How Sweet it is (or isn’t)–Musings About Sugar and Sugar Substitutes on Lower Carb

How sweet it is!” was a catchphrase called out to  mesmerized audience by the unforgettable Jackie Gleason. Gleason was at the top of his game as one of the most sought-after comedians with the major networks of the US. I remember how he would puff on his cigarette, would rock side to side and shout out,”how sweet it is.” And life was sweet for Jackie Gleason at that time, all 350 lbs of him. It may have been sweet as he enjoyed the success that other performers sought after and for all intents and purposes, to the poverty stricken performer, that “sweetness” was the carrot on the stick, the epitome of success!  And while it seemingly tasted sweet to the impoverished performers of the time…was it truly all that sweet?  Appearances are deceiving at the best of times, and one has to look beyond what has been sought highly after and consider the reality behind the whole panacea and not just hover gently above the perceived fantasy.

And the past life along lower-carb lane may appear sweet especially when looking back, but the former things are not usually as sweet as one thinks. They may have left a taste in your gullet and taste buds that you are still craving after, but the memories are never quite as sweet as we think they really were.  Many of us remember our childhood with affection as we played in the field, or in the wilds of “first bush” as we called it when growing up in the small northern town of Wawa, Ontario. We would go up to the old ball field and pick wild strawberries and make dandelion stems curl in water on the doorstoop… it is all remembered as idyllic and warm in my childhood interpretation.

For example, you can hear many people reminisce about such things as the World War 2 and these who lived through it remember the war fondly, despite the carnage and loss of loved ones. The music was grand, the Hollywood musicals were singing and dancing up a storm, so much so that as young children, we were all waiting for our time in adulthood when we would just be doing some mundane chore and then break out into song (and dance possibly). My younger brother and I shared a belly laugh over this one as we fully expected to break out into a routine as was suggested by the old movies we watched on our one television channel of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Some people regard their parents’ time as idyllic and from what I have read, it hinges on the phenomenon of selective memory. You hear it said again and again that “the good old days” were the best. A parent will tell stories of their youth, and it becomes romanticized and turned into the good old days. The father might remember simpler and more pleasant times when they were not working night and day to put food on the table for four growing kids, but again it is the selective and the best which is remembered. The good old days of the WW II era encompassed a depression, bread lines, young men enlisting to serve their country against the Nazi invasion of Europe, and slowed supplies of necessary staples needed for survival—the good old days indeed. “Because it is unpleasant to remember the unpleasant, the warm glow of remembered youth taints the past.

Individuals of all political stripes fall prey to the Golden Age Fallacy. Hard green environmentalists and anarcho-primitivists focus on the evils of civilization and the glories of subsistence-level economies, while conservatives — almost by definition — seek to return to the values of the past, which requires glorifying the past.”(Wikipedia post)

And pre-lower-carb, the indulgence into the sweet and the syrupy were the good old days, at least in the memory of one who was a junk food devotee (me). One had the pleasure of eating anything and everything and being comforted by the sugar rush and the high of eating anything made of white “enriched” flour and trans-fat which yelled out More, more, more!
And it was sweet to the tune of family sized chocolate bars, liters of coke and of course large bags of chips. And some will say, just quit it…I seemed to be powerless to do so.

So, you may be wondering how to reprogram thoughts to truly see that “how sweet it was” really was  a momentary lust of the palate and a rapid descent into many health issues and complications from said lifestyle. Man craves sugar–it is in our genetics but sweet things were never meant to overtake our food supply and be in everything that touches our lips and gullets. With sugar being ever-present in our daily sustenance, it is tough to become sugar free and the fallacy of how wonderful it was and how depreived we now feel on a lower carb existence taunts and jeers from the past..

I will not lie, getting rid of the sugar overload in my life has not been an easy thing, especially after I got off the metformin. Even this past week as I travelled to Ontario to visit my mother, I failed to prepare the way I normally do with bringing my own baked goods and it was a week of eating everything I had thought I burnt up in my life with the choice of living lower carb. I had ciabatta buns, molasses, butter tarts, blueberry pie, French fries, Lindor chocolates and Snicker’s pie. I had pizza made with a white crust, and now have had a headache that has lasted for a week.

And since my return, I have continued to indulge in the higher carb lifestyle as I hardly gained any weight.  Not to make excuses, but we had 7 convocation/graduation ceremonies at my place of work this past week, and I am sorry to say that the marshmallow peanut butter fudge squares enticed me to overindulge. I am feeling sicker than a dog and have continued with the headache. Today (five days later) was my day to say “enough” and I have begun the cleanse of the white flour and the sweet once again as I do not like this feeling. Had I enjoyed my eryththritol baked goods all week, I would have been much healthier in my way of feeling, and I think I have learned my lesson. Here’s to the victory and freedom of wanting to return to the lower carb way of eating and back on the program.

So is sugar all that toxic? Perhaps it is not any more toxic than anything else…but with the high fructose corn syrup and all of the other sweeteners added to food, is it more toxic for the likes of people ike me who spin out of control? I think it is… And what of the polyols or artifcial sweeteners such as erithrytol, are they toxic as well? There are “naturalists” who do not want to hear of anyone using erythtritol or  polyols of any type. They feel that natural sugars are much more favorable as there are trace minerals and nutrients that contribute to wellness of the human being.  But Dr. Mercola, the medical doctor who is a guru upon the internet at writes “Sugar is sugar regardless of whether it is table sugar, honey, beet sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, brown sugar, demerara, sorghum syrup, molasses, it is all sweet and is metabolized the same way by the body. “ And in combination with white flour, large portions and taking it in often, that combination is toxic for the healthy individual.

Possible health benefits of natural sweeteners

Although natural sugar substitutes may seem healthier than processed table sugar, their vitamin and mineral content isn’t significantly different from that of sugar. Honey and sugar, for instance, are nutritionally similar, and both end up in your body as glucose and fructose. Choose a natural sweetener based on how it tastes and its uses, rather than on its health claims.

Possible health concerns with natural sweeteners

So-called natural sweeteners are generally safe. But there’s no health advantage to consuming added sugar of any type. And consuming too much added sugar, even natural sweeteners, can lead to health problems such as tooth decay, poor nutrition, weight gain and increased triglycerides. Also, be aware that honey can contain small amounts of bacterial spores that can produce botulism toxin. Because of that, honey shouldn’t be given to children less than 1 year old.And of course Dr mercola’s study about artificial sweeteners, and scientific findings for Xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, or any “ol” you want seems to suggest that “none-at-all” is the only Poyol that should be used.

I am here to say that as a low-carber, if I do not have the alternatives to some of the sweets I crave occasionally, I am hooped and will resurface as the wife of the Michelin Tire Woman. I will be hooped in the lower carbohydrate continuum. We don’t have much choice but to use the artificial sweeteners in our baking or cooking. So, I am here to debunk or try to debunk, or maybe just give you my super-opinionated reflection of what has been successful for me, and perhaps for you the pilgrim in search of a lower carb experience….

Any of you who have battled weight for most of their lives know that it started with the discovery of sacharrin was the fore-runner and then nutrasweet, Equal, Splenda, and sucralose, and a myriad of others we have not even heard of followed and while some have been repudiated to promote ill health and even strokes in humans, my question is…what does a savvy but sugar-addicted senorita do about sugar cravings when in lower carb lifestyle?

While the basic foods on lower carb are indeed the best choices due to the fact that when you eat higher protein, good fats and vegetables, the cravings become less and less of an issue. But my experience has been that these cravings do not leave us completely in lower carb mode, at least not long term. So how do we deal with the thought of never having a treat again? I am here to say that it is not realistic to even consider this. Perhaps joining a monastery and swearing an allegiance of death to all fleshly desires would work for some. Perhaps just telling yourself that you don’t even like sugar anymore might work for others, but when all of the sweets that look so fine and taste so good call your name, what resolve do you have and what have you armed your low carbing arsenal with?

The natural sweetner camp *who usually do not have a weight problem* will use coconut sugar, or palm sugar in its most natural form and think that this is the best way to go. I am here to make a case for sugar substitutes. But with the scientific findings from the research camps that sugar in any form reacts the same way in the bloodstream, it makes me think that sugar substitutes are just as good for those occasional treats that keep you on the narrower low-carb lane. By no means am I a nutritionist, but just a pilgrim on the low-carb pathway.

