In December of last year,2012,I had a doctor’s report that was alarming. For years I had been overweight and had chronic blood tests of elevated cholesterol for which the doctor wanted to put me on statins both to reduce the total cholesterol levels and even more significantly,to raise the “good”HDL cholesterol level. I have known several individuals that reacted badly to statins so was highly reluctant to do so. In recent years I had used several alternatives with varying degrees of success.
Since the previous blood tests back in June I knew I had not been watching my diet like I should,but it was so much fun to have those extra slices of cake along with a slurpy,shake,or other gooey treat. How could I resist? And when we ate with family and friends it would be an insult to refuse the baked love symbols they offered. Well,anyway that was my excuse.
In this Dec report my total cholesterol was the highest it had ever been measured (241) and the “good”HDL was only 39. A somewhat disturbing number for someone intent on avoiding statin medications. However,there was a much more alarming warning in the tests. My Triglyceride count was up to 247 where it had been only 133 just six months earlier,and my blood glucose had gone up from 110 to 126,a level I had never seen in my adult life. Also my weight had gone up to a bit over 250 lbs which even with my 6’2″frame puts me well into the “obese”category. Even my heart rate and blood pressure were somewhat elevated. In recent years I had buried three friends/family members who died of diabetes. I had seen the progression that included removal of toes,loss of mobility,lack of energy and inability to enjoy life as I knew it. With the blood glucose rising,the triglycerides substantially elevated as well as the cholesterol being out of control I became concerned about the very real probability of diabetes in my near future unless I did something NOW! I decided that the alternative was simply not acceptable!
Immediately I cut out all sugars,all flour and all products made with those ingredients. I eliminated things like sodas,ice cream,and chocolate cream pie,sodas,and shakes which I dearly love. I checked an old Dr Atkins “New Diet Revolution” book and went immediately into his “Induction”phase of diet in which your daily diet is limited to a total of 20 grams of carbohydrates. Pretty stiff considering that is about the carb content of one small apple. A single medium baked potato rings up about 33 grams of carbs,nearly two day’s quota! However,things like celery,eggs,many green vegetables,and meats are so low in carbs that you can eat them almost with no restrictions at all.
Strangely I discovered that after a few days I was no longer ravishingly hungry. When I have attempted to diet by reducing calorie count I always felt so hungry I could,“eat the south end off a northbound skunk.” On this regimen,that feeling went away about the second or third day. I did experience a bit of the “Atkins Flu”symptoms. Felt just dragging until someone on line told me to add salt to my diet and recommended a cup of bullion soup regularly. I have never been much of a salt user. Don’t use it on eggs or add to prepared foods,and was following old habits. Adding just a bit of salt worked great and by the end of the first week I felt better and hunger was easily under control. Made me come to the conclusion,“Heh,I can Do This!”
A few weeks later I saw a John Stossel show on TV in which Gary Taubes was the guest and he talked about his book,“Why We Get Fat –and what to do about it”. I ordered one of the books and read it cover to cover. It was an enlightening experience in which he discussed at length how the body metabolizes foods. It explained from a biochemical standpoint just what happens when we eat and how that ultimately affects our weight,as well as our blood chemistry. He explained why overweight people are not necessarily the lazy gluttonous slobs that stereotypes us,but folks that are instead conditioned into bad lifestyle choices and even government decrees to follow a “food pyramid”in making diet choices that just doesn’t work. Finally I understood why my constant efforts at diets over the years had failed. The reduced calorie regimen was causing my body to signal that I was starving to death and demanded that I immediately attack a Twinkie!
I was hooked. I adopted as my own the “No Sugar,no Starch” diet from the Duke University’s Lifestyle Medical Clinic which Taubes had reprinted in his book. It was simple to understand and follow. I sort of summarized it as the “No White Stuff Diet”. It is really not so much a “diet”in the conventional sense as a new lifestyle. If I lose the weight and go back to my old way of eating,I will be right back where I was last December,and I know that very well. After all I read the book,remember?
