My Low-Carb Lunch

IMG_2888I’m trying to stick to an eating regimen where I avoid bread, noodles, and starches like potatoes.  I can do it for dinner, because Kish has been good about preparing low-carb options for the evening meal.  The real challenge is lunch — where sandwiches rule the day and french fries are the side dish for an overwhelming number of options. 

Today Dr. Science, the Purple Raider and I went out to lunch, and trying to figure out a venue that would work took some time.  We settled on Skillet, a really good local sourcing eatery on the edge of German Village.  There I ordered their farmstead cheese omelet with two kinds of cheese, covered in Green Edge Garden sunflower sprouts.  I added a little hot sauce — homemade by Skillet, of course — and the result was quite good.  The omelet was light but cheesy, and the sprouts added a nice crunch.  I ate it all, and left satisfied and happy that I stuck to my limitations. 

That doesn’t mean I didn’t look longingly at the Purple Raider’s toasted cheese sandwich and tomato bisque (which included bread, of course) and Dr. Science’s smoked pork and apple hash (with fingerling potatoes mixed in), both of which looked extremely tasty.  Just because I’m restricting my intact doesn’t mean I’ve lost my taste buds.

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No Enemy But Bread

Bread, thou art mine enemy!

I came to this galling realization by the confluence of two events.  The first was seeing a photo of LeBron James after following a low-carb diet for the summer.  He’d lost weight and looked great.  The second was putting on a bathing suit for the first time this summer and passing a mirror.

So I thought, say, maybe I should check out this low-carb thing!  I’m not saying that following a low-carb diet would make me look like LeBron James — we’re both from Akron, sure, but he’s a lot taller than I am — but the vast expanse of pulpy flesh I saw in the mirror certainly indicates I need to lose a few stone, pronto. 

On a low-carb diet, you’re supposed to eat meat, eggs, and cheese.  Check!  You’re supposed to eat fruit and nuts.  Check!  You’re supposed to eat vegetables.  Ugh, really?  You’re not supposed to eat bread and crackers.  Wait, what?  Yep, I read it right — any wheat, barley, rye or gluten grain, whether in bread, pasta, or cracker form, is to be strictly avoided.

This sucks!  I love bread and just about any form of baked goods.  I crave crusty artisanal breads, steaming dinner rolls, flaky biscuits, stone-ground crackers, and crumbly muffins.  Heck, I even like a plain piece of toast with a glass of milk.  And having to avoid bread really limits the lunch-time options.  If you eliminate sandwiches you’ve effectively cut out about about 90 percent of the available noon-hour venues.  Following a low-carb approach in the white-collar world will be a challenge.

Ironic, isn’t it?  Archaeologists and researchers believe that bread and beer are two of the crucial building blocks of the human march to civilization.  Now we’ve got to avoid those two dietary items that helped to pull us out of the hunter-gatherer phase unless we want to look like bloated beluga whales.  I’m going to try, but I’m really going to miss crunching through the crust.

Elimination Diets And The Value Of Beans

The latest diet trend, apparently, is the “elimination diet.” I say “apparently” because it’s impossible for an average person to stay on top of dietary fads. Is “juicing” still hot, or have we moved on to the “Dukan diet” or some other variation?

An “elimination diet” is one in which the dieter stops consuming entire categories of foods — say, eggs and dairy products — for a few weeks, to see whether the dietary change causes some positive change in their body condition. If you’ve got a chronic sour stomach or embarrassing gastrointestinal tendencies, maybe ceasing your gluten or nut consumption might help. And, as is always the case with this kind of diet topic, there are enthusiastic proponents of the elimination diet concept who swear that it has dramatically changed their lives for the better.

It’s hard for me to believe that any person who is paying attention isn’t aware of the eventual bodily impact of certain foods. I know that if I eat carryout Chinese food it will suck every ounce of moisture from my body and cause me to wake up the next morning with a mouthful of salt. I know that if I eat chili with beans for lunch my co-workers will want me to stay out of elevators for the rest of the day. I don’t think I need to eliminate entire categories of food to figure out the cause-and-effect chain.

Speaking of beans, they highlight one other problem with the “elimination diet.” A recent study has concluded that eating beans, peas, and other legumes lowers “bad cholesterol,” which is a cardiovascular health marker. In view of the fact that we are regularly bombarded with studies that provide us with often conflicting information about the health effects of eating certain foods — and always at precise portion sizes — how are you supposed to know if your elimination diet has cut out the magical food that might help you avoid a crippling heart attack or diabetes?

I’ve lived long enough to have seen the “food pyramid” revised once or twice, been exposed to countless studies about foods, and seen diet fads go from Scarsdale to Beverly Hills and back again. I’m convinced that if you want to stay trim, the formula is simple — consume in moderation, avoid too many sweets, and get plenty of exercise. For most of us, however, it’s not the plan that’s the problem, it’s the execution.

Brides Beyond The Pale

I’ve seen the show Bridezillas once or twice, and I always thought it was one of those “reality” TV shows that seems pretty darned fake.  Could anyone be as obsessive and crazed about their wedding as the brides-to-be in the show?

Now I’ve seen a story that makes me ask whether lunatic brides are more common than I thought.  The story is about the “K-E diet” — a diet for women who are worried about fitting into their bridal gowns and want to lose weight fast.  The diet requires women to run a feeding tube through their noses to their stomachs and then feeds them a constant slow drip of protein and fat mixed with water, which results in the burn-off of body fat through a process called ketosis.  The dieter doesn’t eat any food for the duration of the diet but doesn’t feel any hunger because she is being “fed” constantly.  Dieters can lose up to 20 pounds in 10 days.  (Of course, once the tube is removed and the bride goes back to eating solid food, you’d expect the weight to be put right back on — and perhaps a bit more besides.)

What’s the downside of the diet?  Well, you carry a bag of glop around in your purse.  You have bad breath and, often, diarrhea because you’re not consuming any solid food.  And, of course, you walk around in public for days with a feeding tube sticking out of your nose.  Other than that, not much.

Haven’t we reached a dangerous point in the destructive self-image category if women are so obsessed with their weddings that they are willing to be fed through a tube for days in order to squeeze into the bridal gown of their dreams?