The majority of sugar substitutes are artificial sweeteners have been the subject of intense scrutiny for decades. Critics of artificial sweeteners say that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. That’s largely because of studies dating to the 1970s that linked saccharin to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Because of those studies, saccharin once carried a warning label that it may be hazardous to your health. Mom made me hot cocoa when I was a little girl and she began to make it with saccharin when I was 8 years old or thereabouts.

There is some ongoing controversy over whether artificial sweetener usage poses health risks. And the jury is out on the long term effects. Certainly the jury has proven the damage on the overly sweet foods that most people consume today. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates artificial sweeteners as food additives and they also establishes an acceptable daily intake (ADI) for each artificial sweetener. This is the maximum amount considered safe to consume each day over the course of your lifetime. ADIs are intended to be about 100 times less than the smallest amount that might cause health concerns. So that seems to indicate that used in moderation, there is little cause for worry.

I just know that since I started to bake with alternatives to white flour and sugar of any kind, my health has improved, I seldom think of food, and the satiety is there at all times. You the reader are intelligent and informed, so study out the findings and make your own informed decisions. I continue in the lower carb lifestyle, with a few sideways assaults from the old lifestyle, but the mental clarity, the trimmer body and the lack of headache is the choice I choose for wellness.

Au revoir, a la prochaine,..goodbye until we meet revoir


How Sweet it is, or How Sweet it Was and How Sweet it can be–Living Lower Carb


“Sugar!  Sugar!” (I can hear the music running through my mind as though it was yesterday when the Archies released their hit). Some of you remember the pop song by the Archies…It was a great little tune that had my cousin and me dancing with our friends on a Saturday afternoon.  The Partridge Family, the Osmond brothers and Bobby Sherman were all teen idols of the day and had released campy, danceable hits that we grooved and moved to.  As teeny boppers of the time, Sugar! Sugar! was one of our favourites and we would play it over and over again and dance ourselves into a frenzy.

Presently and with many years hither and yon, “(too much) Sugar! sugarcubesmountainsSugar!” is the popular song playing in my brain just as fiercely as we listened and danced to the Archies’ single from my teenage past. “Too much Sugar Sugar’ is now a daily ditty you see being sung by every health organization decrying its sordid effects on the body.  But does the song resonate in the sucrose soaked population of the North American continent to get them to dance to this new tune, or do we continue to have deaf ears on the subject?  Is it a dance we are prepared to engage in?  I now sashay and boogie down to the “Too Much Sugar Sugar” tune and in part one of this 3 part post, I will outline the facts as to why I have chosen to dance this particular dance and why.

Sugar is now a part of everyday life in everything processed and canned.  It is no longer the sought-after substance of the rich only, or the cherished ration of a country at war, but more so, it is the substance of the poor as more and more processed foods reach the marketplace with high fructose corn syrup or sucrose or fructose, or any “ose” they can manufacture for cheaper and cheaper amounts of money.

And you the reader no doubt have read the many posts and research papers about why sugar is so bad for you and perhaps are aware of the fore-runners in the contra-sugar camp of the early seventies where authors published books such as The Sugar Blues.  And as a person who considers themself current on the food trends with regards to nutrition, you know that tomorrow is another working day in which you can kick the sugar habit once and for all.  So tomorrow is the day!!!!

You know that high carb foods cause voracious hunger so you take the steps to prepare yourself by having a good breakfast (nix the toast and cereal) without any starch or sugar.  You pack a healthy, nutritious lunch along with snacks that mete out the lower-carb mantra.  You feel prepared to meet the day head on.  You are ready to drive the busy streets of Vancouver or wherever you live to get to your destination.  You drive defensively and should arrive within the 45 minutes you allot yourself for your morning commute. And your level of satiety is good with the absence of carbs from the morning’s feeding.   No train-wreck today you say to yourself, I have my eating arsenal! And you are at peace and the world is at rest…that is until you pass by the back filing cabinet come snack table decked out withsnacks the brownies somebody brought in as well as the cookies someone’s daughter made in her baking 101 class; and of course the Lindor chocolates and the Hedgehogs have arrived thanks to the sugar plum fairies who visit university offices several times a year.

And as one who has resolved that you are going to get off the sugar, you start!  You have set the start date on your calendar (usually a Monday).  Your house has been purged of everything processed and sweet.  You have poured out your white and brown sugars and flour or as a “frugalista” who cannot bare to throw anything away if still usable, you have passed it on to a neighbor who bakes for good measure (every pun intended).

Yes, sugar is everywhere and in just about everything. It is a part of the everyday eating and the mundane munchies– it is a celebration, it is festivity, it is love for some and sadness for others… it is everywhere and in everything, and it is addictive.

When researching the sugar controversy, we can only find that white sugar is lethal. Most likely the earliest book about sugar and its dangers was first published in the early 70s by an obscure person in the UK.  Dr. John Yudkin, a professor at Queen’s college in the UK published a book entitled “Pure, White and Deadly.”  It had long since been forgotten as Yudkin was branded a heretic when modern food production methods began to put more and more sugar and salt into processed foods. Hence just a couple of years ago, an out-of-print book published in 1972 by a long-deceased British professor suddenly became a collector’s item. Copies were fetching hundreds of pounds and were also being pirated online.

You can read more at the following link:

How exactly did a long-forgotten book suddenly become so prized? The cause was a ground-breaking lecture called Sugar: the Bitter Truth by Robert Lustig, professor of paediatric endocrinology at the University of California, in which Lustig hailed Yudkin’s work as “prophetic”.

“Everything this man said in 1972 was the God’s honest truth and if you want to read a true prophecy you find this book… I’m telling you every single thing this guy said has come to pass. I’m in awe.”

And while we know food is often genetically modified, somtony the tigere of the early branding of foods such as the basso profundo voice of Tony the Tiger, the cartoon character who promoted Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes play an important role in the marketing of food to a population hooked on sugar.

In the book penned by Michael Moss entitled, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us,” Moore sites Howard Moscowitz as a legend in the food industry.  Moscowitz is a food engineer who works with major food companies in finding the bliss point of foods before they are marketed to the public.  For example, in the creation of a new soft drink for Dr. Pepper, Moscowitz had 61 different formulations of sweet flavouring which he submitted to 3,000 consumer taste-testings, then did an analysis of the results and arrived at what he called the “bliss point” — which is the amount of sugar that gives the optimal sense of sweetness.“  There is a bliss point for all kinds of foods, including bread, tomato sauce and yogurt and companies push this to the max.

And with the established bliss point food researchers market their products with regards to where people like a product the most.  Once they find the bliss point, the product hits the shelves.  “Those in- the-know realize that you can add a little more sugar,” said Moskewitz.  For example, Coke has 10 tsps of sugar per can.  Vanilla yogurt, 5 tsps. in half a cup.  Sugar is in bread, soup, condiments, even the healthy choice brands have 5.5 tsps. in half a cup according to the Fifth Estate online video mentioned later in this post.

“It wasn’t until the 1980s and ’90s [that] we found out how much sugar was in cereal and other products,” Moss said, because companies didn’t have to disclose ingredients. An independent dentist conducted studies on a number of cereals and had them analyzed—to the tune of some cereals having as much as 70 per cent sugar.

beekeeperUp until just a few hundred years ago, the only concentrated sugar sources mankind could find were wild honeycombs which most people probably steered clear of unless they were bee-keepers hence limitations in obtaining the product were naturally in place.  In our modern age, we have beekeepers who are also called honey farmers, apiarists. The term beekeeper refers to a person who keeps honey bees in beehives, boxes, or other receptacles. Bees are not domesticated hence the beekeeper only provides the hives.  When the bees swarm, they can extract the product the bees make.

Depictions of humans collecting honey from wild bees date to 15,000 years ago; efforts to domesticate them are shown in Egyptian art around 4,500 years ago. Simple hives and smoke were used and honey was stored in jars, some of which were found in the tombs of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun. It wasn’t until the 18th century that European understanding of the colonies and biology of bees allowed the construction of the moveable comb hive so that honey could be harvested without destroying the entire colony.

Until modern beekeeping evolved, sugars were absent from the human diet and when they could find concentrated sugars  in small amounts, it did the body good in a sense as the human could gain a few pounds which would give them some “meat” on their bones to fight lack of food or disease with. Humans are biologically drawn to sugar, as it helps the body to store fat, and thus allowed us to better survive winter in Paleolithic times.