By April I was down over 20# even though my wife and I had spent over 10 days on vacation and a cruise where delightful temptations were paraded around us 24 hours a day. In early September,after several weeks traveling in Branson and other tempting locations I had another blood test and the results were very encouraging. Weight was down 35#,Total cholesterol was down a bit over 10 points,but more encouraging,the “good”HDL cholesterol was up over 25% to 49! Blood glucose was down into the “normal”range of 109. Most spectacularly,my triglycerides had dropped from 247 to 68,a drop of 179 points! My energy is substantially increased and I can now walk down to my pond and back up the hill without being winded! Quite an accomplishment for a 70+ old dude like myself.
I have now removed myself from the medical classifications of “pre-diabetic”and “obese”. I am now merely “overweight”and am slowly,oh so slowly inching my way out of that classification as well. Have about 20 lbs to go and each pound brings with it new enjoyment of life and freedom. I am still maintaining my medication free lifestyle and finding new ways to enjoy myself without resorting to the oral gratification that was previously ruining my health. I still have an occasional slice of chocolate cream pie,but when I do it is limited to one serving. I no longer have two or three pieces along with a slice of cake topped with ice cream as before. And it is “occasional”,not weekly or daily as it once was. Considering my old eating patterns it is amazing that I was not diabetic 25 years ago!
In our society today,diabetes and obesity are epidemic. Just look around you at your local WalMart or during a stroll through the mall. We are killing ourselves with the consumption of sugary soft drinks,burgers,fries and sweet treats. It is not so much how much you eat,as it is what you eat. Typical diets today include lots of sugary treats found on the center aisles of your favorite grocery store. Sodas,breakfast cereals,jams and jelly,ice cream,breads and pastries,pasta and noodles,etc fill the average grocery cart. Each of these pound our system with sugar and carbohydrates creating problems that become more and more damaging as we get older.
As I have progressed through this journey to better health,I have learned to shop around the periphery of the grocery store. There you will find fresh vegetables,meats,dairy,and the low carb dieter’s ultimate friend,eggs! These are the things we should be concentrating on. In the center aisles you will find the prepared boxed foods,sweets,breads and other things you should be avoiding or at least restricting.
When I graduated from high school in 1959 the overweight kids were vastly in the minority,less than 10% of our class were significantly overweight and only a few in our class of 150+ were actually obese. Today that has flipped and kids are becoming grossly overweight at a very early age. As a kid we didn’t have a choice of three dozen brands of sugar coated breakfast cereals. Plain Cheerios,Wheaties,Corn Flakes,Bran Flakes,and oatmeal were the choices and if you wanted sugar you had to add it yourself. “Sugar frosted”,and “honey dipped”were not parts of the lexicon of the day. Today kids are taught to eat sugar on everything until they feel that nothing is good unless it is sweet. The advertisements on TV invite you,yea even compel you,to pick this or that brand of sugar coated stuff and it plays 24/7 on children’s channels.
We have to break the pattern or we most certainly will experience the consequences of our choices. The good news is that it can be an enjoyable lifestyle that promises freedom from the enslavement of the carb monster. It offers control,and according to a number of recent studies,even the cure of both type II diabetes and obesity. Doctors don’t like to recommend such an “extreme”solution as I found because;1) it doesn’t match the standard message of the AMA and 2) just passing out pills is much easier to get patients to comply with than trying to tell them to quit stuffing Little Debbie’s snack cakes into their face. If you are experiencing a problem such as I did I do hope you will take the time to seriously contemplate if that slice of chocolate cake a la mode is really worth lying around feeling miserable tomorrow.
Many folks have told me,“I just couldn’t do that”,but it is simply not true. I am a food-a-holic,a choc-a-holic,and a coke-a-holic and have as much love for pasta,potatoes,pastries and the other sweet stuff as anybody I know. If I can do it you can too.
