LOW CARB: A low-carb diet is a diet that restricts carbohydrates, such as those found in sugary foods, pasta and bread. It is high in protein, fat and healthy vegetables. There are many different types of low-carb diets, and studies show that they can cause weight loss and improve health.
There is so much information on Low Carb living and diets that it is sometimes very difficult to pull apart fact from fiction. When we started off on our journey, it was all about eating better and improving our waistline situation. We all grew up being told that eating fruit, whole grains and very little fat is the best way to be healthy. Today this is a totally different situation. I could not wrap my head around the idea of eating more fat and less whole grains.
We all have heard the buzz words like paleo, primal, Atkins, banting, LCHF and we know that they all have something in common but also some differences. I was introduced to a low carb lifestyle through a work colleague about 6 years ago. I struggled for year to gluten intolerance and tried to exclude it from my diet. But in turn I increased my carbs, by eating loads of potato, rice and gluten-free pasta. I also believed that eating 2 – 3 fruit in a day would beneficial to my health and the ‘best” part would be excluding all fat. This caused me to gain weight rapidly and I kept on blaming hormones, aging and illness.
Over coffee one day, Pottie (a true researchers) told me about this very interesting article he read on a blog (Marks Daily Apple) on how a low carb diet can improve your overall health and actually assist with stubborn weight. I started reading up on the new concept to me. Soon I realized it was not just a new buzz word but actually a scientifically based lifestyle. Back then I was not really sure what the difference is between a diet and a lifestyle. I started reading about a low carb diet and all I could really see it people losing weight. So to me it sounded like a diet, I mean how can I not enjoy chocolate cake or brownie with my sweet coffee. Pottie decided to change his lifestyle and venture into the new “dark” side. I saw him daily eating eggs and salad, or steak with fat and salad, and thought to myself, this man is going to kill himself. Within two months I could see the changes he was going through.
I told my hubby about these changes and we decided to read up a little more. I stumbled upon this Whole 30 challenge and decided to give it a go. We planned our 30 days with a meal plan and cancelled all our social activities (I mean how can you eat low carb and hang out with friends). We started our first whole 30 (2012) and both loss some weight (me – 5 kg, hubby – 8 kg) but after 30 days we returned to our normal habits. Luckily, we decided that we don’t need rice and pasta that often and slowly lowered our carb intake during the following year. October 2013 we got the great news we are expecting and I immediately knew I wanted to eat as healthy as I can to ensure our new bundle of joy will get the best possible start to her life.
I felt very proud that I only gained 7 kg during my pregnancy, and felt confident that we will have a healthy bouncy baby. Sadly, reality was not that great. Little M was born pre-maturely with an infection. She was 10 days in NICU and was given antibiotics immediately. As a breastfeeding mom, I started eating more and more carb and within 4 months I gained 12 kg. I felt so depressed and I could not understand why. I once again blamed my hormones and lack of sleep for this problem, but also recognized that I was not eating as healthy as I wanted too.
Our 2015 new year’s resolutions included following a paleo lifestyle. We did fairly well and managed to drop some of the excess weight. In South Africa we started to hear about Banting everywhere. Dr Tim Noakes was in the media all the time about his comments and research on LCHF living (Banting). Little M had a very bad 2015 and we soon realized that a healthy lifestyle plays a much bigger role than medical treatments. She was the big motivation behind our mind-set change. Yes, this lifestyle is about a mind-set change as much as a lifestyle change.
With all the conflicting information our there about all the different LCHF “diets” it is not easy to know which one came first or which one will be best. Paleo? Primal? Banting? Atkins? They all seem the same but people tend to get very upset if you mistake the one for the other. I fount this infogram very helpful to get my head around the differences and similarities between these “diets”
To us banting (LCHF lifestyle) is not about losing weight (but it’s a great bonus), it’s about changing our relationship with food and improving our overall health. Some of our non-scale victories include:
1.Decrease in constipation
2.No indigestion, bloating or stomach cramps
5.Better quality sleep
6.Less mood swings
7.No hospital stays
My humble opinion – experiment and see what works best for you and your family. This is not a one size fits all, some people need more carbs (healthy) to function, others can go as low as 15 g per day. We found that including some dairy works well for us, but we try to avoid fruit. Sugar, in any form, really negatively impacts on Little M so we avoid it at all cost. We try and keep our daily carb intake below 50 g, with Little M around 80 g, as she needs to gain some weight.
Last but not least – enjoy this lifestyle. This is not a punishment at all, you can eat great food with the occasional treat and still be happy and healthy. This is not a death sentence but a lifestyle (thank you Merle Wescott)