Low - Carb Eating . . .

johnliu_gwSeptember 2, 2012

Our household, excepting the cats, is considering shifting to or toward a low-carb way of eating, also known as the primal or paleo diet.

(The cats inform us that they already live such an existence.)

It is still very early in our thought process. My experiment with a no-grains bachelor diet this summer was quite promising. We've started to read a well-recommended book by Gary Taubes, "Why We Get Fat". I found a very interesting magazine, "Health And Wellness", which summarizes Taube's book in a far more succinct fashion. I've browsed the "Mark's Daily Apple" website occasionally. And you may recall my predilection for raw meat and fish, if we can go off on the tangent of raw foodism.

This will be as part of a - okay, you remember the "Summer Of Love" in 1967? No, neither do I. But work with me here. This is going to be the "Winter Of Health" chez moi. We're going to join a gym, SWMBO will try out the bicycle lifestyle, I'm going to work on the cyclist chicken arms, and basically we're going to get a jump on New Year's Resolution season.

The part of this that is most interesting to me is the eating. Interesting in the positive, anticipatory sense - mmm, what shall we cooook? - and in the negative, apprehensive sense - what do you mean, cut down on fruit?

I'm looking now for thoughts, tips and pointers on how to successfully go from what we eat now to what we want to be eating.

Trying out a new ethnic cuisine, that's something we've done. We've not ever tried a fundamental change in our eating habits.


- Good books to read? Both "for" and "against"?

- Useful websites? Apps?

- Common lessons, myths, pitfalls and blunders?

- What's a realistic goal? Not zero-carb, I assume, but some level of low-carb?

I guess I'm just looking for a general talk about low-carb eating, with emphasis on the cooking part.

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Here is the blog of someone who follows a paleo diet. I know very little about the blog or about paleo diets, but DD follows her on Twitter.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Girl Worth Saving

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:06AM
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The first post on "Girl Worth Saving" is on "paleo comfort foods" and led me to a version of mac & cheese using cauliflower instead of macaroni. Cool - I'll try it! Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:24AM
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I get too hungry when I cut out carbs. Couldn't live without a nice bowl of pasta. Love potatotes. We're losing the weight slowly but very happily with Slimming World. We eat everything! Sorry I can't help you.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:02AM
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Low carb eating has kept me relatively normal all my adult life. Almost all of the time, I was between a size 4-10. I felt great. No hunger. Felt almost jock-like because I looked better so I was motivated to keep in good shape. I was very happy to see the scale in the low down numbers. Being happy and proud made it easy to stick to diet.

Low carb isn't working for me now, but it did, perfectly, for 45 years.

My mantra is, if it's not a fat or a protein, it's a carb. Some carb foods have more carbs than others, but they are all carbs. I have trained myself to not like most carbs:they are bad for my slim body. If you are like most people, you believe in good and bad carbs, but I believe in bad and less bad carbs. It has worked.

No fruits, none. Only certain veggies, in strictly limited amounts. No bread or bread brethren. No cereals, grains, sugars. Nothing white, the usual. No brown rice, No tomato, sauce, paste, chopped, fresh, no tomato period -no juices, no healthy fats like avocado, still a carb-if it's not a fat or protein, it's a carb. Onion, garlic have carbs-limit strictly. Tofu has some carbs, low. Ketchup is a silent killer, 3 gr. of sugar in a spoon. Mayo is fine. Mix 3 cans of drained tuna with mayo-keep in fridge. Eat canned sardines, salmon. Pork belly seems ok from a low carb point but generally unhealthy. Eat the tuna.

Get an accurate carb counter, forget calories. Fill up on low and no carb foods.

Yes to unlimited meats and fish(watch out for mercury), eggs, cheeses, dairy (read the labels for carbs in cheeses and dairy). Keep the fridge stocked with cooked meats and cheeses. Have another few pieces of cheese.

Shirataki noodles are great and a low carber's friend. Dreamfield's seems fraudulent to me. Scotch is ok, wine is not.