Support and encouragement are available just about everywhere from local church and community associated support organizations such as “Celebrate Recovery”or here on the internet at http://forum.lowcarber.org and http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/
Back in December I had an annual physical. I suspected because of holiday festivities and my recent 10# weight gain that the blood tests would not be ideal but when I got the results I was shocked. I knew I had to do something to get these things under control. Cholesterol (LDL and HDL both out of whack). My blood sugar,triglycerides,and even my blood pressure and heart rate were heading into bad areas and these had never been a problem in my 70+ years! Something had to be done,immediately,to change these trends cause I ain’t in my 20s no more! I knew that I had been on a low carb diet years ago and had good results so I immediately cut out bread,potatoes,all grain products and sweets. I then started studying low carb diets and want to share a bit of what I found with you here.
There is an inexpensive book ($7.99 paperback –Anchor Books) by Gary Taubes entitled “Why We Get Fat –and What To Do About It”. (c 2010) I found this to be absolutely invaluable. Another source is Dr Atkin’s New Diet Revolution that also is a great information source from what is probably the most well known of modern researchers of the low carbohydrate diet regimen.
USDA Food Pyramid
According to Taubes the big problem with today’s explosion in obesity,type 2 diabetes,and heart disease is directly traceable to bad science by the national health institutes in the developed nations. The USDA’s “food pyramid”is a case in point. It promotes that the basis of a healthy diet is built upon a large intake of bread,cereal,rice,and pasta with a slightly lesser amount of fruits and vegetables,about half as much meats and cheese,and a very small amount of fats. How many times have you been cautioned about the bad effect of fat in your diet? Interestingly enough this goes substantially against the wisdom of the ages based on human history.
As an example,have a look at recent history of the American Indians. Before the coming of the white man and the exiling of the native Indian populations to reservations their basic diet was consistent with that of a hunter-gatherer society. They lived an active lifestyle and ate primarily meat along with a few vegetables,fruits (in season),nuts and berries. Basically what they could hunt or gather in the area where they lived or where they migrated with the seasons supplemented by what they could raise relatively easily. Obesity was extremely rare among these people as was diabetes,and heart disease. As the Indians’native lands were taken by the US Government and they were relegated to reservations they were provided food by the government. The food provided consisted mostly of starches. Grain replaced their normal diet of meats and vegetables and they began experiencing the same diseases that we see in epidemic proportions in modern society today.
The same thing can be seen in the world of animal husbandry. Grass fed beef is lean even though the animals have lots of food to consume. But,when a farmer wants to really fatten that beef up for market,he feeds it grain,corn and sweet feeds to put a layer of fat on before it goes to the butcher. Using that analogy,you and I have been placed on the feed lots since the 1950s by the government by advocating a diet consisting of precisely what we use to fatten animals destined for slaughter!
These grain and sweet items are what puts the fat on us. Starches and sugar are digested and enter the bloodstream as glucose,or “blood sugar”. As we eat high carbohydrate foods it causes an increase in the blood glucose level and the pancreas immediately releases insulin that acts to control the sugar spike. Insulin commands the fat cells to remove glucose from the blood and store it as fat in the cells. It also commands the liver to convert glucose to glycogen which is stored in the liver for release later as a source of energy. When the insulin level drops the cells can convert the fat back to glucose which goes back to the blood once again maintaining a healthy blood sugar level.
All this works well until we start eating carbohydrates,especially refined carbohydrates, as a primary source of our diet,precisely as the “USDA food pyramid”recommends. Then the body goes into a continuous “store fat”mode,even though the total caloric intake is within a normal range. The pancreas is over-producing insulin and the body becomes less and less responsive to the insulin that is produced. We become what is termed as “insulin resistant”according to the low carb diet advocates. This causes ever increasing amounts of insulin to be released which has a negative effect on just about everything in the body. This pattern of eating brings on obesity,Type 2 diabetes,heart disease and a myriad of related afflictions.
