This blogging malarkey is all new to me.
In fact it’s been a massive learning curve so far (and I still have a huge amount to learn!)
I am juggling learning, blogging and improving the families diet with a busy family and work life so please bear with me. Life has been particularly hectic recently. I have 3 children; 14, 12 and 7 years old, a busy husband, a dog and a Mum who has been in and out of hospital!
I met with friends recently, following my first blog post My Accidental Low Carb Journey
They wanted to know all about my low carb way of eating. Also interested in losing weight and improving health, they wanted to know how to go about it.
I promised to share all I knew! (I’m still learning). I don’t think I will ever forget the look on their faces when I told them which foods to avoid (bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta, rice and sugar). The look on their faces of shock and bewilderment, complete horror even; these were the foods that made up the majority of their diets. What were they going to eat? However this shock and confusion quickly led to ever increasing excitement as I explained which them which foods they should include instead.
Low-carb eating turns conventional wisdom completely on it’s head. Over the years we have been led to believe that we should fill up on carbohydrates such as cereals, bread, potatoes, pasta and rice. It turns out conventional wisdom is wrong. Avoiding these foods in favour of good quality proteins, meat, fish, cheese, cream, nuts, plenty of vegetables, healthy fats and berries has great health benefits. These include effortless weight loss without hunger or cravings, stabilisation of blood sugar levels, reversal of type 2 diabetes and better outcomes in Alzheimer’s, strokes and brain injury.
How do I eat low-carb?
Below are some of my favourites:
- Full fat Greek yoghurt with berries, nuts and seeds
- Full English: Good quality sausages, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes
- Keto Waffles with bacon, sausages and sugar free maple syrup
- Boiled eggs with roasted parsnip dippers
- Hummus with vegetable sticks; cucumber, peppers, carrots*, baby plum tomatoes. (*carrots are not among the lowest carb veggies but I love them for their flavour, crunch and colour)
- Frittata / crustless quiche or Bacon & Egg Pie with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes
- Leftovers from previous nights dinner.
- Salads drizzled with olive oil with cheese/chicken/meat/tuna
- Tuna and lettuce wraps (roll tuna in a lettuce leaf)
- Avocado, crispy bacon and halloumi served on mixed lettuce leaves….Mmmm
- Naked burger tower (burger, chicken breast, melted cheese and bacon) served with salad or cooked veggies
- Bolognese served over courgetti (spiralised courgettes) or a heap of brocolli, cauliflower and carrot batons
- Chicken Korma or Tikka served with cauliflower rice (currently relying on the most innocent looking jars of curry sauce that I can find and frozen cauliflower rice)
- Pork loins or pork chops with crispy cooked fat – yum or good quality sausages, at least 97% meat and gluten free, served with vegetables roasted in olive oil
The Low-carb, high-fat way of eating minimises the need for snacking as you will probably not feel genuinely hungry between meals. If you do need to snack due to hunger your previous meal may have been too low in fats or proteins.
Unbelievably you may even find yourself forgetting to eat meals!…I can’t believe how often I used to be hungry before low-carbing. I would eat breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, second lunch, evening meal and supper. I used to eat pretty much every 2 hours.
Good snacks include:
- Nuts: unsalted peanuts, pecans, walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts. Cashews and pistachios are higher in carbs.
- Chunks of cheese, slices of ham rolled up, chicken drumsticks, hard boiled eggs
- Berries and full fat Greek yoghurt,
- Dark chocolate, preferably 85% (or higher) cocoa mass; the higher the cocoa mass the lower the sugar content
Shocked by Jacob’s lunch box / My children are carb junkies!
Last week was half term so our children were home from school. My eldest, Jacob, is 14 years old and spent several days working with my brother. He had to be up early on several mornings to go to work and needed to take a packed lunch with him.
Lunches have been an issue for Jacob since starting secondary school. I have been leaving Jacob to sort his own lunch for several years as I often found un-eaten lunches festering in his bedroom several days later. I hoped that if he made it himself he would pack food that he would eat and we wouldn’t waste as much food.
However I was particularly shocked at this incredibly high-carb lunch box he had prepared, full of beige foods
Jacob will eat and happily try most foods served as an evening meal but his lunch choices are limited….And he doesn’t eat breakfast either!
Jacob doesn’t like cheese (except on pizza), or ham (but he does like bacon). He doesn’t like sandwiches (he recognised by himself that bread/toast make him more hungry; one of the reasons he doesn’t bother to eat breakfast). He doesn’t like anything fiddly or messy to eat for lunch; lunch time at school is for playing football and hanging out with his friends. He also doesn’t like cereals (unless they resemble cookies!) yoghurt, milk, nuts, tomatoes, mushrooms,celery, peppers, courgettes…….
So what does he like? Burgers, sausage rolls, cereal bars, biscuits, cake, pain au chocolat, chocolate chip brioche, flapjack, crisps, chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks, squash and chips. But it’s not all bad: among his healthier choices are sausages, bacon, chicken drumsticks, strawberries, raspberries, apples, mild curries, bolognese, burgers, meatballs, carrots, broccoli, peas, sweetcorn, corn on the cob, lettuce, apples, pineapple and mango.
Surprisingly Jacob is a picture of health, he walks several miles to school and back, plays football at lunch time and is very rarely ill. BUT Jacob has acne. This has been a problem for several years and we have bought every spot cream and face wash going with no effect. He has tried several topical treatments from the GP and followed a 6 month course of antibiotics, with no significant effect. My gut feeling has always been that Jacob’s acne is diet related. When I saw the lunch box pictured above I printed out The Anti-Acne Diet article and put it with his lunch box! The article advocates low -carb and unprocessed foods to improve acne.