Cliche, but TRUE. NOthing tastes as good as being thin feels. The scale will be your inspiration. You don't like eating plain cooked hamburger? Jump on the scale and enjoy today's 2 lb. loss. You miss cooking? Lots of ingredients? Find your tushie if you can.

Look for low carb recipes and foods-not lower carbs but low carb. The foods may be plain, but so what? Enjoy the weight melting off. off soapbox. good luck. it works. And it IS healthy. See the lab results-lower cholesterol than any other weight loss regimen. Open your minds.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:18AM
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The Atkin's Book will totally open your eyes to how bad the normal diet really is. Most people think that Atkin's is cr*p but they obviously have never read the book. In fact the only thing totally off limits is processed foods if you read his book and listen to what he is telling you! Most people hear "Atkin's" and think "eat meat all day". This is totally incorrect! Not at all what he tells you to do! It's easy reading and will give you an education in food you have never known! ALSO Dr. Mercola's website is great but I think he is ever more strict with food to avoid. Another eye opener that is for sure! You can subscribe to Dr. Mercola's newsletter and it's free. This man gives you the low down and isn't afraid to telling you how the cow ate the cabbage! As far as I'm concerned, low carb eating is the only way for most people to stay thin...though some people are much more carb sensitive than others....me being extremely carb sensitive!

Low down: You need to get the Atkin's book and read it in it's entirety, word for word! You can check it out at probably any library!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 6:17AM
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Westsider, your comment is absolutely true!

"Cliche, but TRUE. NOthing tastes as good as being thin feels."

I have lost almost 50 lbs since last November and I live this motto every day.

Sorry John, I can't be much help with your paleo diet, I've tried "low carb", "low fat", etc etc etc and have been on a weight loss roller coaster my entire life. Until now.

I eat whatever I want, just smaller portions, and consider the source of the calories that I am consuming. My kid had several friends sleep over a couple of nights ago - they wanted Dunkin DOnuts for breakfast. So good mom that I am, I came home with a dozen and ended up staring down the lone pumpkin spice donut that was left. Instead of torturing myself, I cut a single bite sized piece out of it and enjoyed that single bite. I don't know what happened to the rest of it (the kids ate it or tossed it), but it disappeared over the course of the morning and I was satisfied.

I wish you all the luck with the paleo diet, I hope it is an eating style that will keep you happy and healthy for a long time. And joining the gym is a great idea.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 7:38AM
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Kudos to you, Alexa. There's no greater reward for a healthy diet than your doctor saying "Just keep doing what you're doing" at checkup time.

John, I can't help you with the low carb diet since I'm from the three balanced meals a day sans snacks school of diet but a healthy lifestyle is not only about diet and exercise.

What are your plans during the "Winter of Health" for reducing stress levels in your family's lives? Any worries you can eliminate or lessen? Any plans for relaxation and fun?

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:11AM
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I don't have a weight problem; I can eat whatever I want, that's usually a lot of bread and other high-carb foods. But DH has just been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It's often accompanied by high levels of certain bacteria, and some sources say avoiding "starches" -- but that must mean all carbs, I guess -- controls the bacterial growth.
So I am very interested in the paleo diet. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law have been doing this for a while, and feel great. She has a degree in food science, and a detailed view of all this stuff. There are good vegetables and less good ones. Avocados are good. Carrots are good. We talked with them about this before DH's diagnosis, so I expect to hear much more soon. These are the books she recommended to me, in order of priority:
1) Perfect Health Diet
2) Primal Body, Primal Mind; Deep Nutrition
3) Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill; Good Calories, Bad Calories

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:37AM
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Yes, I was around during the Summer of Love and remember it but did not participate in any be-ins. I spent that summer at the beach in NJ eating cheesesteaks and going to the bars. I have a feeling beer isn't part of a low-carb diet.

I need to lose weight, but I would last about five minutes on a severely low-carb diet. Congrats to you and the fam (excluding the cat) if you can do it.

