Fasting – as well as a ‘fast’ diet – we fat suckers *always* fall for that one: “In a couple of weeks i’ll be in Speedos just so long as I buy this book!”

Anywho…end of rant. I ain’t goin’ nowhere.

I bought Applegate Farms american cheese and when I had it today for the first time, I was blown away. Delicate flavor, yet distinct – not what you think of when you think ‘American cheese’, with it’s in-your-face-sloppy-wet-dog-jumping-on-you-bold-dumb flavor.

I had family duties and drove home eating some to pick up my kids for class after school. I also stopped at McDonalds. (Doum-Dum-DUMMMMMmmmm.) I bought 3 double cheeseburgers and they were gone in a flash. I also had 2 energy drinks because I was tired and was not going to make it through the evening. Got home with the kids after nine and was shortly in bed where I quickly fell asleep.

March 28, 2014 – 226.4

Ate mostly the Applegate American cheese, which has a wonderful flavor. I think I ate the entire pound of the stuff in work and on the way home. I also had a Fage yogurt with EZ-Sweetz – and if I could find any more of them, I would have had some macadamia nuts.

In the evening the family want to a steakhouse. I indulged in a vodka martini as well as some of the bread brought to the table. I had a salad, then the main course: a prime rib steak with wasabi mashed potatoes. I had ‘em – they were good.

At home afterward I had some frosted flakes that the kid left out on the counter and some soft sweet bread of some sort with Nutella.

Not low carb. No point in testing for ketones, eh?

I did lose 2 pounds the next day – but that’s for the next post.

 

Fat, Dumb, & Happy: Day 8 – Solanine

Monday, March 17, 2014 – 225.8

6am

Nice jump in the scale. I attribute it to a lot of bulk and water from yesterday’s meal, as well as less fat overall. I’m not concerned. I think I’ve shown my actual weight, minus the water I am retaining, is maybe 219. If the scale does not follow a smooth path downward I won’t be worried – you need to give your body time to adapt to the new regime. The scale is a handy tool when it doesn’t become an emotional rollercoaster that dictates your mood for the day.

What jazzes me is the ketones. Both yesterday and today they are running dark – great. Every day in ketosis means another day of my body adapting to it – and another day where I did not given in to carbs. You can’t fake this test, and while imprecise, it does tell you you’re in the zone.

While I might have been better off to switch to roast beef and butter, I want to finish off that great soup I made yesterday. It’s not bad to add some variety of quality vegetables into the mix also – even if the number on the scale doesn’t show what you’d like it to show.

This isn’t entirely about the scale. If it was, I could go on the ‘Walter White Blue Meth’ diet and be slim and trim in no time – but *how you get thin* is important.

8pm – 223.0

Today was the worst I’ve felt so far. Extremely tired, sore knees, achy legs, couldn’t wake up no matter how much coffee I drank, head not clear. It was a struggle to get through the day. And I was way more hungry than last week. I had more of the soup for lunch and *again* it did not satisfy but left me hungry. For the first time since I started this I was fantasizing about going out and getting a sandwich.

Instead I hit the bag of macadamia nuts hard. I even found my last Atkins bar left over from a business trip in November hidden in my bag and ate that.

Let’s pull back a moment and try to analyze the situation.

First, I’m going to assume for analysis that psychology is irrelevant. I’m not saying it isn’t – I’m assuming it isn’t and see where it takes me.

The crock pot of beef and veggies was very tasty – but more so than any meal I’ve had so far, I was hungry after it – 3 bowls worth in fact.

What’s with that?

A few things come to mind.

– it was the least fatty meal I’ve e had in a week. While low carb for the vast majority of humanity, it probably had, per bowl, maybe 10 grams net carbs. It was also the most fiber I had in a week. Sounds great – right? Low carb, high fiber – where’s the problem? The hunger afterward was the problem.

So what was it about the soup? I had 2 ingredients in large quantity: artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Of lesser quantity were the sweet peppers and 1/2 onion at most for the entire pot.

Was it the high fiber, the overall higher carb count or one of the ingredients that got me?

I’m going to give the stuff I ate and drank afterward a free pass at present. I’m also going to remove the onion because of the small quantity.

I’m going to focus on the artichokes, peppers and tomatoes.

I did a little research as I lay in bed, ready to hit the sack right after I came home. Before that, still ravenously hungry and talking myself out of stopping at one of the half-dozen fast-food joints on my way home by reminding myself I’d ruin the ketosis, I made 4 eggs with a lot of butter and cheese and ate that for dinner. This was after eating lunch, the Atkins bar and a half bag of macadamias so it wasn’t like I needed to eat more.

