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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Carb Phobia - A Very Real Problem for Low-Carbers


It even happened to me at one point. I was so leery of eating bread especially, as it was my mainstay before low-carbing. Next in line, I was afraid of indulging in sugary desserts and if I did, I sometimes suffered a bit of guilt. I would often put on 2 lbs of water weight due to glycogen stores filling up after strict low-carbing. Then I panicked and thought it would be an upward spiral, but that's not the case when it is an occasional indulgence.

I am a firm believer in cutting out white flour and sugar as much as possible. I will not tell a lie. I like white flour and sugar and things made with it, just like some other people I know. I can even get quite addicted and I will get fat. That is the way it is. I don't like deprivation (goes back to my childhood) and, therefore, set about trying to replace the foods I loved without adversely affecting my waistline. My cookbooks were the result of that drive.

So, I know plenty of people are diehard low-carbers that prefer to never veer off the course. It is truly wonderful and remarkable if you are one of the few people who can maintain such discipline in the face of temptation forever and a day. Some of us - well, life just happens, and it is difficult emotionally and even physically to keep going at those times in life - that's when trouble can hit our waistlines - quite literally. We lose focus, grab whatever is easily available and often it is carbs that will readily and quickly satisfy the need for a boost in serotonin and in mood and feelings of well-being. We don't have the energy to deal with our diets or the lack thereof and the consequences of eating without thinking. This is a slippery slope, of course, to weight regain. If possible, keep trouble foods out of the house, or freeze them. It is important to cut down on compulsive eating at the very least and make trouble foods difficult to come by. Keep acceptable foods around in abundance and keep them coming and interesting at that. If you're too exhausted to cook, get hubby to barbecue and add a large, interesting salad with a tasty dressing.

Alright, here's how I feel about the guilt involved with occasionally slipping up or making the decision to eat something totally off plan - even if it is a few times a week during stressful times. Sure there will be times when you can remain low-carb and strictly so for long periods of time (I myself have done that for years with hardly a slip-up), but I'm talking about other times, when it is not so easy. Forget the guilt, forget the all or nothing approach. It is nonsense stuff and will lead to failure. Acknowledge the fact that you are in charge, that you make the decisions and that you have the ability to say yes or no to a particular food - even when times are stressful. Whenever possible make the decision to sit down to better food choices and if something in there is not on plan - have a little (don't pig out if possible), don't feel guilty and move on - determine to do better at the next meal. In other words - stop and think - the "low-carb diet" mentality has to be with one 24/7 in a sense to keep our brains active on that score and involved in our choices.

Here is an intriguing, sad and probably common story in some ways along these lines written by a very interesting and knowledgeable lady (she is not against low-carb diets, but feels one diet does not fit all) - "She is a Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She specializes in weight control, cardiovascular health, polycystic ovarian syndrome, diabetes, sports nutrition and preventative nutrition. A staff dietitian at The New York Presbyterian Hospital for the past 22 years, she also counsels clients privately and is a consultant to physicians, corporations and health clubs. She was the nutritionist for the 1998 NYC Marathon. She was an exercise instructor in NYC health clubs for 15 years.": Case Study Low-Carb Diet Gone Wrong

6 comments:

gharkness said...

The problem with the lady in the case study was NOT the low carb diet but the all-or-nothing thinking. As you can see in the story, this carried over also to the exercise. No one should be running with a stress fracture, but there are many types of exercise that would get the job done without compromising the health.

It just drives me NUTS that this whole thing is blamed on the low carb diet, when it's the mental attitude that is at fault. The same thing would have happened on a low fat diet!

It's NOT LOW CARB that's at fault here!

Jennifer said...

Gosh, Gharkness, you do have the right to feel indignant. The title of that story immediately tells one of the writer's bias, even although she indicates that she does not have any bias towards low-carbing. I agree this all or nothing thinking can be applied to any diet or even other things in life, such as exercise and it is not the fault of the low-carb diet.

Thank you for your comment and for making things clearer for some people. It is important to set the record straight whenever something or someone is unfairly
accused. Good for you, having such a sense of righteous indignation.

DAR said...

Some of us have to stick to low carb 100% 24/7. Even 1 meal of carbage will harm my diabetic body. Once the extra glucose sticks to my cells, it is stuck there for the 3 to 4 months it takes for those cells to die off. How much harm is being done in those months?

The lady in the story wasn't eating a healthy low carb diet. She was skipping meals and overexercising. A low carb diet with very few carbs is very healthy if done right.

I eat 20 or fewer net carbs per day, mostly from nonstarchy veggies. I don't eat grains, sugars, or fruit. Rather than dwell on what I'm missing, I dream up yummy recipes that won't hurt me.

Jennifer said...

Hi Dar - thank you for your insightful comment. Your experience is greater than mine in that regard (the diabetes challenge) and it is amazing that you are so dedicated to remaining as healthy as can be under the circumstances. I think if one's health is that much at stake, as you describe, perhaps it is a bit easier to stay the course. I had no idea that one carby meal could cause so much trouble and for so long.

The fact is few people can be 100% perfect all of the time, but getting close to it is possible. My point with my ramblings was that for the majority of us, perfection with diet and what we should or should not eat does not come easily 100% of the time, especially when life becomes emotionally difficult to handle - but, hopefully, most of the time one can stay the course. It is the mindset of some people that if they cannot achieve 100% perfection that that must mean that they have now failed and might as well throw in the towel until they have regained their weight and ill health. I was trying to reach that type of person. It's not possible for some people to be like you, Dar. In a perfect world perhaps, but I've known too many intelligent, fantastic people who cannot always be 100% in charge of their eating. Those kinds of people need to know there is hope and that they should not throw in the towel because they are not eating perfectly, but that they should get right back on the wagon and keep going.

DAR said...

Ha! Ha! I may be a perfectionist, but I'm far from perfect, Jennifer! ;+)

It's not as easy for me as it may seem. I DO watch my carbs to control my BGLs at every meal, but I also eat some meals that, though my BGLs are happy, I know will cause me to gain weight. I can be a rebel at times when it comes to my weight, but I dare not when it comes to my BGLs.

What really makes ME want to throw in the towel is when I HAVE kept my carbs very low, yet my BGL goes over 100 for some other reason. It can be from a hot shower, illness, working out, stress, etc. That's when it's tempting to tell myself, "You might as well eat whatever you want if your BGL is going up anyway!" But I talk myself out of it because I know it will just make me feel worse and could cause permanent damage. I find something to eat that I really enjoy, yet doesn't spike my BGL (usually topped with lots of real whipped cream!).

I agree any of us who eat (or are tempted to eat) things we shouldn't need to get right back on the wagon and not get on that slippery slope that lands us worse off than we started. (How's that for mixing metaphors?) 8+)

Jennifer said...

Dar, that is awful if you're being so good and then your BGL goes up for no rhyme or reason practically. You are very strong though when it comes to diet - way more disciplined than most, I would guess. I'm also naughty sometimes when it comes to things that could make me gain weight, but I keep strict tabs on my weight so that it does not get out of hand. It seems I always want to be 5 lbs lighter than I am. :-(