The obesity epidemic. You would have had to have been living under a rock not to know about it. But in the world of food blogging, it’s almost like the white elephant in the room. No one really talks about it.
While we gush over our latest favourite ice cream recipe or the simplest way to make a frittata, we remain silent when it comes to the biggest challenge that pretty much every food lover faces: How to enjoy all the delicious things that the world of has to offer AND maintain a slender waistline.
I often get asked, especially when I used to design chocolate biscuits for a living, how I manage to stay slim, given the nature of my work. Usually I just smile and shrug and tell them that I’m into running. And that seems to keep them happy. But the thing is I used to struggle with my weight, just like everybody else.
As a food lover, I’ve always found nutrition both fascinating and confusing. Even though I studied two basic nutrition subjects at university (and got distinctions in both!) I’ve struggled to understand the conflicting messages we’ve all been given over the years.
So I always have an ear out when a new diet book comes out. I’ve waded my way through Skinny Bitch, French Women Don’t Get Fat and even Atkins essentials. And I’ve always ended up disappointed. But late last year when I read The Paleo Solution and gave it a go, I felt I was heading in the right direction.
While I didn’t actually lose weight, as I blogged about last year, my waistline became a little more slender – exactly what I was hoping for. But I was missing my lentils and chickpeas and beans so I’d decided to add these back along with dairy.
Then as luck would have it, my Christmas reading included a copy of Tim Ferriss’ latest book The 4-Hour Body. After devouring the section on 15 minute female orgasms, I headed straight to the Slow-Carb Diet chapter.
Tim isn’t afraid of making big claims (his first book was called The 4-Hour Work Week). And here he promised how to lose 20 pounds (about 10kg) in 30 days, without exercise.
And the results? In the three weeks over Christmas and New Years, eating and drinking my way to Ireland and back I not only lost 1kg, my waistline decreased by 5cm (2in)! Happy days.
Since then I’ve been reading up on Gary Taubes brilliant book, Why We Get Fat. The lessons I’ve been learning from both Ferriss and Tabues are consistent with what I’ve been seeing in myself. It’s really exciting stuff and it’s working. So I’ve decided to run a class at The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School to not only help you understand how you can Reclaim Your Waistline, but how you can cook yourself simple healthy meals as well.
But that’s not for a few weeks so today I wanted to share some of the key principles to get you started.
7 simple ways to enjoy your food and loose weight
1. don’t try to eat less
The whole idea of eating less and stopping before you’re full is a double edged sword. Not only does it make you more likely to binge between meals, it also causes your metabolism to slow down. Think of it as when you eat less, your body adjusts to having less food available by decreasing your metabolism, ie decreasing the amount of food it needs. Not a good idea.
Listen to your body. Eat until you are full.
2. don’t exercise to excess
Gary Taubes cites many studies on rats to prove that exercise doesn’t make us thin. But I prefer to think about my own experience. When I was training to run a marathon, I’d expected one of the side effects would be losing weight. But I didn’t. My body adjusted to me running 90km a week by giving me an enormous appetite.
While some exercise vs no exercise can help with weight loss, the benefits don’t increase the more you exercise. Our bodies adjust our appetites to suit our level of activity.
I’m not saying don’t exercise. There are a heap of other benefits. Apart from exercise being fun it’s also great for your mental health. Just don’t expect crazy amounts of exercise to make you slimmer. And by the same token, don’t beat yourself up about not exercising if you want to lose weight. It’s more important to focus on changing your diet.
3. manage your insulin
Of all the tips, this is the most important to understand.
The way Gary Tabues describes it is something like this: Imagine you have a fuel guage on a car and there’s Full on the right and Empty on the left with a needle that shows you where you’re at. Now if you imagine the fuel source in your body you replace the FULL with STORING FAT and the EMPTY with BURNING FAT. The needle can only point in one direction at a time.
When we eat carbohydrates, like bread and pasta our bodies release insulin which makes the needle point to Full (Storing Fat). This insulin is in our system means we are in fat storing mode. But when the insulin subsides, the needle shifts over to Empty (Burning Fat) and we start burning our fat cells. Yay!
So too many carbohydrates = too much insulin = fat bodies.
Of course it’s not that simple. Some people are naturally more sensitive to insulin than others. This means that for the same amount of carbohydrate, the less sensitive people produce more insulin and so spend more time in Storing Fat mode (one of the reasons why some people are more likely to put on weight). Also as we age, we become less sensitive to insulin (hello middle-aged spread).
The other complication is that not all carbohydrates cause the same amount of insulin to be produced. You may have heard of the Glycemic Index (GI). This is a measurement of how much insulin different foods stimulate in our bodies over time. In effect how fattening they are.
