Easter Ends the Lenten Fast!

In this post, I discuss the success of my annual, Lenten Fast.

Happy Easter everyone!  The Tranquil Trekker survived another Lenten season!  Easter, which falls on Sunday, always perks me up as it marks the end of my annual, six-week-long, Lenten Fast.

How did my 2021 Lenten Fast go?

I felt like my Fast went pretty well this year.  One interesting note, usually I crave carbs when I give up sweet treats for Lent.  This year that wasn’t really the case.  Instead, I craved salty things hard-core (probably because we’ve also been attempting to implement features of the low-salt, DASH diet that Mr. Trekker’s doctor put him on a few months ago.)

I only ended up losing around five pounds total, though I was pretty happy with that (especially because, when I look in the mirror, I feel like I’ve lost more!  That still gets me to one of the lowest weights I’ve been at in many years and without too much hassle.  I think I’ve also found a few lifestyle techniques to implement going forward to help me maintain some of these healthier practices.  The goal is this will result in continued healthier food choices and lower weight for myself!

Elements from my Lenten Fast that I’ll maintain going forward

I will enjoy breaking my lengthy fast Easter morning with some naughty and delicious donuts! 🤤  I’m also looking forward to MommaTrekker’s pecan pie for dessert after Easter dinner!

Related Posts:  Low-carb Lent; Final Thoughts on Low-Carb Lent; A Sustainable Low-carb Lifestyle; My Lenten Fast

It’ll be nice to be able to eat without restrictions again, though I am hoping to continue implementing some of my healthier eating habits.  This will mainly be in the form of:

      • A more mindful approach to drinking soda:  I love soda, L-O-V-E LOVE it! (and I’m talking the full-sugar stuff here, that diet stuff tastes like crap, is AT LEAST as bad for you as the regular version–maybe worse?–and it triggers my IBS).  I want to be more mindful about how I drink it though.  Rather than chugging through a 20-ounce container of it with dinner, I want to focus more on drinking water, tea, etc. during dinner and enjoy the soda afterward.  That way I can solely focus on the flavor and “bubbles” that I enjoy.  I will view it more as a treat or almost a dessert, rather than simply a way to slake some thirst (it doesn’t work well for that anyway).
      • We will continue to be sticking with the low-salt, DASH diet as much as is reasonable:  This diet is kind of hard because nothing tastes right, it turns out salt plays a HUGE part in the way we think the foods we eat “should” taste.  But I am “slowly” learning how to add just enough salt to home-cooked meals so that they taste good, without using the MASSIVE amounts of the mineral that are in normal, processed food (this includes pizza crust, bread, salad dressings, tomato sauce, etc.  I have learned that basically anything that comes prepared that isn’t made at home from scratch is LOADED with salt.)

To Conclude

So, Happy Easter everyone!  I’m off to go enjoy some chips and dip, soda, and a few jelly beans! 🤤 😁  Here’s to another year of trying to implement more healthy eating practices!

Did you participate in a Lenten Fast?  How did it go?  Tell me about it in the comments!

 

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As much of the world just celebrated the Easter holiday, I look back at the Fast I assigned myself this Lenten season, and discuss how it went.

 

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My Lenten Fast

In this post, I review my Lenten Fast that I endeavor to complete each year.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the Easter Season is upon us again!  This is the time of year I embark on my annual, Lenten Fast.

Why fast for Lent?

During Lent, or the six weeks that fall before Easter, many Christians choose to “fast” from something (usually a favorite food such as chocolate, but it can be other things as well, such as tv or social media).  The Catholic faith outlines more of a regimented fast, whereas Christians of other denominations tend to just give up something they are sure to miss as a personal sacrifice. (I explain more about the season of Lent in another post.)

What I am giving up for Lent

A few years ago I outlined my long journey of trying out a low-carb lifestyle over Lent.  As we learned then, I am apparently the only person in all of humanity who doesn’t benefit from this diet. 😝  It actually made me utterly MISERABLE, and literally left me depressed (and I do NOT use that term lightly).

