Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Knowledge is King & Breaking Bad…A Tale of Bread Addiction

I’ve been counting Points for nearly 7 years without giving much thought to how my diet breaks down in terms of fat, protein and carbohydrates. I lost counting Points, I became a vegetarian counting Points, I maintained counting Points, I gained some counting Points, and I’m losing once again counting Points.
Then along came the class “Fundamentals of Nutrition” and last week’s 3-day Intake Analysis assignment, and it was like someone opened the curtains in a dark room. All my nutritional info tumbled out on the screen and it took my eyes a few minutes to adjust and my brain to assimilate. It was the darndest thing.

Being a vegetarian, I'm asked a lot, “How do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” I’ve been a little concerned about that myself. Obviously not concerned enough to actually track my food intake, but I wondered. Apparently my concern was for naught. I exceed the recommended daily intake of protein for a woman my age and size by 30 percent! I take in a solid 61-80g of protein per day, well above the recommended 54g.

How, you ask? Here is a list of my top 15 as it pertains to my 3-day intake. Keep in mind this does not include other protein sources such as legumes, oatmeal, and peanut butter as this is only a snapshot of three days.

Fage yogurt – 15g
Soymilk – 5.1g
Homemade Curry Carrot-Leek Soup – 5.67g
Roasted soybeans – 7.57g
Genisoy soy chips – 7g
Asparagus – 4.37g
Egg whites – 10.79g
Sargento reduced-fat Swiss cheese – 7g
Homemade vegetable soup – 4.11g
Ak-Mak crackers – 4g
Homemade horseradish hummus – 3.16g
Crimini mushrooms – 3.74g
French bread – 3.76g
Cabot 75% reduced-fat cheddar cheese – 9g
Veggie burger – 7.13g

When combined, my spinach salads weigh in at over 15g of protein. My salads always include some type of protein (cheese, beans, edamame) in the 7-10g range, and together the vegetables contribute another 5-8g.

This analysis confirmed for me once again why I became a vegetarian: I like to eat. A lot. I’d rather obtain 15-20g of protein by eating a bigass salad that takes me 20 minutes to consume than eat a 3-oz piece of white meat chicken that’s gone in a few minutes or less.

Other things I learned: I’m smack dab in the middle of the recommended daily intake for each of the macronutrients. Approximately 53% carbs, 15% protein, and 21% fats.

Speaking of carbs, a friend recommended the book “WheatBelly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health” by William Davis, MD. Davis is a cardiologist who makes the argument that cutting wheat out of our diets drastically improves blood sugar levels, decreases risk of heart disease, and – of particular interest to me – reduces the pain of osteoarthritis.

I started reading “Wheat Belly” yesterday while sitting in an Irish pub in downtown Lancaster. I was dining alone, so I brought my Nook. I was enjoying a glass of wine (yes, it was 1:30 in the afternoon…*grin*) and had ordered a chicken and bacon salad sans the meat. The greens and veggies sounded awesome, as did the accompanying avocado slices and gorgonzola cheese (I’m a freak for bitter cheese). I wondered if they’d serve it with bread. The thought wouldn’t have crossed my mind a few weeks ago, but I’ve been giving serious consideration to going wheat-free, thanks, in part, to my friends Debbie (who recommended the book) and Lori at Finding Radiance).

Sure enough, on top of the salad was an amazing looking whole-grain-something kind of breadstick with little seeds in it. I wanted to eat it sooooooo badly, to dip it in the roasted tomato vinaigrette and take in every last bite until I was in a temporary psychedelic carbo-coma. But I didn’t. I ate all but one avocado instead. And to think, I used to be afraid of avocados! I mean, come on…avocados are nothing but fat, right? Run away! Run away!

But avocados are NOT the food to freak out about. Avocados are rich in poly and monounsaturated fats, the “good guys” of fats. Not that it’s wise to overindulge on the good guys, but eating avocados was a better choice than the god-only-knows-what’s-in-that-breadstick breadstick.

I admit…it was rough. I’m so completely and utterly devoted to wheat it’s sick. Yes… sick. I want it all the time. Some people easily control themselves, and I do control myself most of the time, but it’s a fight every day. The craving has me in a stranglehold, baby. (OK, now I have Ted Nugent in my head.)

So…what to do, what to do? The answer is obvious. I need to cut out wheat for awhile and see how I feel. Be my own science experiment. This will take some planning. I don’t do cold turkey well. If any of you have ideas, please pass them along! If you limit or have eliminated wheat, how did you do it? How do you feel when wheat-free?

As to the nutrition assessment, I learned a lot from the analysis assignment, but I’m not going to quit Weight Watchers. Counting Points works for me and I’m not in the mood to reinvent the weight-loss wheel. But I highly recommend that those of you who count Points, or anyone who doesn’t know their dietary intake numbers, to track their food intake in a program such as SparkPeople’s nutrition counter or Calorie King’s Nutrition and Exercise Manager. Know your numbers! It’s pretty darn empowering. 

