Can a former vegetarian embrace a low carb lifestyle?

A funny thing happened to me last week. It had been awhile since I’d made brown rice, so I made a big pot of it. I was excited because I love brown rice, and I know it’s good for you. With brown rice you have to be patient. The short brown rice I buy takes about 40 minutes to cook, and another 25 minutes before it was sufficiently cool to eat. I wanted to have it as a breakfast cereal with raisins, some pineapple tidbits, a bit of shredded coconut, a few pieces of walnuts and whole milk. Mmm….doesn’t that sound good? If you’ve never tried it, don’t make a snap judgement. All cereals are made from grains including rice. This idea came from childhood when my dad told me how tasty rice is with milk and sugar. Of couse when I was growing up I made it with white rice.

So here it is early afternoon when I sit down and eat my bowl of rice….probably 3/4 cup of rice easily. Immediately after I finished eating it, I got really sleepy. I mean I felt as if someone had drugged me I was that sleepy. I’ve had this feeling before after my whole wheat multigrain pancakes, but not as bad. I knew it was carb heavy, but they were good carbs and I also had protein from the milk. No one likes to feel that tired in the middle of the day. For some time now I’ve been noticing that certain foods make me retain a bunch of water, or I’m tired after eating them. And if you’ve read my clean eating post, you know that I usually limit my whole grain carbs to once a day if at all for the most part. I had to figure this mystery out.

Interestingly enough my husband had started a low carb diet about 3 weeks ago. He and I are both lifetime Weight Watchers members, so it had probably been since college since he tried low carb. We’ve always had great success doing a variation of Weight Watchers at home, and I wasn’t sure why low carb was calling his name this time. It did leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth as back in the 90’s I had never believed it was a healthy way to eat. In my mind it conjures up lots of meat and fat, no veggies or fruit…and back when hubby did it in college I was a strict vegetarian. But I kept my mouth shut because he was motivated, and you all know how hard motivation is to come by at times.

Hubby’s 4 years of running had been derailed about 2.5 years ago after he got on statins for just a couple weeks. After years of being told of his high cholesterol, he finally gave in to his doctor and tried them. Big mistake!! As someone who could easily run 10 miles at the time, he immediately felt muscle fatigue and couldn’t run at all. Turns out that’s one of the side effects, and it’s pretty serious so he got off the medication. Since then he’s had jumps and starts here and there, but nothing like when he was running marathons and doing triathlons. And a bit of weight has crept on.

So back to this low carb thing. It was working for him (he’d already lost 7 pounds), and being ever conscious of health and wanting to support him…I decided to research this Atkins and the low carb thing. Not to mention I needed to make sure any meals I made fit into his eating plan. And what food blogger doesn’t love a challenge? I was also very surprised and intrigued when a few days into the program, he came to me and said, “Hey, this is very similar to the way YOU eat.” What? Really? Hmm….

So when the brown rice incident happened last week, I began thinking more about carbs. Even though the carbs in brown rice are considered good healthy carbs, whatever is happening in my body isn’t a good feeling. As a 40 year old busy mom of 3 I need all the energy I can get. I rarely eat my favorite pancakes anymore, or I’ll eat them for dinner since they also make me sleepy. I started thinking about how I would like to lose 8 to 10 pounds or a bit more, and if this plan he’s following is close to the way I already eat then maybe I’d give it a shot too. Especially since one of the benefits of low carb eating is that you have increased energy! Oh horrors…I was shocking myself…this long-time former vegetarian (over 8+ years) was going to try the protein-rich Atkins diet? I might just have to eat my words!!

Turns out like anything you don’t thoroughly research, I’d had preconceived notions (misconceptions) about the low carb way of eating. You eat veggies throughout the whole program, but just take out the starchy ones in the beginning (peas, corn, potoates).  So you still get all those yummy leafy greens and big salads. You also get to eat fruit, but the first 2 weeks of Atkins on the induction plan you cut it out because all carbs (even good ones) turn to sugar in your body, and sugar turns into fat. I was interested to learn that Dr. Atkins set this eating plan up for his patients who were diabetic, and the weight loss was an added benefit. If the 2 week induction seems extreme, you can just begin in the next phase. It’s just a good place to start if you want a nice jump start to weight loss. You start of low carb, and then you increase your healthy carbs a bit at a time until your weight loss levels off. It’s not like you give up carbs altogether or for the rest of your life.

