Thursday, March 1, 2012

Permanently Limit Carbs

"...Telling a person that they can progressively add more and more dietary carbohydrate means that they don't need to make their peace with not having it. All they need to do is wait a few months..." -The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living

Does the lure of adding back carbs derail people from their diets? I don't have any other explanation for the stampede to safe starches or the drift of the potaleo (potato+paleo) movement. This isn't carb creep, where low-carbers get back on track after some weight gain or other problems, it's keeping watch for excuses to eat carbs.

At this writing, a Google search for the phrase "adding back carbs" yields 16,000 results. The phrase "permanently limit carbs"? This post will make four.

It's time for a different attitude towards high-carb living: it's over. No more pasta, bread, pie, cookies, beer, and so on, ever--unless you're having low-carb versions of those things. (Confession: I'm still trying to kick chocolate. The low-carb brownies are helping.) It sounds harsh, but I've actually found it easier to completely cut out certain foods like wheat than to cut back on them. It's like dealing with a bad relationship: better to stop calling, stop dropping by, stop thinking about it, and just end it and move on. I did the weekly "free day" for years on Body for Life, and cheat day foods ended up creeping into all the other days. Now, with no cheat day, cheating is infrequent. And a cheat day can damage your health. In an interview with Jimmy Moore, Dr. Cate Shanahan answered a question from a caller about having a binge now and then: on an inflammatory food binge, a stroke is possible, and a stroke is permanent. Dr. John Briffa cited a study showing raised triglycerides (which are fueled by carb) are associated with higher risk of stroke and research on carbs, inflammation and stroke. "While a fat indulgence (if there is such a thing) pushes large LDL up," says Dr. William Davis, cardiologist, "the effect is relatively short-lived. Have a carbohydrate indulgence, on the other hand, and small LDL particles persist for up to a week." (Small LDL contributes to atherosclerotic plaque.)

It's also time for a different attitude towards low-carb living: eat a good-enough LC diet. Or as Sean Croxton puts it, don't be weird. I recently read about a woman who, by her own blog account, was neurotic about her eating and ended up going on a sugar bender. She justified it by the fact that--wait for it--her temperature was steadier after her binge. A good-enough diet keeps me from acting like a sailor on shore leave. I get the best groceries I can, but if I feel like eating at McDonald's, I do. If all that's available is canola-soy oil salad dressing, I use it. I also have low-carb ice cream, stevia, Splenda, and diet Dr. Pepper. Not pristine, but they're not major parts of my diet, and for me, they're better than other food I might have if I were too strict or let myself go hungry.

Now that I haven't had a potato or fruit, or bread or pasta, or variety of other starchy, sugary foods in years, I can hardly remember what they taste like. And guess what: I don't crave them anymore--except for the chocolate.


tess said...

lol -- i'm not the only one noticing the stampede, then....

as one who is dedicated to low-carb on a permanent basis, i note that the converts to starch are almost all athletic types. men of all ages and young women who work out a lot are saying they're losing weight and feeling better on increased carbs. their bodies may be able to handle it (temporarily, anyway) but mine NEVER will.

Lori Miller said...

I think there's something in the starchy food they might be lacking--potassium, maybe. Given there's only a teaspoon of glucose in your blood, it's hard to imagine anyone *needs* a pound of starchy food a day.