Jacob has recently been referred to a dermatologist and started on a course of isotretinoin. This is a drug which can have significant side effects so of the conditions of taking isotretinoin is regular blood tests. Interestingly Jacob’s cholesterol has dropped from 4.5 to 4 over the last month. He gave me the credit for this for improving his diet. I love this boy!
How did Jacob’s diet become so bad? (It’s not just Jacob)
All three of my children were breast-fed for around 6 months, weaned onto mostly home cooked food and would eat almost anything they were given. However they each became fussy at about 2 1/2 to 3 years old.
I guess as they became fussier I began to provide food I knew they would eat. Lexie, my youngest loved pasta, her default meal; if she didn’t like what the rest of us were having; was pasta and grated cheese. Simple, quick and covered all 3 food groups right? (Carbs, protein and fat).
We are a busy family and like so many others we would order takeaways when time was short, once a week, maybe more. Now I try to plan ahead more, store leftovers for emergency meals or use a slow cooker or pressure cooker. I use this one to throw speedy meals together and then just leave it to cook.
I have tried to make changes to improve my families diet many times over the years, but confused by all the variations in advice on what makes a healthy diet often resorted back to the ‘everything in moderation’ approach. I must have done this many times, even to the point where, when I announced to my family that we were going to start eating healthier foods, Lauren, my 12 year old said, “Oh it’s OK, that won’t last!” But I meant it this time and her response made me even more determined to stick to it! (And with great results,Thank you Lauren).
And so we began 2018 following a low-fat, Slimming World style diet. I wanted to lose a stone and a half and I have been trying to encourage my husband Stuart to lose weight for years. I understood the concept and rules of Slimming World, have always believed in low-fat diets and there was no reason to be hungry when there were so many ‘unlimited’ foods to choose from. Most importantly it fitted in well with everything my children had learned so far about healthy eating but without them being on a diet too.
Happy days? Hungry every 2 hours but with lots of foods to safely snack on, I lost a stone in weight in 4 months. I lost my way a bit after a few months and gained 5 lbs. In July I had had enough and set a goal to lose 8 lbs by the end of August to reach my goal weight. That would only require me to lose 1/2 lb each week. I was really strict with my self but the weight wasn’t budging. Towards the end of July I had ago at low-carb, high-fat, following Michael Moseley’s The Blood Sugar Diet
I had heard of The Blood Sugar Diet on several documentaries about Type 2 diabetes and obesity. I also knew a few of my friends were making good progress towards their goals following this plan. I began following the foods of the plan, but without counting calories as 800 calories a day seemed a bit extreme when I only had 8 lbs left to lose. I was amazed by the foods that I was able to eat and at some points weighed every day because I was convinced I should be gaining weight, not losing it. I was eating fat so surely I would get fat? Wrong! Within 3 weeks I had lost 10 lbs and reached a healthy goal weight. I am now completely hooked on the low-carb high fat way of eating and have studied enough of the science behind it to believe it is the healthiest way for my family to eat too.
I have made small but significant changes in my families diet over the past 3 months. I refuse to buy cereal bars which are supposed to be healthy but loaded with sugar and I have severely reduced buying anything which comes in a packet, a) because it’s processed and full of ingredients I can’t even pronounce; and b) because my children seem to struggle to put the packaging in the bin! My family are now eating more fruits and vegetables, real butter, unprocessed or minimally processed meats, and (low sugar) chocolate spread sandwiches. This is a work in progress!
I have started to cook a tray full of chicken drumsticks or sausages and bacon for lunches or snacks where previously we would have had sausage rolls. I have dramatically cut back on buying sweet treats and crisps and am baking low-carb substitutes as often as I can. Some have been absolutely delicious like this crumble topping others not so good…but I’ll keep trying.
When sweet treats do make it into the house it is scary how fast they disappear. Stuart put a box of 10 chocolate mini-rolls in the fridge one afternoon and they were gone within a few hours. Stuart had one, I had none. We have 3 other little people living in our house who may have had 3 each! To me this just proves the addictive nature of processed foods. You eat one and it’s delicious but so small you eat another, so tasty that you eat another and so on until they are all gone.This is the bliss point that food manufactures put so much time and money into getting just right. The more we want to eat the more money they make. It’s logical but quite immoral.
Cooking food from scratch is undeniably healthier but it is also time-consuming. I am learning to think ahead and prepare lots of vegetables ready for cooking or to add to lunch boxes with a dip.
I have several 4 compartment boxes in the fridge like these that I fill with ready to eat foods.
- one for fruits and berries
- two for proteins; eggs, sliced cheddar, brie, ham, chicken, cooked sausages and bacon etc
- two for prepared vegetables; carrot sticks, sliced peppers, baby plum tomatoes, cucumber sticks, beetroot etc
Meals I know we all like I will cook in double batches, freezing a meal for another day. It may take a few more minutes to prepare double but saves so much time in the long run. Having a meal ready to cook in the freezer makes it so much easier to resist the temptation to order in a takeaway when life gets hectic.
I love the concept of batch cooking. I would love to spend a whole day filling my freezer with delicious home prepared meals, low carb breads and baked goodies but there are so many other demands on my time. Maybe when I retire?