It is interesting to note some of the WWII recipes when sugar wasww2 cookbook rationed in very small amounts, I found an interesting site that had sweets as one of their chapters in the war-time cookbook.   The Brits liked their steamed puddings, and from my background as a pastry chef who used a minimum of one cup of sugar for an average cake or pudding recipe, many of the pudding recipes had a scant tablespoon of sugar in them and the recipe was meant to serve four people.  It is no small wonder that recipes were as such because sugar was rationed and very scarce.  After WWII when the world was bright and thriving, sugar production boomed as did our love for the sweet stuff

Today added sugar is everywhere, used in approximately 75 percent of packaged foods purchased in the United States. The average American consumes anywhere from a quarter to a half pound of sugar a day. Some suggest that humans are consuming 160 lbs. of sugar per year.

In the same way refinement processes transform plants like poppies and coca into heroin and cocaine, refined sugars are a chemical departure of what they are in the natural form and also affect the human body and brains.

In animal studies, animals experience sugar like a drug and can become sugar-addicted. One study has shown that if given the choice, rats will choose sugar over cocaine in lab settings because the reward is greater; the “high” is more pleasurable. “When you look at animal studies comparing sugar to cocaine,” DiNicolantonio “even when you get the rats hooked on IV cocaine, once you introduce sugar, almost all of them switch to the sugar.”

In humans, the situation may not be very different. Sugar stimulates brain pathways just as an opioid would, and sugar has been found to be habit-forming in people. Cravings induced by sugar are comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine. And although other food components may also be pleasurable, sugar may be uniquely addictive in the food world. For instance, functional M.R.I. tests involving milkshakes demonstrate that it’s the sugar, not the fat that people crave. Sugar is added to foods by an industry whose goal is to engineer products to be as irresistible and addictive as possible. How can we kick this habit? One route is to make foods and drinks with added sugar more expensive, through higher taxes. Another would be to remove sugar-sweetened beverages from places like schools and hospitals or to regulate sugar-added products just as we do alcohol and tobacco, for instance, by putting restrictions on advertising and by slapping on warning labels.

As one who has been hooked on sugar and a reformed pastafarian pasta freak, I have wondered how my non-scientific mind could reconcile why the sugar kept the hunger cycle going and the feeling of lack within my huge body.

Dr. DiNicolantonio has explained it as such, in that a certain consumption threshold must be achieved over a certain period of time in order to alter the brain’s neurochemistry. Subsequently, people experience dopamine depletion and sugar withdrawals.

“You get this intense release of dopamine upon acute ingestion of sugar. After you chronically consume it, those dopamine receptors start becoming down-regulated — there’s less of them, and they’re less responsive,” he said. “That can lead to ADHD-like symptoms … but it can also lead to a mild state of depression because we know that dopamine is that reward neurotransmitter.”

It’s not that people should never consume sugar, but rather that they should limit their intake to avoid the aftereffects, which can eventually cause pre-diabetes, DiNicolantonio said. He noted that when he craves sugar, he tries to go for dark chocolate or almonds. “We’ve got to give people hope, right? You don’t want to just tell them they can’t ever have sugar again,” he said.

“The government subsidizes corn, so high fructose corn syrup is cheaper than sugar, and that’s why it’s so ubiquitous in our diets,” DiNicolantonio explained. “They need to start subsidizing healthy foods. We shouldn’t be able to eat a Snickers bar for cheaper than we can eat an apple.”

We read the rhetoric everywhere that sugar contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease. Eating too much sugar can lead to fatty liver disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and kidney disease.

In my youth, sugar was more of a celebration when Mom would bake for the holidays or family gatherings.  Even post-depression, my mother tried to economize as they were raising four children on a steel-plant worker’s salary.  So, it wasn’t as plentiful as it became in my teen years.

And it is all somewhat subliminal is foods produced for our society.  For example, take Nutella spread.  Who doesn’t love Nutella?  Nutty Nutella_akabout Nutella is probably the better way to say it.  The commercials over the years have spread the love in that it is healthy with its hazelnuts and low-fat milk.

Direct from the Nutella website:

‘NUTELLA® hazelnut spread was first imported from Italy over 40 years ago. Since its arrival, it has captured the hearts and taste buds of Canadian families, and become the number one selling branded hazelnut spread.

With no artificial colours or preservatives, the unique combination of roasted hazelnuts with a hint of cocoa makes for a wonderful breakfast staple.”

They have inadvertently forgotten to mention the sugar and how much they use as well as the modified palm oil.  The sugar causes the initial “high” and then a crash shortly thereafter. Not to mention the cocoa and the traces of caffeine therein…

This delicious spread is made from the combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk and a touch of cocoa and boasts no artificial colours or preservatives.  Healthy right?   Wrong!!!!

Yes, the fairy tale commercials have a new outcome that read more like some of the dark fairy stories of the Brothers Grimm.  An ugly truth behind a glowing front.  And the fairy tale takes a greater dip with this presentation of the truth about Nutella by a Canadian doctor.

Some will tout natural sugars as being better for you.  There are natural sugars occurring in whole fruits and vegetables are generally not very concentrated because the sweetness is buffered by water, fiber and other constituents. Modern industrial sugar sources are unnaturally potent and quickly provide a big hit when stripped of their water, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all other beneficial components to produce the pure, white, sugary crystals which elicit a joy in the sensory receptors, a salivation of the glands, and a rotting of the teeth.

In the following post at SparkPeople, we see how some of these natural sweeteners compare in their use to cheap, white powdery sugar we have been inundated by:

Here’s a chart of how these sweeteners compare with one another and with regular table sugar:

Sweetener Serving size Calories Carbs Other nutrients of note
White (table) sugar 2 tsp 33 8 g None*
Blackstrap molasses 2 tsp 32 8 g Manganese (18% DV), copper (14% DV), iron (13% DV), calcium (12% DV), potassium (10% DV), magnesium (7%DV), vitamin B6 (5% DV), selenium (4% DV)
Rapadura 2 tsp 30 8 g None*
Sucanat 2 tsp 30 8 g None*
Turbinado sugar 2 tsp 30 8 g None*
Evaporated cane juice 2 tsp 30 8 g Riboflavin (3% DV), potassium (1% DV), manganese (1% DV), copper (1% DV), iron (1% DV)
Agave nectar syrup 2 tsp 40 8 g None*
Brown rice syrup 2 tsp 40 10 g None*
Honey 2 tsp 43 11 g None*
Maple syrup 2 tsp 45 9 g Manganese (22% DV), zinc (4% DV)

*Less than 0.5% DV of any vitamins or minerals

SparkPeople’s Licensed and Registered Dietitian, Becky Hand, notes that published recommendations say to limit added sugars from all sources to no more than 10%-15% of total calorie intake, which is 120 calories (7.5 tsp) of sugar for a 1,200-calorie diet.

The bottom line is that sugar is sugar. Too much sugar—whether it’s marketed as “natural” or not—can harm your health.  Even sweeteners touted as natural or nutritious, like the ones discussed here, don’t typically add asignificant source of vitamins or minerals to your diet. But in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with the sweetness that a little sugar adds to life. So if you’re going to eat it, eat the good stuff…just not too much of it. (Need help figuring out where hidden sugar may be lurking in your food? Check out this helpful resource from the USDA.)

This article has been reviewed and approved by licensed and registered dietitian, Becky Hand, and Tanya Jolliffe, a SparkPeople healthy eating expert.

In conclusion to part 1, How Sweet it is… sugar– no matter what type you use is extremely addictive, and while we love our sweet foods, it affects people in the same way as drugs.  The food industry has not followed any regulations with this white, powdery, glistening substance.  The regulating bodies such as the American food and drug administration FDA is passively allowing the unseen sugar in foods to keep us hooked.  Sugar is FDA approved.

The memorable campaigns put forth by the FDA with slogans suchno to drugs as “Just say “NO!” to drugs” should have had a sister slogan which would herald “Strike the sugar!  Forget the fructose” and any other combination of words that would make the food industry take steps to limit added sugar to foods, and perhaps have the addicted such as myself wake up and take notice of the many things it does to your health before you are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

In the next post, I will give you the overview of how I got off the sugar, along with the pitfalls, and the highs and lows of no longer indulging in the habit.

For an overview of sugar and what it does to you, please see this very good post put together by The Fifth Estate, a Canadian news Magazine:

“The Secrets of Sugar”

Au revoir, a la prochaine….goodbye until we meet again!

