Surviving a carb recession

29 Mar

On Wednesday, April 15, I went cold turkey off carbs.  It wasn’t pretty.  I had a house full of carbs intended to bribe nieces and nephews on their spring break sleepovers and the extent of my unprepared carb-free food stores included four eggs, one can of tuna, and a bag of shredded cheese.  Twenty-four hours later I was ready to barf if I ever saw cheddar cheese again.  I didn’t know if I would survive the day.  It felt like being all alone in the Sahara Desert, crawling on my last elbow with no hope of a watering hole.

Obviously carbs had a bit of a hold on me.

Because of a horrible schedule, stress, and some very bad nutritional choices last fall, I probably gained at least 20 pounds.  With my trip to L.A. coming up this summer, I decided there was no way I wasn’t going to do anything about that.  There are beaches in California, you know.  So considering my family history and my predisposition to despise anything remotely resembling a diet, I decided to just take matters into my own hands.

There are no diet pills or recipe books or lectures in my — ahem, lifestyle change.  (The use of the word “diet” is strictly forbidden in my presence.)  All I have decided to do at that point was eliminate carbs from my diet as close to entirely as possible for at least two weeks.  I accomplished that goal this week.  Now I’m going to allow myself one day a week to eat whatever I want, if I want, until I feel “safe.”

I’m not a doctor.  I can’t prescribe medicine or a diet plan for me or anyone else.  But I am an adult, and I realized that if I can be resourceful enough to keep a roof over my own head and juggle a ridiculous amount of balls in the air at one time, how embarrassed I would be if I couldn’t exercise enough self-control to get myself back into my clothes again.  Any other weight loss or additional health benefits will — forgive the expression — be icing on the cake.

Thursday the 16th was the most depressing day I’ve had since I lost my job.  So I called a carb-free friend to cheer me up.  Almost immediately she said, “Are you sure you really want to do this now?”  Her first two weeks were the worst, and she told me a little more about the science of it.  Your body always burns carbs before fat.  So eliminating carbs from your diet forces your body to burn the fat it’s storing up.  The only problem is that our fat cells store hormones, so she told me to just imagine PMS — times ten.

But so far I haven’t had any other days like that Thursday.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been mentally prepared for it, but it really hasn’t been bad since.  In fact, the last week or so I haven’t been terribly hungry, and this might sound weird, but in the last couple days my skin on my face and hands has felt considerably smoother and firmer.  Now that I’m not stuck behind a desk all day, I do think I’m getting more exercise and fresh air.  My feet don’t like the extra hours at the mall, but the extra physical work — which I do not consider as the evil concept of exercise — is hopefully a plus.

My greatest enemy at the moment is ambush.  Those carbs lying around in places where I used to just absentmindedly grab a handful and pop it in my mouth without thinking.  The first week a fast food employee accidentally handed me a sweet tea instead of an unsweet tea.  Wicked broth!  Since I hate all things diet, tea and water have been my main drinking options.  But I have found two other delightful alternatives: club soda (sparkling water minus the cost of Pelligrino) and Arizona Diet Tea which is sweetened naturally with honey.

My main concern with my amateur — ahem, meal goal — is the lack of fiber.  I can’t/won’t have broccoli at every meal, so I want to be deliberate about adding fiber supplements as well as vitamins and probiotics to this plan.  I picked up some Metamucil orange drink powder to try, and I’m reading up on more low carb info with other Examiners.

I do not own a scale and will not be weighing myself.  You can probably guess how I feel about self-worth — it’s not measured by pounds.  My measure for this little adventure is going to be my clothing size.

I’ll keep you up to speed on how it goes, and I’d love to hear any carb-free tips you might have in the meantime!

(Cross-posted at on May 2, 2009.)

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