If you have been paying attention in the last 3 years: low carb, paleo, primal, sugar free and grain free living is "all the rage".
And, if you are like me and do a lot of reading and research about health, you know the reason this is the case is because of the science and literal living proof that eating this way can have a MASSIVE positive impact on our physical and mental health!
In the last three years I have put this science and research to the ultimate test, since I had a perfect guinea pig to test on-MYSELF!
I have been overweight basically all my life. I reached 4 foot 11 at twelve years old and that is as tall as I'll ever be.
I was attending T.O.P.S. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) with my mother at eleven-20 pounds overweight, I went to Weight Watchers at 12. Learned to be embarrassed about exercising in front of people in a leotard, doing Jane Fonda workouts in my living room- being teased and laughed at by my family. My parents bought me the first Nintendo system with the barbie workout dance mat for Christmas, as incentive to lose weight. I drank slimfast at 13, starved myself with one meal a day from 14 onward, and binged when I got home from school on kraft dinner and hotdogs.
My mom was almost 400 pounds when I was 10 and had gastric bypass to lose the weight. At 26 she was told if she didn't quit smoking and lose the weight, she'd be dead by 30! Still, as she lost the weight, all our meals were pasta, meat and potatoes, bread, bread and more bread, canned disgusting corn and peas, boxed cereals and desserts. Cake, pies, cheesecake, ice cream, you name it. I never ate many fruits beyond apples, or canned peaches and I didn't even know what hard cheddar cheese or yogourt was until I was in my late teens!
I graduated highschool in the 170 pound range, and I was of the heaviest girls in my class. I entered adulthood still struggling with my weight and eating an unhealthy high carb, low fat diet- the standard government recommended "healthy" food guide for most of the world.
At about nineteen I started having hip pains and was told it was probably my arthritic genes and from being overweight. Everyone in my father's family had arthritis, so they didn't look any further for a reason for my pain beyond being fat.
In 2003, 3 years after the birth of my first child, and 29 years old...I started to get a handle on emotional and boredom eating. But being ADHD and not knowing it, I was still feeding my lack of dopamine with sugar and carbs to give me a short lived rise in focus, daily. So every attempt to lose weight was usually a failure and I blamed my own lack of willpower and bad genetics.
By 2004 I worked hard at exercise and limiting sweets and lost 30 pounds...and then I got pregnant with my son. Trying to stay active through pregnancy proved to be an issue with dizziness whenever I exercised and severe morning sickness. Then I went through 6 months of constant hunger, and I was nearing gestational diabetes by the time my son was born at 38 weeks.
I gained 50 pounds through his pregnancy and tipped the scale at 220. On a 4 foot 11 frame, I was morbidly obese, and newly diagnosed with ADHD ( which was missed and present all my life). While weight loss and healthier eating was on my radar, learning to manage my ADHD with a 4 year old and a brand new baby was a higher priority.
For 30 some odd years I just accepted my so called genetic fate and dealt with the hip pain, lived overweight and took pain medications. With all that AND ADHD, and being the one in charge of running the home, I then struggled with depression, anxiety and massive life overwhelm for 5 years. Being fat wasn't as high a priority as figuring out how to do the day to day things I needed to do as a mom and struggled through.
In 2010, I was "pre diabetic" and about 199 lbs. Hey! at least I was still under 200 I told myself! (my cut off for how heavy I'd ever allow myself to be.)
In 2013, I was diagnosed with diabetes 2, and I was over 200 pounds.
Having seen most of my mother's family struggle with diabetes2 all my life, and seeing them having to have their legs chopped off, going blind and attending funerals from diabetic death earlier than necessary- When I was told "You are diabetic, here take this metformin" it scared the living shit out of me!
I was sent to a diabetic nutrition clinic to be taught how to eat healthy for living with diabetes. WHAT A JOKE! I was told to eat 45 grams of carbs per meal ( salad carbs didn't count), low fat foods with "healthy" whole grains and lots of fruits & non starchy veggies.
I was told "No, do NOT cut out fruits" when I asked if I could cut back for a while to get my blood sugars down to normal. And, I was told to eat oatmeal every day to lower my LDL cholesterol and to eat low fat to raise my HDL as well, or I'd have to go on cholesterol medication.
I was also told to eat every few hours and to eat two 25g of carbs in snacks between my three 45g of carb main meals a day! Their management plan was for me eat this way, take metformin, and see how my sugars were in a few months. If needed I could take up to 6 metformin a day and then after that-insulin needles were an option depending on how my body handled this healthier diet.
I was floored! THIS was a diabetic/insulin resistance healthy diet plan!?
