Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, March 07, 2016

The Diet Post

So I said I'd tell you about my diet, and I will.

Here is what it boils down to: if I ever want to get pregnant again, then in prudence I need to lose weight. Not because I think I'm fat, although I still weigh twenty pounds more than I did when I conceived William, but because the high blood pressure issues which have progressed with each pregnancy mean that I simply need to start at a lower base weight to avoid extra stress on my veins, and on my system in general.

This isn't really a matter of vanity, though of course that plays in because I'm human, you know. I'm softer than I used to be, and rounder, but I don't look particularly overweight. Though I would like to fit in the lower pants size of all the jeans I have packed away in a box, I'm not at an unreasonable point for a 37-year-old woman who's had six kids. I could hang at this point indefinitely, putting off pregnancy month after month.

Is the weight issue a serious reason to avoid pregnancy? I think it is, seeing as each pregnancy gets more difficult and takes more out of me (except weight -- I get more of that). But I feel convicted that I really ought to be doing something to change the situation, both for future health reasons and because although I'm at a point where NFP is effective and predictable, I don't want to become spiritually complacent. Oh well, reason to avoid! I'm good! Now, as it is, I'd be perfectly happy to never be pregnant again. But I like babies, and my family likes babies, and I have lots of helpers now that my older girls are growing up. I don't say that lightly; I had to lean on them heavily last time I was pregnant, and it's likely I'd need them to take on even more work next time around.

I also note that I write about this not because it's anyone's business, but because many people are making the same kind of decisions and find it helpful to know what other people are doing. I'm not looking for affirmation or criticism.

So, the diet. On the first Monday of Lent, I started the Whole30 program. Why? Mainly because everyone I know who'd tried it had lost weight in a satisfyingly dramatic fashion. Here's what's allowed on the diet:
Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.
Here's what's not allowed.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life. 
Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize. 
Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.) 
Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels. 
Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin). 
Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.) 
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30. 
Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.  
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.) 
*A few off-limits foods that fall under this rule include pancakes, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, pizza crust, waffles, cereal, potato chips, French fries, and this one recipe where eggs, date paste, and coconut milk are combined with prayers to create a thick, creamy concoction that can once again transform your undrinkable black coffee into sweet, dreamy caffeine. However, this list is not limited to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings.
Well, I've broken the scale rule, obviously, since I can tell you that two weeks on this diet has lost me a grand total of two pounds, but with the exception of our trip to New York, I have been off all the verboten stuff on the list. It hasn't been hard, really. It has been boring.

Here's what I've learned:

  • I already knew this, but no food causes me allergies, inflammation, whatever. 
  • My friends who lost lots of weight were drinking sodas, alcohol, eating a bunch of junk. I had very little of that to cut out of my diet anyway. Ergo, few empty calories to cut means no silver bullet.
  • Cut out the foods that fill you up, and you're hungry all the time. Lots to offer up there for Lent.
  • Oh Lord, I miss chocolate. And my cheese toast. 
  • Really, I probably just need to take up running again. I hate running.
Darwin is doing this with me because he's a rock of support, and since it's fruitless to compare male/female ability to drop pounds quickly, I won't even talk about it. (He also isn't carrying 20 extra pounds.) We're going to stick it out for the rest of Lent because it's a good discipline, and so much the better for my mortification if I don't see any results. 


August said...

Do they tell you not to eat much? I never really did a whole thirty, but it's pretty close to my diet, and I solved hungry by eating more fatty meat. Brisket used to be my main go to. Eggs and bacon. I've just gone ahead and eaten a whole roast chicken in one go. The hunger calms down after a few days.

Of course, I also put a nose clip on and swallowed two tablespoons of walnut oil every morning thanks to Seth Roberts. The idea (Shangri La Diet) is that the incoming calories are not attached to any flavor signal, and thus the body doesn't anticipate them. Somehow this causes appetite suppression. Worked very well, but I have also noticed the folks who did really well on the diet seemed to pick a mostly low carb paleo type diet like I did. In fact, it was while I was doing the Shangri-la diet that I noticed how a banana at 10am would have me very hungry at noon, but some brisket at 10am meant I wouldn't even think about food again until quitting time.

Don't run. Lift. Lifting helps with kids. Look up AltShift. The guy who wrote it looks scary, but it seems to be working really well for women. He trains women, and he came up with it working with his wife, who had been eating paleo for years, but had still kept on a lot of weight while having and taking care of three children.

Brandon said...

That's getting pretty close to an anti-Brandon diet; if I just cut out all sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy, my diet would mostly consist of bacon.

MrsDarwin said...