According to the government a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Therefore you should eat the foods with the fewest of them which is primarily the carbohydrate laden ones. Unfortunately somebody forgot to tell your body to work that way. The body uses fats differently from proteins and carbohydrates and it digests,assimilates and burns each of them differently in ways that haven’t changed since we were the subject of God’s creation. Popular diets in vogue back in the 1800s said to cut down on carbohydrates to control weight. They were discounted by a new group of Washington health and medical gurus who came into power in the late 40s and 50s. They were the ones that led to the “Food Pyramid”that is the big cause of the obesity explosion today.
How do you get out of this down hill spiral? Turn to a diet similar to that our ancestors enjoyed for thousands of years and forgo the high starch low fat diet that the medical and health community has been advocating for the last 60 years.
Atkins Food Pyramid
Dr Robert C. Atkins (1930 –2002) was a physician and cardiologist,best known for his diet plan that turned the “food pyramid”upside down. His diet was considered controversial and was widely ridiculed by the main stream nutritional “experts”. Only problem with that ridicule was the diet was actually shown to work! The “Atkins Diet” requires close control of carbohydrate consumption,emphasizing protein and fat as the primary sources of dietary calories in addition to a controlled number of carbohydrates from vegetables. Although the success of Atkins’diet plan led Time to name the doctor one of the ten most influential people in 2002,his critics in the medical and fitness communities continue to criticize Atkins’approach to weight loss. Critics have accused him of everything imaginable in order to attempt to discredit his discoveries. They even circulated the accusations that he died of heart failure due to obesity when his death certificate clearly shows he died of the results of head injuries as the result of a fall. His medical records showed he was clearly not obese at the time of his death.
Dr Atkins first researched obesity when he became overweight in 1963. He studied the research of others that advocated the complete elimination of sugar from the diet and a marked increase in both fat and protein. Atkins experienced marked success on the program and began recommending it to his patients. In 1965 he appeared on the Tonight show and in 1970 his diet was featured in Vogue magazine. For years his diet was referred to as “The Vogue Plan”and became highly popular,especially with the female readership of “The Vogue”. In 1972 Atkins published his book “Dr. Atkins’Diet Revolution”which documented his meal plans along with research findings based on his patient research.
Dr Atkins was diabetic and as a cardiologist he treated numerous patients who were as well. He became convinced that the low carb style of eating was a benefit to people with these kinds of problems. Perhaps you fit into that category. If you have problems with high LDL Cholesterol and low levels of the good HDL Cholesterol,if you have a medical or a family history of heart problems or diabetes,or you have been told you are “pre-diabetic”,or your last checkup show high triglycerides,or you have been told by your doctor that you need to lose weight,then you are precisely the type of patient that Dr Atkins treated so successfully.
So,perhaps you have concluded that you do fit within these categories. What’s next? Well the first thing you should consider with any diet program is to take a look at your lifestyle. Things are not going to change for you until you conclude that you are sufficiently motivated to commit to get rid of the fat and the habits that caused it by modifying that lifestyle! That is true regardless of what diet program you should decide to choose. Pick the one that most closely fits you and your lifestyle. For me it was a no-brainer. I chose the low-carb way using the dietary programs suggested by Dr Atkins and Gary Taubes.
My own first exposure to a low carb diet was way back in my youth in 1965. I picked up a little booklet at the checkout counter of the grocery store entitled,“The Eating Man’s Diet”. That got my attention because nobody loves to eat more than I do! It worked great to help me shed about 20# that I had put on right after graduating from the Air Force’s Aviation Cadets program. For people like me who love to eat,the low carb diets allow you to eat satisfying quantities of food. You do not become excessively hungry between meals. I have no idea who wrote that version of “The Eating Man’s Diet.” I have not seen another copy of it since that one almost 50 years ago but I praise the author’s wisdom! It is totally unlike another book of the same name published a few years later by Thomas Sharkey that was a fast-on-alternate-days plan. Nor for me. Although that old book is gone,the information that it contained is still available from many sources. “The Stillman Diet”,“The Paleolythic Diet”,“The Air Force Diet”,“The Drinking Man’s Diet”,“Scarsdale Diet”,“Sommersizing”,“Glycemic Diet”,“Protein Power”,“South Beach Diet”,as well as “Atkins Diet”and a host of other variants are out there. Click here and pick one,any one,and get started.