This year I will be following a similar Fast as last year, where instead of going “low-carb” I am going more “slow-carb”.  This basically means I will not be limiting my carb intake other than trying to focus mostly on whole-grain, healthier items.  In addition, I will be trying to stick with “cleaner” food overall.  What will that look like?  Well, for many years I gave up sweets for Lent (cookies, candy, etc.).  One year I also gave up soda.  With my “slow-carb” fast I give up all of that.  In addition, I also fast from junk food (such as fast food, chips, really greasy pizza, fried foods, etc.)

Mr. Trekker’s doctor recently put him on a low-salt diet called the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).  I figure this change will be beneficial for us both, and since I’ll be grocery shopping and cooking low-salt for him anyway, it just makes sense to do it for myself, as well. 😁  So, I will be implementing this as part of my dietary changes too.

Related posts:  Easter Ends the Lenten Fast!; Final Thoughts on Low-Carb Lent; Low-carb Lent

What I hope to get out of my Lenten Fast

As always, I am hoping to lose a little weight from the fast (that is always a welcome–if not somewhat selfish–side effect of Lent for me 😇).  I am also still trying to kick my soda addiction.  I LOVE soda, I could drink it all day, EVERY day (and we’re talking the full-sugar stuff here.  I’ve never liked the taste of diet soda and my IBS doesn’t tolerate it anyway).  I don’t allow myself to drink a lot of it, but it’s always been a guilty pleasure of mine (and yes, I know it isn’t good for me, clearly that isn’t enough motivation to get me to stop drinking it 😝).

A Lenten Fast should be an adventure!

I’m always excited about the challenge a Lenten Fast brings.  It is a struggle, as it is supposed to be.  They don’t call it a “fast” for nothing! 😉  But it should also be an adventure, a time to try out something new during a time frame that isn’t that long anyway. 😁

Do you participate in a Lenten Fast?  If so, tell me about it in the comments!

 

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Do you fast from a favorite food or item during the Lenten season? Read on for details on the "no junk food" Lent challenge I'm attempting.

 

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Final Thoughts on Low-Carb Lent

I have reached the end of my six-week, low-carb, Lenten Fast. I outline what I’ve learned and where I plan to go from here.

Well, it’s been six weeks!  I made it through my low-carb, 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 Joes, 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 churns 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 throughout the last six weeks. 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. 😝  I did turn 36 in the last six weeks. 😂
      • In my 3-month update, I talked about feeling like carb-heavy meals made me feel full of air, whereas the protein-heavy meals left a more substantial, full feeling.  I will say, when I eat mostly protein and vegetables, I feel like there’s 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, as an 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 (or any future household members) 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 against 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, for 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).  Next year for Lent, I’ll probably give up “no junk food snacks or sweets” (including soda), but unless health conditions require it, 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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Want to know what it's really like to going low-carb"? In this post I discuss what I learned after my six week experiment during Lent.

 

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Yummy Keto-friendly recipes!

I’ve made it halfway through my low-carb Lenten Fast. In this post I detail how I’ve been feeling and several new recipes we’ve tried.

Well, I’ve made it three weeks into the low-carb Lenten Fast (halfway there!!!) 😁

We tried a few new recipes this month.  They even got Mr. Trekker’s seal of approval!

Stir-fry with Cauliflower Rice:

This was YUMMY!  This was one of those recipes that isn’t really a recipe because you can pretty much throw whatever sounds good into it.  You can even buy frozen, stir-fry mixes with the veggies already cut up (some of them have sauce packets too).

For veggies I used:
Green peppers
Onions
Mushrooms
Edamame
Corn
Canned bean sprouts
Water chestnuts

For the sauce, I used a Kikkoman stir-fry sauce, but again, you can use whatever you want.  I’d recommend two bottles of it (though I made a huge pan and we had plenty leftover).  