August, I do lift, but probably not often enough; every five days on average. I don't mind being hungry -- it's a minor sacrifice in my otherwise cushy life -- but I wish the hunger came with some rewards!

Brandon, it's sort of the anti-me diet too. It's good to know that the restrained quantities of sugar I ate weren't my problem; I won't feel many qualms about baking cakes (or bread, hot crusty bread, with butter) after Lent.

Bernard Brandt said...

Hi, Cat. Perhaps a week after my wife, Beth, died back in August of last year, my blood sugars shot up from 130+ to 250+. Bad news. So I went on the Alton Brown diet, from the Food Network program, "Good Eats".

I lost about 25 pounds, and am continuing to reconfigure my weight so that gradually my abdominal fat (which was causing the high blood sugars) has diminished. So have the high blood sugars.

Timotheos said...

There are a whole host of things about this diet that just plain confuse me.

First off, what's the deal with the clarified butter? As a man who can cook at a chef level, I can appreciate the use of clarified butter, but to be honest with you, it's just butter with the milk solids removed; it's almost pure fat. Next thing you know they'll be pushing for the people to eat more duck fat (which, while super delicious, is about as healthy for you as lard, mostly because it is)

For whatever reason it seems, they have it out for dairy products, even when it makes almost no sense (I mean really, clarified butter but no Skim milk?)

They're kinda right about the grains/beans; extra carbs are usually the leading contribution to weight gain, and meals heavy in those definitely will in the long-run be a big enemy. Their obsession though to try to completely remove all grains is silly in my view; that would make most soups, gravies, sauces, stews, baked goods, and pretty much anything that ever gets thickened literally impossible to make.

My main complaint with this diet is that it is utterly non-specific about the amount of food one gets, which is much more important than exactly what you are eating; it is quite easy to gain lots of weight eating steaks, lobster, and drinking lots of fruit smoothies, which this diet doesn't seem to try to restrict at all.

One diet that my Dad has had good results with is the diabetic diet that they teach patients to help them control their bloodsugars; he's not diabetic himself (my Mom is though), but it has worked very well for him (the nice thing about it is that it delineates what fruits/vegetables are "free" and which are costly in terms of carb content that will get stored as fat)

They're right about the alcohol though; it's pretty much Kool-Aid for adults, and more than one drink a week is too much if you're trying to lose weight.

mrsdarwin said...

Bernie, I'm not heard that your wife had died. My deepest condolences to you, and my prayers for her soul. I will certainly look up Alton Brown's diet; I already like his personality more than the Whole30 people.

Timotheos, one thing that did surprise me was that cutting grains from my diet resulted in nada, since it's a popular piety that grains are the source of all badness. I suppose I'm protected by my Whitest Person Ever heritage -- my ancestors didn't eat the Mediterranean diet. We've been thickening beef stew with potatoes, which are not off the list. I'll tell you what, though -- I miss my pots of beans. I make a mean red beans and rice (with fried andouille sausage on the side).

Whole30 says don't worry about portion control, but it's Lent, so we're trying to keep it simple. One thing we have found is that gorging on nuts because we're hungry is counterproductive, so we've cut that out.

Now the point is Lenten discipline instead of diet benefits, and it's made trickier by my 12yo giving up meat for Lent, so that meal planning has become penitentially creative.

August said...

The point of clarified butter is that the problems people have with dairy come from the proteins (or the sugars), not the fat. The fat is good, the fat is wonderful, and so is lard, unless they've hydrogenated it, in which case don't buy it.

Duck fat is pretty cool, but most fowl fat is a bit high in Omega-6, so I recommend limiting it. The industrial oils our food industry uses are full of Omega-6s.

You need to cut the 6s and get more 3s, which tend to come from fish, seafood, etc... Initially, people went crazy with fish oil, taking lots of it, but the ideal is to regularly eat seafood. You might need to supplement to correct a longstanding imbalance, but in general all PUFAs (and both are) are dangerous because they are easily damaged. The 6s cause a lot of modern problems because the are pro-inflammatory, while the 3s are anti-inflammatory- and that's when you get them undamaged.

Saturated fat is the safest fat. It is least reactive. Monounsaturates come next. The polyunsaturates are most reactive.

The 'safest' grain to return to appears to be white rice. I haven't bothered thickening many things lately, though I did notice you can thicken sauces with liver. I think I may have used arrow root and/or tapioca flour once or twice.

And I am living proof you can lose weight while drinking. I would stand in line at the store with a brisket in one hand, and a bottle of wine in the other. Not that I recommend that, and it probably doesn't work for women, but it worked for me. Probably not good for gut health.