But GI can be difficult to understand. And it’s not fun having to look up tables all the time to see what we should and shouldn’t be eating.
Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb Diet approach makes the most sense to me: Rule #1 of this way of eating is to avoid all white carbohydrates and any carbohydrate that can be white. This pretty much means no grains (including whole grains), flours or sugar. He also stipulates avoiding fruit (except for tomato & avocado) because of its high fructose (sugar) content.
He does encourage lots of lentils and beans because even though they contain carbs, they are low GI due to their high protein and fibre contents. And LOTS of veggies (except for the high carb ones, sorry baby, no potatoes) which help provide us with the fibre and all the wonderful antioxidants and vitamins we need.
So to reclaim your waistline you just need to manage your carb intake. Simple. And if you’re a little freaked about the thought of no bread or pasta, skip down to point number 6. All is not lost!
4. don’t be afraid of fat
We need fat to live. Whenever we decrease fat in our diets we tend to replace it with carbohydrates which stimulate insulin production and promote the storage of fat. Don’t be afraid of saturated fat either. As Gary Taubes reports in Why We Get Fat, ‘Trials like the Women’s Health Initiative find that eating less fat and less saturated fat have no beneficial effect (at least for women)’.
5.eat eggs for breakfast
Tim Ferriss advocates making sure you eat a high protein breakfast and eggs are one of the easiest and most normal ways to do it. Lentils are also great. The main reason is that protein in the morning increases your resting metabolism by about 20%. It also decreases water retention and decreases your impulse to snack on carbs.
6. have a cheat day every week
This is one of my favourite Tim Ferriss suggestions. Nominate one day a week where you’re free to eat as much as you want of whatever you like. The main benefit here is psychological. It stops you feeling deprived and decreases the risk of bingeing randomly. It also helps give your metabolism a boost (see point 1.)
After years of always trying not to over indulge, it’s truly liberating to have a day going crazy in the name of your waistline. But even better, you feel so crap afterwards, it makes you appreciate how good you feel the rest of the week. It’s also great because every time you have a craving during the week, you can add it to the list of things to eat on your cheat day – a much better result than a permanent No.
7.drink LOTs of water
OK, so this one isn’t going to come as a surprise to anyone. Water is needed to help your liver function at its best to maximise fat loss. It also helps you feel fuller.
like to learn more?
I’m going to be running a class called Reclaim Your Waistline in February over at The Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School. For more information CLICK HERE.
video version of the recipe
Keen to reclaim Your waistline?
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Love your blog! I could never commit to 5 ingredients only full time though – I love your Sang Choi Bao recipe too much!
Something I’ve found helpful (both in eating better and making sure I get my daily fruit and veg quota!) has been signing up to foodconnect (http://www.foodconnect.com.au/), where you get a weekly box of locally sourced organic fruit and veg delivered to a local pickup point.
Everything is so fresh and yummy you can’t help but eat well. You’re motivated to finish the lot as you know that next week there will be a whole new mystery selection of seasonal goodies ready for you try.
The warm fuzzies from supporting local farmers directly feels pretty good too :)
100% sound principles. It’s great to see that apart from the awesome recipes you post, you also have such a solid understanding of healthy eating. I’m really tired of people who repeat over and over again the same old myths about what makes someone fat and refuse to accept that, in reality, the situation is quite different. I really agree with all you’ve said — hopefully it will guide those who need to reconsider what they’ve believed in for so long.
Jules, you are my inspiration! I love your blog. I came across it one day while I was looking for healthy options for breakfast. Little did I know your blog would become my everyday reading.
Your most recent post about healthy eating fascinates me because I have recently discovered similar things with the Paleo diet(my Personal trainer got me started). I am so glad to see that other foodies understand this theory and have put it into practice! I wanted to pass along a video which I thought was very helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exi7O1li_wA
Wishing you all the best!
Something for me. Thank you! :)
I don’t completely agree on point #2 regarding exercise. Generally I’ve found that the more exercise I’ve done, the more weight I’ve lost. Exercise helped me lose more than 10kg, and that was without even watching what I ate (I would have lost even more had I eaten better). Of course you can exercise to excess, but most people won’t be fit enough to do so.
I’d just like to warn people about lowering the carbs too far. Don’t get me wrong, they work and over the years have been my number one weightloss method. But I have found that something has changed in my body and now whenever I take the sugar and grains out of my diet my mood goes out the window with them. Within a couple of weeks I’m a blubbering, woeful mess. I researched it online and there can be a definite link for some people in loss of carbs and lowered seratonin levels. I’m not an expert but apparently it is more likely to be a problem for people with a tendency towards depression. So if you find yourself with a bad case of the blues after a couple of weeks it may not be just coincidence .