Also, drain the veggies and meat before you put the final dash of sauce on so it doesn’t water down the flavor of the sauce, or get too soupy. (I didn’t bother to read the directions on the bottle first.  If I had, I would have cooked the meat in the sauce first so it had a stronger flavor.  I’ll do that next time.  According to the directions, you’re supposed to then remove the meat and cook the veggies in that sauce/meat-juice mixture.  Then you can add a little more sauce if you want…but who reads directions? 😝)  

For the meat you can, again, use whatever sounds good.  I used steak strips, but you could do chicken, or pork, or shrimp (or a combo)!

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I was pretty proud of this one!

For the cauliflower rice, I just got a few bags, frozen, from Walmart.  You can microwave them in the bag, though I sautéed them up in a skillet with some olive oil. I was pleasantly surprised that the cauliflower didn’t stink when I cooked it (I was worried if it smelled strongly it would turn my stomach and that would ruin any chance of me liking the food.  Since then, I have found the smell is stronger if you cook the bag in the microwave.)  

The taste isn’t too strong either.  You can definitely taste a little cauliflower, but it is mild.  I wouldn’t want to eat it plain, but mixed with other foods, it was pretty good. I like the texture as well.  It is a little more grainy than regular rice, a little firmer, but we both like our rice pretty chewy/al dente, so we don’t mind.  If you’re used to eating brown or wild rice, which is firmer anyway, it isn’t too big of a change.  We only needed one bag of cauliflower for the two of us, but we ate it all at that one meal. 

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“Riced” cauliflower

Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots

Another YUMMY choice!  Full disclosure, I LOVE tater tots, L-O-V-E, LOVE them.  But regular potatoes are kind of a no-no on a low-carb diet (one rule I’m only following when I feel like it 😝).  So we tried these as a substitute.  They are good!  They are lightly breaded (I didn’t realize that till I was eating them, oops!), and since they contain cheese they would NOT be Paleo-friendly (meh!)  Mr. Trekker doesn’t share my love of tater tots (though ironically, he likes potatoes WAY more than I do), so he was fine with these as an alternative.  

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Pay no attention to the breading! 😇

Rice Ramen:

We enjoyed this as well.  They are ramen noodles, basically, but they had no salt as they’re just the straight noodle.  You don’t add a packet of seasoning (you can add whatever sauce/toppings you want, they basically take on the flavor of that).  There are some carbs, but it’s about half of what you find in normal pasta.  Also, these noodles are VERY filling, but in a satisfying way, not the airy, “white-carb” way that only leaves you feeling full for about five minutes.  I was full all night after eating these and that’s unusual for me for a normal “spaghetti night”.  I LOVE the texture on these, but then I LOVE ramen. 😝  You have to be careful cooking them, there’s about a 30-second, Goldilocks-style difference between too hard, PERFECT, and too mushy. 

There are several varieties, but the one I prefer is a combination of brown rice flour and millet.  We both really liked it.  We tried them with alfredo sauce, broccoli, and chicken; with just regular Italian dressing; and with regular “red” sauce.  All were good, though the lighter the sauce flavor, the duller the flavor of the dish, so I would definitely recommend something more flavorful.  This type of noodle reminds me a lot of angel-hair pasta, which is one of my favorites! 

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I’ll be keeping this in the rotation!
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One of my new creations!

Pizza with Cauliflower Crust:

This one was easy, we got it from a local pizza place. 😉  It was also, surprisingly good (albeit expensive).  The texture was a little different from that of a normal pizza crust.  It was a little denser and chewier, but I liked it! Mr. Trekker liked it too!  If I hadn’t known I was eating something different, I don’t even know if I would have noticed.  There was no flavor difference that I could tell.  I had buffalo chicken pizza, so that may have helped.  This pizzeria also offers garlic-cheese “breadsticks” with a cauliflower crust.  I wouldn’t mind trying that sometime as well, just to see if the taste of the crust is any more noticeable.  I did find this didn’t reheat well.  The crust got very dark and hard.  It wasn’t inedible, but it also wasn’t nearly as tasty as it had been the night before.  Aside from the exorbitant cost, this is definitely something I’d be willing to try again!  

As you can see, we’ve had a successful month of trying some new foods.  Not sure I’ll keep the cauliflower rice once Lent is over, or the expensive cauliflower pizza, but the rest will definitely have to go into the rotation. 

