OK, so I lied. Well, not really– I wouldn’t do that. But, I did say that I broke the addiction and believed it, yet food looked better to me. After dinner, I craved a sweet dessert. And, I succumbed. I found myself eating more calories. In short, I do what we often do best– delude ourselves. It has been 3 weeks since I re-addicted myself to carbohydrates, which– if you’ve read my book or followed my blogs– is re-addicting myself to food. If one craves carbohydrates, why does one eat more food? Because both legitimate hunger and craving for carbs feel the same way– hunger, rapidly becoming intense hunger. The only way to know how much of which it is, is to break the carb addiction and notice what happens to your appetite.
I had been averaging 1360 calories/day and losing about 10 lbs in 3 weeks. In the three weeks after getting re-addicted to carbs, I found my daily intake had increased to 1875 calories and my weight loss dropped to 5 lbs. Wow! Talk about eye-opening! All along I had been satisfied with an average of 1200, more or less, calories/day and a few indulgences had increased this by 500 calories/day, all without me realizing it. One flaw of my Calories3 spreadsheet is that the average calories/day shown is over the entire period tracked, so it hides the recent trends. Perhaps better might be a running average of the daily calories over the previous week, which would alert one to such trends. But, even being aware of this tendency still fooled me and provided me with yet more insight as to how all this works. Yes, I am still losing weight, I am feeling better all the time, I can wear clothes that merely gathered dust for years, and so on. All good. But, unbeknownst to me, my lack of strictness resulted in my getting re-addicted to carbs, despite my belief otherwise at the time. During the past three weeks, my daily calorie intake has ranged from 1025 to 3210. How odd that one day I would be satisfied with 1025 calories and another, 3210. This is further information as to what certain foods do to a person’s appetite. And, yes, I have noticed my appetite increasing. I get hungry earlier and feel it more intensely if I don’t eat right away, just as before, when I wasn’t losing weight. Clearly, my blood sugar is cycling again.
So, what now? Well, I was going to write that “I have a handle on it now and last week’s calories were much less than the first week’s after Superbowl calories. But, when I calculated that, I had been averaging 1810 calories that first week and 1860 calories last week. The trend is UP, not down! I am further deluding myself despite writing about deluding myself. Wow! That, alone, should set off all sorts of alarm bells, and it has! Not only has my indulgence in carbs resulted in me eating MORE carbs, but those carbs want still more. Unchecked, I would be right back to where I started…. again…. as I am sure many of you have experienced.
I guess I have to face the facts. I am a foodaholic. Unlike most people who can drink alcohol without becoming alcoholics, or most people who can eat whatever and maintain a healthy weight, I am not one of those people. And, I am sure there are alcoholics who drink an occasional drink, then with a burst of resolve, quit at that, despite their cravings, but doing so is playing with fire. Several people close to me have quit smoking cigarettes, in the past, only to reach for one during some emotional crisis or “only when I am out drinking” or “only at parties” or “____”– they are deluding themselves, as I have been regarding food. You too?
Does this mean that I can never have another dessert? Never have “fries with that”? Never have a pizza? Yes and no. I can, but if I do, I am opening the door to a slippery slope. The cravings will return even after that one, innocuous, indulgence that passes through the body without increasing weight if done less than once/week. If one has the discipline to indulge JUST once, in a week, then with iron-clad resolve, go back to their low-carb eating, then they will be able to enjoy that occasional pizza, dessert, or other high-carb food. But, what about the rest of us? Only YOU can answer that since it is so subjective. If you lack willpower when it comes too food, then you had best avoid the high-carb foods as much as possible. If you have iron-clad willpower, why are you even reading this, let alone struggling with your weight?
So again, what now? I am going to “tighten my belt”. No more daily 55-calorie beer or innocent glass of wine. No more Superbowl nachos or Valentine’s Day candy. I’m going to tough it out again, just as I did when I initially created the Weight Agency Method last July. And I thought I was doing exactly that after Superbowl, when I wrote that I had broken the addiction again. I was fooled because the effort this time was much less than the firs time and I thought I had it nailed. Maybe that’s why I didn’t take it so seriously and continued “cheating”…. “just a little”. I had beer, wine, whole-wheat pizza, and had added half a whole-wheat bagel to my ham and egg breakfast. It didn’t take much to derail me and you read the results, above. So, the bagel, the pizza, the beer, the wine, the chocolate, etc, is now a rare treat, not a frequent indulgence. And, the frequency seems to have more to do with the problem than the amount. An occasional, all-out glutton-fest may be easier to deal with than a single piece of chocolate or “only” half a whole wheat bagel when done daily or often. This brings me back to my original premise. It’s OK to occasionally go off the deep end, but do not delude yourself into continuing small amounts of it afterwards, or your effort will likely be undermined. And, if you do indulge, you must be prepared to religiously go back to your low-carb eating or your cravings and appetite will indeed return.
The body does not like to switch between easy-carb mode and fat-burning mode. The chemical changes in the body do not occur instantly and take a few days to fully change over. Once you are in fat-burning, lipolysis mode, where your daily energy needs are supplied by your low-carb eating and any additional energy needs come from the fat stored on your belly or hips, you don’t get hungry. As your blood sugar drops, your body converts stored fats into ketones, which are burnt for energy, effectively boosting your blood sugar and maintaining a low appetite. Eating one high-carb meal does not completely switch you back to carb-burning, but begins to do so. My appetite now is far lower than what it was a year ago, but MUCH higher than it was a month ago. So, I need to restore my body chemistry to full fat-burning mode and this means even lower carbs (for 2 weeks) than one can prudently enjoy later.
Admittedly, the Weight Agency Method was written by an engineer for other, like-minded folks. I wanted a fool-proof method to document my calories in, weight lost, and to calculate BMR, BMI and to note the psychological feelings. It has worked wonderfully and has been effective for me to much better understand myself and obesity and, for the first time in my life, feel like I have control over my weight. I plan to write a simplified edition of the booklet for people who hate numbers, and focus on principles only. But, for those of you who have purchased the book and find your eyes glazed over with “scientific crap and numbers”, skip over those parts and read the rest. Refined carbohydrates ARE addictive and the cravings result in increased appetites and more food consumption in general. Avoid ALL carbs (not healthy!) and your appetite will fall to almost nothing. Avoid refined carbs and starchy vegetables, and your appetite will fall dramatically, and you will be able to maintain this without hunger or discomfort. But, do NOT cheat, especially for the first two weeks! After that, you will have broken the addiction and will know how and what it takes. What you do after that is up to you. Some will be able to get away with more carbohydrates and/or more refined ones, than others can. Sadly, I am one who has to REALLY watch them.
Lastly, despite my weight continuing down, my blood pressure which had required medication dropped to the normal range, and recently has increased back to borderline. Is it the carbs? A gluten allergy? Some other allergy? I don’t yet know. But, it may be a gluten sensitivity of which I was unaware. Stay tuned on this. I will perform other experiments on myself and see if I can isolate the blood pressure’s increase to a particular food. Right now, wheat flour, is high on my list, but it could be any of them. Carbohydrates cause more water retention in the form of glycogen and that may be the causal factor. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, avoid getting re-addicted to carbs and nip it in the bud if you find yourself craving them.