Thursday, May 5, 2011

Living Life the Very-Low-Carb Way

I want to post an entry all about our Easter and our latest camping trip, but I can NOT figure out how to hook the camera up to the computer properly, so that will have to wait til DH gets home! (That's the downside of being married to a computer genius. One's own skills stay in infantile form. I am such a computer ignoramus!)

And so, my update on the VLC (very low carb) diet! (This is the anti-pregnancy-nausea diet that I've been writing about for the past couple of months.)

I meant to keep a regular diary, and update it every day, but.... *ahem*..... I didn't. (I am such a blogging flake lately!) So here I am, on DAY NINETEEN, writing in! (I had to put that in caps because I'm so excited about it!!)

What this diet is:

The diet is limited to foods that have a very low carb content (not just "low carb," but "very low carb"), which includes: meat/eggs, non-starchy vegetables, and cheese. That's it! Did I mention that it's a wee bit restrictive? LOL!

That means no: sugar, fruit, starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, peas, carrots, etc.), legumes, dairy, or grains of any kind.

And.... I've managed to stay on it! I am so excited!

I would say "I am so proud!" - but frankly, dear readers, God gets ALL the glory in this one. All of it. I never could have done this on my own! I have the self-control of a hypoglycemic hyena in a self-serve donut shop. It's that bad. On any sort of restrictive diet, I typically last about twenty minutes, tops - and that's if I start between meals with a full stomach. Last time I tried this, I lasted less than five minutes.

So here we are on day nineteen! Hurray!

It's definitely been an interesting road! Here are some of the challenges I've encountered along the way, in no particular order:

(1) Cost - Grains and legumes are the cheapest, most economical, money-saving part of a diet. Taking them out has made our grocery bill definitely inch upwards (which it was doing anyway lately!!).

(2) Self Control - As I've said, the Lord is definitely helping me to do better than I usually do. However, it is a constant exercise in self-denial, especially as....

(3) The rest of the family isn't doing the diet - This means that I function largely as a short-order cook around here! One infant, one preschooler, one adult, and one very-restricted-diet adult. Quite a challenge! The diet sheets say that it's best if everyone in the household can go on the diet, to avoid temptation, but that isn't possible here. One thing that I've found that helps is to keep carbs that I can't resist (pizza, ice cream, homemade desserts) out of the house and keep the ones that I couldn't care less about (cheerios, goldfish, bread) around for the carb eaters.

(4) Paradigm shift in cooking - First of all, I love carbs! And most of my meal plans were centered around them. Now, most of my recipe books are useless, and I am having to start from scratch. While it's a fun adventure, it's also been rather confusing and disconcerting. Also, I have had to....

(5) Change my cooking schedule - Before this, relied primarily on crockpot and casserole dishes that could be prepared the night before or the morning of, in order to avoid cooking during what my friend Cindy calls "the dreaded arsenic hour" - that pre-dinner time frame when tempers are short and tantrums are long. But with this diet, most entrees that I've found so far are skillet dinners - i.e. dinner-time prep dishes. Working on that!

(6) New knowledge base - I came of culinary age during the "fat is evil" fad, and I stayed in that mode for a long time. Thus, when the low-carb diet trends came along, I didn't do a lot of reading on the subject, and so all of the information about glucose and insulin metabolism is completely new to me. But interesting! Though not very-low-carb or even low-carb in themselves, I have really enjoyed reading "The Paleo Diet" and "Primal Blueprint" books - lots of good information.

(7) A side note about camping - Doing this diet on a camping trip was HARD! Our typical camping fare is hot dogs, baked beans, spam, eggs, and marshmallows - almost none of which I could eat! So along with all of our typical food, I had to bring vegetables, quiche, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, and a bunch of other stuff. Lots of work!! One other inconvenience is that....

(8) This diet makes me a nuisance as a dinner guest! - Now this part I have found a bit embarrassing. I'm used to saying, "Oh, we eat anything! Don't worry about us!" Now, I have to say, "Um, actually, there is very little that I can eat." I foresee that we'll be inviting people over here a lot more often! It's easy to camouflage food choices in one's own home without insulting the poor sweet hostess who has to cook for a picky guest.

