Four months ago I decided to introduce meat into my diet again after 13 years of being a vegetarian and to cut most carbs and fruit out of my diet. I think a can feel a bit of Tim Noakse’s pain, people do question you when you make a 180º turn in your beliefs and preachings.
Yes, I admit I initially did it because I wanted to find out what the whole Banting hype is all about but it opened my eyes to so many other issues and I am truly grateful for this.
Firstly, having sufficient protein in my diet changed the way I look at food. I don’t have to snack 2 to 3 times a day any more. I don’t think about food 24/7 any more because I am not constantly hungry any more. For the first time I honestly enjoying eating food! I eat less of but more delicious food! In the past I had to keep a strict training regime to keep my weight down. This past winter I have only been training twice a week, I’ve been eating wonderful food (and drinking a couple of glasses of wine with it every now and then!) and my weight is constant – a huge thing for me.
When I read the Real Meal Revolution (Tim Noakes) I really started to look at carbs differently. I’ve always thought of carbs as bread, rice, pasta, potato’s, pizza and cereals. I knew whole grain bread was better than white bread, same with rice and pasta. Butter is bad, margarine with low cholesterol is better, eat lots of fruit and veggies and don’t use full cream milk or eat anything but fat free yoghurt. Sugar to me has always been very straight forward; anything that is wrapped in colourful paper and stared at me while I’m in the line to pay is packed with sugar; honey is okay but white/brown sugar is a no-no. Fruit juice and soda’s are poison. But I realised I had it all wrong!
Do you have any idea how many food items have sugar in them? I must rather ask what food items don’t contain sugar! The list will be much shorter. Before I go there let’s look at sugar:
When sugar hits our tongue, the sweet taste receptors send messages to the brain that activate the brain’s reward system and Dopamine is released. Dopamine causes you to experience that warm, fuzzy feeling. The brain gets addicted to that and the body builds up a sugar tolerance which means you need more sugar to get the same effect.
So why then is it so difficult to cut sugar out of our daily lives? Because anything with a label contains sugar, anything that is low fat or fat free has sugar in it so it can taste like something. Cereals contain sugar. And the most important thing: carbs = sugar, fruit=sugar, some veggies=sugar.
What this means is that we try to be “healthy”, we still keep adding sugar to our diet and our bodies only need a small amount of carbs/sugar for energy and the rest changes to fat.
So where can we get our energy from? Protein!
Our bodies are made up largely of protein – the skin, muscles, organs, immune (warrior) cells, nails, hair, brain, base of bones. Only when protein is supplied can each cell function normally and keep itself in constant repair. With adequate protein intake, energy is readily produced and maintained. And you don’t need to do protein overload 80 – 90 grams a day depending on your weight will do the trick. And when you have enough protein you feel full and you don’t feel like eating carbs all the time. But you need to get rid of the sugar in your body first and then try and keep it that way and that is tricky…
I came to realise that sugar has the same effect on the brain as nicotine and we should treat it as an addiction. New research is showing sugar and high carb foods are the cause of more than just obesity and diabetes. How will your shopping habits change if high sugar, high carb foods have warning labels similar to those on cigarettes packets? “WARNING: SUGAR CAUSES CANCER” or “WARNING: HIGH CARBS CAUSE ALZHEIMER’S”
I know it may sound a bit far fetched but what if it is true?
In the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s nobody knew nicotine was so dangerous and even today many smokers think nothing will happen to them. Is sugar addiction heading in the same direction as nicotine addiction?
It is not easy to cut sugar and carbs out of your diet completely. It takes planning and a bit of effort, you need to be creative but it can be great fun. I bake my own carb free bread every week and it is great to have egg on toast again without feeling guilty. I make cauliflower rice and mash and eat a generous portion without the guilt and that is a very sweet thing!
PS: Have a look at this very interesting video, this might just be the change of mind you need: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=lEXBxijQREo