Side Effects of a Low-carb Diet:

A few things I’ve noticed over the last few weeks:

      • I’ve noticed a bit of nausea and queasiness when I get hungry (usually close to meal-time).  My understanding is, this comes from low blood sugar and isn’t unusual for people switching to a low-carb lifestyle.  The answer seems to be, “eat more protein”.  I have found that a handful of nuts or a granola bar when I first feel it coming on usually solves the problem (and before you ask, no, I am NOT pregnant!) 🙄😝😉
      • In the past, when I stopped eating sweets for Lent, I’ve experienced strong cravings for carbs.  This makes sense as my body was seeking out alternative sources of sugar for fuel.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised to note that this hasn’t been the case this year.  I’m assuming this may be because I was already decreasing my carb intake, so my body is learning to seek out protein for energy instead (I hope).I have been noting cravings for proteins, specifically beef, as well as salt.  My understanding is, the salt cravings are also normal.  The answer (again) seems to be, “eat more protein”, and increase your salt intake (seriously). It has something to do with your electrolytes being out of whack due to the lack of carbs.  Apparently, on a low-carb diet, your liver and kidneys flush more salt rather than store it, so it’s normal to need to refresh the supply more readily.  I’ve found, if I’m having a particularly strong craving, just a small pinch of salt can really help (not to mention be INCREDIBLY satisfying).
      • The first week or two of the diet I noticed increased irritability (Mr. Trekker has not commented on noticing this, he is a wise, wise man 😂).  It almost felt like I was suffering from PMS, even though I knew that wasn’t likely the culprit (that explanation won’t help the male readers much. 😝)  Again, based on research I’ve done, it appears this is a normal part of the transition, as your body learns to use different fuel sources.  I have been feeling this easing in the last week or so.
      • I have found that I struggle to feel satisfyingly full.  I’ve noticed this in the past as well, just from giving up sweets, but really cutting back the carbs has increased the issue (and could be contributing to the irritability).  Eating protein-rich snacks, such as nuts, really helps, and I’m trying to increase my veggie and fruit intake as well. (I have to be careful with fruit though, as it does contain carbs, from the natural sugar.  I noted in a previous post that I wasn’t worrying myself as much with those types of carbs.)Eating more veggies is probably the best answer, but as I’ve mentioned before, neither my palate nor my gag reflex has a love affair with vegetables, especially the green ones.  I keep finding more that I enjoy, and I keep seeking out new ways to prepare others to help me learn to tolerate them, but it’s a slow process (and not something that is likely to resolve itself within the next three weeks).
      • I will say this, I rarely feel “stuffed” anymore, when we eat more cleanly.  I have definitely noticed a difference in how I feel based on what I eat.  I “cheated” the other day a little, and ate a white-rice-noodle dish with lunch.  It was definitely more of a carb-heavy, rather than a protein-heavy meal, and I could tell I felt different.  It’s like you feel full, but not satisfyingly full.  It’s almost like there’s too much air inside you rather than actual substance.  Whereas when I fill up more on protein or at least the whole-grain carbs that digest more slowly, I feel satisfyingly full.  I thought that was interesting.  

In the book, Wired to Eat, that sparked my interest in this diet to begin with, the author believes it can be beneficial for us to feel hunger at times.  This is because our bodies evolved in an era where missing meals was relatively common.  This was due to a lack of easily available food, thanks to the situations our ancestors found themselves in (famine, an unsuccessful hunt or lousy harvest, etc.)  Yeah, that’s all well and good for him, but I don’t do “hungry” well.  I get cranky easily. 😇  And this isn’t 2000 BC, it’s almost 2020 AD, we have grocery stores and Uber Eats.  For the safety and sanity of everyone in my general vicinity, it’s best if I eat every three hours (not counting the 12-hour fasting break I take while I sleep).  😝

The author of the book also feels there is no such thing as “cheating” on a diet because you don’t have a relationship with your food.  I think this is a very healthy way to look at the issue.  Either you eat according to your diet or you don’t. If you don’t, use those negative feelings as motivation to make better food choices the next time around.  (Although in my case, I’m following the diet as part of the religious tradition of sacrificing something for Lent.  So, I may not be cheating on my diet, I’m just cheating on God.  That makes me feel SO much better! 😳🤔😔)

So, that’s how things are going thus far.  This diet attempt has been an interesting experience.  I’m learning more than I had expected and I look forward to sharing that with you in the April update.  Three weeks left!  Do you have any favorite low-carb foods?  Tell me about them in the comments!

