When I posted about my failed 2011 New Year's Resolution the other day (in Tea, or Coffee?), various people asked me about the progress of my great diet experiment. It's a trifle excruciating—seems arrogant, even—to presume anyone is interested in such a quotidian personal issue, but people are asking, so here's the update anyway.
The newest wrinkle is that I've stopped eating wheat. As I've mentioned before, I gave up sugar last April, but I recognized that I had simply replaced it with breads, which have just as high a glycemic index. So I skimmed through the book Wheat Belly, by a local cardiologist named William Davis, and decided to give it a try. So far, so good.
My diet at this point is pretty simple: mainly animal proteins (fish, pork, fowl, red meat, and eggs) and plentiful green vegetables at every meal (essentially the so-called "paleo diet"). No alcohol (I've been sober since 1990). Dairy, and fruit, sparingly. Other grains, legumes, and potatoes extremely sparingly. No sugar except a couple of squares of extremely dark chocolate (85% cocoa) for dessert after dinner. Fat uncontrolled, portions uncontrolled. Three meals a day, within specific timeframes. I've decided on six "feast days" a year, when I can eat anything I want to.
The really remarkable thing about not eating sugar or wheat: food cravings are virtually gone. For the first time in years. This is astonishing, and, perceptually, a huge change for me. I mean they're gone, too: I'm never hungry, never uncomfortable, and never feel deprived in the slightest. Even though I allow myself three meals a day, I'm often eating only two because I just don't want any more. Lunch seems to come too soon after breakfast.
I've been losing weight steadily at the rate of two pounds a week so far, despite eating fat.
The lack of cravings has been the real an eye-opener. Time will tell if the current experiment is sustainable and whether there are any undesirable side effects (I'm under a doctor's care, and had blood work and a stress test recently), and also whether it's really a weight-loss diet or not.
I'm now late for a party, so I'll have to complete the "drink" portion of this post later. Check back, if you're interested.
Well, serves me right for writing about diet this morning—I went to my party and ate a not-on-the-diet dinner. But a modest (and tasty) one. Including the first wheat-derived foods that have crossed my lips since mid-November. So, apparently I'm a hypocrite. You know what they say: Oh well.
(I also bought a share of Green Bay Packers stock that arrived this week. Yes—that means today was my fault. 'Nuff said.)
But on to "drink." If you haven't noticed, I tend to be obsessive. If I could work on anything on purpose as enthusiastically as I've learned about coffee over the past two days, I'd be a gazillionaire and the whole world would have heard of me. I'm coming up to speed pretty well.
A barista in a YouTube video mentioned that overdosing—using too much coffee—is the wrong way to make stronger coffee. What you want to do, apparently, is to strictly control the proportion of coffee to water, and then adjust the strength of the coffee with the grind. (Several readers indicated the same. The comments that pointed out that French press coffee doesn't necessarily have to have a lot of solids in it if the grind is well controlled were also pointing to the same conclusion.) This all helped convince me that the a good grinder was probably the easiest and most immediate way to improve my coffeemaking skills. So I made a surgical strike on the local mall even though it was the last shopping Saturday before Christmas, and managed to get in and out again with a nice coffee grinder with remarkably little hassle.
I've been "overdosing," habitually, for years, so looking at the paltry amount of coffee the scale said I should use made me very dubious. But the coffee was superb. I mean really, really good.
Well, maybe not really really good. But much better than I normally make.
I am enthused.
So anyway, that's my Christmas present to myself this year. I'm sure those of you who are not interested in coffee and tea have had quite enough of the subject by now, so I'll sign off and get back to work on the last part of the world's most desirable cameras list.
"Open Mike" is a series of off-topic posts by Yr. Hmbl. Editor that appears only, but not always, on Sundays.
*Two interesting fact-clusters from Wheat Belly: first, aficionados of paleo diets consider traditional vegetarian diets to be downright unhealthy, because they include whole grains and legumes (beans). The appeal of vegetarian diets has always been more moral than nutritional, but they're also widely considered to be "good for you." Not according to paleo diet theory. Who knew?
Second, the wheat that is the Biblical "staff of life" is no longer what we eat, at least in America. It doesn't even look like legacy wheat: it's now a short, stiff-stemmed plant with enormous seed clusters (no more "amber waves of grain"). It's been genetically modified more than 70 times in the past half-century, and the two plants ("legacy" wheat and modern, heavily modified dwarf wheat) have a radically different number of genetic chromosomes. Dr. Davis doesn't even think it deserves to be called "wheat" any more; he suggests "frankenwheat"—which even he should realize is perhaps a tad too polemical to catch on. I find all that interesting as well, although I draw no conclusions from it. What do I know about wheat?
Note: Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site. More...
Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Gino-eelen: "There's lots of debate about any of the diets. What counts most I think is that people become more conscious about what they eat, instead of just swallowing what the industry and advertising put on their plates. Learn about what's behind the nice clean packages you pull from the supermarket shelf. Find out what's in them, how they are produced, and what they do for/to you. Then make your (informed) decision. But of course that is true for all aspects of life, not just food."
Featured [partial] Comment by Michael W: "Interesting article. One thing we should all realise as we enter middle age (I'm 51) is that we need to start taking our health seriously. Getting the diet sorted is an important part of that."
Featured Comment by beuler: "I was stunned when, experimenting on myself like Mike did, I discovered that sugar makes me hungry. The more sugar I eat, the hungrier I become. Like Mike, I do not feel hunger since giving up sugar consumption. The 5 kg (11 pounds) I lost in three months is due to not feeling hungry rather than to the elimination of sugar calories. Basically I traded 'absolutely no sugar or sweets' for 'as much non-sweet food as I want,' and lost weight pigging out on meat, fat, vegetables, fruit and carbs.
"My experience is different from Mike's in three ways:
- I eat wheat, especially pasta. I used to eat lots and lots of pasta, but since giving up sugar, my appetite for it is less. When eating sugar, I would eat a pile of pasta with a little meat. The proportions are reversed now, but because of my appetite. I do not count or measure portions.
- I eat fruit (apples and bananas mostly, some oranges and clementines also). About two pieces a day. My personal belief is that fruit from the supermarket is picked green to give a longer shelf life and therefore has less sugar than real, ripe fruit picked from a tree. This is obviously not a scientific observation.
- I drink alcohol (at least on beer or one glass of wine per meal).
"I now believe (not in the religious sense, obviously) that about four in five people have a sugar addiction. Are you addicted to sugar? Just try going for one week without eating or drinking sweet things."