This meal – nothing but fat and protein – satisfied.

The research came up with this: solanine. It’s a toxic compound found in some plants that supposedly exist to prevent insects and animals from eating them. They are found in nightshade plants as well as a few other plant types.

Here’s some examples of plants containing solanine: tomatoes, peppers and artichokes.

What are some of the symptoms?

From one website:

An enzyme present in the body called Cholinesterase originates in the brain where its responsible for flexibility of muscle movement. Solanine, present in nightshades, is a powerful inhibitor of cholinesterase. In other words, its presence can interfere with muscle function – the cause of stiffness experienced after consuming nightshades. All people are not sensitive to nightshades in the same degree. Research has proved that when an inflammatory condition exists, consuming nightshades is like adding “fuel to the fire”. That said, there is no scientific evidence that for those not afflicted with inflammation that nightshades will cause it.

http://haydeninstitute.com/additional-resources/additional-resources-diet-and-nutrition/inflammatory-foods-nightshades

I also found some evidence, though much less, that solanine might cause hunger in sensitive individuals, but so little it seems tenuous at best. I’ll be the first to say that it’s a bit of a reach to say there’s a cause and effect here without lots of testing – but it’s a worthy hypothesis to pursue. What if I avoid plants with solanine and notice this doesn’t happen again? Outside of a slightly more restrictive approach – what do I have to lose?

From the same link above, here’s a list of the offending foods:

Nightshades – Avoid in order to decrease inflammation:

  • Potatoes, all varieties (sweet potatoes and yams are NOT nightshades. Beware of potato starch used in many seasonings and as a thickening agent)

  • Peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, jalapeno, chili, cayenne, pimento)

  • Tomatoes, all varieties (including Tomatillos)

  • Paprika

  • Eggplant

  Foods that contain solanine although not directly in the nightshade family:

  • Blueberries & Huckleberries

  • Okra

  • Artichokes

  Other Substances to Avoid:

  • Homeopathic remedies containing Belladonna (known as deadly nightshade)

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications containing potato starch as a filler (especially prevalent in sleeping and muscle relaxing medications)

  • Edible flowers: petunia, chalice vine, day jasmine, angel and devil’s trumpets.

  • Atropine and Scopolamine, used in sleeping pills

  • Topical medications for pain and inflammation containing capsicum (in cayenne pepper)

What’s relevant to me from that list is three of the items from my crockpot meal, as well as eggplant, blueberries and paprika. I’ve had okra and liked it, but I don’t eat it. I don’t take homeopathic remedies, nor do I eat flowers. I *have* used capsicum, but maybe once every few years, so I can avoid that.

So I’ll proceed from here under the assumption that I am sensitive to these compounds and see what happens – at least for a while. This sucks, of course, because I like these foods – and they are low carb.

But if I *do* find a stronger cause and effect link by experimenting along these lines, avoiding these foods might be worth it

Fat, Dumb, and Happy Day 6

[this post is a bit of a ramble, but as part of this experiment in writing I’m going to leave it as-is and see what happens.]

Ides of March, 2014 – 12:30pm

So far today I got a lot done – it’s the first time in a while I’ve felt productive at home. I already got a lot of things off of a long-neglected to do list and finally got around to cook my pork belly. The only problem was *someone* decided to put taco seasoning in the smoked paprika container – I only noticed this after mashing up the stuff in a mortar and pestle and rubbing it in.

Yes – I did wonder why the smoked paprika looked funny…

So now it’s ‘Mexican Pork Belly’:

I started with one pound of the fattiest pork belly I could find. The guy at the meat counter always gives me a strange look when I ask for the ‘fattiest pork belly’ – good – less competition. Mine is locally produced which means that it is coming from a smaller farmer, which means a (somewhat) better chance that the pig who is about to be my dinner might have had a somewhat tolerable, albeit short, life prior to slaughter. I *do* consider the fact that a creature – a relatively intelligent one – gave it’s life for my benefit. The least I can do is support small farmers who are more likely to take better care of their animals, and remember something died so I could have a great meal.

It used to be much more common at one time to ‘say grace’ before a meal. No matter your faith – or even no faith at all, it’s important, I think to reflect on the origin of our food and express some gratitude.

OK – this is a recipe – not a sermon – off the soap box.

I rubbed the dry belly with 2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Taco seasoning, 2 teaspoons salt and about a dozen turns of the pepper mill. I rubbed it on all sides with the seasoning, drizzled maybe 4 tablespoons of olive oil on the top. and tossed it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 2 hours.