My Past as a Pastafarian and Passing on Pasta…or Not!

spaghetti-meatballsI am a pasta freak. In times past, I would eat pasta at least 5 times a week. I had it boiled, stewed, in soup, with cheese sauce, with spinach and lemon, etc. etc. Unfortunately, I had to learn to say “Basta” to my pasta a couple of years ago. “Basta” for those of you who don’t know is not an Italian bad word but it is an interjection of “Enough! As in it is enough!” As a young child, my introduction to pasta as I know it was “pisghetti” which we all loved with butter, salt and pepper. Naked pasta of sorts, and as I matured and developed a more sophisticated taste for the Mama Bravo canned sauce which Mom added veggies to, my mountain of noodles became spaghetti with meatballs, one of our family’s bunsall-time favourites! Although she was not a “maccaronaro” or street seller of macaroni or pasta, Mom’s macaroni casserole with tomato soup for sauce hot from the oven would make us salivate as we came in the door from school. Her gourmet macaroni casserole was paired with her spongy decadent melt-in-your mouth white bread coming out of the oven just as suppertime loomed.

Such was the breadth of our knowledge regarding noodles and all they comprised. They were spaghetti and macaroni, soon to be redefined in my young life because everywhere you turned the lone spaghetti noodle diversified and was also known as tubetti, linguine, fettuccini, or penne.  Whatever its shape might be was reflected in its name but it soon left its particular name by the wayside and became known as “Pasta.” Pasta was such a sophisticated way to refer to our beloved “pisghetti” as the lowly noodle prepared in a million different ways held its sacred place on the pedestal of the proliferation of pasta.

Everything was pasta with a dusting of a few vegetables and bits of meat or cheese tossed in it in a tomato or cream sauce. It was orgasmic, it tasted great, it was fun to eat and with our North American super-sizes, we all ate plates of it. When dining in a ristorante Italiano, nobody thought of taking half of the serving home as it was 7th heaven at the time of dining when all of that white flour and white crusty bread along with a glass of wine, and of course a Tiramisu for dessert would bring on the carb overload…the sugar rush…the Noodle Nirvana.

It was carb-heaven, and we loved it! That is, until it had to become basta pasta (enough pasta) in that my years of grazing upon the noodles in my life had to be re-strung. If there had been a pasta-eaters anonymous, I was prime a candidate for the membership, and my Pastafarian devotion had to shift to the NP designation, or no-pasta for a time and then eventually to LC-AP, or low-carb-after pasta. I had to learn to pass on the pasta as it was now passé in the practice of my lower carb lifestyle. As one who ate pasta 5 to 7 times a week when you cypher in lunches and dinners, it was no easy feat to accomplish, and my love affair continued in the PP or Perpetual Pasta stage (at least in my mind.)

My mother’s heritage is that of French Canadian and pasta was not a particularly French Canadian food other than to thicken the soup that preceded most meals. However, in my youth we played with many of the Italian children in our little town of Wawa, Ontario. The Lauricella family were especially welcoming with their hospitality and their friendship. Rosanna was my best friend and Mama Vincenza Lauricella always welcomed us in for plates of pasta as well as her lovely Italian cookies which were unlike anything my mother made. My Dad battled his own pasta 'Look! A ton of spaghetti and only one meatball.'problems and although not so much a fan of spaghetti Dad would get invites over to the Tavella family who were neighbors to my aunt Francine when he was over there. Mrs.Tavella who was a sturdy Italian lady on a 4 foot frame had a special pot in which she cooked her pasta. It was a smallish galvanized wash tub and she served up mountains of the noodles along with her fresh sauce. Dad would eat it, but the generosity of the portions could almost feed an army and when you are raised in an environment where it is impolite to refuse food or to push away food, he ate it all.  It caused pain and discomfort, but it was polite and the first 4 cups of it was delicious.

It is no small wonder that many have joined the Pastafarian sect when our modern society’s daily bread is often draped in pasta noodle dishes upon the food network and almost everywhere you go. It is interesting to note the origin of these noodles and how they came into play upon my palate and my plate and also within the sphere of all gastronomes. Also, we will examine what can be done for the low-carb moderates who are still Pastafarians at heart and who still crave their pasta while trying to remain within a semblance of the Ketogenic-Paleo range.

I have used the following post for my historical information about Pasta: For the benefit of not growing tedious and long, I will paraphrase…

Some researchers place the discovery of pasta in the 13th Century by Marco Polo, who supposedly introduced the pasta to Italy upon returning from one of his trips to China in 1271. Within the pages of “Books of the World’s Wonders”, Marco Polo makes a reference to the pasta in China. But, it is likely that pasta dates much further back, back to ancient Etruscan civilizations, which made pasta by grinding several cereals and grains and then mixed them with water, a blend that was later on cooked producing tasty and nutritious food product.

In the 1400s pasta was called “lasagna” and pasta manufacturers were referred to as “lasagnare”. The term macaroni, is found in writings of Roman writers since the first centuries of our era. Platina, curator of the Vatican library, wrote in the 12th century that macaroni with cheese were a legacy from the kitchens of Genoa and Naples, which its inhabitants ate every day. We also find references to pasta dishes in ancient Rome, which date back to the third century before Christ.

While the modern day heralds pasta on many tables as an inexpensive base to some marvelous meals, at the beginning of the XIX century, the tables of the nobility fed their guests pasta dishes as it was becoming a gastronomic eating experience among the high class society. Pasta consumption became a trendy thing and its offering to guests became a sign of distinction.

Until then, pasta was eaten with the hands, and the addition of sauces came a little later. Although tomatoes were brought back to Europe shortly after their discovery in the New World, it took a long time to quell the rumors of poison tomatotomatoes being poisonous as this thought continued in parts of Europe and its colonies until the mid-19th century. It was not until 1839 that the first pasta recipe with tomatoes was documented. And due to the messy component of tomato sauce pasta could no longer be eaten with the hands and an additional instrument started to show up at the tables of the high classes. The fork was adopted as an everyday tool and of course, its use started by being another element to impress the guests, rather than to help them eat.

In 1740, in the city of Venice, Paolo Adami, was granted the license to open the first pasta factory. Since 1914 the artificial drying process allowed the pasta to be available in all the regions of Italy. The great development of the Italian pasta at the turn of the century was tightly linked to the export, which reached a record level of 70,000 tons, many of which were sent to the United States of America. Can you hear the chef Boyardee commercial here?

So while I followed the path of pasta ingestion as a Pastafarian first-class, all was fine until the intake of carbs upon carbs during several decades of my life caused type 2 diabetes.  You might be saying to yourself, maybe even muttering, “Anita this is lower carb, why so much drivel about pasta? Aren’t we low carbers committed to never eating pasta again? Lower carb eating is one preoccupation but a preoccupation with pasta????”

Well, as a Pastafarian from the past, and one who digresses from the low-carb path somewhat in order to find a way to make some of the foods I miss and eat them too, I am here to tell you how I have dealt with my pasta cravings and the sense of loss I felt and still feel when the dirges to the death of my pasta past start to echo within my head…

I am here to say that pasta is not necessarily a thing of the past, you just have to tweak things AP or After Pasta. The recipes are tasty, cheesy, ketogenic and delicious. These are my offerings and although they are not original, I am here to present them to you within this blog along with my tweaks to the recipe…

AP or After Pasta reasonable substitutes:

Enter the Shirataki noodles. They are gelatinous, translucent Japanese noodles, not unlike chewing a rubber band and they are branded as “Miracle Noodles.” They are made from the konjac yam, are low in calories and shiratakicarbohydrates and can be substituted in a variety of recipes that call for pasta if you can get used to the texture.

They are mostly neutral in flavor, and thankfully do not taste like rubber bands, but they do not mimic regular spaghetti. If you rinse them long enough under hot running water and dry them up enough in a fry pan or in the microwave, I find their texture improves, and they can absorb the tastes you cook with. I have also found that they need a sauce that has some cheese added to it, and maybe a bit of xanthan gum to make the sauce adhere to the noodles in order to make them fully palatable.

The one thing that might put you off is the incredible fishy odor (though they’re 100 percent vegan) that emanates from the plant they are made from. I quite like them with curries and in stir-fry and soups. It feels like you are cheating when you have them in the dishes you prepare.

Spaghetti squash cooked in the microwave and put into a colander to drain is also a good base for your favourite sauce.

