‘Weight Matters.’

This is a universal truth depicted in various ways all over the world. Weight matters in terms of health, fashion, appearance, self-image and even finances. Our weight can give way to all sorts of lifestyle diseases. It can hamper the choice of clothing we want to wear (without looking like an overstuffed walrus covered in polka dots). Our weight influences the way others regard and treat us. It affects our self-confidence and belief of our own self-worth, and over-eating or expensive fad diet treatments can lead to large amounts of expenditure and even debt.

I believe many of us try to deny this, especially where it is relevant to ourselves, but it doesn’t make it any less true. No matter who you are, what you do or where you go, in one way or another… weight matters.

If you are a frequent reader of EatLoveWrite (www.eatlovewriteblog.wordpress.com), then you will know that I have spent the last few weeks trying to lose weight and improve my health by way of a LCHF-diet, specifically the Banting diet. You will also know then that I started out eight weeks ago with a weight of 86kg and now weigh 88.7kg. Clearly, what I was doing was not working and my failed efforts were actually harming me.

Despite the media and scientific world singing the praises of a low-carb high-fat diet, it only works when one does not cheat on higher carb foods. If you fail in this regard, then you can expect to experience ‘obesity squared’. My own failed attempts at following a low-carb way of eating has resulted in my gaining 19kg over the past year.

Stubborn and pigheadedly so though I am, I truly believe in the success of the Banting diet – having experienced them for myself when I started out doing it properly. Therefore, despite the challenges of my lifestyle, I kept on eating high fat. Combining high fat foods with high carb foods though… the results are catastrophic… 19kg catastrophic…

Two weeks ago I realised that this pattern could not continue, or I would be dead before I reached age 30. I tried to revert back to a low-fat, high carb diet after my family expressed their concerns over my weight and the health problems it was causing. My mom was actually afraid that I was becoming bulimic, when in reality my body self-regurgitated from all the rich, fatty, sugary foods I was overeating and it could not handle. Unfortunately, within three days of lowering my fat-intake and consciously upping my carb-intake, I was sicker than I had ever been from failed Banting.

My blood sugar spiked and crashed after each meal, so bad that I would have to lie down in order to avoid passing out. I had a constant headache, was nauseous, exhausted and yet unable to fall asleep. On the third night… I couldn’t take it anymore and had a steak with cheddar, guacamole and a side of creamed spinach. Within 47 minutes, I was back to normal.

Even before this experience, I knew that a low-carb diet was the only way forward for me. I am profoundly insulin resistant, and struggle with wheat, gluten, sugar, soya, and even too much dairy from time to time. I have a family history of obesity, heart disease, cholesterol problems, strokes, diabetes and so forth. From all my research, it is made clear to me that a permanent Banting/LCHF lifestyle is my only solution – even though I could not stick to it.

In theory then a low-carb, high-fat diet is the ultimate solution, but as it so happens in practice… life interferes.

These past two weeks I have been studying my lifestyle, the cases when I cheated on my diet, when I gave in to temptation and the reasons for it, using the six weeks before that as my research material. And as I identify each obstacle, I also came with up several solutions by not only changing the way I do Banting, but also by the way I think about it. I structured and revised these possible solutions in the ultimate plan for people whose hectic lifestyle interferes with their weight loss goals.

 Despite my stacks of books, articles, magazines, videos, images and notes on the subject, the only consistent recommendation to avoid cheating was preparation. This principle made sense, but there was no clear-cut guide as to how to implement this. From my research, I also realised that I was not the only person struggling to stick to my LCHF diet.

Below, I will share the list of issues I identified from my own lifestyle that prevents me from resisting the temptation and opportunity to cheat. Next week, you can expect to find a detailed outline and explanation of my plan to resolve these obstacles and finally change my life around.

My lifestyle is unorganised, unstructured and unpredictable.

As an aspiring author still dependent on her family, my life revolves around them and their work. And unfortunately for me, my mother’s working life has no set routine and changes daily, with my younger brother also still dependent on her as a student. No week looks the same.

On weekdays, I try my best to stick to a set routine in order to maximise my productivity and avoid chaos. I am a perfectionist, after all. My weekends have no routine whatsoever and are determined by my mother’s work, her energy levels, available time and the individual social lives of each of us.

Despite my best attempts though, my weekdays – and workdays – are often disrupted by family obligations. For example, the past few weeks I have had to be home several times, in a disruptive work environment and a kitchen that is not my own to oversee renovations being done to my mother’s house or look after our sick cats.

That often leaves me being unable to plan my meals in advance or even to prepare my own meals, given the frequently untidy state of our kitchen and the lack of low-carb foods in our family home.  This means that more often than not, when I am home with my family, which is literally every weekend, I sometimes have no choice but to eat the high-carb, high-fat foods available to me if I wish to avoid going hungry.

If you arrive home at 7:30pm after two hours on the road, having worked all afternoon and not having eaten since lunch, knowing that there is only bread and pizza at home, and your stomach rumbling from hunger… it is difficult to avoid getting a take-away with your mother. Especially if you were told you’d be home in time for dinner.

My loved ones are not low-carb.

Being home with my family or socialising with my friends so often, it makes sense that it would be challenging to eat or go out with them without cheating. My family exists on take-aways and eating out during weekends and holidays, complementing them with high-carb processed foods at home.

There is almost no grab-and-go low-carb foods in my mother’s home, and if I want a low-carb meal then I have to cook it myself and eat alone while those around me stuff themselves with MacDonalds or KFC – that is if there is even ingredients in the home for me to cook with and the dishes aren’t all dirty. Additionally, I am rather territorial and dislike the idea of having to use a kitchen that is not my own, or where others can sneak up behind me and scare me so badly that I injure myself (twice in the last month, by the way). I will also do many things for my family, but I draw the line at having to wash their dishes and clean up after them.

