Friday, June 29, 2012

Helpful information about calories

The link above is to an opinion blog in the New York Times reporting on a recent study that showed that all calories are not created equal. In addition to the idea of "empty" calories, those with little or no nutritional value, there is information about how we use calories differently. The study examined people eating the same number of calories but on three different plans: high-carb/low-fat; Atkins (no carbs to speak of and high fat and protein); and a more rounded diet but with low-glycemic carbs. I think you'll find the discussion interesting. 

At the same time, it's easy to be overwhelmed with all the information out there and I'm particularly drawn to some of the experts who encourage us to try things out and see how we feel in our bodies. It is so tempting to give up our decision-making and just jump on something restrictive (with immediate weight loss) rather than considering if we can actually eat Paleo forever or whether a moderate diet of many kinds of healthy foods might just work well. 

And those of us who have addictions to certain foods and how they make us feel (or help us not feel) have additional things to consider. Two bites of dessert may work for some people. It's not going to work for me. On the other hand, I'm not desperately attached to pasta or bread or crackers so maybe I can have a sandwich once in a while. 

I discussed this with my physician yesterday at my annual physical and she said something that makes good sense to me. "We need to go back," she said, "to seeing sugar and white flour as treats. True treats. Once-in-a-great-while treats. Not as everyday foods." Maybe with some of these things I can do that. Sugar? No. But refined carbs? Maybe.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Being stuck and getting unstuck

When I saw my therapist this week, I launched into a description of an unsatisfying get-together I had recently been to. She listened patiently as always, and then tried to move me into a new direction. I say "tried to" because it took some effort for me to let go of my resistance to changing. I wanted everyone else to change. Not only to accommodate me but to know what I needed without my asking. Sound familiar?

She talked about moving towards something I want, a way I want to be, and not remaining in an old, familiar place. Before too long, I recognized my resistance. In fact, I suggested that Anna's notes about our sessions must read like this: "Didn't get it. She still doesn't get it. No progress. She's still stuck." We both had a good laugh and I wrote down the following question for myself: "Being stuck. Do I still need more practice at that?"

And while the concept of "acting as if" isn't new to me, the idea of stepping into some other way of being felt very hard until I thought about something I've been doing in my creative work. When I hit a place in my novel or when I'm painting where I don't know what I'm doing (and that happens a lot), I ask myself this question: If I did know what I was doing, what would I do? And then I act on the idea that comes (or one of them if several come).

So if I did know how to be more comfortable in a group where my needs weren't being met, how would I be  and what would I do? And curiosity began to open up. Much more pleasant than being stuck.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The leap from information to action

More and more information is being published about the ruinous effects of our over-sugared, over-carbohydrated lifestyle. We eat too many carbs, many of us way too many, and we're fat and in poor health because of it. It makes perfect sense.

And yet part of me is sad that it makes so much sense. I've been loosely monitoring how many carbs I consume (even with no wheat) and it's certainly at or above the currently recommended 200 grams per day. Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, potatoes or rice with meat and veggies for lunch and dinner, a low-fat energy bar with crisped rice in the afternoon or some unbuttered popcorn or any of the myriad things that I'm used to eating on a low-fat diet. It doesn't take very much of these things to add up to 200. And then if I add in the bits of sugar that appears in every bottled sauce or dressing and the juice that goes in my smoothie and the sugar in the nonfat yogurt I like and I'm over the top.

The sadness for me lies in the fact that even the 200 a day is probably way more than I can eat if I want to lose weight and be healthier. And so I'm sad at yet more change, more vigilance. Sad at the thought of giving up the low-fat, low-sugar popsicles I've come to love and baked beans and baked potatoes and rice with Thai food. I won't move off these things all at once. It's just wheat this month. Maybe rice next. So I'm not leaping from information to action but rather strolling. But it still makes me sad.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Getting off wheat--a week later

It's been a week since I set my intention to move off wheat. I ate the last two toaster waffles and then the favorite frozen ravioli from Trader Joe's with a pang of regret. I threw out the pasta (three open packages--what's that about?) and wondered what I'd do with my friend Mel's fabulous tomato sauce in the cupboard. I let the rye bread in the fridge go stale and tossed it too. I discovered that the crackers in the cupboard, while still high in carbs, have no wheat so I kept them for now. I set some unopened wheat items aside for the next food drive.

With some minimal guilt, I ate a tortilla when Beth and I had Mexican food but I decided afterwards that I wasn't going to fudge like that and when I ate out a few days later, I ordered my burger with no bun. I have a few things left that have wheat asa minor ingredient (way down on the list). Since I don't have a gluten intolerance (that I know of), I'm going to let that be okay for now (but no more wheat-ed purchases).

A friend read last week's blog and wrote to me about her own experiences of getting off carbs (a rather drastic plan through a naturopath that has her down 70 pounds and feeling great--after the withdrawal, of course). It doesn't sound sustainable. I've done more unsustainable food plans that I like to admit so taking it slow seems good for me.

And although I've been off desserts for more than two years, I'm beginning to see where the sugar still is in my diet (a fondness for dried fruit, low-sugar granola bars with their many carbs, white rice/potatoes/flour). My apprenticeship continues!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Moving out of carb country Step One

After a long conversation at our Women and Food group last week, I agreed to begin to shift in the direction of the paleo diet (simply put, no grains, no dairy, no sugar; yes to meat, veggies, fruit, and some say tubers like sweet potatoes). Going cold turkey into this from a carb-rich diet seemed more than I could do. Especially since to a woman, anyone I know who has done this says the first week is miserable as your body screams for carbs and you have little to soothe it with. Not my idea of a good time.

The last time I quit an addictive substance cold turkey, I was in an alcohol treatment center and had drugs and 24-hour support. I can't see that happening this time.

Secondly, the paleo gurus encourage you to go through your freezer, your cupboards, and your fridge and get rid of all the offending items. I have a fair amount of money invested in offending items as I keep my cupboards, freezer, and refrigerator pretty well stocked. I'm neither interested in throwing the food away or throwing that money away.

Fortunately, I've read several things that talk about easing into a low-carb food plan and so this month, I am moving off of wheat. I am not buying wheat products (bread, pasta, tortillas, etc.) and I'm not ordering them if I eat out. I do have some rye bread (just rye flour) and a couple of frozen pasta dishes that I'll eat up and then that will be that. And I'll see how that goes.

This seems a much more sensible approach and I'm hoping it will make an encouraging difference.