This lasagna recipe is pretty good although very time consuming to pre-cook the eggplant and it can be a little slimy as well due to the texture of the eggplant:

But the be-all and end-all of pasta substitutes is the AP or After Pasta lasagna from the Against all Grain Website. I have to say that this recipe is my absolute favorite, blow me out of the water, return to full blown Pastafarianism without having to break away from my lifestyle. Thanks to the pasta gods who hover over the low-carbing pioneer chefs for their coconut flour lasagna noodles!

Recipe for Crepes…or tortillas…or lasagna noodles (grain-free, paleo)
AUTHOR: Danielle Walker –
• 6 large eggs
• 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
• 3 tablespoons coconut flour, sifted
• 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
• 1 teaspoon starch *arrowroot, or corn starch etc.
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning (my addition)
• ½ tsp garlic powder (optional and my addition)
• Coconut oil or butter for pan
(Yields 10 crepes) These can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge or frozen for later use.
Note from Anita: I have a large frying pan, so I just got 8 crepes. It was enough to make a generous 9 by 13 pan of Lasagna. I do not cut them into strips, I just tear them to fit the pan as needed. The cheese will make the pieces of noodles a uniform sheet.
1. Whisk the crepe ingredients together in a bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes while the pan heats so the coconut flour can absorb the liquid, then whisk again.
2. Heat a crepe pan or skillet with enameled surface over medium-high heat.
3. Melt a small amount of oil or butter in the pan, swirling to coat the bottom and sides.
4. Pour ¼ cup of the batter into the hot pan, turning the pan in a circular motion with one hand so to spread the batter thinly around the pan. Alternatively, use a spatula to quickly spread the batter. Fill any open spots with a drop of batter to make sure the pan is fully covered.
5. Cook for 1 minute until the edges start to lift. Gently work a spatula under the crepe and flip it over. Cook on the second side for 15 seconds and turn out on a plate.
6. Continue with the remaining batter, stacking the crepes on a plate as you work. Add a little more oil to the pan every 3-4 crepes or if they begin to start sticking.

Click here for a quick sauce to go with this lasagna:

anita’s throw-together sauce

The lasagna has been rated delicious by regular non low-carb guests I have served it to. I always test my recipes to ensure that I am not in some sort of a low-carb fantasy zone when the foods are so delicious.

So from my perplexing Pasta past of passing on pasta and now passing on the (low-carb) pasta preference, this Pastafarian is now contained within the low-carb closet as she eats noodles that are like rubber bands. Baut with delicious sauce upon them, they kills the carb cravings. The rubber bands rank in third place, are easy to prepare and once you get over the fishy smell, what is there not to like?

The spaghetti squash noodles rank in second place and are another delicious alternative. While they are nothing like rubber bands or the shirataki in texture, they aren’t much like pasta either. However if you have a blue-ribbon sauce simmering on the back burner, the squash noodles with sauce and cheese say “bravissimo” to the latent Italian within.

The Pastafarian in me still likes the pasta and in first place is the winner, the lasagna made with ketogenic grain free coconut flour noodles causes the lasciviousness and the licentiousness and the dreams of all that is pasta to become a reality once again in my life. Viva Pasta!

Basta about Pasta. Enjoy!

Au revoir, a la prochaine, goodbye until we meet again!!!

From the Against All Grain Website

From the Against All Grain Website

Crumbs that Matter & Dealing with Bread Cravings on Lower Carb


When it comes to idiomatic expressions, some of them are ridiculous in that they no longer mean the same thing as they did post World War II. For example, when referring to one “sowing their wild oats,” the generation X young people have no idea what a 50 something person who is a wordsmith is talking about. My young friend figured it out, but it took some doing for her to determine that those who sow their wild oats are following their bodily passions without discretion.

My job involving international students has made me aware of how often we use North American idiomatic expressions which are difficult to explain and perhaps difficult for someone to understand when they are not a native English speaker. The international person probably would not understand the sayings of “he or she knows which side their bread is buttered on,” or when something is a person’s “bread and butter” it refers to the person’s main source of sustenance.

In the 1950s, or maybe even before with the Beatniks of the 1940s, bread or dough referred to money or cash, plain and simple. “Breaking bread” may conjure up visions of a French crusty baguette with crumbs flying through the air and resting all over the table cloth as it is torn apart by some hungry diners at a restaurant, but in essence if they are breaking bread they are involved in more than the sharing of the giant breadstick. In fact there may not even be a loaf of bread involved when “breaking bread,” but they come together to share a meal and exchange stories on life’s trials and joys.

At this point you might be wondering, “Anita if you are following a moderate-modified Keto/Paleo lifestyle, what does bread have to do with this as bread isn’t allowed on the program!?!” And you are right, there are some very succinct principles involved with the paleo/keto lifestyle which DO NOT include having anything with bread, bread-crumbs, or bread-like anything. For a mini-intro to the paleo/keto lifestyle, please see the following links: great intro to Paleo lifestyle

And while paleo/keto do not espouse eating bread, I am a realist and here to say the bread cravings may come your way while following the said lifestyle and you need to know how to deal with them. It’s not surprising that bread cravings remain in the person following lower carb as from the outset of civilization, bread has been imbued with special meaning. And because bread or a reasonable facsimile thereof has been around since 4000 BC according to my research upon the internet, it is no small wonder the active low-carber misses the very staff of life, the comfort food of their youth and of their high-carbing days. Bread has been a vital food source for people of every nation around the globe for many, many years and in a ketogenic, lower carb walk, it is a craving that never quite leaves you according to my experience.

Bread – The Staff of Life?

The reference to bread as the staff of life conjures up the image of a lowly loaf of bread as a great support in the form of a staff–a large walking stick you could lean on along your journey or (beat off anyone that opposes the introduction of bread into the keto/paleo lifestyle :)), however, today’s bread would not provide that support as it is not particularly nourishing. So would a whole-grain bag of bagels be the staff of life or the cause of disease?  This is an interesting question…

When we consider the writings of Dr. William Davis in his book Wheat Belly and his findings with regards to the Eikorn (literally meaning “single grain”) wheat of yesteryear and the genetically modified wheat of today, one sees the need to re-examine our eating habits where it concerns the ingestion of wheat.

According to an article written by Jane McDougall at, (and I paraphrase) what we call wheat is a distant relative to what our grandparents called wheat as today’s wheat is a genetically modified hybrid, a franken-grain as some people call it. The transformation of wheat into the “Franken-grain” to address world-hunger was no doubt orchestrated as a good deed to mankind as increasing yields would lessen the number of people starving in our world, hence the motive behind the process was probably done in a positive vein.

Wheat crops in the days of old were about 4 ft. high and crop yields were affected by climate, pestilence, etc.; all of the natural variables that could affect the outcome of any agricultural society. The wheat back then was adaptable and hearty. Modern wheat is a dwarfed version of the ancestor’s wheat and grows well due to irrigation, pest control and the nitrates used. The grains are openly exposed thereby making harvest faster and cheaper. The yield is ten times higher.

Dr. Davis is a cardiologist who began his own inquiry into the effects of wheat as he explored ways to manage his patients’ diabetic issues. In terms of its glycemic index, the load which measures the comparative effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar, table sugar has a GI of 59; a slice of whole grain bread has a GI of 72.

According to Davis, the culprit here is the highly digestible carbohydrate, amylopectin A, which is more detrimental to the body than white sugar. New science suggests avoiding blood sugar surges is essential to good health. A high GI number will spike your blood sugar. Diabetes is providing the clues here. According to Davis, diabetes is “a proving ground for accelerated aging.” Mismanaged blood sugar issues take a hideous toll on diabetics and non-diabetics alike. What you want to avoid are advanced glycation end-products.”

The blogger at has a phenomenal article about bread and presents a detailed study as to what has changed along the way. Here are some of the differences in the bread of old and the bread of the present:

The single most outstanding difference is yeast. Baker’s yeast, also known as bread yeast, used almost universally today for making bread, became widely popular just in the last century. Before then, if you wanted an airy loaf it required a lengthy fermentation period with sourdough cultures.

