Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Very-Low-Carb Diet: Jumping Ship

I owe you all this update, so here goes!

 I will keep it brief.

I have long been in pursuit of dietary methods of pre-conception healing that will aid in the prevention of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), also known as extreme nausea and vomiting of pregnancy.

I ran across one promising line of thought, the very low carbohydrate (VLC) diet, and used it successfully (in combination with the probiotic approach) in the prevention of HG. I went from out-of-control nausea and vomiting, controlled only by high doses of powerful drugs (Zofran), to a pregnancy in which I didn't even throw up once. (Except during labor, but that's another story.)

You can read all about my use of the VLC diet here.

(I should also note that I experienced additional health benefits from the VLC diet in addition to avoiding HG, for example: (1) healing of seasonal allergies, and (2) the remission of my persistent postpartum nausea. I have also seen VLC/ketogenic diets used with rousing success in other cases where extreme healing was needed, such as in the treatment of neurological disorders and with autoimmune diseases.)

My plan was that - after some serious post-partum diet fudging - I would simply go back on the VLC diet and stay there through my fertile years. That seemed only sensible, considering how successful it had been in preventing recurrent HG.

But there was one problem.

Namely that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make it work.

First came the procrastination. As the postpartum weeks crept past, I kept making bargains with myself. Just one more week. Then I'll restart the diet. Okay, one more week. And... how about another three months or so? 

And when I finally did get started, I couldn't stick with it longer than 72 hours, regardless of how many times I tried.

Here are the problems I ran into this time with the VLC diet, with some brief details:

(1) Boredom

Boring? As opposed to recurrent hyperemesis gravidarum? You've got to be kidding me. 

I know, this is minor.

But it's very, very difficult to keep going on a diet that is mostly meat and green vegetables. Severe boredom sets in. I couldn't muster any enthusiasm, and everything tasted bland and boring.

(2) Constant Hunger

I could not feel satisfied when eating. I could eat to the point of feeling physically uncomfortable, and still feel hungry and unsatisfied. As (I believe) Stefani Ruper says, carbs are part of satiety as well as fats. I found this out by experience.

(3) Carb Cravings

As in, I can't think about anything other than grabbing the nearest carbohydrate and chewing on it.
Man on the street: Can you tell me the way to the airport?
Me: Why yes, yes, I would like dessert.
Man on the street: The airport?
Me: Bananas! Oatmeal! Cornbread! Yes!!!

(4) Unsustainability

I simply could not make this diet work past the 72 hour mark. Inevitably, by that time I was so desperate for carbs that I was chewing on any carbohydrate in sight, usually including massive amounts of white sugar.

In case y'all are coming to the conclusion that I'm a lazy, good-for-nothing diet bum, I can say in my defense that I did go nearly an entire year absolutely carb-free. Yes, not just just sugar free, but carb free. I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

But this time, I couldn't make it work.

(The fact that I am under a massive amount of life-and-raising-children stress has made keeping up the VLC diet doubly difficult.)

(5) Stalled Weight Loss

This time around, I didn't lose any weight at all.

And you're probably thinking, "Well, if you're going on sugar binges every three days, no kidding."


But I can also say that even in my carb-free year, I only lost an additional 10 pounds and never got lower than twenty pounds above my ideal weight.


Despite all of the above, I kept trying for many months. But finally, I gave up.

I just couldn't do it any more.

There are two possibilities:

(1) I am a lazy bum.

(2) Being on the VLC diet long-term was harmful to my body, and my body stepped in and physically prevented my staying on the diet. (Rather like how one can hold one's breath for a while, but eventually, one's body will force one to begin breathing again.)

Honestly, I'm open to either possibility.


So where did I go from there?

I decided to join up with Trim Healthy Mama, a program that I have admired from afar for months.

I hope to post my review of the THM system soon. But in short, the THM program can be summarized thus:

Snacks and meals are either E (protein + carbs) or S (protein + fat).

Thus, the THM system separates macronutrients, but it doesn't villify any of them. Carbs, fats, and proteins are all good - just in the right combination.

And I love it.

I can feel full again. I can have carbs again. Food is interesting. Life is good.


(Though I do cheat, like the delectable piece of lemon meringue pie that I just had for Easter dessert. If you're wondering why I'm having Easter dessert at this time of year, I will just say that it's been that kind of year.)

I've also added back foods that are low-carb but not very-low-carb. Examples: cottage cheese, plain yogurt, berries.


The mind-numbing fear that has resurfaced, of course, is the fear of recurrent hyperemesis. The VLC was a guarantee, of sorts. In giving up the VLC diet, I relinquished that guarantee.