I honestly think just cutting back on serving size (and only one serving per meal)and using common sense about what you eat is the ticket. It's something you can do all your life.

Now if I would only take my own advice.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:20AM
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I've been on the lo carb diet before, and I find it effective for losing weight up to a point. The problem was for me it was boring. Most all comfort foods (rice, bread, pasta, potatoes) are pure or nearly pure carbs.

The scientific rationale behind all low carb diets (Atkins, South Beach, Sugar Busters, whatever) is this: when carbs are ingested, it stimulates the body to release insulin. Insulin (in this instance) can be thought of as the 'storage hormone'--it opens up the cell walls to allow glucose and other stuff to enter the cells. So the thought behind all these diets is simple: don't stimulate the storage hormone.

The key, IMHO, is whatever carbs you do ingest, try to hide them in fiber. That blunts the insulin response somewhat so you get neither the blood glucose high (which then stimulates insulin release) or low (which happens after insulin kicks in). From a weight loss standpoint Dreamfields pasta is better than regular pasta, but neither is as good as no pasta at all. A sweet potato has roughly the same amount of carbs as a white potato but because of the extra fiber in the sweet potato its carbs aren't absorbed nearly as quickly as the white potato's carbs.

The degree to which a given carb affects the blood sugar has only recently been quantified. It's called the Glycemic Index, or GI. A further refinement of that is the concept of Glycemic Load, or GL--how much does an ordinary serving of a foodstuff affect the blood sugar. A lot of the work has been done by Dr. Jennie Brand-Miller.

A good source for living the low glycemic lifestyle is at the link. David Mendosa is a science writer with diabetes; he has made low carb living a vital part of his life. He discussed the glycemic indices of various foods. He bases a lot of his conclusions on Brand-Miller's work.

One of the items he loves is an Indian chickpea known as chana dal. For whatever reason its carbs stimulate insulin release hardly at all. The only problem is I haven't been able to make it taste good; sort of pasty blandness.

Here is a link that might be useful: glycemic index

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Humans are omnivores and adapt nicely to any diet. Many people find low carb effective. The additional fat helps a lot of people with satiety. You have to be careful not to overdo the concentrated calories -- nuts, cheese, olives, though. Gary Taubes does a nice job of documenting the limited evidence behind recommendations about dietary fat, but then he starts speculating about grains. The best book- length critique is Low-Fat Lies, High-Fat Frauds (written about a previous generation of low-carb claims). Despite what Taubes and the paleos say, it's still calories. Studies have shown that successful low-carbers eat fewer calories. However there are a couple of bloggers who still struggle with weight despite initial success with low carb. Magic solutions usually aren't. The bottom line is that it's perfectly safe to try and it might help.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 11:01AM
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"Studies have shown that successful low-carbers eat fewer calories."

I certainly found that to be true. After an initial gorging on bacon & eggs and 10 oz. rib-eyes my appetite leveled off. My overall calorie intake after about six weeks on the "diet" was within 10-15% in either direction of what I'd been eating before the change. My energy levels were, for me, high. I always tested urine for ketones and never had a problem but once when I was taking antibiotics. I did little cooking - just broil or grill whatever meat I'd chosen. The rest of my diet was pretty much raw. It was effective, easy, and I didn't have to give much thought or attention to WFD. The scales, the mirror, and my jeans were all the motivation required. I was doing hard-core targeted exercise.

Good luck, John. Clean out the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry before you start. Don't leave anything lurking in the back 'cause you'll 'find' it during the first 3 days while your body is adjusting.