A couple of notes:

After 28 days, I have the option of transitioning to the slightly easier Phase III. I think I'm going to stay in Phase II. I will also have the choice, in Phase II, of being able to do one "cheat meal" per week (whatever I want!). I may try that.

The doctor who created this diet recommends a caloric intake that is 50-80% fat. Just a note for anyone out there who is looking into trying this.

On Day 1 of this diet, I got seriously nauseated in the afternoon - I later realized I'd gone four hours without eating, and this diet recommends snacking at least every two hours. I learned my lesson! That happened a couple more times in lesser form, and I think I'm more evened out now - but I do take care to snack often. 

I note that while I feel fine on this diet, I don't feel quite as good and energetic as I did on the Paleo diet. As the main differences between Paleo and the VLC is that the Paleo allows fruit (which the VLC doesn't) and the VLC allows cheese and whipping cream (which Paleo doesn't), I'm guessing that I really ought to take the plunge and give up cheese and whipping cream as well. But, with my diet so restricted, I haven't been able to take that bull by the horns... yet. 

A note on weight loss:

As you know, I am not doing this diet for weight loss.... this is entirely about NVP prevention.

However, as a side effect, I have lost about.... oh, thirteen or so pounds so far on it. And I can't say that I'm complaining! I have never had any luck in losing weight, and each of our babies has added an extra 10-15 pounds for me. Over the past 20 months since our little guy was born, "sensible diet and exercise" has done absolutely nothing for helping me to shed baby weight. (Well, not quite "nothing." I did gain another 6-7 pounds.) So I am quite impressed at the ease with which I am now losing (without any thought to the matter!) what regular healthy diet has done nothing to dent.

Is anyone else out there trying this? I'd love to hear from you if you are!!!

Have a great week! Back to the dishes! Pics hopefully coming soon of our Easter!


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  2. I was just wondering whether to mention that anyone with an underactive thyroid, as many HG women have, would need to be careful with this as although higher protein diets seem to be better (according to thyroid charity) any reduction in calories can lead to a further lowering of metabolism. Well don to you though, I admire your will power and you're putting that research into practice. xxx

  3. Wow, never thought of that! I really haven't looked into the thyroid issue at all. However, you mention reduction in calories as a risk - but this is not a low-calorie diet, by any stretch - in fact, it is probably higher calorie (it's really a high-protein, high-fat diet) than a normal diet. Do you think that would still be bad for low-thyroid mamas?

    What makes me nervous about this diet is simply that I don't know if it works for ALL HG mamas, or just some. I know (from what this doc has said) that it has worked in a general way on most NVP, and on at least on HG mother, but I really have no idea if it helps universally or just in some cases. I'm praying for the former, not the latter!!! :)

    Thanks for mentioning that - let me know what you think!

  4. Hiya,
    I've only just started looking into it as I put on weight AFTER baby was born due to underactive thyroid which I'd like to lose a bit of (keeping some 'reserves' incase I get pregnant with HG again though). Usually a reduction in carbs will also mean a reduction in calories and reducing carbs is advised for underactive thyroids but cutting calories has to be considered carefully in that instance. I've read that a reduction in carbs is good but that if people with an underactive thyroid cut their calories much it makes their body thing they are starving, leading to an even lower metabolic rate than they have with their underactive thyroid. An underactive thyroid has to be controlled for pregnancy and even getting pregnant as it can contribute to infertility and can lead to problems with the fetus devoloping. I don't think the low carb diet would be a bad thing for an HG Mamma with an underactive thyroid as long as they weren't cutting their calories much by avoiding the carbs. It's all a bit tricky though because when underactive thyroid women get pregnant it can swing into an overactive thyroid. I just wanted to pop it in as something for anyone with HG and an underactive thyroid to be aware of. Hope that makes sense. I'm at the stage that there are so many things to consider that eating anything is like doing algebra.

  5. High fat would be bad for underactive thyroid HG Mamas though as it is harder to control cholesterol if you have an underactive thyroid. Upping fats, especially saturated fats, would be a bad idea for them.


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