Then yesterday my hubby tosses me this book that compares all the many different low carb plans out there, how they differ and how they’re the same (Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, and many others). The author also mentions some of the newer programs out there like The Maker’s Diet, Biggest Loser, You: on a Diet, etc. He details the how and why low carb diets work. Talk about an interesting book!! I couldn’t put it down for the next hour. The author seems to have a lot of the same views I have about healthy fats and real food, as well as staying away from artificial sweeteners and processed food. He also goes into depth about how If you’re curious at all about the different low carb eating plans, and how they compare with one another, I highly recommend it!

As a “real” food blogger I will still be blogging about and sharing all types of recipes including baking with my freshly ground whole wheat flours and my favorite sugary treats as well. I’m not transitioning in to a “low carb” blogger. The only difference is that if a recipe happens to be low in carbs I’ll be putting it in the low carb category and tagging it low carb. I already do that for vegetarian and gluten-free. I’m also NOT going to be using any artificial sweeteners or eating any low carb protein bars (they have way too many ingredients and are processed).

My focus will remain on eating real foods, but learning the carb count of each so that I can further incorporate that into my lifestyle. I just wanted to share what I’ve been learning, and thought you all might be interested in how low carb eating fits in with a real food philosophy. I’ll be eating low carb the next few weeks as a bit of an experiment to see how my body reacts. Then I’ll transition into the next phase where I increase my healthy carbs a bit at a time. Extra energy and weight loss sure are some great perks, and I’ve been hearing you’re never hungry with this way of eating…sign me up!

I’ll update on my progress periodically. So far, I’m 3 days into the plan, and already down 3 pounds! I know there’s usually water weight at the beginning, but after that it’s fat burning time! My clothes are already getting loose, and that’s what matters most. To be honest though, it’s exciting to stumble onto information that is life-enhancing, and FUN that my hubby and I get to learn about it and implement it together!!

*I’d love to hear your experiences with low carb eating. If you have any tips or low carb meal ideas feel free to share them with me. And definitely share the successes!!

*I’ll be sharing a healthy greek salad later this week. AND as a food blogger I have a couple fun events/dinners I’ll be sharing later in June as well. If you’re not following Creative Kitchen on Facebook, and would rather subscribe by email…that’s a new feature here. Just look up near the top right of this page, and type your email into the box (above the Recent Posts tab in the side margin). You’ll get an email each time there is a new post or recipe here at Creative Kitchen. And as always, if you liked the information here, I’d appreciate a “share” below. Thanks!!

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25 Responses to Can a former vegetarian embrace a low carb lifestyle?

  1. Nikki says:

    I have been on the South Beach Diet since January and have lost a little more than 20 pounds. I eat lots of healthy veggies, and have found I do best when I only have one serving of healthy carbs/day. I usually save them for my evening meal. This low carb (healthy carb/healthy) fat is KEY to my weight loss and health goals. I have tried other plans and followed them to the letter and have had very little success. This really works with my body!
    Nikki recently posted..Around the Family Meal Table

  2. heli says:

    Great post! I’ve been following a lowcarb way of eating for nearly 15yrs, with a recent 5yr break for pregnancy & nursing during which I still ate fewer carbs than most people but not few enough to get the weight off. I just finished losing the rest of that 75lbs of pregnancy/baby/nursing weight and at 40 have never felt better. I followed Atkins when I first started, but over the years I’ve developed my own lowcarb lifestyle and don’t really go for artificial sweeteners, bacon-wrapped bacon, or the other foods & processed substitutes that give this WOE a bad name. I eat tons of veggies, way more than even my WW friends seem to. By now I know that I can eat Wasa or Kavli crispbreads without triggering gain or cravings, but 1 lowcarb protein (candy) bar will knock me off course. LC tortillas work great for me, LC ice cream not so much. 😉 When I met my husband he was a 280lb vegetarian. He saw me enjoying my LC foods and decided to give it a try (yes, it was the bacon.) He lost 100lbs and became slim for the first time in his life.

    What I love about lowcarbing is that it helped me get tuned in to my body and how it is affected by different foods. I recognize which foods trigger cravings–I’m also a recovering bulimic so I had lots of food-related issues, but they all tied back to carbs. Without those carbs, I have control over my eating. I don’t have the 2pm post-lunch slump that my colleagues do. I don’t mindlessly eat chips at parties because I never have that first one.

