Diet and health update: high fat, low carb

Here’s a little background in my journey to finding my healthiest self, If you want to skip ahead to my current diet, please scroll down.

As a person who has studied and put in hundreds of hours, sweat, tears, and money into understanding nutrition and diet, you’d probably guess I’ve always had it figured out, right?

I’ve never had it right.  In fact, I’ve always had it wrong.

Through diet pills, to quick crash diets, to restricting calories, and routinely cutting out major food groups for periods of time, I’ve put my body, mentality, and relationships through unnecessary stress.

Ya see, being a Dietitian or Nutritionist has this sort of image to stand up to (in my mind), in that one must be thin and healthy.  Otherwise, who’d take advice from someone with these credentials who was overweight with terrible skin and had chronic fatigue?  Exactly.

So I struggled from time to time to maintain a respectable physique.  I had to be perfect, but this is my personality.  Maybe this is what attracted me to the profession? Hmmm…. #foodforthought.

When I panicked after adding some fat during periods of stress like when my dad died, I would become terribly unhappy because not only was I dealing with awful things, but I had to deal with my clothes not fitting, and become seemingly “imperfect” in the eyes of society and in my own eyes.

I could never quite find my exact recipe for success in keeping my weight and physicality in check, and I did everything I could to hide this.  I am a health professional, for goodness sake.

I was ashamed that I couldn’t even figure out my own self.  How was I supposed to help others with similar struggles?

Almost three years ago, I repeated another cycle of diet pills and calorie and carb restriction to slim down for my wedding day.  More on this later.

Gradation (for my Nutrition degree) was just a month before I walked down the aisle, and I had to look good for both.  There was no way I was going to be an unhealthy puffy looking dietetic graduate/bride.  #nowayinhell

I successfully got to where I needed to be, believing this was the only way to be thin and beautiful.  I truly believed my genes wouldn’t allow me to be this thin naturally, even though before I forced my body into doing this the wrong way I had no trouble staying lean and effortlessly toned.  I had it in my mind that I was already a goner.

The reason for this is because I repeated this awful cycle of restricting, taking weight loss supplements, binging, cutting out certain macros, drinking excessive water, downing excessive coffee, binging again, starving myself, etc. and never allowed my body to heal and just do what it needed to do.

Anyway, I managed to hit my goals and after my wedding and graduation I slacked off and I began to fill out again….slowly, but surely.

During this time, I transitioned my diet to vegan.  I cut out all dairy, eggs, fish, and any animal byproducts. Even my beauty products had to be vegan.

I am a bit of an extremist, so when I do something I go all in.  Veganism for me was no exception.  (not that veganism is extreme, but I took it an unhealthy level)

This of course meant my diet consisted mostly of carbohydrates and very little fat.  I researched and analyzed, then researched some more to make sure this was exactly how all humans should eat for optimal health and environmental protection…… #eyeroll.

Then I dove in head first.  I continued eating this way for two years, until last November.  Note: I don’t think this diet is bad at all!  I believe humans can survive on this diet for their entire life with no negative consequences, and in turn thrive.

HOWEVER, I do not think this is ideal for everyone.  I use to think that, but no longer.  I found it out by personally experimenting with myself during this time, and I have learned so much with further research.

I will write a post on my thoughts on veganism more in the future.  Be sure to look for this!!

After two years of eating a diet high in carbs, low in fat, and low in protein, I put on extra weight that I didn’t need-15 pounds.

Mind you, This isn’t a lot, but for someone like me who doesn’t put on weight like this naturally…it’s a lot.  And it causes issues.

I’ve experienced blood sugar issues, skin and acne issues, chronic bone and joint pain, mood swings, chronic fatigue, lethargy, brain fog, heart arrhythmia, night sweats, hormonal and period issues, energy crashes, weight gain, etc. on eating this way.

I stuck to it, however, believing it was the optimal diet for me and the rest of humanity. I’ve always had a problem listening to my brain rather than what my body is telling me, or what my heart says.  This was no exception.

One day, I craved fish….bad.  I used to love seafood and would occasionally allow myself a dish here and there while on vacation where all fish was locally caught.  But never from the store.  

Then it was eggs, then it was chicken.  Then it was cheese and butter.

I stopped all of my limitations on myself, and just went with my cravings.  I felt so guilty, I hid it as best I could because I was so ashamed.

