|"Do graham crackers count as treats?"|
I get asked frequently what I've changed, how I eat, and comments on the weight I've lost, so I thought I'd go ahead and write a post about it for anyone that wants to know. However, before I launch into that, I want to stress that I'm firmly in the 80/20 camp of healthy eating. For example, yesterday we celebrated the "mini Easter" of a Sunday in Lent by eating ice cream and Cadbury mini eggs. And do you know who ate the most? Me. But today, Lent or not, I'm back on the wagon.
I spent months researching nutritional science 1 and observing how foods, and when I ate them, made me feel 2. I discovered:
- Eating to reduce the insulin released into my bloodstream made me a lighter, happier, mentally-balanced, energetic mom.
- Discovering my own circadian rhythm of insulin release relative to the foods I was eating enabled me to time my eating of certain types of foods such that I didn't experience blood sugar swings and their negative effects: irritability, headaches, shakes and ravenous hunger.
- Since insulin causes water retention, reducing the insulin released in my body caused me to lose a significant amount of water weight. Being free from the feeling of chronic mild inflammation caused by elevated insulin and water retention was a huge surprise and relief!
|No relevance to this post, just a fun pic and a|
common sight in our house.
I can't eat added carbs before lunch. No matter the fiber content or amount of calories, they will make my blood sugar spike, causing a massive insulin release, followed by a blood sugar crash and a horrible case of the "hangries" (hungry/angry) and I'll have to eat again mid-morning.
In the morning I also avoid dairy products (aside from half and half) and lean protein - all of which also cause a rise in blood sugar. For whatever reason, my body is very sensitive in the morning and I need fat.
- Breakfast consists of:
- Coffee with about 1/3 c. of half and half
- 3 eggs with butter (when I'm done nursing Sumo baby, I'll go down to 2)
- Lunch consists of any of the following:
- Salad with avocado, bacon bits, cheese, creamy dressing
- Cottage Cheese (fullest fat I can find - 4%)
- Cheese with lunchmeat
- Peanut butter (I use non-hydrogenated, sugar-sweetened peanut butter) with apple slices (about 2 TBS per 1/4 apple)
- Snacks consist of any of the following:
- Nuts - raw or roasted/salted (often with some mini choc chips)
- a smaller helping of anything from the lunch list
- if I *really* need a sweet something now that it's Lent, I'll add a few raisins to my nuts, but let's be honest, those things have as many carbs as chocolate. Be careful.
- In terms of how carbs make me feel, evening is the best time for me to eat them. It's not unusual for me to eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner. I try to keep my desserts high in fat since this softens the blow of the sugar in my blood stream.
- If I over-do it, or eat a dessert that's low in fat, I will feel particularly "hung over" in the morning: puffy, inflamed, headache, depressed...
- Gluten. It's the ultimate way to mess up my progress, hormones, mood, digestion, inflammation levels, etc. I also find that 1 taste leads to more tastes. I just say "no".
- Artificial sweeteners (the very occasional diet pop aside). If I'm going to enjoy a treat, I'll enjoy it whole-heartedly, sugar and all. Interestingly, artificial sweeteners still cause an insulin spike, even though there is no blood sugar spike. Because of this insulin release you set the blood sugar swing in motion, triggering "hanger" and all it entails. This doesn't even touch the potential health issues related to artificial "foods."
|Sumo Baby! 7 months old and 23 lbs of pure happiness.|
I'm happy and healthy, my nursing baby is fat as fat can be, and I'm 4 lbs below my wedding weight. It feels like freedom, and I hope to eat and live this way for a long time!
1. Among many other things, I read Gary Taubes' Good Calories Bad Calories. For a summary, click here. The insight into the role of insulin was particularly eye-opening, and allowed me to have a pregnancy virtually free of significant water retention - a first in my 6 pregnancies!
2. Because I am a busy mom of 6, I am most interested in feeling my best, and not being chained by negative emotions and negative reactions to children being children, fatigue, hunger, weight gain, etc. I make no claims that this is a heart-healthy way to eat although I suspect it is more-so than the way I ate previously (which I thought was the "right" way to eat). I also make no claims that this is a one-size-fits-all approach! This works for me, and your body may function entirely differently based on your own body chemistry, ailments, etc.