In our modern, affluent, first-world society one of the most talked about issues is what we eat. You’ll find racks and racks of cook books, food magazines, TV cooking shows (and a few reality TV shows trying to fake it as cooking shows). Our obsession with food and the eating thereof has now morphed into an epidemic of obesity. You have only to go down to the local shopping mall to witness the phenomenon, which affects all age groups.
Including Pete and me.
Since we retired to Hervey Bay ten years ago, we have steadily put on weight. There are a number of reasons. Lack of exercise is one, eating too much is the other. It’s not so much eating the ‘wrong’ things. For us, fast food is an occasional ‘can’t be bothered’ treat. We’ll stop at Hungry Jack’s or Macca’s for breakfast if we’re doing a long drive somewhere, pick up a pizza if we’re not in the mood to cook. But usually we cook and eat at home, and we eat a lot of vegies.
Like every other woman on this planet, I’ve done the diet thing, sometimes with success, sometimes not. When I was young and slim, the dieting creed was you gave up on bread and potatoes, and had a piece of cheese if you were hungry. That was after you’d eschewed all the naughty things like fried foods, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks and the like. And it worked.
Then we moved on to ‘fat is bad for you’. Stores bulged with low-fat alternatives to everything under the sun, and margarine replaced butter as the spread of choice. Along with ‘no fat’ we had ‘sugar free’ – that is, artificial sweeteners like Aspartame. If you counted your calories on a diet like this, it worked.
There’s a huge ‘diet’ industry. Weight watchers, Jenny Craig, Lite ‘n Easy, Paleo, meal substitutes, and more. Celebrities will tell you how well they work, and they make a fortune selling you stuff. And every time you turn around there’s a new ‘discovery’ about what you should and shouldn’t eat. When it comes down to it, any ‘diet’ will work. For a while. But the only thing that will work long term is lifestyle.
It’s usually your clothes that tell you they’ve had enough and it’s time to do something about it. The scale read 80kg+. I’d had a bit of success in the past with a low-carbohydrates approach. It was time to Get Serious.
Messing about on the web, I found this site – the Diet Doctor It’s all about Low Carb High Fat, otherwise known as keto (NOT Paleo). Please watch the short introductory video. In over-simple terms, though, if you limit the quantity of carbohydrates you consume, your body will burn stored fat instead. It sounded good to me, so I sent it on to Pete. If we did it together we could simplify the whole cooking process. He said yes.
We didn’t have to give up all that much. We ate pretty well, anyway. Neither of us has a sweet tooth, so giving up the usual cakes, ice cream etc was a given. Then we got to the sacrifices. No more Anzac biscuits with morning tea, no bread, pasta, potatoes, or rice. But you can fry a piece of fish with butter, or make meat balls with a mushroom and cream sauce. Cauliflower mashed with cream and a bit of cheese is a surprisingly good substitute for mashed potato. Pete gave up beer, but there are no carbs in Scotch and water (which is what we drank, anyway), and there are only two carbs in a glass of dry red or white wine. Anything marked ‘low-fat’ was immediately off the shopping list. We eat full fat cream, butter, and cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil. We’d always been label-readers, but we went further, checking the carb count in stuff like bottles of salad dressing, or pasata. You’d be surprised how much sugar is in soooo many things.
We don’t count calories. The simple message is ‘eat until you’re full, then stop’. Because the food is rich and filling, it’s pretty hard for most people to overeat. One other thing about this eating approach – there’s none of this ‘you MUST eat breakfast’ nonsense. I never used to in my younger days. In fact, the keto diet encourages a bit of fasting. Eg Don’t eat breakfast, wait until lunch time for your first meal. And you are not encouraged to ‘snack’. In fact, if you eat a good breakfast (like bacon and eggs) you’re not hungry until at least lunch time.
We’ve been doing the LCHF things now for a couple of months and we’ve both shed around 7-8kg. Pete had been diagnosed as having type-2 diabetes. His blood sugar levels have stabilised to normal. And it has been easy. You’ll find a heap of recipes on the web if you search for ‘keto’. I like what I found at Aussie Keto Queen, but there are plenty of others.
If you have cravings for food you’ve given up, like pizza, biscuits, or a chocolatey dessert, you’ll find recipes on the web. You can create substitute pizza crusts from cauliflower, make pretend bread, or make a sweet to satisfy your urges if you want. There’s even a recipe for keto-friendly Anzacs.
If you’ve been doing the yo-yo diet thing and you’re sick of it, take a look. It might work for you, too.