Robertson, the author of Tartine Bread on the topic of French breads, by which we can generalize to all breads, that the introduction of baker’s yeast was the beginning of the end of real bread: “As bakers added more yeast to their dough, they found they could inflate their dough quickly and omit the time-consuming bulk fermentation. This made their bakery production more efficient, but the quality of the bread was radically degraded. Bakers were aerating the dough instead of fermenting it, sacrificing flavor and altering the very nature of French bread–the soul of the bread had gone from it. Bread that was once revered around the world now gained the reputation for staling within hours. . . Although bread was still considered the staple of the French diet, historians note that bread consumption in France sharply declined after the 1940s.” (p. 125) As French bakers succumbed to “progress” so did bakers around the world.

Stored as a whole grain, wheat and other grains can remain viable for a long time. But once ground into flour, the same material goes rancid very quickly. For whole wheat the time limit is months and for refined flour maybe a year. The taste and smell of rancid flour is noticeable, but probably only perceivable to those with attuned senses. We’re probably all used to the flavor and smell of rancid flour by now since most of the flour products we eat are probably rancid. However, more than the flavor degrades, the nutritional quality of the flour changes.

Classical bread was composed of three ingredients: flour, water, and salt. Today you find all kinds of fillers and conditioners in bread, from refined oils to who knows what. Obviously that makes a difference.
(end of citation)

Our all-time North American favourites include bagels that are equal to four slices of bread. Most of our “Franken” breads contain ingredients that one needs to be a chemist to interpret–all of those delicious chemicals that inhibit mould, keep the bread fresh and spongy, and make us want four slices instead of one. Memories of Wonder bread as a child can make me salivate even now, although Mom always made the best bread and cinnamon rolls. And because our North American use of white flour has been so extreme, we have the increase in type 2 diabetes and the various ailments that go along with mega-carbs in the diet.


Many have decided to forego the wheat and have jumped on the gluten free bandwagon. For some, that might be the answer, but for me, the higher carb count of the gluten-free breads did not make a lot of sense. Many advocates of “gluten-free” have gained a ton of weight as the carbohydrates within the gluten-free arena are off the charts. With needing to stay on the low-carb highway, I began experimenting with what I could come up with. I tried the flax meal breads that were more like dense cake, and that was okay in the beginning, but as I set out to seek the staff of life a la lower carb, I tweaked a couple of bread recipes that have been winners in my books.

But even with the re-introduction of bread into my diet, moderation has been the key! I have my bread occasionally and it is made with vital wheat gluten and various other ingredients as it is difficult to try and concoct a bread recipe without gluten. Hence, my recipes are not for those in the gluten-free camp. And again, I slice the bread very thin and I enjoy it in moderation.

I don’t claim to be an expert at anything but I know what has worked for me, and it can work for you if you are willing to do some baking/cooking for yourself and work a modified keto/paleo type of plan.  So, rather than casting my bread upon the waters, I will cast my bread out there into the blogosphere and into the low-carb continuum.

It is my wish that you be happy on the road to health, that the wind would be at your back and that there may be (low-carb) bread in your house at all times! Here are a couple of bread recipes for you to try…

Island Girl’s Rye Bread a la Anita (I changed the soy flour to nut meal)

Rye bread low carb (island girl)

And another based on Gabi’s World Famous Bread on the lowcarbluxury website:
protein bread Anita

Enjoy the breads, enjoy the crumbs, but don’t enjoy the whole loaf in one sitting, unless you are breaking bread with fellow family members and friends! 🙂

Au revoir, a la prochaine…Goodbye until we meet again!



The Jouney ContinuesCover-Wellness-Roadmap

There are days that I wonder if everything has been for naught as it seems that my journey has been a full 50+ years. While I continue on the lower-carb lifestyle I have adopted, there are a few observations and practices I have put into practice along the route that I would like to share with you the reader.

I do know that when I am weary and over-tired, I want to eat, and the urge to medicate with food seems to hit me. So adequate rest is important. Overstuffing yourself with food is never an answer. When wanting to graze, go to bed. You won’t feel better with the extra chocolate, or the éclair, of the bag of popcorn. You need to eat nutritionally dense food that is in the allowable category on the low-carb lifestyle and to be savvy in your food choices in order to stave off these urges. If your foods are nutritionally dense, you are less likely to crave. If you are still hungry, eat more of the allowable foods.

Self-acceptance in the now is paramount and where you end up in terms of weight loss is where you end up. Assumptions about how you will look, or how you wish to look after you reach goal weight can be fantasies setting you up for a fall.

quote-on-self-acceptanceLooking back, my whole life seems to have centered around the pounds on the scale and how I never could measure up to the ideals of what a woman should look like. To my dismay, at my heaviest, the measurements for my bust, waist and hips varied by ½ to 1 inch difference from each other no matter how fat I got, or how slim I became. As I stated before, I thought I would have a few curves under my poundage.

These assumptions presented themselves in conjunction with buying into the deceit of trying to attain what was “normal” in terms of body image and weight presented by the media, the movies, the magazines, the illusions of what marketing moguls construe as “normal.”

So what is “normal?” Is normal the Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitts of this world? Most of us are so swayed by the media that we like to think so. When it comes to normal…Bishop TD Jakes said it well…Normal is non-existent. Normal is a facade, reasonable facsimile of what the media has presented. There is no such thing as normal…” Droopy body parts, graying hair, fine lines and sallow skin is a part and parcel of being “normal” as you age. For most North Americans, there seems to be a negative connotation attached to age and all of the modifications to the body it entails.

While there is a thrill and a rush associated to being thinner, in some ways it is debilitating as these afore-mentioned media perceptions make it difficult if not impossible to coast into acceptance of one’s self. Out of sheer will we have to coast into some form of acceptance or it will drive you crazy. You have had years of influence telling you what you should be, what you should look like, how you need to be a size 2 while you are round, full-figured, obese, overweight with a large BMI. You coast into a level of ease where your body is comfortable with itself as you lose the pounds but the battle of the mind continues to roar. It will take time to reprogram those thoughts. A literal boxing match within your head will ensue, but it needs to be silenced. I feel great and photos indicate that I look pretty good, but I have baggy arms, baggy legs and a baggy everything.

Does it make a difference if my skin is baggy? It shouldn’t. Does it bother me? It does from time to time, but in our youth oriented society, some of us need to get old and set the precedent for others that aging is okay, natural and acceptable. Like Tony the tiger always roared, “I feel G-R-E-A-T!!!!” And I do! I have an internal reserve of energy that has helped me shift to being focused on the internal things of the soul and spirit as they are the lasting qualities that will enrich and help to make life better for those around me as I love them with open arms while showing them how to love themselves along the way. The eternal things are the things that matter most, and if others can see God in you by the love you show, then you will have lived well.


The outwardly focused society of our present day is creating a monster with multiple tentacles that robs those so outwardly focused on their appearances that they seek out the next, the best, the most outlandish injection, operation or fountain of youth in order to compete in this world as one of the “beautiful” people. An outwardly focused society makes the rules by how it judges beauty when beauty is based on perception, and it in fact is open to interpretation and preferences of the individual. In essence it steals the beauty God has conferred on each person. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He makes all things beautiful in His time”. ..Not plastic surgery, not exercise, not extreme weight loss.  Balance is the key and when we are focused on service to others, and are not wasting energy on thinking about all that is vanity, we are more God conscious and love flows out to others.

I have walked the lower carb lifestyle long enough to know how well I feel when I limit carbs. At times I fall off the plan (and not the planet) but I do not use it as an excuse to continue in the high carb way, but to return immediately to the program of lower carb. As your mentality shifts and you adapt to your new level of leanness and mental clarity which comes with the lower carb/healthy fats way of eating, you don’t want to compromise the level of wellness you will feel. I would have to say that it took a good 4-6 months before my mind made the correlation as to how my body felt.

The menopause fog that seems to plague most middle aged women had rolled in and no amount of sounding the fog horn would make it dissipate, but eating lower carb burned the fog off the way the sun’s warmth does in the natural world. Now I am afraid to conjure up the fog again, so staying off the refined carbs becomes a choice for the health of it. I never stuck with a low-carb program long enough to feel this mental clarity in the past. Now I am convinced of the need for this mental clarity because I have lived it and continue to do so!


Lapses in any new way of eating are inevitable, but they are not the end of the world. Thinking that the lapse or descent into the old way of eating is the end of the world is what will make you fail. I was arrogant enough to stand on my soapbox at various times in the past and proclaim that I would not return to the way I ate in the past. But before I knew it, I was right back there feeding my face with a frenzy. The difference now is that I refuse to camp in the valley of the shadow of no return. Do not allow self-condemnation to steal your efforts to run the race towards health. Blowing it is never a possibility when the all or none philosophy has been chopped down at the root and put into the incinerator to burn. Don’t camp there! Set fire to the thoughts and eat well from that moment on!