If I subtract the fumbling time I spent finding the mortar and pestle, and cracking my shin trying to get it off the top shelf of our cabinet, the total prep time was about 5 minutes.

Now it’s back to chores – I got a lot of them.

6:45pm

Pork belly. Yum. My Mexican pork belly came out – can I say it? Superb. The pork belly did a very odd thing, however: it rose like a cake. When done, it was 3 times the original thickness while it shrunk in length and width. Delicious, though. My older daughter also had some and enjoyed it. Other than minding the oven, very little work involved.

I lamented to her that I couldn’t mop up the pork fat with bread because of my diet. This is one aspect of low carb that Really Sucks. there are no low carb foods on my list for absorbing liquids. There’s many reasons bread is awesome: this is one of them.

I experimented with microwaving a pork rind but there’s no moisture and it came out crunchy. I gave up. My daughter noted that I certainly seemed desperate. I eventually mopped up some of that great fat with some peppered salami. I made her laugh with that one.

I also had some almond milk. My daughter said: “I think that almond milk is the first thing I’ve ever been addicted to – I craved it every day last week. I don’t even know why.”

I told her that I thought it was because almond milk has – as food industry pros might say – an appealing mouth feel and flavor profile. It is creamy and silky in the mouth and the flavor profile disappears with a subtle, pleasurable almondy taste.

We both agreed that coconut milk just doesn’t cut it – less creamy, and none of the complexity of flavor.

In my opinion: you drink coconut milk because you think it’s good for you. You drink almond milk because it’s tasty.

Afterward, both my daughter and I were getting sleepy – my energy was flagging, probably from the late hour I went to bed and my morning list of chores I tore through – her from attending a sports program in the late morning. We decided to take a ride to the mall where I got to do what men typically do in malls when going with a female: stand around and wait while they shop.

Men – at least this man – treats a mall like a surgical military strike: Get in. Get what I went for. Get the hell out. Women – at least the ones in my life – tend to linger, and seem to need to look at every damn item in a store.

That pork belly fat infusion could be felt – I’ve read it could take a few weeks to become fully keto-adapted and my energy was still going up and down. I had a good, productive run until mid-afternoon, then the energy began to flag – and being in a mall probably worsened it.

Luckily there was a Dunkin Donuts in the mall and I got an extra-large coffee with cream. That restored me for the remainder of the trip.

I checked for ketones when I got home – really high.

I think I’m done for the day energy-wise. I’m going to do my best to chill for the rest of the day.

9pm

Will the lack of energy be a problem? I found myself ‘grazing’ – some pickles with cheese, a few pork rinds, more salami, then some almond milk. I could have continued – but I stopped myself.

This could be the beginning of the screw up I’ve been waiting for.

One commenter on these rambling posts – a long-time reader – said my problem is two-fold: pizza and work stress – and that I give myself a free pass on cheating because I don’t moralize my cheats. My impish reply:

As the only place in the US without pizza and stress is a coffin I guess I’m doomed to a diet fail.

While my current porking up is a little out of my comfort zone, I wonder if part of what success I’ve had is because of the cheating – or to add another layer, perhaps *that* thinking is WHY I fail at all – but then if I didn’t fail I’d have little to write about, so perhaps I fail so I’ll write.

It’s deep. Like the movie ‘Inception’. A left-handed Scorpio thing, maybe.

OK – she might have a point about my cheats – perhaps I *do* give myself a free pass too often, but what if I had the same amount of cheats and beat myself up about them?

Aldous Huxley once said: ‘the end cannot justify the means because the nature of the means determine the type of end produced’ – or something close to that.

So if I became a slim by berating myself – would it result in a happier me? Or would I be thin and miserable?

Fat, Dumb, and Happy Day 5

Friday, March 14, 2014 – 1:30pm

I seem to be suffering from an excess of energy. Yes – excess. When you’re feeling sluggish most of the time it becomes the norm, but I’m feeling my energy increase and it is making me antsy as I sit behind a desk and stare at a computer all day.

For the unabashedly slothful, energy can be a nuisance.

I needed to take a walk to clear my head a bit, then came back and had another lettuce wrap. Having run out of the roast beef, I broke 2 small hamburgers in half, covered in low carb ketchup, and wrapped that in the swiss cheese. It was good, though the burgers were cold and not everybody is into that.

Did I mention I eat weird stuff?

I eat weird stuff.

I’ve been loathe to track my eating from the perspective of calories, carbs, protein, fat, and the percentages, net carb counts and the like. I mean – what’s the point? I’m in ketosis, I’m eating a small group of low carb-friendly foods, and losing weight: any extra tracking would be an unnecessary burden.