I’m thrilled that you are going in the same direction I recently found (also a couple weeks before he Holidays!). I’ve been on a nice slow steady weight loss. In my case, I started with many extra pounds and it’s a good thing! It’s so easy and satisfying! I found tons of new energy and feel great.
Thanks for a great blog!
Jules, this is an awesome post you wrote. I strugle with weight too although i’m a regular sportman (i practice capoeira).
I’m very tempted to subscribe to your course, but alas i know i won’t have the time and seriousness yet to catch it (i have some urgent priorities to deal with…).
Would you sell all the package as an e-book in the future ? I’d be very interested to read it et learn from it when i’ll have the time and energy to seriously change my food habits…
THANK YOU! ive been reading your blog for so long, and ive actually been eating paleo/primal/hunter-gatherer diet for a while, too. it has changed my life so dramatically- i manage my MS, ive lost a lot of weight, gained a lot of muscle, am off my antidepressants, and generally feel and look 20 years younger. its been the most positive and dramatic thing i have done for my health, and i love hearing about others who are catching on, too.
as afar as the exercise, i think its important to distinguish between “chronic cardio” and other more “natural” forms of exercise that have a long list of benefits that are helpful in weight loss, like gaining lean body mass and muscle definition. i spend an hour three days a week doing short sprints and lifting weights, or doing cross training and its helped change my body, my mind, and my life. its the slogging away on the treadmill for two hours a day at the same pace that leaves you tired, hungry, flabby, sick and pale.
thank you again, and i cant wait to see where this all leads you!
As somebody who has lost 35 pounds and kept it off, I’m really disappointed by this post. I have done a significant amount of reading which says that any diet which eliminates an entire source of energy, such as fruit, is not a very well planned diet.
The real way to lose weight (p.s. you used the wrong ‘lose’ above) is simply to eat fewer calories than you burn. There are no magical tricks that make this easier, or more fun. And Jules, you already ate healthy foods; the fact that eating differently makes you feel better is probably a placebo affect more than anything.
That being said, I’m really disappointed in the direction your blog has gone. I really liked the 5 ingredient recipes because, as a college student, they were really easy to cook with what I had on hand. I’m not interested in your recap of other people’s diet advice (especially since you’re not a medical professional). I will no longer be following this blog.
I’m a huge fan of cutting out processed foods but think it’s ridiculous to cut out whole grains. As far as fruits go, cut them out when they aren’t in season. Simple enough!
I do like the idea of cycling (i.e., “cheat day”). Go into calorie deficit for six days of the week. On the seventh, go into calorie overload. But I do believe that you should only eat whole, nutritional foods while in calorie deficit. This is important because studies are starting to point to the notion that your body enters famine mode when it’s not getting proper nutrients regardless of calories. Yes, you need a calorie deficit to lose weight. But you do NOT want to fall into famine mode.
The reason you have a cheat day is, after a period of time, the calorie deficit will trigger your body to enter famine mode. Boosting your calories one day of the week will help keep that from happening.
Okay, this is fantastic.
I for one appreciate your efforts in sharing this.
taking notes I am.
I loved this post, Jules. Since being diagnosed with diabetes (type 2) 3 years ago, I’ve had to cut my carbs in order to maintain my blood sugars. I’ve got Four Hour Body, and have read most of the section on diet, but haven’t gone so far as to follow it yet. I really rely on my dairy for saturated fats and don’t want to give them up.
What do you think the cheat day would do to me with my impaired metabolism? I’m concerned about eating an overload of forbidden carbs, even just one day a week. Last night, for example, I ate Chinese (mostly meat, albeit with some breading and sweet sauces), a couple of veggies, and a small spoonful of fried rice. At home I had one piece of pound cake (loaf, 1/2″ slice) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This morning my bg was 225. Yikes.
You don’t have to be a medical professional to read the literature and have an opinion. The medical professionals only know what they are taught in med school and mostly don’t question it. Gary Taubes is a well-educated science writer who knows how to read the research. I follow his advice because he follows the science (and points out the lack of it). Tom Naughton (“Fathead the Movie”) is a writer and comic. He also can read the research and show the bad science. I don’t follow their advice blindly, however. I check their sources and form my own opinions. Jules expressed her own opinions and her own anecdotal experience. Doesn’t mean it’s right for all of us.
And by the way, I don’t eat a lot of calories in a day, and I’m not losing weight (I weigh 200 lb, and should weigh less than 140). The calories in/calories out theory doesn’t hold up to inspection for many people. I can eat lots of fat and meat and not gain, but let me eat like I did last night for a few days, I can guarantee I’ll see added pounds.
I have been following Ferriss’ Slow-Carb Diet since Christmas and have seen some good results. I cut out red meat even though I love steak, avoided fruits, white carbs, and using homemade seitan for my meat substitute when I don’t have chicken or tuna around. Also, beans have become a staple, which is fine by me, I enjoy the different varieties and the simple ways to spice them up.