In previous low calorie diets I got so terribly hungry that I felt I could eat the south end off of a northbound skunk! With low carb I only really experience unpleasant hunger for about a day after first going on the diet. That excessive hunger on low calorie diets caused me to feel terribly deprived and ultimately resulted in “cheating”. Eventually that results in dropping the diet because it was simply too unpleasant to adhere to for the long term necessary to lose significant weight. That is the same result most other folks find dieting so difficult. The low carb lifestyle is simply a different way of eating that gives you more flexibility to pick and choose the tasty high quality foods that you love. Yes it does require giving up sweets,bakery goods,and other high carbohydrate items,but you can learn to substitute other things.
Basically low carb is replacing your old low quality diet with a high quality one. Meats,green and leafy vegetables,and fats from things like cheese and butter replace the sweets,breads,potatoes,rice,and pasta of the regular American diet. The invectives against fats and high meat consumption of low calorie diets are thrown away and replaced with restrictions on sweets, starchy vegetables,grain products,and anything made from them. Milk contains the sugar lactose so likewise is removed from the approved list,but pure heavy cream in moderate quantities is allowed. I personally call it the “No White Stuff Diet”since that makes the limitations easy to remember. Since going on this diet the end of December I have not had one piece of bread,either white or wheat nor do I crave them. No pasta,potatoes,rice,corn,or beans,but lots of salads,green beans,leafy vegetables,brassicas (cabbage,broccoli,etc),along with lots of meat and cheese. I have learned to shop the periphery of the grocery store instead of the center aisles. Around that periphery you generally find the meat and dairy selections as well as the fresh vegetables. Don’t spend much time in those center aisles where you find sugar,bakery goods,bread,ice cream,prepared pastas and the like.
My weight has dropped by about 15 lbs as I lose two or three pounds per week with little or no hunger. What I have enjoyed is a variety of meat items of all kinds as well as good green and leafy vegetables. Although I have eliminated my beloved sweets I do not get the cravings for them that was typical of my daily experience before. I know that I can always have a slice of that chocolate cream pie if I really want to,but I also know it will lead to a day or so of cravings so that helps to resist except for special occasion. I have continued to eat sugar free chocolates on almost a daily basis. Those are “sugar free”chocolates,sweetened with “sugar alcohols”which do not effect your blood sugar levels. They are more expensive than the standard Snickers bar but it is well worth it to satisfy the “sweet tooth”without damaging the diet program. Works for me,but use with caution because the maltitol,xylitol,sorbitol and similar sweeteners cause diarrhea with some people. Praise God it does not with me as I dearly love my daily chocolate!
If you are carrying around a bit of unwanted baggage,experiencing poor checkups,or just think there is just too much of you,take a close look at the low carb lifestyle. Thousands of people like myself are finding it a road to a better and healthier way of life.
A recipe from my childhood memories of what I thought to be the world’s best chocolate pie. Dark and rich with piles of meringue on top it was a treat in our household. Not sure if this is the exact same recipe,but it is close with a few modifications to match what you can readily find in the grocery shelves today. Makes 2 pies ’cause one just ain’t enough!