Instead, what I have been doing is tracking just *what* I eat. I keep a simple spreadsheet and if I eat a food, whatever the quantity, I just put an ‘X’ in the field. I also track my weight, if I’m in ketosis, and what my fasting blood glucose is if I remember to test it.

Here’s a screenshot if the above description makes no sense to you (entirely possible as I wrote it):

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 2.07.00 PM

When you’re not in the mood for obsessive tracking, this at least gives you a reasonable big picture of what you’re eating. While a bit light on the usual specifics, it does easily show the good, the bad, and the ugly. Also, since quantities are merely an ‘X’, a bite of bread still shows up as a new line – for me, this is some oddball incentive to avoid cheating: I’d have to list it.

Out of all the 24 eaten items above, four are somewhat bothersome:

  1. Mayonnaise

  2. Sucralose

  3. Almond milk

  4. Low carb ketchup

While all of these are low carb, each *does* have problems in my estimation.

Mayonnaise – I get a canola-based mayonnaise where the oil is expeller pressed (Whole Foods store brand). This means the oil isn’t heated to extract it – it’s squeezed out. That’s way better than the usual soybean oils used, which are usually extracted using a petroleum product hexane and possibly high temperatures. This process denatures the fat molecules and possibly contaminates the stuff with petroleum byproducts. Nasty stuff that I like to avoid.

Still, this mayo isn’t ‘good’, in my estimation, it just isn’t as bad as most of them. Canola oil is higher in omega-3 fats than most seed oils, but I believe you should try to avoid ALL seed oils. Other than a few very expensive oils, most seed oils are filled with omega-6, which, while necessary for health, the typical american gets way too much of. (By the way, olives are technically a ‘fruit’, so olive oil is NOT a seed oil, is somewhat unique because it is a quality source of monounsaturated fats which most believe are good for you, and is on my list of oils that are just fine).

Canola is also a food never eaten by humans until maybe 40 years ago. Canola has another name – rapeseed – not a particularly marketable name – and was only used an an industrial lubricant for machines and stuff like that because it had an ingredient that would make people sick. some clever plant breeders developed a version that virtually eliminated the offending compound – and because this was done in Canada, they renamed it ‘Can’ (Canada) ‘ola’ (oil). What this means is that nobody really know what kind of long-term effects Canola might have – possibly none. We don’t know.

Problem is – I love mayo. Yeah, you can make substitutes, use sour cream or something else, but nothing beats the real thing. I have made my own mayo with olive oil, but this can be tricky and any lack of patience in the creation can cause the creamy mayo to ‘break’ and turn into a useless speckled goo which I have to throw away.

Hopefully I can get up the courage to tempt fate and try this again in the near future . My recipe worked out well – when I didn’t screw it up.

Sucralose – are artificial sweeteners bad for you? All I know is that I lost 80 pounds using sucralose and probably kept the Atkins organization afloat during their lean years after the low carb bust of 2003 by drinking enormous amounts of their shakes. Their bars can be problematic and cause stalls, but their shakes never stalled me. Keep in mind – that was almost a decade ago and they have reformulated their product since then. My weight loss response to them might be very different today – a reformulated product and a decade older.

While I personally think artificial sweeteners do have an impact on me – i think it tends to stimulate my appetite – there’s a ‘quality of life’ issue going on here – if I become utterly miserable pining for sweets I am less apt to stay on the diet. So for me, I see it as the lesser of two evils. Yes – there are people who think it impacts your gut bacteria: yet again I think this is a very personal effect and I try to find my own answer by seeing what results I get.

I have nothing to complain about at this stage of the game so will keep using it until I feel like not using it. Again, my only response to it is an increase in appetite and as I think I have not been overeating – what’s the issue?

Almond milk – I like this stuff. Heck, even my kid likes the stuff, but it is processed and I don’t know if I have any reaction to some of the ingredients – right now, given my progress, it appears not. This is also another food with omega-6 fats, though considerably lower than the calorie-packed mayonnaise. If it was the only one, perhaps it would be OK – or perhaps I can live healthy and happy with *both*. I can read the literature on this and come to an academic decision – or I can test myself and see what happens.

Low Carb Ketchup – More sucralose. Other dubious ingredients that might or might not cause mischief. Another quality of life issue. Lesser of two evils.

The Ides of March, 2014 – 219.6

It was a long week. I can’t begin to describe the level of brainwork I’ve been doing as of late – at least for *my* brain. It’s like doing heart surgery – and learning while you do so. There are also plenty of conference calls about ‘when I will be done’ – no pressure. The weekend will provide no respite – I have other things I need to brain through so I’m going to be doing a weekend of mental gymnastics.