I’m a bit on the husky side and have dropped 15lbs in little more than a month. Many miles on the treadmill have also contributed to the results as well.
Thank you for all the simple, delicious recipes. Your White Bean and
Parmesan Puree is a personal favorite.
Love this article! For my body I’ve found this advice to work well.
The one point I would add is: Get your ZZZZs! When I don’t sleep enough I often gain weight (or stop loosing). Sleep studies have shown one short night sleep wise is enough to increase your insulin resistance. To translate: if you’re sleep deprived then your body starts to function like a diabetic. Yikes!
I’ve found the no extreme cardio exercise thing to be very true for me. My main source of exercise is walking. I never have the urge to eat after, there is no recovery time, and I can tell my metabolism is up when I do it regularly. When I get the 2pm energy slump at work I go for a 15 min walk (eating avoided, exercise, and an energy boost… amazing!). A part of me considers this pathetic (just walking?). I still haven’t figured out how to re-write the internal script on what “counts” as “real” exercise.
I also must say that I disagree with most of the points here. To each their own, of course, and I’m sure that these reasons have merit – but I STRONGLY disagree with the advice to “eat until you are full.” Many intelligent people (I’m including myself) have trouble distinguishing when they are truly full. They might eat to their hearts content and feel fine, only to be groaning in pain 10 min later. This mindless eating happened to me all the time and not only lead to weight gain but tons of regret after many meals. The best way I lose weight is just as Michaela said – to burn more calories than you take in. I’ve lost 5 lbs in the last 2 weeks by controlling portions and working out regularly. Nothing too extreme – about 40 min on an elliptical 3 or 4 times a week. It’s amazing how much my energy has shot up. Of course, drinking LOTS of water is the best idea on here, as well as the theory to “cheat” once in a while. Last night I had a pretty large helping of chips and salsa…after portion controlling it was nice to just let loose, even for one snack.
I also disagree that cutting out fruit is the way to go. That might just be personal preference – I can see why it’d be beneficial for people with medical issues, but I tend to think cutting out whole food groups is depraving yourself unnecessarily. It’s annoying not only to me, but to others around me. Food is about ENJOYMENT and sharing the love with others. If you want to indulge in strawberries or grapes every once in a while, I think there are FAR worse things. Then again, I’m no expert.
I was with you until you started with insulin. Your information starts with error. Insulin is not fuel. Carbs release glucose… blood sugar. Insulin is released to process and breakdown glucose. First major flaw.
Second, it is extremely unwise to totally eliminate any one type of food. I can’t believe people are still advising such dangerous actions. Eliminate grains & fruit.
Then you totally lost me. There are a few bits of info here that are useful. The rest is terrible advice and misinformation.
I love where you are headed. A blog is personal and it should be about where you are headed. If you lose readers-who cares. You will get new ones like me. It’s really about healthy, real food. I bet you could have shifted your recipes and no one would have even noticed. That’s what I did with my family. I started shifting slowly and now I’m even shifting recipes away from sugar and to honey.
We don’t eat any processed food anymore and everyone is happy because the food is so good. And it’s not even expensive. I hit Costco today and got a roast chicken, farmstead blue cheese, a huge thing of organic spinach, a bag of pesticide free potatoes and organic eggs. It costs me $30. Love it! (I usually shop the farmers market as much as possible) Wow-this sounds like a good post-I’m headed back to my blog to post :)
PS-I plan to try your cheesecake on a cheat day….I may even try making it with honey and baking it in small mason jars.
Rules 1,2 and 7 make sense to me, but the rest I’m less sure of. They say insulin’s bad reputation is completely undeserved, and fat can be stored without insulin at all. I’m no expert, just a bit confused.
Anyway, I’ll try the recipe, thanks for that.
well, im no nutritionist by far – but what makes sense to my ears is to never treat your body in a way that makes it consider storing up every little bit of nutrition it can get its hands on, because who knows when there will be better days again. consuming less energy than you use up is a no-brainer – but never at the expense of nutrients (you need all of them! sugars, fiber, fats, vitamins…) and never so far as to make your body switch into rather-save-than-spend-mode.
regarding exercise: id say, it is mainly dependent on WHAT kind of exercise you do. training for a goal like strength can do with surprisingly little time per day (giving the illusion that you did little training), but will do lots for your energy household. for one, a strong layer of muscle will make any bit of fat thats on top look more trim. strong muscles burn more energy when in action (no-brainer), and strong muscles need more calories just in stand-by, too. running a marathon, or doing any kind of steady-state cardio, wont do you much good, because what youre doing is training your body to become more efficient. thats the exact opposite of what you want to be when your goal is to cut fat. if you want to use up calories, you dont want to train for making the best distance with the least calories.