Then I just didn’t care anymore.  I had to nourish my body, and my body was telling me exactly what it needed.  So I obliged.

I became so sick and disgusted by any carbohydrate foods, and wanted nothing to do with them.  All I wanted to a lean protein source, and veggies.  And that’s what I did.

Since my hormones have been so whacky, I decided to up my fat ratio in my diet as well.  I used to cringe at the thought of eating more than a quarter of an avocado and thought I’d put on fat that way.  Now, I eat  a couple avocados worth of guacamole, cubed cheese, several handfuls of mixed nuts, and coconut.  My hormones have stabilized and my body is adapting so beautifully.

Since I cut carbs and added tons for healthy fats to my diet, I’ve already lots about 10 pounds.  This was a course of about a month and it’s been effortless.

I’ve not restricted my intake, I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, I have no blood sugar spikes and drops, my heart rate is steady, my acne is gone (!!!!), my cellulite is all but disappearing, my mood is stabilized, and I have so much steady energy that lasts me all day.

Plus, I don’t get intense cravings like I used to, even after eating platefuls of healthy carb-rich food.  I can live through each day without my primary focus being on food.  #hallelujah.

My overal diet approach:

  • I apply paleo/keto-style, whole-foods, low-carb, high-fat to my diet
  • I’ve cut out breads and all grains and legumes (I plan on eating beans in the future once I feel in control of my blood sugar again)
  • I stay away from processed foods, and try to eat as many whole foods as possible with the occasional treat
  • I limit my fruit intake to about 1-2 servings a week
  • I wait to eat until about noon-it’s just always been what is natural to me; if I’m hungry before I’ll eat
  • I enjoy a cup or two of coffee each day; sometimes I’ll splurge on an iced coffee with a splash of heavy cream
  • I drink lots of water with squeezes of lemon
  • I add lots and lots of green veggie salads and steamed/grilled/roasted veggies to my meals
  • I eat FULL FAT foods-nothing light, or reduced, etc.
  • I love to add butter on top of steamed veggies, and full fat dressings on my salads (the more fat I add, the better I feel)
  • I typically feel better if I don’t eat after 7pm-ish to provide enough time for optimal digestion

My ideal day of eating (this is for inspiration purposes ONLY!  Not a directed meal plan.  Every one is different and may require different needs.)

7:00AM wake up, coffee and then water/ice with lemon (enjoyed slowly and not rushed)

8:00AM – get ready for work or the day, continue drinking water as needed

11:00AM-1:00PM – eat first meal of the day.  Typically a green salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, sprinkle of feta or blue cheese, and full fat dressing of choice – lately I’ve been lovely Marzetti Blue Cheese.  If I have leftover roast/grilled chicken or fish, I’ll eat this with it.

3:00PM – snack on almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, peanuts, or a trail mix minus the dried fruit.  Some days I’ll indulge in a few dried cranberries if they’re in my trail mix, but not every day

LOTS of water and lemon throughout the day-but only when I’m thirsty.  I don’t force hydration

6:00PM – dinner time!  We usually grill chicken, bake fish, or roast shrimp and then have lots of grilled/steamed veggies, add a big salad, and bake potatoes on occasion.  I’ll add fat to my meals, and will top with avocado, butter, full fat sour cream, cheese, and sometimes ranch dressing. #guiltypleasure

7:00PM – I have a chocolate tooth (as compared to a sweet tooth) and need to have some sort of cocoa/chocolate in my daily routine.  So I opt for a rich, dark, bittersweet chocolate, and will eat a few squares to satisfy my craving.  Sometimes I’ll make a cup of unsweetened peppermint tea, but not always.

Bedtime!

 

NOTE: portion sizes are completely subjective and I will eat any amount I need for each meal.  I don’t force feed myself, nor do I starve myself, and have been known to eat an entire large pizza (when I do indulge in carbs).  I feel better on smaller, but nutrient-dense meals, and will head my appetite and cravings.

There you have it!  My updated diet and health routine. I’ve been feeling amazing on this style of eating, and I hope this gives you some inspiration if you’re looking to eat more low carb.

This is NOT for everyone, but if you do find yourself feeling better eating this way, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!!

QUESTION:  What’s your favorite low carb dish?  Do you feel better eating higher fat and low carb?  What’s your biggest craving?

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