Several years ago I tried going low-carb for my Lenten Fast. Honestly, it didn’t go very well…
I did a pretty good job of staying away from grains (my primary goal) but I ate potatoes…and fruit…and drank soda. I ate a hard-core, hearty, wild rice medley on a few occasions, as well as bread ONE TIME (that was more out of necessity and it had actual seeds in it!) 😉😝
It still floors me that foods of this heartiness can somehow be “bad” for you (assuming you don’t have outstanding medical conditions). These types of seemingly counterintuitive ideas still make me a little dubious that this low-carb craze is really best for every body type. 🤔
Going Low Carb is Hard!
I think I mentioned it before, but in case I didn’t make my feelings perfectly clear then…this diet is a PAIN IN THE A**! I wasn’t expecting it to be as hard as it was, and I wasn’t expecting to come to LOATHE it as much as I did.
Cravings weren’t the problem, those actually weren’t too bad and I have experience dealing with those. What I wasn’t expecting is how INCREDIBLY inconvenient this diet is. That is what I found to be the most difficult part. People never talk about that factor.
As an example, you may have to go to multiple stores to find what you need as it’s not easy to make substitutions. I can’t imagine trying to work the diet around the palate of a picky child (this picky adult struggled 😝).
Perhaps for people in more metropolitan areas, this isn’t as much of a problem. But for those of us where the nearest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods is 400 miles away, it can be a bit of a hindrance. 😝
The main takeaways from my low-carb experiment:
- This diet is EXPENSIVE (compare a bag of almond flour to a bag of regular flour sometime)! 😝
- This diet is difficult if the entire household doesn’t commit to it. You either have to end up making multiple dishes to keep everyone happy, or the special food ends up posing a HUGE inconvenience to anyone not committed to it. (This seems unfair to them, in my mind, if you’re pursuing the diet for non-health-related reasons.)
- Unless you live in a warm climate where you have regular, easy access to fresh fruit and veggies all year round–or you have your own large orchard/garden to get these goodies from and can easily preserve them for later–you can end up needing to go to the store multiple times per week to keep getting fresh foods. The stuff that’s good for you spoils quickly, especially during the warmer months. (Oh, and have I mentioned that fruit has carbs in it). 🙄
- I was hungry quite a bit. That probably means I wasn’t eating enough protein, but dear God, how much meat can one person stuff their face with? 😝
I probably should have chowed down more on the vegetables too, but as I’ve said before, I have a sensitive gag reflex regarding veggies, I can’t explain why. Ever since I was a child, a certain texture or “green” flavor hits the back of my tongue and it’s like my stomach lurches and my throat closes up. At that moment, any appetite is instantly gone (of course it comes back later, with a VENGENCE).
- I found that I thought about food ALL THE TIME. I was CONSTANTLY thinking about what I was going to make for the next meal (or the next several meals)…and whether or not I needed to stop at the store while I was out running errands (or make a special trip out just to go to the grocery store)…and if I DID need to go out which store, specifically, did I need to go too? It was EXHAUSTING! 😝
- I also noted more instances of heartburn when I went low-carb. This seems odd, as most of the research I’ve done makes it seem that low-carb diets should help with heartburn occurrences. Maybe this is further evidence that my body doesn’t really need a low-carb diet? Or, maybe I’m just suffering the effects of getting old. 😝
- In a previous post, I talked about feeling like carb-heavy meals made me feel full of air, whereas protein-heavy meals left a more substantial, full feeling. I will say, when I eat mostly protein and vegetables, I feel like there are still a few holes missing. Like a piece of bread or some crackers could just perfectly cap off the satisfying meal.
I found it interesting that this desire did not slacken AT ALL across the six-week fast. (I’m also taking it to mean it’s ok if I eat some carbs since it seems like that’s what my body wants. 😁)
The most surprising thing of all, I found this diet to be depressing, and I mean that in the most literal way. For me, it kind of sucked the joy out of eating. It required so much thought and planning and was so limiting of foods I truly enjoy, that it made me not even want to bother. I couldn’t help feeling like, “what’s the point”?