id say go for some strength first (its easy to gain for beginners, and its a superb base for everything else your doing – strength increases feed back into almost everything else, training wise), and dont be afraid of waking up one morning, looking like an unwomanly hung of arnoldness. thats not going to happen without a solid 24/7 dedication to building that kind of look. also, the training regimen is completely different from a strength regimen. (building strength: do work at a relatively high strength level. this means: you cant do many sets, and not many repetitions per set, because its hard. you will also need not too short pauses inbetween, lest you sacrifice how much weight you can move because you havent recovered much and are still panting from the set before. since youre only heading for repetitions at a high strength level, working to exhaustion is counterproductive. rule of thumb: everything that you can do ranging from 3 sets of 3 repetitions to 5 sets of 5 repetitions, without going to failure or exhaustion, is right in the ballpark. if you can easily manage more, the exercise is too easy)
the other thing would be intense interval cardio (anaerobic, like boxing, sprinting, etcetera) instead of running the treadmill for hours. intense workouts will tax your muscles (and not coerce your body into investing into the lowest-energy-cost version of a muscle, but the fancy high-output-racecar version), and it will give your metabolism a hefty hit. plus, a very interesting effect is that after the session, your body will work with a boosted metabolism for quite a duration. what you do is work for a set interval of seconds at a high enough intensity that you couldnt sustain it for longer periods, and cool down fir a set of seconds with low intensity – repeat a few times. the king of all this is the tabata protocol: 8 iterations of 20 seconds all-out-work (i.e. sprinting) and a 10 second pause of doing completely nothing. 4 minutes, and youre toast. not for the faint of heart, and as opposed to strength sessions, you shouldnt do this every day.
think about it: if you raise your calorie cost per day by a few thousand calories through training, youll invest in hardware that burns more energy, AND you could be fasting although you are eating more than you previously did. (example: you ate and used up x cal/day. then you amp up your training and use x+2000cal/day, while your intake might be x+1500cal/day. thats a balance of -500cal/day although you are eating profoundly more)
Yum – fried eggs – I haven’t had them for ages!! Paoching eggs has been the norm in our kitchen for the last few years (unless there is omlette) – but the thought of crucnhy base, fluffy well cooked whites and the soft yolk running over some toast is makign my mouth water!
As a runner who struggles with weight (I love eating things so much that I HAVE to excersize to fit into my clothes….argh) – I have noticed that changing my diet has helped, and not necessarily running more. Cutting out meat every night and bread at lunchtimes made a big change for me – and getting enough sleep! I still tend to binge when I have braindead moments – cheese (and canned sardines) is my big weakness.
As a runner ( I normally average ca 100km a week if I am not cycling to or from work – and that is only on weekdays!) who talks alot I have also noticed that what works for one person doesn’t work for the other – some of my running buddies need to increase their level of intesnsity, some switch to a completely alternate form of excersize (e.g. weights or swimming), some take a break and find they start losing weight. Pretty much everyone I know who has decreased their processed or simple carbohydrate intake and increased their protein and leafy greens intake has lost weight or noticed they are slimming. But so many people, so much variety !!! I hope some of the other posters reread their comments and start thinking in terms of broad spectrum (age, genetics etc etc….).
Good post Jules – nice to be reacquainted with the humble fried egg.
It pains me to see people comment about how much they disagree without either reading the books you reference or without trying it out for themselves. I have tried vegetarian, low-fat, Atkin’s and now slow carb. The only one that made any difference for me has been slow carb. I have lost weight while gaining muscle. Calorie restriction may work for some commenters here, but it sure as hell didn’t work for me… in fact I was more miserable with brain fog and feeling hungry all the time.
Many companies joined on the Frankenfood bandwagon with their low-cal crackers and cookies. Did you recognize all of the ingredients on the label? To me, that is far scarier than not eating carbs or fruit for 6 days out of the week! The whole point is to become aware and experiment with YOUR OWN body rather than being an armchair quarterback to those trying something different. I have had my bloodwork done since eating as much bacon, sausage and steak as I want and my cholesterol as well as the rest of my blood chemistry is just fine! So before people judge and proclaim that they “KNOW” the formula for weight loss, realize that you only know what works for yourself!
For every diet there are followers who will swear by it and others who won’t. I tried the China Study diet and found it took away joint pain that was so bad I couldn’t pick up my grandbabies. I only stayed on it for 1 1/2 years as it was basically impossible to be happy on it.