Dissatisfaction rises up within every human being at various times in our lives. Sometimes it is due to comparing ourselves with others, or having our hopes and dreams dashed, or not met in the way that we wanted. If I begin coasting towards rehearsing my dissatisfaction with life and don’t silence it within my being with the attitude of gratitude, then the undesirable and familiar behaviours will return and I will want to eat all that is not good for me. You must be on guard against rehearsing your disappointments in life with the ferocity a mother bear guards her cubs against harm. You are never so far removed from the old thought processes that they will not resurface and resurrect with a vengeance. It is easy to return to old habits. The formation of new habits is a process and a journey…. one that your old habits will wage war against. You must choose right thoughts, make right decisions and cleave to the wellness you feel by eating lower carb rather than indulging in a mindless food binge.

Feelings should never be trusted as the yardsticks of truth. Many days I do not “feel” beautiful even though the massive weight loss has made me feel better about myself. I am lithe, flexible and can perform many feats I would only dream of before but as for beauty, it emanates from the inside, from a deep-seated confidence that nothing can shatter. Makeup and fancy clothing have nothing to do with it. It is a sense of self that says “yes I accept me as I am, because God made me and He loves me.” Until we reach that point in life where we are comfortable in our own skins regardless of weight or desirable measurements, beauty will be as elusive as the proverbial fountain of youth, and that feeling of ugliness will manifest itself in many guises: be it in other forms of addiction, reactions, and undesirable temperaments.


We don’t like to major on these imperfections but there is some merit in having these imperfections such as an out of control appetite. A great lesson can be learned from the Apostle Paul, the Jew turned Christian who once killed the Christians in his zeal as a Pharisee. Paul is also known for his thorn in the flesh, a condition that he asked God to heal three times. God did not heal Paul but his answer to Paul was, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”‎2 Corinthians 12:10

When the old mindsets are echoing in the distance, or the old patterns about binging and craving the wrong foods beat a path to your door, His grace is sufficient for all of it, and it takes a humility and a perseverance as well as a choice of doing what is right to stay on the path of health and making better or excellent food choices. Because the example of apostle Paul is a fill in the blank type of ailment, it makes the power of God sufficient for every ill or every craving, or every bad eating day that may come your way, 🙂

Any thoughts or comments or stories to share?au revoir

Au revoir, a la prochaine. Goodbye until we meet again.

Observations Along The Way on the Lower Carb Route

Wounds, Woes and Losing your Way on the Road to Losing Weight…

lost-signI am in the process of re-vamping my book about the successful path to weight loss where I lost a ton of weight to the tune of 163 lbs. over a three-year period some 16 years ago. I could not release it the way it was because I thought I had arrived, only to be reminded of yet another failure in the pound paring process and weight loss. My self-esteem was no more, and it took a long time to dust myself off. The content of my initial book is interesting as after arriving at a 163 lb. loss, I write: “this was the first breakthrough in the arena of the mind and the thought processes. Gone was the all or nothing mentality” or so I thought.

I was proud of my accomplishment and thought the loss of the weight was rooted in reality, but while my arches fell, and my weight fell off, and I soaked up the compliments of how good I looked, it only lasted for three years. My “balanced” diet consisted of a large bagel with peanut butter and a banana almost every day along with a couple of cups of coffee and perhaps a light evening snack. I would walk between 6 to 10 kilometers a day and just had to stave off hunger by sheer will of the mind. I was hungry all of the time but man I looked good! This particular weight loss episode occurred during the low-fat campaign that everyone in the medical field believed was right at the time. The food pyramid looked good for all intents and purposes as it seemed to espouse that no matter how much you ate so long as it was whole grain and low-fat, you would be healthy and not gain weight by implication and who were we to question what medical science put forth?

My post-weight loss thoughts from this episode 16 years ago include “what role did faith play in all of this?” While fully convinced that I had metamorphosed from the caterpillar to the butterfly, I see now that denial was a comfortable place to dwell and some bad habits did not die, but merely skulked beneath the radar. The “new and improved thinner me” with regenerated thought patterns (yeah, right!) still made pilgrimages to the bookstore on a quest to find the latest trend, gimmick or aid that would solve my weight problem which would in turn solve all of my other problems. (We weighty ones are always rooted in reality she said tongue in cheek with foot in mouth!) The search was futile but I continued to scout every magazine, every tabloid or every television talk show for the latest discovery in the area of fighting fat.
During one particular trip to the bookstore a book entitled: “It’s not what you’re eating, it’s what’s eating you” jumped out at me. I gave it an iota of thought and my response was, “Yeah right!”… Little did I know how much truth was packed within that title…and although I thought it was all poppycock and a silly title for an article, I fell yet again into my self-destructive habits.

I knew in my heart that this title embodied more truth than I cared to admit to and quickly dismissed it by thinking about exercising more, having more self-control, more discipline, less lust for the decadent goodies and all of the things that affect weight gain, or weight loss. I thought about having my jaws wired, thought about having bariatric surgery, and thought perhaps that just getting violently ill might be the answer to my prayers for thinness.

I was being chewed up at the very root by what was eating me. It was a veritable flesh expanding disease rooted in the very heart of emotional matter. Because I appear to be quite a happy individual, I could not identify or label what was causing my deep wounds as pop psychology makes everything into an illness, a personality disorder, or a condition needing pills or psychotherapy.

After some reading, and some study, I have seen these deep inner wounds referred to as soul wounds. We are more than body alone and possess a soul and a spirit. These wounds to the soul that are so deep and usually unaddressed and uncared for fester and cause behaviours, or contribute to excess “avoir du poids” or fat, or will cause a person to lash out or to internalize the pain of it all. They are wounds that eat at the core of who you are and no amount of rationalization will affect a change in what you believe. They cripple you and disable you from making progress as they are deep within a fortress of their own self-protection and sometimes remain unknown even to the one they affect.

You may have made some inroads into naming and identifying your soul wounds, but family members that you have tried to share your wounding with will sometimes think you are crazy, or not rooted in reality and that nothing like this happened to you. However, these wounds are caused by extremely traumatic experiences such as neglect, physical or verbal abuse and the like. They are viewed from the personal vantage point of the afflicted one. Different people are affected in different ways by their personal soul wounds. Hence, none of our family members can validate our feelings or our remembrances and they will most likely dismiss you as being out of your mind.

“The nature of a soul wound is personal and deeply painful. It has the ability to filter into every area of your life including your relationship with food, hormonal disturbances, and excess body fat. It can completely distort how you perceive yourself and who God intended for you to be.”

Much has been written about self-transformation, forgiveness, self-forgiveness, self-help books of every kind by many professionals. Some have found peace through these books and the techniques they put forth. Others like myself have had advances and set-backs as I tried to wash over the threshold of pain because the self-help books relied upon self. Self was already broken therefore how could self help me? Most of the time, the process was too painful and my disillusionment of life just kept me feeding what was hurting most. The painful stuff would cause the need for scratching the itch, and soothing the hurt and with every bite I took to allay the discomfort, I would gain another 20 or 30 lbs. and the hunger would continue with voracity that was never satisfied. Like others who are addicted and cross addicted, the soul wounds kept me in a state of having learned to live with my wounded soul as anytime I tried to share my thoughts about it with anyone, I was ridiculed and told I was crazy.

I am not here to present myself as one who has all the answers, because I have fought this battle of the bulge for 57 years and have had a modicum of success for a while, and then a return to my wounds. It suggest that something was still missing in the equation. I am not a medical practitioner, simply a person blogging about my experiences in this weight loss show-down.

In the same river of denial, I had the dinghy of faith to float on, or so I thought. I applied the scriptures, memorized them, believed them to the best of my ability, but as I now realize that I was in the river of denial where faith was concerned and not floating atop the dinghy, it has been an eye-opener. I have always had an active imagination so the dinghy sounded good. The reality was such that I believed I was in faith, but my faith component was dormant and neatly folded under the bed, or inside the refrigerator so that I could at least reference it in my soap-box tirades. Was I in faith at all times?  Most likely not, but within the deception of my heart, I really thought I was applying faith as I could quote the best of the scriptures and fully persuaded myself that I was applying strong faith to my situation.