In retrospect, my rather casual decision to start up an extreme low carb diet when I did might have been, accidentally, the best possible time to do so.

I’m under a lot of pressure but don’t ‘feel’ the pressure in a way that is in any way debilitating. I can perform without the emotions that might degrade my performance. My brain is sparkly clear and working at it’s peak capacity. Mine is not a top-quality brain by any means – but what brains I have are working at maximum efficiency.

I think I have to give a lot of credit to low carb for this. I remember first reading the Atkins book and his assertion that too many carbs can cause ‘brain fog’. When I read this I thought this the statement of a quack. When I started Atkins a decade ago I did so as a skeptic – I *never* thought it would work, and I ignored the ‘brain fog’ comment because I didn’t buy in to the whole low carb thing anyway.

And then when I started doing Atkins I suddenly understood what he meant by ‘brain fog’ – and saw the difference on only my second day doing it.

A decade ago, at 265 pounds, I would struggle through the afternoons as a powerful sleepiness would descend upon me after lunch. So do a lot of people – it’s almost considered natural. It’s hard to notice non-events sometimes, but I clearly remember this sleepiness in the afternoon disappeared on the second day of my first go at low carb.

I had tried the diet because I wanted to lose weight – never in my wildest dreams did I think it would have any psychological impact.

It did.

It can be explained easily enough by blood sugar: eat a big sandwich and a bag of chips at lunch and we insulin resistant folks ride a sugar-powered rollercoaster up the giant wooden mountain – then come tearing down again. Our blood sugar also affects our emotions: as a kid, my father’s sudden and uncharacteristic flares of extreme temper for no reason whatsoever brought him to the doctor – where it was determined that he had full blown type-II diabetes. This was after he acquired a month’s-long habit of having a big bowl of ice cream after dinner.

I remember being at the doctor’s office with him and my mom and the doctor stating with firm conviction: “Eating sugar had nothing to do with this.”

This was the late 70s – and that was the standard thinking at the time. Remember, Atkins was a nutritional apostate at the time – just another quack doctor regarded by the mainstream medical community as not unlike John Harvey Kellogg – brother of the cereal magnate – who used to remove large portions of people’s intestines and give them yogurt enemas to ‘cure’ them of ‘autointoxication’ – a popular imaginary disease from the late 1800s through the first third of the 1900s.

(I am *very* interested in the history of diets and have a bookshelf full of books on the subject though I write little about this – perhaps someday…)

Anywho, back to my main topic (if I had one).

I had mentioned previously the ‘energy problem’ – being antsy at work because of an excess of energy. This was put to good use after work as I efficiently went to Walmart and restocked my supply of pork rinds and Lindt 85% dark chocolate – two old goto foods in my low carb adventures, then hit Trader Joe’s for more of the Almond milk. Then I came home and made short work of a pile of mail that I had neglected to go through, making phone calls, questioning bills, and cleaning up a big mess of paperwork I simply could not bring myself to tackle.

When I had completed this, I was ready for whatever was going to be my dinner.

There was cake and pie downstairs, courtesy of my wife’s sweet tooth. I was as indifferent to them as I was indifferent to low carb fare only a few days ago and went for a few hard-boiled eggs wrapped in cheese splashed with low carb ketchup. I also had a healthy amount of peppered salami with more cheese – I wrapped these in romaine lettuce leaves and ate like a sandwich.

As I wake around 5am these days, I like to be in bed by 9:30, then read until I fall asleep – usually around 10pm or so – but I couldn’t sleep. Insomnia is not a problem I’ve suffered from for decades.

I remembered Dr. Mike Eades of Protein Power mentioning that sometimes ketones can cause insomnia, and the best cure for this? A little sugar. He stated a bit of the stuff won’t hurt and might help you get to sleep.

Sometime after 11pm I was hungry again and went downstairs. As I went down the stairs I saw one of the Lindt chocolate bars I bought. It occurred to me that I could kill 2 birds with one stone perhaps. I had 4 squares of the chocolate which is about 7 grams of carbs between the cocoa and the sugar (Great stuff, by the way. I was never a fan of dark chocolate but I’ve come to love this particular dark chocolate.)

I fell asleep within maybe 20 minutes.

When I woke this morning I was down to 219.6 – my lowest morning weight so far during this round of extreme low carb. My ketones were high – actually they aren’t usually high in the mornings – they are light for reasons that are unclear to me – it’s the afternoons when they are usually very high. It certainly shows the chocolate before bed had zero impact on ketosis.

I’ve a busy weekend ahead so I’ll stop here for now.