    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 11:41AM
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Correction: the magazine I referred to is "Well Being Journal", Sep/Oct 2012 issue.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:15PM
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My experience with the Atkin's diet was the weight just absolutely melted off of me and in about 2 months I had lost 20 lbs down to my ideal weight. I'm not a big eater and I never never ever gorge myself on a bunch of junk food so I was not that much over weight but my problem was I fell for the whole "low-fat" diet craze that crazy Susan Powter woman had us all doing in the 90s. Stop the Insanity...the only insanity is thinking that just by eating low fat, you will lose weight. In fact just the opposite was true for me. I never had any excess weight until I started worrying about fat grams!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Johnliu, it doesn't matter what you try, as long as you
got 'younguns' in the house, you will fail. Unless
you cook separate meals for them, and who wants to do that?,... not me.
My 'younguns' have flown the nest, but try as
I might, their preferences remain, (since they visit
regularly), my own SWMBO, (who I call Mother),insists
that I make dishes that make the 'younguns' want to visit. I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:12PM
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Here's a link to my favorite LC forum. Lots of info on the different types of LC diets(and different carb levels). There's a recipe section that's great. The people are wonderfully supportive.
I first tried LC in the 70s and I've always gone back to it after trying whatever the current diet trend has been throughout the years. I grew up a binge eater and LC is the only way for me to keep my weight down without being constantly hungry.
There's also a news article that just came out that's actually positive for a change.

Here is a link that might be useful: LC forum

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Here's the article...

Here is a link that might be useful: low carb study article

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 1:30PM
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The most exciting thing I got out of this post is the news that pumpkin donuts are back at Dunkin Donuts!! . . .

But seriously, I have been a vegetarian most of my life and haven't had much of a weight problem until I got a sedentary office job long commute lifestyle. The role of exercise cannot be overemphasized. It helps with so much more than weight as we age--injury prevention, arthritis, stress relief, cardio-vascular health, immunity . . .

I eat a lot of carbs but try to emphasize the whole grain ones and limit wheat. Also balance carbs with protein and fat, which is the key to maintaining blood sugar levels and also helps with saiety, if that is a word. I think the hardest thing to give up is the drinks that are almost pure sugars, like wine, fruit juice, etc. I absolutely cannot ingest artificial sweeteners for health reasons so I find getting enough to drink to be the greatest struggle. It really is amazing the subtle "number" that artificial sweeteners do to your body, especially over the long haul. I think a few fruits or sips of fruit juice is way healthier than loading up on that stuff!

Here's a great link for you Cloudy Christine. BF's son has to be on an anti-bacterial/yeast diet and I have benefitted from following it as well. This is practically the same as what some folks refer to as the paleo diet or "clean" eating. It is not no carb but it is low carb and is very specific about certain foods to avoid. The other link I'm posting has some great recipes that I have tried and enjoyed.

One of my favorite salads on this diet is diced fennel and diced green apple with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. You can add cabbage (I like purple), scallions and cilantro and walunts if you like to spice it up. If you can't find or don't have fresh cilantro, use parsley and a dash of ground corriander. Use fresh squeezed lemon juice for this, the bottled stuff just doen't cut it for these dishes. Add some goat cheese and you've got a whole meal, along with some of that tuna salad on a WASA whole grain cracker. Or just plain tuna if you can stomache it and you're really down on any carbs. Might be good with raw tuna if you can get any good stuff.

Anti Candida Recipes, http://www.thecandidadiet.com/recipes.htm

Here is a link that might be useful: Diet, desserts and dogs--gluten and sugar free

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 2:07PM
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This digression may invite chaos, but two friends are visiting us from Melbourne, and they are both gluten-intolerant. They were among the first people I ever knew to adopt a gluten-free diet, around the year 2000. Back then it was hard to find gluten-free products or recipes, they had to go without pizza, beer and other necessities. But they persevered and various significant chronic medical conditions were cleared up, so they remain gluten-free to today, when there are so many gluten-free restaurants, prepared foods, ingredients, cookbooks, websites and magazines that it almost seems trendy to be gluten-sensitive. Kind of like wearing glasses, or a mustache.

Anyway, this caught my interest, and now we have a few gluten-free items in the house and I am making an appropriate dinner.

(Risotto of black glutinous rice and roasted macadamia nuts; saut�ed asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and lardons; broiled salmon filets with a salsa topper,)

If anyone wants to contribute 2, 3 or 4 cents on gluten-free diets, I'm interested. I don't believe I have such a sensitivity, but am academically curious.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:23PM
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John, DD is reading "Wheat Belly." She says if you read it, you will never eat wheat again.