    One of my favorite LC tips: I buy shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix) by the jumbo bag at BJ’s. I use it anywhere one might use rice: under stir fry, with Mexican food, with pasta sauce, to add crunch to my salads, etc. Sometimes I heat it up a little, sometimes just add it raw. It’s great for adding bulk and making a rice-free serving of something not look so small. 😉

    • Denise says:

      Wow!! I’m so glad you stopped by and shared your success story with the low carb way of living!! Congratulations on your weight loss, and I loved hearing about your hubby converting over to low carb. I love your low carb tip….I love cabbage and cole slaw…but I’d never have thought to use that as a pasta/rice type substitute. Amazing!! 🙂

      Today I accidently let myself get VERY hungry, and it’s funny…the things I think of grabbing first are fruit or some other healthy carb. I was excited to see my creativity kicking in, and I chopped up a small leftover chicken breast from last night. Even though it had melted cheese on it, I wanted to use it for a quick chicken salad. I added in a spoonful of mayo, a very small spoon of whole plain milk yogurt, diced sweet onion, diced cucumber, a little sea salt and pepper. It was TASTY!! And even tasted a bit sweet which is my preference. I would normally want to slice up grapes to put in. That hit the spot….filling wise and craving wise.

      But the moral of that story is not to let myself get too hungry in the first place. And also make sure I have some ready made cooked protein ready to go. 🙂

      Thanks again for stopping by & also for RT me on Twitter. 🙂

    • Nikki says:

      I love the cabbage idea! I think I miss crunchy things the most, and I think cabbage may be a great substitute for me as well! Thanks!
      Nikki recently posted..Adding More Gifts to the List

  3. Joan Nova says:

    I’ve always eaten what is considered a healthy diet, though carb weighted with lots of whole grains and vegetables. I recently started low/slow carbing it and am doing pretty well. The meal I have most difficulty with is breakfast…what good are eggs if you can’t dunk toast?

    Tip: Use spaghetti squash for dishes where you would normally use pasta or rice.
    Joan Nova recently posted..Veracruz Corn from Wisteria Lane

    • Denise says:

      Hi Joan!
      Happy to see you!! I’ve got a spaghetti squash sitting here for that purpose. Thanks!! I’m trying to think of the best purpose for the first time since I’m trying to sell hubby on the squash as pasta idea. 🙂

      Glad to hear you are being successful! How about dipping bacon or other meat into the egg. I did finally try putting my egg on top of a salad yesterday like I’ve seen on so many food blogs. It was actually quite good dipping my romaine with tomato, avocado, and cucumber in it. I was surprised!

  4. party bags says:

    Why not? Changing lifestyle is part of growing.

  5. I’m reading “Why We Get Fat – and What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes, who also wrote “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” I’m beginning to think that eating too many carbs – mostly brown rice noodles, cereals and tortillas along rice milk – is the reason why I haven’t lost weight even though I’ve given up gluten, potatoes and sugar.

    As far as dipping goes, how about making kale chips?

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  8. SC says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years, but never paid much attention to how much protein I was getting in my diet…I figured it all worked itself out. After my second child I was having trouble losing the last few pounds of baby weight, so decided to give this diet a try. It took a few shopping trips to revamp my pantry, and some prep work baking/preparing low carb snacks for those binge moments…but I feel less bloated and after 2 weeks have lost 5 lbs (I don’t really need to lose any more than that.) The Low Carb pizza is delicious, along with the Chocolate Almond Bark, Spinach Bread, Tomato Cheddar Soup. A few of the prep time estimates have been off (and I have small children distracting me in the kitchen) but overall the food has been tasty and easy to prepare. I wasn’t so crazy about the Nut Loaf and the hot cereals are a bit glue-like…but there are so many other things to try, I think I might try to stick to this diet for a while. One warning re reducing carbs: the first week I did feel light-headed and dizzy, but after I made it past 7 days I’ve been fine (and added a few more low carb servings, which probably helped.)

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  18. Dee Mcknight says:

    Thanks!! Congrats on the weight loss!! Happy to see you!! And even tasted a bit sweet which is my preference.
    Dee Mcknight recently posted..Cancer Tattoos Tumblr

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