In March 2011 a friend of Mad Cy’s mentioned he was using a calorie tracker to lose weight. A free online tool to use coincident with both of us wanting to drop a few pounds: cool! we signed up immediately! After a couple weeks I couldn’t figure out why eating fewer calories (i.e., less food) didn’t result in losing weight. I was not happy with hunger so strong I could’ve gnawed off my arm, and then ending up digging in the freezer and foraging through the cupboard to find something—anything! to eat. There had to be a better way.
I usually always ate healthy: did my own baking—including bread, cooked dinners from scratch, including soups, homemade pasta, using the usual vegetables, meat/poultry/fish, and potatoes. How could I be gaining weight when I rarely ate french fries, or went to fast food places, didn’t drink specialty coffees or beer, and everything was homemade and therefore healthy, right?
I never drank soft drinks, or anything carbonated for that matter—it makes me burp up into my nose which, urp! is an unpleasant experience. I did drink juices sometimes, love dessert occasionally, and enjoy much satisfaction preparing them too. In fact, if you were to look at all the recipes I’d assembled over the years, probably 80% of them were cookies, squares, cakes, pies, ice cream (yes, homemade), and a category called “desserts”. Not that I made them all—it was dessert porn. I just liked reading the ingredients and looking at the pictures. Mmmm … unsalted butter, vanilla, zest of lemon, egg yolks beaten until fluffy, the delicate scent of sifted pastry flour … sigh. Ahem.
Now, there was(is) the unavoidable factor of age to add in. I realized that. When you get older, the metabolism slows down. Everybody knows that, right? Good excuse? But, after my late 40s I was gaining about five pounds a year! Would this continue for the next 30 years? hmmm … 30 years times 5 pounds equals … yikes! You might ask, ‘what about all those desserts’? Well, I wasn’t eating any more desserts than when I was younger; in fact, it was less because there was no family around to share with. And as tasty as pie & ice cream may be, it’s just not the same when you’re faced with eating the whole pie yourself. Really! Food tastes better when shared.
So, being an information junkie, I went looking for a reason, an explanation into the physiology of food and how it ended up spilling over my waist and butt. I found it in Gary Taubes’ books, first reading the well titled, Why We Get Fat – And What to do About It; then his other book, Good Calories Bad Calories – Fat, Carbs and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health. In a nutshell, what I had understood my entire life to be the right way to eat was questionable. Um, what? Everywhere in magazines, newspapers, and well, just everybody said eat low fat, less meat, more beans & whole grains, and thou shalt be skinny and healthier.
I did more investigating on the internet, because you know The Google knows everything. A way of eating came up that I’d seen before about eight years ago and dismissed because it said no grains or dairy was part of the diet. What’s with that? How could I live without pasta or bread? I LOVE bread. Love making it. Love eating it warm out of the oven. My focaccia was amazing and what’s more I loved making it too … poking my fingers in the dough and pouring olive oil all over—could anything be better? So, giving up bread was out of the question. And dairy? I haven’t had milk in a glass in years because it gave me the runs when I ran, and I used to do lots of running; so, no milk. But yes to yogurt. Guess what? Homemade! Yes, how healthy is that? Also ate cheese; a gratin anything is delicious, and let’s talk about mac & cheese. Homemade in the oven with the crunchy cheese topping? There’s a reason it’s called comfort food!
No bread and dairy? Ridiculous. And no sugar. Okay, that I could understand; everyone knows sugar isn’t a healthy food.
More reading and questioning, and finally the conclusion the only way to see if there’s anything to this theory was to give it a try. After all, I figured everyone is different and you’ve heard the diet fad caveat, “these results are not typical”. Yeah. Let’s see.
I embarked on a way of eating that included:
- Meat, poultry, fish, eggs
- Some fruit & nuts
- Healthy fats—these not being what I expected
These healthy fats were the ones vilified when Crisco and margarine made their debut: which at the time became ‘out with butter, coconut oil, lard and tallow, and in with the manufactured hydrogenated seed oils’.
The flip side of this meant:
- No sugar
- No grains (from grasses such as wheat, oats, corn, barley, etc.)
- No legumes (soy, peanuts, beans, peas) and initially, potatoes
- No dairy
- No oils made from seeds or grasses (canola, soy, safflower, sunflower, corn … yeah, I thought corn was a vegetable too)
So, is it working for me? Yes, and will get into how this way of eating is manageable everyday.