13 comments:

  1. The new Points Plus program breaks down points in carbs, fiber, fat and protein, btw. Encouraging less simple carbs and wheat and more veggies, fruits and lean protein.

    Are you still doing the old Points plan?

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  2. Do it Lynn, you will find it isn't so hard after all. And you can still eat breads and things if they are gluten free, so no worries there.

    Wheat is addictive, and totally not necessary in our diets.

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  3. Tracking showed me I could not be high carb. I lost best at 40% carbs and 30% fat. I got crazy hungry when I exceeded 50% fat and lost my appetite nearly completely at 30% carbs. More carbs, more hunger. When I hit 60% carbs, weight loss stopped, even at low caloric intake. So, tracking for me was great.

    My bugaboo was appetite. I'm compulsive eater/emo-eater/and was a binge eater. When I got my carbs down, fat and protein up, I simply, boom, stopped bingeing. Appetite calmed down. I was able to steadily lose weight for a year plus.

    So, I do encourage folks to track. It teaches them something about their individual responses to the maronutrient makeup of meals.

    AND it shows what micronutrients are lacking. I learned I was often deficient in zinc, B12, magnesium, and potassium. More fruit, red meat, and some supplements covered those holes without awakening my insane appetite monster.It hibernates nicely. :)

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  4. I cut out the wheat after reading Wheat Belly, Those overwhelming munchies are gone!!! My crazy moods have leveled out also... Don't know if thats me being calmer or the wheat being gone???

    I found a gluten free tortilla at the local healthy food store, and now when I do eat wheat... I feel plain ole crappy!!!

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  5. One of these days I'll have to read Wheat Belly - it sounds interesting, but I'm not ready to make a big change in my eating right now.

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  6. Hey, Lynn, after you try everything else (I've been there, done that) try "Refuse to Regain". Just sayin'.

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  7. Mo, I'm quite aware of Barbara's diet plan. Being a vegetarian (and Barbara and I have discussed this at length), I have a bit of a different approach to eating primarian. I've limited my carb intake quite a bit since Barbara and I met, but not to the point of low-carb or the elimination of all grains, which I have been...obviously...reluctant to do. Baby steps. Eliminating wheat, even for a few weeks, is a huge step for me.

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  8. Looking forward to seeing how you do Lynn! I haven't had bread (or any wheat products for that matter) in over 2 years! Well, besides low carb tortillas anyway...lol! Keep us posted!

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  9. I say give it a try. I try to elimanate wheat from my diet 99% of the time...and this is what I've learned 1)you lose your craving for it after a while 2)other alergy symptoms improve i.e. sinus problems 3) weight loss/maintenacne follows and 4) it's easier than you think with all the glueten free products on the market now - try quinoa. Looking forward to hearing how you do

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  10. I didn't think you were that much of a bread eater!

    I try to minimize wheat by not eating pasta or bread (or cookies or cake) much. But as you know I like to bake. I do a lot with oats. As I read this I was eating one of my healthy scones made with Bob's Red Mill Gluten free baking mix. I love these. I'm not convinced I'm not breaking one habit/obsession for another. I'll be interested to see what you think.

    LOL about 'trying Refuse to Regain.

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  11. I'm glad you are trying this as I feel I am a carb/bread addict. Pasta, bread, etc. when I start eating it I feel like I can't stop. I have always had a large appetite and it has hindered me from losing the weight. I'll be keeping track of your progress and may try it myself. Thanks so much for being so open about everything.

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  12. you wrote:
    "recommended daily intake for each of the macronutrients. Approximately 53% carbs, 15% protein, and 21% fats."

    I would have a serious belly fat/maintenance issue if I ate that many carbs.

    I wondered if that was the across the board recommendation? What about people who lean toward insulin resistance? (which is getting to be a higher and higher percentage).

    I aim more toward balance between natural carbs and lean protein (35-40% each range) and the rest made up in healthy fats.

    And I think it is very tough to be a vegetarian and stay away from processed and also keep the protein numbers high enough and the carb numbers low enough. Not saying it can't be done, but I am saying it requires a lot of focus and planning.

    I am not defending wheat. I avoid processed myself. But I wanted to point out the issue isn't so much wheat (unless one is sensative to gluten) as what is added to wheat. Salt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder are where the addictive issues are (in my opinion).

    good post

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  13. Lynn, I ordered Wheat Belly after reading your post. I have been off wheat and gluten now for 2 weeks and some health issues that I have been dealing with are resolving (numbness in hands and feet and some gatro issues). Reading the book led me to further research that makes me think I am gluten intolerant and was totally clueless about that until your Wheat Belly tip! So, thanks a million!

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