Here is a link that might be useful: Amazon.com Wheat Belly

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 10:47PM
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It always amazes me that there are millions of people walking about, alive and well, normal weight, eating normal food. Bread feeds millions of people the world over. Rice too. Why would you stop eating them? ;)

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:54AM
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I think any healthy shift people make away from the Standard American Diet is a good thing..... Unfortunately, it's not a one-"diet"-fits-all for many reasons.

I've been looking at the paleo diet recently, so thanks for bringing up the subject. I read several books on the subject many years ago, but started looking at it again because my best friend is extremely carb-sensitive (Type II diabetes) and I help her with low-carb baking, which I experiment with a lot. (Our diet consists mainly of foods from the lower half of the Glycemic Index since 1995.) This same friend is also lectin intolerant, which I thought might be another dietary problem for her after doing a lot of research, and she had her doctor confirm it, and she is why I'm looking at the paleo diet.

Lectin intolerance is even less likely to be discovered by a health care professional than gluten intolerance, and includes lectin-containing foods such as:
-Legumes (all beans including kidney, chickpea, soy, and peanuts)

-Grains and seeds (wheat, quinoa, rice, buckwheat, oats, rye, barley, millet and corn)

-Nightshades (potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers)

And can also include:


-The Allium family (onions, leeks, garlic, shallots)

-Some vegetables (cabbage, herbs, celery, cucumber), peas, squashes, and fruits

-Dairy (being dependent on the lectin content of the diet of the animal)

For her, as with a lot of paleo recipes, we use a lot of coconut products including coconut milk, coconut butter (which I make by blending unsweetened coconut to a peanut butter consistency), coconut oil, etc.
My mother was gluten-intolerant, probably most of her life, and didn't get a diagnosis until she was in her 50's (late-1970's), so I've been incorporating gluten-free foods for her benefit since then, until she passed away 12-years ago; and I have developed gluten-free recipes for a small local sorghum mill for several years.

Back in the 70's rice and cornmeal were the grains of choice. Now I use more almond and coconut flour because they are both gluten-free and low-carb. Lots of information, cookbooks, and really good recipes are available, so check your local library. I have a file filled with paleo recipes to try for my best friend, starting with Calulflower "Breadsticks". We already have Pork Rind Pizza crust down to a fine art. :-) Some really creative ingredient combinations, for sure....


    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 7:14AM
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Reduction was an easier goal for me. I could eat a sandwich/burger with just one bun (ripped in half). Or wrap it with a lettuce leaf. Or just eat on a plate with some veggies, like say chicken or tuna salad. Just change one thing at each meal and you'll be better off. I found out though, carbs add the pounds more readily than simple sugar does--for me. When I quit both simple and complex sugars, I lose weight immediately. I just can't live my life with NO sugar or carbs, but I should. That tells me how bad the stuff is. You're doing a good thing.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:01AM
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I'm really loving all the info above; I turned 60 this year and I find that I need to make better choices for my food intake if I want to maintain my weight at a lower # .

DD has been a very "low carber" for years, DS has adopted a gluten free, no eggs, no dairy lifestyle this last year , so I'm surrounded by examples of the benefits those moves can have. I am also getting an education on how I can adapt certain changes to my lifestyle. The info on this thread is excellent, thanks all for sharing .

I like how the knowledge of how food works can enable you to make certain changes and choices . It doesn't mean I have to follow a certain strict diet or lifestyle but I can adapt my choices to suit myself.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 9:48AM
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I stumbled onto this article about wheat not long ago. I'll post it here as part of this discussion.

"Wheat today is not what it used to be. It is more of a hybrid version of 19th century and earlier versions of wheat our ancestors relied on for their daily bread. The same is true for a few other grains.

