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:
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!