Going low carb made me miss out on some of my favorite foods
I’ve said this before but I’m sorry, I can’t give up things like pizza, or noodles, or brownies. Not entirely at least. I may be able to reduce my consumption of them, but as long as these things aren’t making people in our household sick (and at this point in our lives they aren’t), I can’t give them up entirely.
At some point, giving up these things starts to make life less fulfilling. I’m not sure if that’s emotionally unhealthy, to put that much emphasis on food, but I think it’s how a lot of us are. Food reflects our cultures, in both a macro and micro sense, so I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. It brings us comfort and happiness, it’s called “comfort food” for a reason for heaven’s sake! 😉
I’ve said it plenty of times before, but I’ll say it again, I’m a Midwest girl at heart. We show love through food (this includes some of the most fattening, most DELICIOUS meals you can think of). 😝 I enjoy eating, plus, I was fortunate to grow up in a family of good cooks who passed their recipes on to me (Mr. Trekker doesn’t complain). 😉
I enjoy foods that bring back memories of family dinners and happy times. This diet takes A LOT of those emotions away. If I don’t require it for health reasons, why would I want to limit myself like that? So, lessening, yes, substitutions, sure, but complete exclusion of certain foods, I don’t think so. 😝
There were a few good takeaways from my low-carb experience:
- I found it interesting how much I became aware of my eating practices (such as how many “white” carbs I generally consume that aren’t good for you. Also, how frequently I eat them). I do hope to continue better practices in the future regarding snacks (trail mix and peanuts rather than chips, for example).
- Another thing I found is you can usually “eat-paleo” at just about any location, you just may need to get creative. (I say “usually” because I actually found that I could not find ONE low-carb dish at one of my favorite restaurants. Hey “Pizza Joint”, they have invented this stuff called “salad”.) 😝As an example, take McDonald’s. You can eat a burger (or two) and salad, just hold the bun. Technically, you should also hold the cheese and ketchup, but I wouldn’t. 😝 (This hearkens back to my point about, “why bother eating, at some point?”) Obviously, McD’s isn’t the healthiest choice, but in a pinch, you can make places like this work.
Going low carb is a complete lifestyle change
I LOVE to eat, so it has to be exciting, it has to be a treat. If it isn’t, I’ll never be able to maintain a lifestyle change such as this. As long as my household remains healthy, where the foods we eat aren’t making us sick (such as with Type 2 Diabetes, Gluten Intolerance, etc.) I’m going to stick with what enhances my life. After all, if we aren’t enjoying it, what’s the point?
If Mr. Trekker or I needed a diet like this for health-related reasons, that would be one thing. I can commit to a lifestyle change with that kind of motivation. But that’s really what this diet is, it’s a full-scale, lifestyle change. If you aren’t willing to commit to it fully, I would dissuade you from it.
In the end, I’m glad I tried the experiment. I learned that my body does seem to respond better to a higher protein and fat diet (with whole-grain carbs included). As an example, if I have a sandwich for lunch, white pasta for dinner, or cereal for breakfast, my stomach is growling LOUDLY (and I am STARVING) just a few hours later.
In contrast, if I eat something higher in protein (a thick piece of steak, pork, or chicken) mixed with veggies, or breakfast with bacon, eggs, and potatoes, I can usually make it 3 – 4 hours without feeling hungry. This makes sense, as basically, fats and proteins burn more slowly than carbs (though I do notice that “non-white” carbs, such as brown rice, millet, and items with whole grains, stick with me better).
So, based on this, in the future, I’m going to pursue more of a “slow-carb” diet rather than a “low-carb” diet. This allows for whole-grain carbs and, I think, will fit far better with the Trekkers’ current lifestyle (and my patience level).
So my take-away after six weeks of going low-carb…I won’t be “going Keto” (or Paleo) anytime soon!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with some soft, Easter Dinner rolls!
HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!!!
Have you tried a low-carb diet? Tell me about your experiences in the comments!
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