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In this post I share some Keto-friendly recipes we've been trying and discuss some side effects I've notice from going low-carb.

 

Like what you read here today?  Please feel free to leave a comment, like or share this post!  Add your email at the bottom of the page, or the sidebar to the right, to be notified when a new post is published.  By signing up for the email list, you will also receive a free copy of the Tranquil Trekker’s Top 10 Tips of Trekking Do’s and Don’ts!

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Low-carb Lent

In this post, I detail my experience trying out a low-carb diet that was part of my Lenten Fast in 2019!

In 2019, the Trekkers attempted to go low-carb.  That culminated in a full-scale, low-carb, Lenten fast for me.  I didn’t get the result I had expected but it was an interesting experience…

What is a Lenten Fast?

I grew up Lutheran, which, for those who may not know, is kind of like Catholic, we just don’t have quite the same dedication. 😉😉  Many people who follow my religious tradition choose to give up something for Lent.  Usually, this is some type of favorite food, but it could also be a toy, a game, or an activity you enjoy, such as social media or video games.  It really doesn’t matter what you give up, the point is that you sacrifice something.  I am not aware that any of the denominations in the Protestant faith require a Lenten Fast, it is solely based on personal choice.  

Why do people celebrate Lent?

Lent is the 40-day period in the Christian religion that leads up to Easter, starting on Ash Wednesday.  The whole point of it is to symbolically recognize the sacrifice Jesus made when He wandered the desert for 40 days and was tempted by the Devil, before His crucifixion.  

The date that Ash Wednesday occurs changes every year based on the date of Easter (which also changes every year).  My understanding is, Easter always falls the first Sunday, after the first full moon, after the Spring Equinox, and is also related to when Passover occurs.  Passover is a holiday from the Jewish faith that isn’t usually celebrated by Christians, but the Christian religion has its roots in Judaism so some of the traditions still share similarities. (Does this make anyone else’s brain hurt?  This is why I’m a nature girl and not a religious scholar. 😉)

Previous Fasts:

I didn’t start participating in a Lenten fast until I was in high school and I’ll admit it, I failed miserably at my first few attempts.  Six weeks is a long time to give up things you really enjoy!  But in the last several years I’ve been able to stick with my Fast fairly well.  In the past, I’ve given up sweets (i.e. donuts, cookies, candy, ice cream, basically anything that could be construed as a dessert).  The caveat to this is my birthday which “almost” always falls during Lent.  So, God and I have an ongoing agreement that birthday treats are exempted from consideration. 😁 (It’s not my fault that this is when I was born! 😉)–Some years my birthday doesn’t fall during Lent…it falls on Fat Tuesday** instead. 😝 

**For those who may not be aware, because Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday, the Tuesday directly preceding it is known as “Fat Tuesday” as you “get fat” gorging on the foods you won’t be enjoying for the next six weeks. 😁 (Fat Tuesday factors into Mardi Gras celebrations, as well.)

In past years, I have also given up cheese, gum, and soda, though none of those felt as difficult as giving up all sweets.  As the Trekkers have been slowly working to decrease our sugar intake over the last several years**, giving up sweets hasn’t been as difficult in recent years as it was in the past. Going low-carb made this more challenging as I not only gave up sweets, but I also gave up things like blueberry muffins and cereal.  These types of foods had been my go-to “treats” in past Fasts when I couldn’t have the cookies, candy, or ice cream that I was really craving.