That all said, I now follow my father’s advice which was to be moderate in all things. Period. He ate white bread and potatoes daily throughout his life and I did as well when I grew up. We ate plain ol’ macaroni and white rice too. What didn’t we eat? Too much fat, chips, sodas and large pieces of meat. In our family a pound of cheap hamburger served 8 people and a can of tuna (it was 7 oz. in those days) made 8 sandwiches. Every dinner was some bit of vegetable (usually from a can in those days), some salad, a baked potato (we used one small pat of butter and a spoonful of milk to moisten it and we were hungry enough to eat the skin too), and some meat dish which could be spaghetti, a hotdog, a piece of fried chicken (one 3.5 pounder served all 8 of us) and if we were still hungry we got a piece of bread or two. None of us are fat today and we are all rather healthy 55+ people.
My son eats mostly raw fruits and is thin as a rail. He occasionally eats a vegan pasta dish. He surfs and works out a lot. According to some of these diet gurus he should be diabetic or fat on all these carbs.
As far as the idea of paleo-man being taller than later people who started farming and eating more meat and grains, well, we are much taller than that now so what is THAT reason? It’s the protein availability we have today that was never around before. Also, the only people who can eat all these fresh veggies are those who live in first world countries with global markets. No place on earth seems to be able to provide all the fresh food these diets call for all during the year. Only modern marketing can do that and that means a large footprint on this earth.
I’m not really criticizing your sharing of these diets. I just want to open the discussion wider to the fact that mankind has survived and prospered for thousands of years without them and without the availability of fresh foods year round. How did we do that? Does anyone wonder about that?
Enjoyed the post, and wanted to comment on #3 Insulin management.
I’ve used the GI for some years and also the GL index which includes the actual carbs in a specified serving. An excellent resource with a the list of 750 foods showing both GI and GL numbers is found at: http://www.mendosa.com/gilists.htm . Working with both indices cereals, grains and others can re-enter the diet.
Very wise points you’ve raised there. I really think it’s all about the idea of balance: a little bit of everything, never an excess of one particular thing. Be it a certain food or your exercise regime. I can’t imagine ever excluding a beloved dish from my diet simply because it is fried or whatnot. It can’t be right to suppress a natural gravitation towards something, especially one that causes your brain to send signals all over! That’s a depressing life and a life I would never wish to have. Feel like you’ve over-indulged the night before? Exercise. Feel like you’ve gorged on more than enough bbqs as of late? Relish in greens.
I’m not a nutritionist, so I can’t or won’t comment on that side of things, but I am trying to lower my grain intake to manage my Crohn’s and arthritis. White foods are definitely more inflammatory and, while I love bread and pasta, I spend about 90% of my life bloated and tired, so health has to come first.
The one meal I am struggling with is breakfast, which tends to be very grain-centric no matter which way you turn. Thank you for reminding me about eggs — I love them poached or soft-boiled! But without relying on eggs and dairy, what are some other breakfast options that are light on grains?
Thanks for the comments everyone! I was hoping this post was going to generate some interesting discussion. Apologies for not responding to comments earlier but I’ve been moving house over the last few days.
For those of you who don’t like the direction you think I’m heading with Stonesoup I wish you well and thanks for reading. I don’t see this as a radically new direction – it’s still more about simple, quick mostly quick cooking. But the beauty of blogs is that everyone is free to dip in and out. I need to write about what’s important to me at the time and if that doesn’t fit well with you that’s OK.
@amber Breakfast is definitely the most traditionally grain-centric meal. I’ve been eating lots of eggs and spinach (either frozen spinach reheated or just raw leaves like in the recipe above). I’m also loving canned lentils drained and heated with a little soy sauce and vinegar and spinach wilted in. Baked beans are also a favourite!
@alan thanks for raising the GI / GL point. And for the link – useful information here. Although I think GI can be a confusing concept for the average person to grasp.
Thanks for raising that – you’re right everyone is different and its up to the individual to find out what works best for them.
Thanks for sharing your Slow-Carb experience – wonderful to hear that your cholesterol is fine! And thanks for raising the ‘frankenfood’ point too. Whole food is definitely where its at.
Wow 100km / week – you are amazing! And big THANKYOU for appreciating my humble fried eggs – they’re soo good! I’ve been struggling with poaching – but definitely something I’d love to master.
I didn’t mean to imply that insulin was fuel – apologies for the confusion – will be more careful in my explanations in future -it’s complex stuff! And I’m not saying cut out fruit and grains completely. I think one of the most important parts of this way of eating is the ‘cheat’ day where you eat whatever you feel like.
I’ve lost 20 lbs (and been keeping it off!) by changing my diet. The changes I made are very similar to what you describe here, but even less restrictive:
1. Swapped soda for tea. I could have switched to diet but I hate the taste of aspartame and the idea of putting stuff I don’t understand into my body on a regular basis.
2. Ate until I was full AND NOT PAST IT. I realized I was serving myself a set amount and then eating it, without checking how full I was. I needed much less food than I was eating and it continued to decrease as I lost weight.