There are several possibilities:

(1) The VLC diet has healed my body, and that healing effect will (in combination with the other pre-conception therapies I utilize) prevent future hyperemesis.

(2) I am going to pay. Horribly. (i.e. Repeat hyperemesis, here I come.)

I hope for #1, but it's #2 that keeps me up at night.

Right now I'm a confused mess. But I am forging ahead with (1) Trim Healthy Mama, and (2) my other pre-conception routines, such as the probiotic method and magnesium supplementation.

As to the outcome of this mystery?

Time will tell.

Most likely, time will tell very soon.

And I will let you know what happens.


At this point, most readers are of one of two minds:
  1. She's showing some sense at last.
  2. She really is a complete idiot.
I would agree with both.

And there you have it.

Dear readers, I would welcome your thoughts!


  1. My thoughts are pretty simple: You go girl! Do what works for you at this time and season because we know there are times and seasons for everything. And let me know when you make it to another babying season! :)

    In all honesty, I have seen amazing and sometimes frustrating changes in my body over the years and pregnancies. I'm sitting here 7 months out from Tobias's birth and this has been one of the craziest yet. I lost 25 lbs in the first month or so and since then my weight hasn't budged. No matter how much I eat wisely and exercise consistently (but not crazily). I'm not anywhere near a 'healthy' weight. I'm sitting at 200 lbs. And my doctor changed my thyroid medication a month ago so my body is freaking out with the hormone dose changes. Completely. I'll ride this freak out for a few months before my body finds a new normal and I know that, so I'm just trying to hang in there.

    1. Wow, Tristan! That is a challenge! It is sometimes good for me to realize that I'm not alone in the pregnancy/female health challenges area. I hope that things settle down for you health-wise soon!

      I will certainly let you know when we're in baby-on-the-way season again!! :)

  2. I cannot call you a lazy bum.

    At all.

    I've been finding over and over again that if something feels way too hard--following a certain diet, implementing a certain routine, signing up for a certain activity--then it is not the right season to do it. I do believe in doing hard things, but there's a fine line between hard and too hard. Over and over again, something that was too hard one month or year (and made me crazy with worry and self-doubt) became totally doable in the right season a month or a year later.

    You are prayerful and insightful and far stronger than you give yourself credit. Go with what feels right. And trust in that God who made and loves you that when your next pregnancy comes, He'll give you the tools you need to make it. :)

    1. Ah, shucks, Anne - you're too kind. I think I need to print out your comment and read it every day. Good reminders!!!!

  3. Dear Diana,
    Don't let it keep you up at night. You can be responsible within the resources God has given you, but you cannot predict or control the future or what God does with it. Our call is to surrender and trust, not control .

    1. Ah, Jen - you speak to the heart of it. "Surrender and trust, not control" - that is always my challenge. And, of course, that's why my blog bears the name that it does - because those virtues (trust and obedience) are the ones for which I have to fight the hardest (neither comes naturally). Another reminder to press onward and upward toward trusting God rather than eternally questioning, which is my natural bent, for sure.

      See you soon! :)

  4. You and me are very much in the same boat! I'm just finalizing my blog post about my war strategy against HG. Lol we can do this! Praying for you and your future pregnancy! In Jesus' name may you see and taste the goodness of God x

    1. Cathy, I just saw your post show up in my blog reader - I'm so excited to read it!!!! Thanks for posting that, and for commenting here. Thank you for your prayers - I will be praying for you as well!

    2. Yes we need prayers! Thank you! I'm working on a post on how my husband prepares for my possible Hg pregnancies lol! He has some work cut out

  5. I tried the low carb diet for over a year and felt low energy yucky! I felt better once I added in a small amount of carbs some honey. I don't eat much grains but a small bit here and there and wow I feel so much more balanced and this pregnancy I was able to control the nausea with Unisom and B-multi's fairly well. Still didn't feel amazing but really much better than nothing. I find that balance and just not eating tons of carbs is the big picture. I've focused on less carbs this pregnancy but still some. Anytime I'd eat something super sweet it seemed to make the nausea worse the next day so I try to stay away from straight sugar and stick to natural ones like honey and little bits of carbs naturally found in whole foods like fruit. <3 I think you are doing great! Listen to your body!

    1. Jess, thanks for stopping by! Your experience is fascinating to hear about. It seems that many of us really benefit from at least cutting artificial sugars before and during pregnancy, whether or not we stay officially low-carb or very-low-carb. Thank you for commenting! :)


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