Diet Revolution

To be precise, I should say that over the year my diet way of eating (the dieter’s PC phrase) has gradually evolved. While I remain committed focusing on behaviors around health (eating, physical activity, paying attention to my body, etc.), over the last 3 months what I eat has shifted. Time to revise my behavioral goals around food to reflect what I have learned as I went through a prolonged plateau, a battle with severe side effect from a statin medication that left me inactive for weeks, and a reconsideration of the role of cholesterol as a risk factor for me individually.

Going back to January 8, 2010 here were my behavioral goals:

  • restricting my calories to 1500kcal/day on average in a week
  • aiming for a balance between protein, fat and carbs
  • spreading out my food intake throughout the day, which means eating breakfast
  • no food after 7pm
  • no red meat
  • no ice cream (the ultimate trigger food for my binging)
  • minimal refined grains and grain products
  • adding at least 3 fresh fruits/vegetables per day
  • shopping only for fresh produce
  • limiting what is in the cupboard/frig to what is acceptable to eat
  • no artificial sweeteners or drinks with artificial sweeteners – sweet stimulates me to eat more sweets
  • monitoring everything calorie that goes into my mouth (I use the Livestrong.com site)
  • charting my weight twice a week
  • being physically active 30 minutes a day, beyond job and household activities

I believe that insulin is the big drive behind fat – getting fat and staying fat. There is much scientific evidence for support, and as a physician who believes in evidence-based medicine* I am not one to follow fads. My personal experience over the years has shown how sensitive my hunger, eating, and ultimately my weight are to foods (starch, sugar) that increase insulin. I cannot change my genetics, but I can change my food intake so fat is able to get out of my body easier and stay out forever. Also, I want to choose foods that decrease inflammation (because of family history of heart disease and because fat tissue produces inflammatory molecules); and I probably need nutritional supplements with vitamins given that I will still count calories.

Why count calories and not just low carb it? Theoretically one could just eat fat and eat little to no carbs, but eventually their body would stop drawing from fat reserves and use just what is provided in their diet. So calories do count when trying to lose weight  – it is the quality of calories that count for mobilizing fat and maintaining fat loss.

Given all of the above and more information circling in my brain, here are my revised behaviors in an attempt to change the regulation of my fat tissue:

  • No wheat, sugar (except that in natural foods), starch, or grains
  • Emphasize quality protein
  • Aim for ratio of 50:30:20 protein:fat:carbs in 1200 calories
  • Limit fruits to 2 servings a day – mostly berries
  • Veggies are unlimited (potatoes are not a veggie)
  • Monitor all intake daily using software to account for above and review macronutrient intake every week
  • Eat breakfast, ALWAYS
  • Ice cream will always be off-limits, and the only off-limit food
  • Eat if I am hungry – and figure out why I let myself get hungry
  • Have acceptable snack foods available
  • Weigh no more than once a week
  • Engage in fun, physical activity at least 30 minutes/day
  • Supplement with vitamins as needed to reduce inflammation
  • Review the above list every week after weighing

Sound restricted? Yes, it is now because I have another 50 or so pounds to lose. Will I occasionally eat cake (or potatoes) – you bet, but just a taste and only in celebration. Should I exercise more? This is all I can manage now because of the myopathy from taking statins. My goal is to be able to do whatever I want without restrictions because of my weight and to keep my health optimal.

*Evidence Based Medicine is the integration of the best scientific evidence available with clinical expertise and patient values to reach optimal decisions for individual patients.

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8 thoughts on “Diet Revolution

  1. You are saying mostly what I have been thinking – that it is not just the calories we take in but what those calories are made up of, that counts too. I think much of your list would be good for me to follow. But I’d have to add way more than just ice cream! Of course, if I cut out what you list in number 1 I’d pretty much cut out all my trigger foods:) I still struggle with the hunger thing. I so often want to eat when I am not hungry. I feel like it is boredom and/or habit and I guess some would count that as emotional eating.

    I think you have a great plan for yourself, based on what you know about medicine and what you know about you!

    • Thanks for the feedback, Karen. After reading Gary Taubes’ book and educating myself more about small LDL particles, I am convinced this is the best way for me to eat – until more evidence becomes available. I also think that low fat diets are junk, err, not scientific – even the published studies when looked at closely show those people who eat “low fat” are actually cutting carbs significantly. Dean Ornish and others are just stuck in an old paradigm – in my humble opinion, of course. 😉

  2. I need to get my carbs down. I hover at 40-50% and 30% protein. I need more protein in my day, but it’s definitely harder to do in my hectic lifestyle. I am proud that my fat intake has been 20% for months now. I’ve got to get my lipids rechecked to see how they’ve change. Even though I’m eating carbs, I’m proud that nearly all of it comes from fruit most days or beans, veggies. I rarely eat pasta, rice and the like. I eat bread or a whole wheat English muffin, light low carb in the morning. No cereals. I have to keep tweaking to see what’s best for me.

    Congrats on how far you’ve come!

    • Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

      My LDL actually has gone up, but the lab value is only a calculated version. So… I don’t know if I have increase the good fluffy LDL particles or what. Of course my damn insurance company still considers advanced lipid testing “experimental”, BAH.

  3. I honestly don’t think you are being too restrictive. It appears to me that you have evaluated what works for you based on your January behavioral goals and made some positive adjustments. You have a lot of the same thoughts I do about balancing carbs/protein/fat. I also use livestrong and love it. My January was not as successful in meeting my goals and you have given me the motivation that I may need to reevaluate and find out why I am not living up to my plans. I look forward to seeing how your new goals work out for you. 🙂

  4. I agree on calorie counting. I call it “calorie counting PLUS”, meaning I have to look at the sources of those calories for success. My goal is to eat 90% whole or wholesome (real food ingredients), which is entirely do-able.

  5. Well, I loved your comment “Ice cream will always be off-limits, and the only off-limit food” since I write all the time about how I ate ice cream every day of my life from about age 10 to 2 or 3 years ago. As a result, I have great bones, but a lot of fat. I haven’t brought ice cream into my home in nearly 3 years, but I do occasionally allow myself to have it when I’m out.

  6. I completely agree that we have to be aware of the real science and what works for our own issues. Whenever people question how restrictive i am being I remind them of all the unrestricted eating it took to get this big! I could use some restricting!

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