3. Eat whatever I like, but in moderation. 1-2 cookies in a day, not six.
4. Lots of water. I switched to a larger cup for water at work to allow me to drink more between refills.
5. Less prepackaged and processed stuff. We joined a CSA which gave us an abundance of veggies and fruits to work with. Try to eat seasonaly–it’s fresher and tastes better.
The 100km a week made up for cheese and chocolate binges!!! It is hard to stay away from those – and although sardinens are meant ot be healthy – they are evil little things if you have a can a day habit :-) Some people become stick thin running that distance but – (sigh) celullite still there!!! Happy though! 1 hour in the morning and the afternoon to myself.
Thanks for posting this method of frying eggs. I don’t like eggs, but I try SO hard! And thought there are so many diverse (and often conflicting) diets out there, most seem to agree that eggs for breakfast are the way to go. So in order to get some stronger flavors happening to cover up the taste of the eggs, I fried them in olive oil and served them on spicy tomatoes (from a can of Rotel’s Mexican tomatoes with cilantro and lime). SO good! The crispy whites are exactly what I needed!
Audrey Hindes DiPalma
p.s. I absolutely agree that you need to blog about what’s true for you right now, come what may.
A lot of these points are really interesting. I especially agree that upping the exercise doesn’t do that much for your weight when compared to decreasing portion size. If you exercise a lot you will be fit and you’ll probably look a lot slimmer as you build muscle, improve posture etc. but I’ve always found my appetite adjusts when I exercise a lot.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Our family would love your help in finding good things to eat that are not based on wheat or sugar. I am a diabetic with neuropathy in the hands and feet. My family has always eaten “healthy carbs”, but we were stunned to see that whole wheat spikes my blood sugar badly. Watching the blood sugar monitor and making adjustments, we have learned that eliminating nearly all grain and sugar allows my blood glucose to remain rock-steady all day long. This was not what I expected! We have accidentally ended up eating a paleo-type diet with great results, and your post really helped me understand WHY our new diet is working so well, and gave me some great starting points for more research.
Thank you for all the tips..It helped me a lot!
I have a question, How to cut down my insulin?
Thanks for sharing your story – I agree that the ‘healthy carbs’ can still be just as dangerous. Glad to hear you’ve found a diet that works for you!
It’s as simple as this
So too many carbohydrates = too much insulin = fat bodies.
Just cut down your carbohydrates (esp sugar and grains) and you’ll produce less insulin. Hope that helps!
Another thumbs-up for your blog (and this “direction”) Jules. Your 5-ingredient carrot cake, banana cake and cheesecake recipes have replaced any and all desire I have to bake with grains (and I’ve found the sugar can be reduced without detriment for those with greater carb concerns). Please continue the amazing work!
awesome thanks sid!
out of interest – what sort of sugar reduction are we talking?
Jules, I stumbled across your blog early December last year and since have been reading and reading through the archives. I have to say THANK YOU. I am truly inspired by your ideas, lessons, recipes and general words of wisdom. I am going to be on the road A LOT this year for work and have been writing many points and recipes down to keep me going and help stay on track. This blog in particular is great! I love to see you taking an interest in this ‘direction’ and it’s your affection with staying happy and healthy whilst still eating is one of the things i love most about stonesoup. (Also the beautiful pictures and general vibe I get—seriously Jules, can’t get enough!)
thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your feedback!
travelling for work can be tough – hope stonesoup can help a little
Ha! Ha! Ha! This blog is really for me. I am actually thinking of reducing weight because almost all my clothes are getting fitter and fitter and I am alarmed. I will definitely try the meal you have shared. I just hope this diet will not make me weak with my very busy schedule.
Jules! The best food I have ever cooked all comes from your blog! That heroin chocolate cake is a fork banging, show stopper in our house and those cold oil chips…ah heaven!
I’ve learnt to trust your instincts when it comes to food ideas and so I read that link about Paleo eating last year and within a week I had bought the book, started the diet and changed my life.
I’m now about 9kg lighter and if I was a dog you would say my nose is wet and my coat is glossy. I’m never hungry in a “could eat the whole pantry including the raw pasta” way anymore and have never felt more in control, grown up and level headed.
I was surprised that it hadn’t seemed to affect you the same way, I can’t stop telling friends what I’m doing and have probably risked boring quite a few, I was waiting for a Stonesoup email to update me on your progress and hopefully get some great ideas but my inbox remained empty…..until I just checked my spam filter and there you are! I shall rectify that situation promptly and and at the risk of sounding like a crazy person, I just want to say that I’m so glad that my go-to food inspiration blogger is
on the same journey and so thankful that damn cake has no flour in it!