When eating out I am also faced with the challenge of watching them enjoy milkshakes, dessert, burgers and fries. Given that we are usually hungry enough to eat a mammoth when we do finally get meals, turning down dessert and stuffing myself with high-carb foods is not an easy option.

When sitting around the dining room table with your obese grandma, aunt and otherwise overweight family members, while they all eat festive, sugary, carb-rich foods and critically scrutinise you with your helpings of salad (the only low-carb food served) and tease you for dieting… it’s not what I’d call pleasant. Especially since it would be impolite to reply that they need dieting a lot more than you do.

I usually visit with my friends by way of inviting them over for a cup of tea or going out for coffee. Before I began Banting, I would always offer them cookies or some baked treat with their hot beverage. Now, I refrain from using milk, sugar and carb-rich foods like Oreos. Having to watch someone else sitting not five feet from you gobbling down your favourite cookies and then trying to persuade you to eat them too, even leaving you a few when they go… Gaaah!!! It’s hell!!!

And if that sugar craving strikes and you have sugar, milk and cookies in the house for guests it is only so long before you lose the staring contest with your Oreo…

Because my weight is such a sensitive subject for me, and I tend to feel ashamed about it, I rarely talk about it or explain my weight loss attempts to those closest to me – something that I will have to rectify if I am to gain their support, understanding and the comfort of being completely honest while with them.

I struggle with the willpower to avoid temptation.

As you may have noticed, I definitely struggle to avoid temptation when faced with it for long enough. My willpower to do so is further diminished by eating infrequent meals, having a mentally-demanding work and family and by not sleeping enough (which frequently occurs with our 4am party neighbours).

This willpower is further endangered by my not having a healthier alternative option, such as a Banting-friendly takeaway or low-carb, sugar-free dessert when we eat out. It is also uncomfortable to be the odd one and to differ from the group, wrong though they may be.

Once I cheat, I feel like I’ve already failed for the day, so why bother not cheating again? I usually feel so self-disgusted, disappointed in guilty that I go overboard and give myself over to temptation even more.

I am an emotional eater.

When confronted by stress, conflict, disappointment, sadness or even anger, my first instinct is to eat and to keep on eating until I do not feel anything but the effects of being over-stuffed with ice-cream and éclairs. This effect has been exponentially increased by the emotionally trying time I’ve had since last year and while writing my novel.

I struggle with portion sizes.

Given my family background and frequent indulgence in take-aways and restaurant meals, I have no proper perception of what portion control is and tend to overeat more than not.

I have spent years eating everything I put on my plate, even after I was full and almost never turning down dessert. I am not sure that I know what a balanced meal looks like in reality, despite knowing my macronutrient requirements.

Obviously, I’ve been eating way too much carbohydrate-based foods, and possibly too much meat and poultry, with too little non-starchy vegetables. Even if I am only eating Banting-foods, I may be eating the wrong quantities.

I do not sleep enough.

Generally speaking, I sleep about six hours a night, whereas the required sleep is eight hours a night. By not sleeping enough, I crave high-carb foods more and feel hungrier than I actually am. Without the necessary rest, my willpower becomes depleted, I stress more and my body’s metabolism slows down.

I have difficulty recognising my body’s cues.

Knowing when one is hungry, when one’s hunger has been sated, when one experiences a craving due to a deficiency, when one’s body is responding negatively to a certain food… these are all vital reactions that need to be recognised in order to maintain or improve one’s health.

I am unable to do most of this. The cues given by my body are there… I just seem to disregard them unconsciously. It took me a while to recognise just how highly insulin resistant I am, and the constant fatigue and brain fog it leads to when I have a high-carbohydrate intake.   

I use too much caffeine and sweetener.

Three to four cups of coffee a day, all with milk or cream and xylitol… need I say more?

I don’t always have the time or energy to cook low-carb meals from scratch. 

There are days when I do have the clean kitchen, the Banting-friendly ingredients and the meals planned out perfectly, but I just do not have the time. Sometimes I am absent-minded while watching the clock, or underestimate the time needed to finish a meal. Sometimes something unexpected happens or an appointment takes longer than anticipated.

Some days are just so mentally or physically exhausting that the last thing I feel like doing is being on my feet and having to muster more concentration where there was none left already.

To be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to get up and put writing my novel aside to eat or cook. But, in terms of the bigger picture, like most members of our fast, instant-solution society, I have also become much too dependent on ‘quick’ foods.

I have an unhealthy outlook on food and eating.

I have struggled with my weight and body-image for years, ever since becoming a teenager. Coupled with the unhealthy eating habits I picked up and what I witnessed in my family, I struggle to really enjoy the food I eat, to see eating as a natural, necessary, pleasurable activity and to feel guiltless (and not wanting to kick myself) when I eat something less than healthy.

Like most people of my generation, I have been influenced by the media to view my food as the enemy and to view it critically for the supposed effect it will have on my appearance. Food should not be my boss.

To eat and live healthy, I need to cultivate a balanced, positive relationship with food and the way I eat. Without doing this, I will always relapse and fall back into my old, horrible eating habits.

 

So, where does that leave me...? Should I just give up, eat all the harmful foods I want, while sitting in a hole waiting to die? Hellz NOOOOO!!! After reviewing the above results and forming a plan to address them, I have tailored a fail-proof plan that touches on everything from what and how much to eat, to how often and adding some structure to a crazy lifestyle shared with high-carbers.

Do any of you have the same problems? What other things do you find tricky while Banting?

Please let me know and I will see if I can and should address them too!

But, until next week, remember that even though our weight matters, it just a part of a whole. Your weight does not define you. So don't let it.

Published by Lize M Franken