Hebrews 11:6New International Version (NIV)
6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” In the river of denial, even if I thought I was floating above it in my dinghy, I was not pleasing God. In 3 John 1:2 the Bible says- Beloved, I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” And in Hebrews 12 :1 the Bible says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Well this Chiquita was interested in the prospering part without the good health as that was optional in the pursuit of thinness, and I was interested in laying aside the weight without considering the sin of disbelieving that God’s grace was sufficient for me, that he could restore my soul, that he could spackle the ruts and rivulets within my soul wounds and bind me up and make me brand new in order to run a race!!!! This was impossible in my way of thinking at this point in time….

Faith’s Part in Everything
Faith has to be applied to everthing including health. Faith is interactive and not a neat garment folded under the bed or hung in a closet to be taken out at will. The Bible calls for childlike faith and in order to fix anything and everything so deep within the fiber of our being, our faith has to be such that we have confidence that Father can fix all that is broken.

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible!”

– Thomas Aquinas

While my faith has always appeared to be a negative 3000 on my faith barometer, and I would tell myself that I do have faith, so much of my life has been compartmentalized with a “laissez faire” or “whatever will be, will be” blasé attitude due to distorted and broken thinking. For example, we can kid ourselves that every day we show up for work that we are in faith mode, but in reality, when the paycheque is coming in regularly, our faith is not active faith as nothing is required of us except turning up for work. When everything is going well, the river of denial beckons as active faith is not really needed as we grow more and more self—reliant even if we are unaware of the shift in our thinking.

I speak for myself here of course. After the self-reliance stage, we generally have periods of trouble, panic, lack, worry, fear, disbelief and loss. And in our struggles, fear mode sets in and we once again activate our faith. The hills and valleys of life that happen can literally drive you around the bend when your faith is dormant. It is easy to be comfortable and not in active faith mode. I think I camp there a lot in the fear mode, versus the faith mode.

With the serial dieter mentality about certain foods or behaviours being good and others being bad, I see now how this feaster who got fatter forgot to apply the faith in the equation. Rather than applying faith to the situation that this could be done and I could reach a healthier weight, I waffled within fear instead.

Many messages have been heralded from the pulpit that “the opposite of faith is fear!” And while most of us do not think we live in fear necessarily, have we completely renewed our minds, bodies and souls? Diet programs only address one component of losing weight, but checking your faith meter requires that you also check your soul, spirit, motives, blisters, boils, aches and pains and of course we must throw God in the mix. We are so limited by our thought processes over the years that have been programmed into us by our grandparents, parents, friends, acquaintances, strangers, peers, society as a whole, lies portrayed by the media and most of all ourselves.

I have seen the acronym used for FEAR the four-letter word that doesn’t make the cut of the other dirty words. It can stand for ‘False Evidence Appearing Real’. Some of us are so gripped by fear, we don’t want to get up off the couch, or put an end to our cycles of binge-eating. The shoulda-woulda-coulda song becomes a mantra of not attaining anything at all. It all boils down to excuses. This point is not made to make light of deep emotional soul wounding, but knowledge is power when you truly are seeking a transformation.

Faith in Action

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for. New International Version Could I see my thinner self on the many treks to weight loss? Not really. Do I see it now? Yes I do. Did I use faith in the process…Probably not, at least not in the way it was required. The old cobwebs stuck to my way of thinking and I failed to renew my mind. I chose instead to sing the song of defeat rather than victory.

I knew in my mind that any victory attained would be by the hand of God but chose to float in the river of denial for too long. Faith needs to be applied to everything we do and at this later stage of life, it is applied triple thick and has a quadruple layer of gauze over it :). I find my inspiration from Abraham the father of the faithful whom Genesis says specifically believed God (Gen. 15:6). If I could attain one iota of what Abraham espoused, I could put my faith barometer in the closet as I would not need it.

“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Heb. 11:8, based on Gen. 12:1). Abraham was not a street person without riches and land. He no doubt had all of the comforts of the day, but his heart was so open to what God would have him do, he obeyed. That was pure faith. He could have remained in Mesopotamia, the hub of all that was rich and culturally advanced and not taken God’s promises seriously, but he did not. He was promised an heir and an inheritance. He was so old that most of us would wonder what the dude had been smoking, but for all who know the story, Isaac was born to them in their very old age.

And just as Abraham sojourned to find the new land, it was a journey that too him away from everything he knew and he blindly trusted God every step of the way. I choose to look to Abraham in this trek to better health.

The New International Version has an interesting recipe I wish to leave with you:

2 Peter 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My addendum to this verse is that along with faith, believe that God as the all-powerful one can change your ways, heal the hurts and make the path to health much straighter.

If I could add to Peter’s verses above, I would say add Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg and Cloves along with a few other things, and you will have a loaf that will propel you on the way to health when you cut the carbs and still have a treat to look forward to.

low-carb-gingerbread-anitagingerbread loaf

Here’s to low-carbing and health!

“Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe!!!” – Gail Devers

Au revoir, a la prochaine…Goodbye until we meet again.

Negative Body Image–Imaginations without Substance

fat-in-mirrorBody image is such a twisted web of deceit in our outwardly focused society that I wanted to share some of my thoughts on it all. I mentioned in my last post that my thoughts during periods when I was slimming ranged from finally having an attractive figure and seeing my coke bottle figure being sculpted  and brought to light as the diet chiseled away the layers of fat. The slimmer me revealed my straight up and down shape without hips, or a waist. The reflection of the slimmer me in the mirror did not look any thinner to me, although my clothes were loosening up.  My longing for a coke bottle figure became a joke, as my Coke had been poured out and more disappointment ensued after the toil and struggle of total deprivation became my existence without the voluptuous figure lurking beneath the layers of lipids. So let’s talk about body image and dashed expectations…

I was trying to be extremely original as I didn’t particularly want to address all of the other angst the other “once fat, now thinner” persons might have walked through. I know that body image has played into many things in my growth process, both physically and mentally and at 57, I am sad to say that I exerted much energy into my perception of who I was, what I looked like, how I didn’t fit in, how my life was so much more barren than others’ lives appeared to be. It defined who I was, in a non-definitive way as I looked to the media, dieting tips, doctors, in-laws, out-laws, John or Jane Smith on the street to give me a sense of definition in how they reacted to me, positively or negatively. I wish I could have been the plump femme fatale who had it going on (either in her own mind, or swimming within her river of denial) and who exuded the confidence of Queen Latifah, or any of the ladies who rejoice in their girth. Not me, I had to go down the “die-it” road. Yes, the diet road is very much the road of death in more ways than one as it is murderous on the mind, let alone detrimental to the body when it is a fad “die-it.”

fat skinny mirror

As previously stated, when the going was good and I dieted successfully, the truth remained that no matter how much I lost, it was never enough, and the frustration of not looking like the coke bottle figure under all of the layers was like a never ending treadmill run. The coke had been poured out and there was nothing left. I would still be on that treadmill today if it had not been for ill health and the type 2 diabetes diagnosis. I owe much to that proclamation of bad news. .

Although body image is a predominately female struggle (at approximately 97% according to my non-scientific research), it does not affect women alone. Approximately 43 percent of men report body dissatisfaction. Men also had more than 1 million cosmetic procedures last year, contributing to a grand total of $12 billion spent on such surgical and non-surgical procedures in 2013. Imagine how rich we are making the plastic surgeons of our country!!! I am not against plastic surgery, but when you think of it in terms of a minimum of 12 billion dollars, and most of it is probably cosmetic, it makes me shudder!

Another article I read stated that in a survey given to college/university female students asked about the frequency of their dieting, the overall response was “often” and “always.” They were also asked about eating disorder behaviors such as the purging, extreme exercise, etc. they exhibit. An estimated 64 percent of college-aged women exhibit some form of eating disorder behavior. At a time when they should be enjoying the life of a student, with rallies, and football games, and parties, the media message is being broadcast that “the thinner, the better” is the penultimate as a thin body is a symbol of control, a cherished virtue in our culture. While food in and of itself is neither good nor bad, not eating food is a way of being “good” in many a person’s mind. It is unfortunate but some eating disorder behaviours can be a great sense of accomplishment in those affected by wanting a “good=thin” body when it is what gives you an all-encompassing purpose that gives meaning to your life. These statistics are alarming for health reasons and while we pursue concentrating on ourselves and things that we can’t change, women are starving themselves to a point where they look like Auschwitz survivors. Continue reading