Today's wheat is a genetic modification of horticultural or agricultural specie combining. This genetic modification is different than laboratory GMO gene splicing. Nevertheless, the amount of 20th century agricultural genetic modification has outpaced the human digestive system's ability to adapt."

The rest:

Here is a link that might be useful: Wheat belly.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 1:03PM
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I really liked the book Dangerous Grains. It is an older book - from the 80's I think but I did enjoy it, even more so than Wheat Belly. I got mine from the library. I have a hard time with carbs myself and had to learn which ones I could tolerate (rice, quinoa, millet, black beans and split yellow peas). I don't do paleo but pretty low carb. I have to watch though as I can easily go without protein/meats so have make it a point to eat more eggs and meat. I watch the quality of my meats too. I found I can only eat dark meat chicken and not the cheap grocery store stuff either. I also will only by grass fed hamburger meat but will get Costco AAA beef cuts. Grainlady suggested Nourishing Traditions (to me awhile back) which is a great informative cookbook with a lot of recipes and information.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 2:00PM
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I find the discussions about wheat interesting.

People have been eating modern wheat for a long time, but obesity is a recent phenomenon.

Worldwide obesity statistics do not seem to correspond to per capita wheat consumption.

Here in the US, everyone eats wheat, but obesity only affects 1/3 of the population.


    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 7:57AM
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The average American in 2012 eats 400 calories more than the average American in 1960 and those extra calories come from sugars and grains -- I.e. snack food. They translate into an additional 25 lbs on average. The obesity "epidemic" is said to have started in the 1980s. I can remember my mother bringing home the biggest soda container we had ever seen. It was a 2L bottle that was introduced in the 1970s. Probably just a coincidence.

A hundred years ago a typical lunch was a nice thick slice of bread with some cheese or apple butter -- that was a meal, not something to be consumed idly while waiting for the real meal to appear.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 12:05PM
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And a debunking link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lies.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 12:56PM
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I'll tell you what, I definately have a wheat and cheese monkey on MY back, lol! They both have opiate like substances in them apparently, but I'll bet peaches do too! ;) I was reading long ago about the possibly inflammatory properties of wheat gluten, and I went on a wheat free diet for months and months, (along with many other strategies) trying to lessen my severe menstrual cramps and migranes. Did not do a thing! I do have my problem foods, but thankfully it is not gluten. Salt, red meat, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and tea and refined flour and sugar are the things that bother my system. Like I said, I balance carbs with protein and fats to avoid the blood sugar spikes that go along with eating "unopposed" carbs. A sugar binge can trigger a migrane for me. But a sugar binge also piles on the pounds so I try not to do it for so many reasons. But along the way I picked up the idea of eating a balance of whole grains and not overdoing the carbs. Luckily I actually do not like refined white flour or heavily spiced and salted products and really sugary stuff, so I have no trouble staying away from it. Really good bread and cheese is harder for me to moderate myself on.

One thing that is troubling to me is the COST of some of these wheat alternatives. I wanted to get some brown rice spinach linguine at the health food store, but it was $3.50 for 12 ounces and the whole wheat Barilla was $1.30 for the same amount. I'm unemployed right now and can no longer afford these types of products. I stick to oatmeal, cornmeal and brown rice for my carb alternatives. Occasionally some quinoa or barley. Pasture raised chicken by me is $3.50 per lb. and the regular old store bought stuff ins $2.00 and below. Needless to say we can't afford that either! And fish is a rare luxury.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 8:57PM
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I think the Paleo diet could be healthy if you took out the legumes are evil part and reversed the ratio of meat to vegetables. But as it is all I'm seeing is heart disease and constipation.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:37AM
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Well, paleo man had an average life expectancy of 25 years, doncha know.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 1:51AM
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Personally, I believe the rate of metabolism is the major
factor. I have friends that eat 3 times what I eat, and
are walking skeletons. Me?...I eat 2 onces of lettuce
and I gain 10 pounds. Of course my friends poop 9 times
a day, so that might make a difference. One of my
'skinny' friends was once told he was a waste of good

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 4:07PM
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