No, it’s not April Fool’s Day, although I can imagine some of you think this is a joke headline. I am actually giving up bread, pasta, and potatoes for six weeks. Also gone are butternut squash, peas, corn, milk, yogurt, chickpeas, every bean except for green beans, and chocolate. Well, all desserts I guess (I’m not one of those people who thinks of fruit as a dessert; fruit is fruit, unless it’s baked into a pie, then it can be called dessert). There are probably a few more that I haven’t thought of, but those are the big ones.
Why I am doing this? So that when people tell me that I need to give up carbs in order to lose weight, I’ll have a response other than “I don’t want to, and you’re a jerk for even suggesting it. Now leave me alone, I have bread in the oven.”
The response might end up being, “You’re absolutely right. I tried it for six weeks and it worked. But I was such a bitch that my husband divorced me and my kids stopped speaking to me so in the end, it just wasn’t worth it.”
Or, the answer might be “Yeah, I tried it, but it didn’t work. I was so miserable that I ate 7,000 low-carb calories a day and gained ten pounds. So go away.”
I seriously doubt that the answer will be “It worked, and after the six weeks were over I had eradicated my dependence on carbs, so I decided to keep going.” I mean, I guess anything is possible. But I am absolutely not going in to this with any intention of it lasting more than six weeks. 42 days. Day 43 is my daughter’s birthday, and I will most likely be eating cake and probably whatever else is put in front of me that day.
Even if I lose weight doing this, I just have no desire to stay off of those foods forever. If you were to ask me to list my five favorite foods, bread, pasta, and potatoes would be on that list. The other two would be cheese and chocolate. I would not want to live the rest of my life not eating four of my five favorite foods.
I’m not following any of the well-known plans (at least I don’t think I am). My inspiration for this was a weight-loss experiment done by two twins: One of them gave up ALL carbs for a month (he wasn’t even allowed any fruits or vegetables), and the other gave up all fats. At the end of the month, both of them had lost weight, but they were also both pretty miserable. The one who couldn’t have fat said that he was hungry all the time, and the one who couldn’t have carbs said that he was tired, constipated, and that his breath smelled terrible the entire time. Lovely.
More significantly, they both said that they just didn’t enjoy food while on this diet.
The takeaway for them (and for me) is that it is the combination of sugar (carbs) and fat that’s the real evil. I mean, think about it: All of the things that I like to eat myself sick on have that combination. A bagel is boring without cream cheese or butter. A plain baked potato is kind-of awful without butter or sour cream. French fries have to have oil. Popcorn has to have olive oil or butter or caramel. Chocolate is one of the most wonderful combinations of fat and sugar ever. The list goes on and on.
So, I decided to do a modified version of a low-carb diet. I wanted to cut out my best opportunities for having those evil combinations of fats and sugars. I would get rid of only the worst carbs. I simply don’t think that giving up fruits and vegetables is healthy or safe, and I would never do it. I’m just ditching the very starchiest carbiest ones.
Some of them were judgment calls. Foods like butternut squash and black beans are not as carbtastic as potatoes, but I know myself and I know that I could easily sit down and eat 3,000 calories worth of butternut squash and butter. So that had to go, even though butternut squash is really healthy. Same with black beans. I could eat those with sour cream all day. And chickpeas? Super healthy, but also high in carbs, and I can eat an entire can without even thinking about it. This plan is totally based on my own tastes and the carby foods I’m most likely to binge on.
I suppose I could just set a limit for carbs each day, but I absolutely did not want to have to count or keep track of anything. So it’s just easier to cut certain foods out of my diet entirely.
Some of the higher-carb fruits were also a tough call, like bananas and apples. But in the end I decided that nobody has ever gotten fat eating bananas and apples and that it was silly to cut out something so healthy.
Milk was a surprise. I’d checked the carb counts of a bunch of different cheeses, and sour cream, and cottage cheese, and they were all fine. But milk has a lot more sugar in it than the things that are made out of milk. I don’t really understand how that works. So while I’ll be eating plenty of dairy, I won’t be drinking any plain milk. Which is actually fine since I won’t be having any Oreos to dunk or brownies or cereal to eat with the milk. Sigh.
My First Full Day
Yesterday was technically my first full day on this eating plan, but I really started it early Saturday afternoon. Once I’d decided to do it I didn’t want to have any “last meals.” I didn’t want to eat any more bread or pasta knowing that I wouldn’t be having it for a while. I thought that would make it harder to start. I don’t even remember what I ate for the rest of Saturday but it was all “approved” food.
Sunday was interesting. I started my day with two hard-boiled eggs and some soy sausage – a normal breakfast for me, minus a bagel or toast or some home fries. For lunch we were going out to a Mexican restaurant (my favorite) with some relatives, and that was a little hard, but not impossible. I got two spinach enchiladas and a side of guacamole. I took the spinach out of the enchiladas and scraped all of the sauce and cheese onto it and just didn’t eat the corn tortillas. It was the first (and hopefully last) time I’ve ever eaten in a Mexican restaurant and not had tortilla chips.
For dinner I had a big salad. It’s a good thing I love salads. Although I usually like them with lots of croutons.
At some point I ate a banana. I don’t even remember when.
The other thing I ate today – and the one major concession I’m making – was a Kind Plus Protein bar. It’s like a granola bar, but made with healthier grains. It has chocolate on it and is rather tasty. And I’m letting myself have one each day. I just needed something that would give my brain a little boost, and I’m sure there will be times when I just have to throw something into my purse and go. Those Kind bars are going to be that thing.
So, that was day one. If those three meals were any indication of how this is going to go, my food for the next 41 days will be filling, tasty, and unsatisfying. I also had a weird feeling in my stomach all day, not exactly nausea but just an odd sensation in the pit of my stomach. Then, late yesterday afternoon, I had some truly horrible stomach issues (but short-lived, thank goodness). I’d read that when you first start a low-carb diet it’s normal to have some bloating and stomach issues, but this, if related, was ridiculous. My husband didn’t seem too surprised though. He said that with the amount of carbs I eat every day, 24 hours super low car was probably a huge shock to my system.
Wish me luck. More importantly, wish my family luck, because they’re going to have to live with me.