**Going Low-carb

Mr. Trekker and I have been slowly edging towards a low-carb life the last several years, so I didn’t exactly go “cold-turkey” in my quest to lessen my carb intake.  As an example, we’ve traded out our usual Cheerios for fruit smoothies in the morning. (On REALLY cold mornings, I’ll still sometimes make oatmeal, but the stuff you actually have to cook, not the instant kind.)  

For lunch, we also traded out lunchmeat sandwiches or leftovers from the crockpot for salads with a meat-based protein or chicken/veggies/whole-grain rice and quinoa dishes.  Several years ago we started switching out ground beef for ground turkey and I began buying nothing in the oil department other than olive oil (and using that for almost all recipes, even if they call for butter or another fat).  I only really use butter for baking purposes. (And yes, ALWAYS real butter.  I never touch the margarine/hardly-any-different-than-plastic stuff. 😝) 

Mr. Trekker has also traded cookies and crackers/chips, in his lunch, for nuts and granola bars.  We’ve also been trying to eat fewer desserts overall–we’re still working on this one a bit. 😳😉 Just by doing these things, however, Mr. Trekker lost more than 20 pounds! 😳  I haven’t seen quite as good of results, but I think I had slightly better practices to begin with (I eat fewer cookies 😉).  I also haven’t been as dedicated to giving up the “naughty” foods.

I mentioned earlier my love for soda.  I am doing better in this area, however, now that I’ve discovered sparkling water.  Side note:  I am SO glad this type of stuff is easily available again!  Do ya’ll remember “Clearly Canadian”?  I used to LOVE that stuff when I was a kid!  Am I dating myself? 😳😝  

I find I usually need SOMETHING fun to drink during the day to look forward to.  I drink a lot of water, as well, but I need something else.  Fortunately, a few years ago, I discovered fruity, green tea.  I’m not a big fan of it hot, but I LOVE it ice cold.  I can even take it sans sweetener (though I’ve got a soft spot for the green tea frappuccinos at Starbucks, and there is NOTHING “low-sugar” about those!  I don’t know what it is, there’s no love lost between my palate and “green”-tasting veggies, but a drink that tastes like grass?  I LOVE it! 😜  Go figure.)  Other than slightly stained teeth and a few stained dishes, I’m not aware of ANY negative consequences for drinking green tea (especially assuming you take it without sweetener).  That’s one of those few items that you really can’t drink too much of.

Related posts:  Easter Ends the Lenten Fast!My Lenten FastMore Yummy Low-Carb FoodsYummy Low Carb FoodsYummy Keto-friendly recipes!Final Thoughts on Low-Carb LentA Sustainable Low-carb Lifestyle; Wired to Eat (A Book Review)

Low-carb Lent 2019

In past years, I have craved carb-heavy snacks when I gave up sweets.  This makes sense as my body was seeking alternative sources to acquire the “sugar fix”.  Going low-carb required me to adjust my notions of “snacking”.  There was no more grabbing a bag of Doritos or pretzels at the gas station.  During “Low-Carb Lent” it was all carrot sticks, other raw veggies, granola bars, and trail mix for me! (I did allow myself a bit of dip to go along with the veggies, and yes, I realize granola bars have carbs in them.  *sigh*  I had to allow myself SOME enjoyment, right? 😝) 

The one exception to the “no sweets” rule that I allowed myself was dark chocolate.  This was because dark chocolate is the one, true “dessert” that is allowed by the Paleo diet.  You are supposed to eat the darkest type you can stand, preferably 90% cacao or higher. However, neither my IBS, nor my palate, allows me to go that high, so I stuck with around 70%.  Fortunately, my IBS doesn’t allow me to eat much of this food at any given time either, so those “treats” were minimal.  