I asked about low carb eating and was told "NO! low carb is not healthy, you need carbs to live, and it is dangerous and a fad!" I got the "too much meat and fat and cholesterol" talk
I won't point too much at the fact that the nutritionist herself was in the overweight category, since I was sitting in her office in the "morbidly obese" category and diabetic- but needless to say, I did not put too much cred in her "low carb is dangerous" opinion. I had already done my homework and that was my plan to manage my diabetes2. So, I just kept my mouth shut, played dumb and took her info with me when I left.
I immediately threw her info in the trash and in March of 2013 I went low carb.
With no bread, pasta, rice or potatoes and with limited fruit in my days all week, I had a cheat day once a week or so. I ate cake at a birthday, ice cream for a treat and a chocolate bar once a month during my period-and in 6 months I lost 25 pounds with little to no planned exercise aside from gardening and housework.
But better than the weight loss-I reversed my insulin resistance, upped my HDL and lowered my LDL. All while eating LOW CARB. Which included lots of butter, eggs, red meats, sausage and bacon! I was eating about 80 grams of carbs a day from the about 150 grams a day I was eating when I was diagnosed as diabetic. (Remember the nutritionist told me to eat 185 grams of carbs a day)
My health care team was shocked and elated with my health and success when I got my blood work done. They were less elated when I told them it was through Low carb eating, and that I ate about 4 eggs a day! rather than argue over it they settled with "well whatever you are doing is working, so keep it up". They went the don't ask-don't tell route over it.
In the last 3 years I have learned how to eat completely wheat free, got un-scared of butter and healthy fats, and managed to go off the arthritis pain meds, and the metformin!
I kept the 25 pounds off for the last 3 years and was eating gluten free ( meaning I ate rice and corn based grain products occasionally)
Over the months, I got comfortable there and though eating rather healthy compared to standard recommendations I was replacing breads with corn based wraps, and ate tortilla chips on occasion when out at restaurants over potatoes.
I ate a little rice and corn based pastas a few times a week, and treated myself with sugar treats in what is considered by nutritionists to be "in healthy moderation". But the typical all around gluten free diet is still a LOT of carbs, and clearly certain carbs and sugars don't like my digestive system.
Over the winter of 2015 I gained back 9 pounds. The hip pain and inflammation came back, and my blood sugar readings were creeping back up slowly.
So, in 2016 I decided to finally get serious about my obvious all grains intolerance and cut out all sources of grains in my eating.
No corn, no rice, oats, wheat, barley or rye, even quinoa... NOTHING. It took some emotional healing to grieve over no more quick easy tacos, or other easy choices when eating out, but I have finally made the life long resolution that grains and I will never be friends.
I am sugar free, and grain free and I will likely never eat more than 50 grams of carbs on a daily basis again. As soon as I cut out the grains and the sugar- the inflammation went down and the pain has subsided greatly, and I feel SO MUCH better!
With eating healthy fats ( olive oil, butter and coconut oil, and the fats on my meats only) and a high protein lifestyle, my blood sugars are stable and normal ( non diabetic) again, and best of all, I am not starving all day because the protein and healthy fats keep me fuelled and feeling full much longer than a high carb diet.
I no longer need a nap in the afternoon most days, and my mid week ADHD burnout is not as bad of a crash any longer! I have more energy daily, and I am less ADHD scatterbrained!
Currently I am eating a sustainable, enjoyable ( on a low budget) lowcarb/ketosis intake. I am keeping my food under 20 grams of net carbs a day. I'm doing this to burn off the excess fuel (body fat) off my body for good, and finally get to a healthy weight of 150 lbs.
The personal evidence: Without sugar and grains, minimal fruits (berries mostly) and lots of healthy fats and proteins as my food, I have gone into remission from Arthritis & Diabetes2! With that and the improved energy levels and less severe ADHD symptoms, it is enough proof for me to make living low carb my life!
That's why I call this section of my blog "the Low Carb ADDvantage"
From a person who proclaimed a love of pizza, subs and sandwiches as my favourite foods, I never thought I could give up bread, and NOT MISS IT...so...believe me when I say if *I* can do this...anyone can! Even if it takes a slow three year process to make such drastic changes, like I did.
My kids and husband eat lower carb as well, but still eat flat breads, potatoes and english muffins and limited sugary treats. My husband lost 65 pounds in the last year and a half just due to the changes we have made to our eating habits. maybe one day I'll get him to totally convert 😉
If you think you might benefit from living low carb as well, there are lots of reputable info sources for you to check out right here on the internet.
My sources of education and information on living this way came and still comes from websites and books and doctors who are proving that low carb/primal/paleo esk/grain free eating is an enjoyable and healthy way to eat every day.
I will be posting those links in a resource post soon-So stay tuned!
If you'd like to follow me while I lose this last 35 pounds, and see some of the things I do eat with recipes I'll share here- follow me on Instagram and sign up on the left for email updates about living the Low Carb ADDvantage.