Great article! My story totally confirms your points. I played soccer since ever, and weighted 81 kg at 34 yo. By then I quit and started to run. Weight 82 and up. Something was not working! So I started to research to find out that everything I thought about nutrition was innacurate or plainly wrong. So I decided to eat eggs for breakfast, run less, cut white carbs and sugar et voila 75 kg since 2009. No cravings, eating to saciacety.
I strongly recommend Good Calories Bad Calories for those of you wanting to know more about the real science behind nutriton. BTW not all starches are created equal, potatoes are not that bad if eaten in moderation.
Greetings from Spain!
Thanks for the egg cooking video! I was starting to get bored with my usual egg pizza method. (Crack 12 eggs into a large frying pan with butter or coconut oil, stir lightly, flip like a pancake when the whites are mostly set, divide into quarters for serving.) Your crispy-whites method looks like a nice change of scenery.
Also thanks for the article about seasoning & spices on Tim Ferriss’s blog. That was useful too. I got a little bored for a moment looking at so many pictures of beans, meat, and broccoli, but I understand. Cameras are fun. :)
For those who are reflexively aghast at the prospect of cutting out all sugars and starches: So was I a decade ago, after being bombarded with low-fat propaganda all my life. But I learned a few things since then.
First, many people are gluten intolerant and don’t know it yet. They absolutely need to stay away from grains, even on “cheat” day. Second, many people are well on their way to diabetes and don’t know it yet. They need to do the same, except possibly relaxing a little on the day off. But just a little. Third, calories and exercise might matter, but they’re nowhere close to being the whole story. Self-experimentation will help you figure out your situation.
Try to keep an open mind and just watch what results others are getting – positive or negative.
I just finished my first month of Tim Feriss’ 4 Hour Body and I lost a total of 22lbs. The diet is really easy to follow and the results are incredible! I recommend everyone who wants to diet and lose fat to read his book!
That’s awesome Matt
And thanks for recommending Tim’s book
I’m realy sorry for my catastrophy of English but I’m learning :)
I just need to coment few things you said in this blog.
Frist I want to say that I totaly agree with allmost everything you wrote, but I have few corrections.
Don’t heat up any other oils than coconut oil or butter. All the other oils becomes toxic when you heat them up and they are allmoast as bad than as vegetable butter. But be free to use olive oil or any other oil for non-heating dishes (salats, itc.). Be carefull by using peanut oil also. It involves selen that can give you a headacke if you eat it too much (over 23 grams of any nut can be bad for you, but they are werry healthy to eat like everyday).
And I almost forgot! Fishes are great meal. They can be a good and fast meal. Tuna in olive oil is not that good thoe. Rather buy it in their ovn juice and than add olive oil. You can eat it with some smashed tomatoes for brakefast or beans and onion (if you are free of personal contact later in day :). It is fast and full with proteins and good fat and NO CARBOHYDRATES! :D
thanks for commenting Masa
I hadn’t hear that peanut oil can cause headaches – interesting
And I agree about fish – definitely a great meal
Please send me all healthy recipes. Thank you.
Food to loose weight? When you wake up in the morning, do you walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and see Jabba the Hut from Star Wars smiling back at you, trying different food to loose weight . Keeping up with every diet pill or diet solution plan out there and the weight just keeps coming back. If this is you, then the pills and the diets are working. That is, for the companies making these products.
Microwave?! Why on earth would you recommend “cooking” with one of those? Otherwise, love your posts!
Not sure if you’ve addressed this anywhere, but I wanted to point out that your slow carb ideas are EXTREMELY helpful for women who suffer from PCOS. Maybe ideas for future posts?
Simple and healthy dish. And very interesting and educational post. Love both.
Very good, I like it but you should add small pieces of spinach to the eggs and on top instead of on the side
7 years ago I went from 198 pounds to 130 in a matter of months by eating well and working out. My only saving grace was a cheat day. I still have a cheat day to get to where I need to be. Everyone looked at me like I was nuts then for doing that, but it was the only way I could stick with my new lifestyle and diet. I enjoy seeing more and more people doing it and seeing the benefit. With chronic pain I have to work out to manage the pain anyway, the mood lift is such a bonus. I recently had a baby and am having to re-evaluate my cravings and am enjoying reading your blog. I have the Paleo Solution and read it a few years ago. I just needed more. You have great reminders to get me back to where I need to be.
I will follow your tips and love to see you make some healthy recipes!!
i really enjoyed reading this article.
Please run the Reclaim Your Waistline class again using your Low Carb eating principles. I would love to take it.
Thanks for asking Myfanwy!
It’s actually available now to all my Simple Meal Plans members. And there’s an updated program as well called Low Carb Love.
Members get access to all my programs as well as the meal plans and recipes.
You can find out more over here.