Another exception I allowed myself was soda.  I love soda, L-O-V-E, LOVE it!  I could drink it all day, EVERY day (and we’re talking full-sugar here, that diet stuff tastes like crap and the fake sugar is bad for you, it also triggers my IBS.) 😝  Obviously, this is not the healthiest of choices.  Fortunately, my stomach doesn’t tolerate high amounts of soda intake, so I try to show a little restraint.  I usually allow the occasional soda as a “cheat” during Lent, and I did so during my low-carb Fast, as well.  Yes, I am aware there are carbs in soda. (Actually, it’s chock full of sugar, let’s just be honest.)  But it isn’t made from grains, and it isn’t a sweet dessert, and those are the main things I was focusing on that year. (As I said before, a girl’s got to have a little fun SOMEWHERE. 😉)  

I suck at dieting 😝

As you may be able to tell, I’m pretty bad at this.  I HATE counting calories, carbs, whatever, so I pretty much refuse to do it.  I’ll read the occasional label, but, basically, with this Fast I was just trying to live a reasonably, low-carb lifestyle.  I couldn’t bring myself to count how many carbs were in the raspberry vinegarette dressing I put on the spinach and kale salad I ate for lunch, or how many were in the fruit smoothie I made every morning.  I can’t contemplate how it can be bad to eat things like this, even if there is a bit of natural sugar in them (assuming you aren’t diabetic).  Especially if I’m using these recipes to replace more carb-heavy meals.

Neither of the Trekkers is gluten intolerant, has been diagnosed as diabetic, or as having an autoimmune disease at this point in life (for which we are very thankful).  If that were to occur though, that would alter the zealousness with which I pursued this type of diet.  The author of the book Wired to Eat, which I discussed in a previous post, is gluten intolerant.  He literally gets sick if he eats too much gluten.  So he has far more invested in this type of alternative lifestyle choice.

Basically, I SUCK at dieting, and I’m too lazy and unmotivated to reasonably see this changing much in the future. Even with the Paleo diet, you are allowed a modicum of carb intake, so I allowed some exceptions (such as low-carb noodles or whole-grain pancakes, also whole-grain oatmeal on really cold, snowy days).  I also didn’t seem to have the dedication required to give up potatoes. 😝 

I allowed these exceptions partially because I could have SOME carbs and because it gets REALLY inconvenient not to eat any.  My hope was that if this diet really did work, I would still see some positive results.  They may not have been as good as if I was actually following the plan perfectly, but they should’ve still been present. (And if I saw results without following the diet perfectly,  this would prove that it works, at least somewhat.)

Fasting:

I also implemented fasting–on a VERY minor basis.  Basically, during the week, I would fast around 12 hours per day.  My understanding is that this is the absolute bare minimum that you can fast and still call it fasting. 😝  But, it still counts in my book. 😉  We usually eat breakfast around 7:30 – 8:00 in the morning.  It’s rare that we aren’t done with dinner by 7 at night, so the goal was that by 7:30 each night, I wouldn’t be eating anything else until the following morning.** 

**Fasting at night is easy, I’m asleep! 😉  I find, sometimes, I’ll start feeling hungry about the time I go to bed.  That’s easy enough to ignore, though. Even on those occasions, I rarely wake up with my stomach growling, seven or so hours later.  I also usually find I can wait an hour or two from wake-up before actually ingesting breakfast.  

Realistically, I should be fasting for at least 13 – 15 hours per day, but with our daily schedule that starts to get into the wholly inconvenient arena.  That would be the point where I make smoothies for breakfast for us…and then mine sits in the fridge for several hours before I actually drink it?  Or I end up needing to eat dinner before Mr. Trekker usually even gets home from work at night?  I just…can’t.  Perhaps I’m lazy, or just lack discipline, but I’m seeking out real solutions and lifestyle changes that I can maintain long-term.  Anything extreme just isn’t practical for me and I know it won’t last.  I am aware this may mean I don’t see the full extent of the results possible on these types of diets, but I’m ok with that.  

To Conclude

So, this was my adventure into the low-carb realm.  Check out the articles linked above for new recipes I tried out and the final conclusions I came to regarding how my body performed on a low-carb diet. (Quick preview:  yes,  I was hungry ALL THE TIME; YES, it made me irritable; and NO, I did NOT feel “great” on it! 😝) 

Have you tried going low-carb?  Tell me about it in the comments!

 

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Read on to follow my experience as I try out a low-carb diet as part of my Lenten Fast for 2019!

 

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