Zero carbs – or, where’s the toast?

Thick sliced, white bread, lightly done so it’s just sort of golden, with lots and lots of butter. And maybe strawberry jam? Lovely, thick carb-laden toast.  With a cup of hot, strong tea.

You’ll have to excuse me; I’m just getting it out of my system, this steamy toast fantasy.  Normally of course I wouldn’t be merely blogging about toast at this time of day, I’d actually be chomping down on the stuff.  But not today.

Today I’m attempting the carb-free diet Husband has been following for the last few weeks.  Eagle-eyed readers might have noticed a few posts back I mentioned his faddy new diet.  Since 2008 he’s been living with what the doctors have diagnosed as ME/ Chronic Fatigue syndrome, with constant debilitating tiredness, muscle pain, sleeping difficulties and confusion.  We’ve adjusted and developed coping strategies – he works part time and has a rest every afternoon – but for someone who used to be able to run 10km in 35 minutes, the impact on his life has been massive.  In the last few months, following a stressful time trying to sell the house, he’s had the worst “crash” for some years and had to take nearly a month off work to recover.

He decided to experiment with his diet after I remembered reading about candida overgrowth. There’s a theory out there in the alternative therapy world that suggests that the naturally-occurring yeast in your digestive tract gets out of control, often following a course of antibiotics, and that you can correct this by cutting out the foods which candida feeds on – basically sugars and carbohydrates.  The whole candida overgrowth theory hasn’t got any official stamp of approval from the medical profession as far as I can tell, so I’m not recommending anyone try this at home.  But I thought it might be interesting to share what we’ve learned over the last couple of months.

In the months leading up to his latest ME crash, I’d seen Husband getting hungrier and hungrier, without ever seeming full or satisfied. A typical day would be cereal for breakfast, two bananas mid morning, sandwiches for lunch, a plate of toast when he got home from work, a big dinner which would normally feature meat or pulses, vegetables and carbs, followed by fruit/yoghurt/ice cream for pudding. Then by mid-evening he’d be starving again, so would finish the day with a bowl of porridge and glass of orange juice.

However, in the last month, he’s cut out any refined sugar and also anything which would fall into the carbohydrates section of that food plate diagram which tells you what a balanced diet is supposed to look like.  He’s also cut out fruit almost entirely, due to the sugar content, which totally flies in the face of healthy eating advice.  A typical day’s meals are now eggs for breakfast, a huge salad for lunch (usually containing nuts, avocados or more eggs) and lots of meat and vegetables for dinner.  Potatoes, pasta and rice are out, so he’s been substituting mashed cauliflower or turnips – and I must say, shepherd’s pie with cauliflower mash on top is absolutely fantastic!  If he needs a snack after that, it’s usually natural yoghurt and more chopped nuts.

And how is he feeling?  Well, sometimes a bit grumpy as eating this way doesn’t give you the quick sugar highs that instantly make you feel better, and it takes longer to feel full.   Going away for the weekend and trying to get food he could eat at a service station was well near impossible too.  But the evening munchies and the need for a late night bowl of porridge disappeared the very first day he cut carbs out of his evening meal.  He is less tired during the day, and the pain and insomnia at night which have been a big feature of his ME, have also significantly reduced.  He’s even had enough energy to start exercising again.  So it feels like we’re on to something, but who knows whether it’s because he’s starving the candida, or regulating his sugar levels better by cutting out carbs, or something completely different?

So I thought it was worth trying myself, which is why today my lunch looks like this:

Not a carb in sight

Not a carb in sight

It tasted, I must say, utterly delicious.  And from a nutrient point of view, there’s protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and all sorts in that plateful which I certainly wouldn’t get from two slices of thick white bread.  But you know what, I just needed about 5 times as much of it.  I was still just as hungry by the end of it, and a couple of hours later I gave in and had some tea and toast anyway!

What do you think? I’d love to hear from people who have tried low-carb eating and whether it works for you.  Leave a comment below!

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Zero carbs – or, where’s the toast?

  1. Hey, Alex doesn’t do carbs at all that aren’t vegetable based and I’ve massively cut back on that and sugar -even fruit- and energy levels have been so much better. It’s the sugar spike which I understand produces insulin which makes you want more sugar which carries on resulting in the crash. Protein heavy, hard when you’re a veggie, but three scrambled eggs for breakfast, no toast, is a good start. Lots of nuts and cheese for fats and to be full and whilst your lunch looked lovely I’d have added two more dippy eggs and followed with full fat Greek yoghurt with nuts. It sounds ridiculous but calories have a different impact depending on the source – better from high fat and protein rich foods than carbs, if it’s energy your after.

    Beware the alcohol though, that’s when Alex disappears to the garage and comes back with a selection box in October, true story.

    • Yeah, that’s the same message we’ve been getting from lots of the stuff we’ve been reading too – energy from fat better than energy from carbs. I don’t think any diet which involves cutting out alcohol is going to work for me though!!

  2. I’ve massively cut down on carbs – basically given up sandwiches for lunch and replacing with a salad, and also not cooking rice or pasta in the evening – and it seems to have supported me in shedding a few pounds. I still eat lots of fruit though. And the dark chocolate seems to mysteriously go down also!

    • Yes sandwiches for lunch always make me feel dozy in the afternoon too. But cutting out things like rice and pasta seems counter-intuitive after a lifetime of being told they’re good for you. Still, it’s working for Dave for now so there must be something to it.

  3. Eggs really fill you up so I agree with Jenny about a 3 egg breakfast. Also grated carrot meant to be good for giving you a sense of full up ness at the end of a wheat free meal.

    • 3 eggs! I dont think i could eat that many in one sitting! Definitely seems to be working for Husband tho. Funnily enough some of the more hard core zero carb recipe books he’s been reading even advise against carrots and parsnips as being too high in sugar.

  4. Pingback: The Wrong Chicken Drumsticks | kirstwrites

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