Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Yes you can diet low-carb as a vegetarian


I created this blog to house the techniques, tips and food shortcuts I amassed while losing weight on a vegetarian low-carb diet. Although I'd originally intended to create a website to present this material in organized fashion, my enthusiasm for that project proved greater than my available time.

I want to assure you that it is possible to lose weight--a lot of weight--on a low carb veg diet. In one year I lost almost precisely 100 pounds. After 20 months I'd lost 140 pounds total. I wouldn't have thought it was possible myself and certainly wouldn't have bet more than a few pennies on my ability to shed fat so quickly, but that's exactly what happened. And no, you certainly do not need to eat animal flesh--or even any animal foods at all. Low carb diets have the reputation of being based on bacon, hamburger patties and pats of butter with a side order of pork rinds. This simply isn't true. It's not difficult to devise a low-carb vegetarian regimen. The strange but wonderful truth is that I ate with greater pleasure as a low-carbing lacto-ovo vegetarian than I had as a low-fat high-carb veg in my fifteen prior years. And I felt healthier and more energetic in the bargain.

While I no longer follow a vegetarian diet, I am nonetheless committed to supporting any vegetarian who wants to explore low carb dieting. I believe a carb-conscious regimen is the most efficient and most healthful path to losing weight.

I didn't create this blog to debate animal rights or grapple with the ethical issues surrounding farming, dining and the food industry. Mind you, I do have opinions on these subjects. I am human, after all, and thus given to moments of introspection and fierce idealism, but this blog is not the forum for such discussions. If you want to engage me on these topics, please email me instead.

If you seek low carb vegetarian knowledge, you are most welcome to explore this blog and to email me. I don't have plans to post to this journal again, so if you're looking for my latest thoughts on health and dieting, chocolate, or life in this funny universe, you might prefer to visit one of my other journals. (And if you want to read my old low carb and health Livejournal that carried me through my weight loss and includes an absurd number of chocolate and tea reviews, you can visit that seldom used LJ here.)

Best of luck to you,

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Indispensable Low Carb Veg Recipes

When I need inspiration, I visit Linda's or one of the low carb forums. Other low carb dieters never let me down. Having said that, the following have been indispensable in my weight loss:

- Linda's Mockafoni (with Neufchatel instead of full-fat cream cheese)
- Linda's Deep Dish Pizza (with Neufchatel & egg replacer instead of cream cheese & eggs) topped with green peppers, olives or mushrooms
- Rachel Stella's cheesecake made with full-fat cream cheese!
- David's aunt's holiday pumpkin rolls
- cream cheese danishes (made with neufchatel instead of full-fat cream cheese)
- Linda's Fried "Rice" with Quorn tenders added for protein
- my Cougar Gold Cauliflower cheese soup
- spinach egg "bread" (with egg replacer subbing in for 2 of the 4 eggs)

Other meals I enjoyed were stewed rhubarb with Sweetzfree (sucralose), taco-less taco salads (with Mexican-spiced ground Quorn Roast subbing for meat), fried eggs with Walden's no-calorie syrup drizzled on them, and bleu cheese salads with almonds and chopped egg.

There are some amazing recipes out there. Just let your taste guide you and you'll find true treasures.

And one more tip before I go: cultivate a love for dark chocolate. When you can eat Dagoba's 99% and grin, you'll know you've arrived.


Why I loved Vegetarian Low Carbing

It tasted great!

At the beginning it was truly that simple. I'm a great lover of food. Though I don't believe it's healthful to overindulge, eating is nonetheless one of life's true pleasures. Each time I attempted low-fat diets I called upon all my creative culinary skills in attempts to maintain the joy of eating, but there simply isn't a lot of satisfaction to be had from food devoid of fat. (Your miles may vary, of course.) My options with low-carb were all tasty and filling. I was in food heaven!

But the flavors weren't the only enticing aspect.

After a few weeks on low carb, I began to feel physically good!

I'd had no idea how tired, lethargic and drained of love-for-life I'd become on my high-carb veg diet. For years it had just been my normal state. As my body began to take in sufficient fat and protein and distance itself from the blood-sugar/insulin roller coaster, I started to feel downright terrific. Believe me: one happy morning when I was still at least 230 pounds I dropped everything and started dancing in my room because I just felt that physically marvelous. Energy zinged through my limbs. I could breathe easily. I felt alive.

My fifteen years of typical high-carb veg eating had stripped me of that joie de vivre and nearly destroyed my health. Low carb veg dieting gave me my life back.

I can never thank the marvelous Doctors Eades enough, nor adequately repay the keenly intellectual Jenny The Bean for sharing her low carb wisdom and research with other dieters. These lovely people helped me drag my body back from ruin.

I'm also forever indebted to the funny, delightful, vigilant Jimmy Moore for keeping me laughing even on blue days. (I feel a kindred spirit in Jimmy. Low carb dieting gave him his life back and, I suspect, filled him with an enthusiasm and gratitude so great that he has to share this amazing experience with others or burst.) The Low Carb community is, for the most part, a friendly place full of easy humor and good will. Even as a vegetarian I never felt marginalized. Not only are there other vegetarians out there practicing low-carb, most omnivores are more curious than judgmental when they learn a fellow low-carber is abstaining from meat. (I wish I could claim the veg community is as tolerant and embracing of low carbers; alas, it is not so.)

I realize that no single nutritional path is going to suit everyone. My body responded wonderfully to low carb dieting because my physiology is tipped heavily in favor of insulin resistance. I've met people who insist they feel ill when they reduce carb intake--and I believe them. But if you've never tried it, don't dismiss it!

I would dearly love to see other severely overweight people experience the same return to happiness and health that I've enjoyed.

It is true that after fourteen months as a low-carbing vegetarian, I changed my diet to include seafood as well. I was a pescetarian for roughly six months. In November of 2007 my surgeon directed me to stop eating fish and discontinue all my vitamin and mineral supplements. Because I'd had particular difficulty with brain fog even with acetyl l-carnitine supplementation, I made the difficult decision to include birds and mammals in my diet for the months before and after my surgery. (Carnitine is only available in red meat.) I was also instructed to up my carb intake so that my body would be in anabolic rather than catabolic mode while I was healing.

It was tremendously difficult for me to raise my carb intake and emotionally distressing to return to eating meat, but I learned from the experience: I feel better than ever. The inclusion of land animals in my diet seems to have inched my health up another notch. And my increased carb level has aided my cognition. For an average American, this carb level would be unthinkable. For an active low-carb dieter, it would probably seem a dubious weight-loss path. But the fuzzy thinking that plagued me beginning in February of 2006 seems at last to have lifted. Keep in mind, however, that I keep every one of my 105 net carbs as low glycemic as possible and that I count every sugar alcohol that trots onto my tongue. If I were "dieting" and counting carbs according to traditional rules, I could probably discount many of these carbs.

Ahhh, I have strayed far and away from my original topic: why I loved veg low carbing.

I loved it because it gave me life and joy. I haven't been this happy since I was seven years old.

Not a small accomplishment for a simple weight loss diet.