2 Frozen 9″Pie crusts – Prepare by baking for about 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven until lightly browned. Let cool. 2 1/2 cups sugar4 1/2 TBS Cornstarch1/2 tsp salt4 1/2 cups milk6 beaten egg yokes2 TBS Butter1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 4 1/2 oz Bakers Unsweetened Chocolate (or 3/4 cup cocoa) Chocolate Filling: Combine sugar,cornstarch &salt and mix thoroughly. Gradually stir in milk. Cut up chocolate &add to mixture. Cook slowly,stirring constantly until mix thickens &boils. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat.Put egg yokes in a bowl and beat lightly. Stir in 1/2 of the cooked mixture then pour all back into the pot and bring back to a boil and boil for one additional minute. Remove from heat.Add butter and vanilla and stir until butter melted and mixed. Pour immediately into the two baked pie shells. Either cover with meringue below or refrigerate and serve toped with whipped cream topping. Meringue: Preheat oven to 400*1/2 tsp cream of tartar6 egg whites1/2 cup sugar Put egg whites in a bowl with cream of tartar and whip until frothy. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and whip until stiff and forms high peaks. Cover pies with meringue connecting to edge of crust to prevent shrinking and dabbing top to create decorative peaks and place in oven. Bake for 6 –8 minutes until delicately browned. Remove from oven an let cool. Firmest if you refrigerate before serving if you can wait that long! Store in refrigerator until used.
July 22nd,2011 | Category:Cooking | Comments are closed
From the U.S. Venison Council Controversy has long raged about the relative quality and taste of venison and beef as gourmet foods. Some people say venison is tough,with a strong “wild”taste,others insist venison’s flavor is delicate. An independent food research group was retained by the Venison Council to conduct a taste test to determine the truth of these conflicting assertions once and for all.
First,a Grade A Choice Holstein steer was chased into a swamp a mile and a half from a road and shot several times. After some of the entrails were removed,the carcass was dragged back over rocks and logs and through mud and dust to the road. It was then thrown into the back of a pickup truck and driven through rain and snow for 100 miles before being hung out in the sun for a day.
It was then lugged into a garage where it was skinned and rolled around on the floor for a while. Strict sanitary precautions were observed throughout the test,within the limitations of the butchering environment. For instance,dogs and cats were allowed to sniff and lick the steer carcass,but most of the time they were chased away when they attempted to bite chunks out of it.
Next,a sheet of plywood left from last year’s butchering was set up in the basement on two saw horses. The pieces of dried blood,hair and fat left from last year were scraped off with a wire brush last used to clean out the grass stuck under the lawn mower.
The skinned carcass was then dragged down the steps into the basement where a half dozen inexperienced but enthusiastic and intoxicated men worked on it with meat saws,cleavers,hammers and dull knives. The result was 375 pounds of soup bones,four bushel baskets of meat scraps,and a couple of steaks that were an eighth of an inch thick on one edge and an inch and a half thick on the other edge.
The steaks were seared on a glowing red hot cast iron skillet to lock in the flavor. When the smoke cleared,rancid bacon grease was added,along with three pounds of onions,and the whole conglomeration was fried for two hours.
The meat was gently teased from the frying pan and served to three intoxicated and blindfolded taste panel volunteers. Every member of the panel thought it was venison. One volunteer even said it tasted exactly like the venison he has eaten in hunting camps for the past 27 years.
The results of this scientific test conclusively show that there is no difference between the taste of beef and venison…
This is a great way to use that venison that is sure to be a hit with most anyone.
1 cup water 1 cup of onions cut into pieces 2 lbs of venison cut into cubes 1/4 cup flour 2 red potatoes cut into pieces 2 cups of celery pieces 3 or 4 nice sized carrots cut into 1″pieces Salt,pepper,or seasoning mix to taste
Place venison,water,and onions in crock pot and allow to cook on low over night. In morning dip out liquid and put into a bowl with enough ice cubes to cool. Add the flour and mix well then pour back into pot with venison. (If you want thicker broth add a bit more flour.) Add add other components and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I like cajun seasoning,but pick what you like.) Cook in crock pot on low for about four hours until vegetables are done.
Saw an interesting video on how to peel a potato. Starring “Mary Ann”from Gilligan’s Island (Dawn Wells) who shows us how to peel a potato almost as if by magic. Just boil it for 15 minutes after scoring the peel with a knife. Put the fresh boiled potato in ice water then rub the peel off with your fingers. Pretty slick! See link at:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4W0qIPJmoo