03 December 2013

Random thoughts and minor miracles

Do please excuse me if I'm beginning to sound a shade fanatical here, but just a short week ago we lost a friend, and that has set me to me pondering the fragility of life and health and why it is so damned important to look after ourselves as best we can. Pretty deep for a Tuesday, huh?

Oooh, how easy it can be to let our guard down and slip into old (and usually bad) habits which do little to promote or support our health. Boy, we really do need to be vigilant... don't we fat lass. However, in thinking about vigilance, a concept that I'd never actually considered, but one that I can only describe as an unexpected bonus - a little miracle if you like - has become evident to me.

Now I know I've mentioned before the 'relative' ease with which my weight remains under 'reasonable' control with the low-carb lifestyle, but I didn't really think too much more about it (or particularly deep and hard) until I met someone I haven't seen for a while.

This is a lady who knew me when I was obese, through the years of my calorie-restricted weight-loss (which I am NOT in any way going to knock - hell, it worked for me!), and in the early days of trying to maintain that loss. But, we haven't seen each other, nor talked, since the advent of my low-carb adventures.

From back in the 'old days', she remembered my telling her that I sometimes found it quite a challenge to keep 'on track' with the 'diet' (and what I really mean here is 'way of eating') that ensured I first lost my weight, then didn't regain it. She commented that she recalled my scouring every single food label I encountered for the energy values (calorie content). She also remembered my workplace 'snacks' pile - generally a sizeable arrangement of fruit, a box or two of 'healthy' cereals and cereal bars, and various other 'low-cal' options which I used to tide me over when I got the munchies. She was a little surprised to see that those had all gone, gone, gone.

It was only after she'd left and when I stopped to consider the sugars (oh yes, even in that fruit), and the grains and other carbohydrates, and the chemical additives (I guess the fruit's excepted here, thankfully) that used to make up my 'go to' snacks that I realised that going low-carb has done much more for me than merely helping me stay at a 'sensible' weight without too much of a struggle. One of the clues lies in that word 'label' above.

To bear a label implies that something has been processed and, when I look back at it, quite a lot of my old lifestyle food intake was in some way processed. It was purportedly 'healthy' (often with this very word proudly emblazoned on the label) but, aside from that fruit, it was not usually raw and definitely not in the form which nature provides us with food. Man (yeah OK, probably woman too) had 'messed about' with it in some way.

Being pre-prepared (a.k.a. processed and packaged) it had a 'shelf-life', so inevitably contained preservatives and anti-oxidants and, very often, there were colours and added vitamins too (I guess they were there because the processing had stripped away any colours and vitamins nature provided).

My choices were predominantly low-calorie, so generally low in fat, which meant that other substances (usually sugars - oh yeah, including that universally recognised 'super-food' high fructose corn syrup!) had been added to make it taste of something. What fat was present wouldn't have been natural saturated fats, but cheap, industrially processed (and often partially hydrogenated) oils of some sort.

There'd even be delights like bulking agents (wow, what a horrid term that is) and other chemical joys. In short, those 'look after yourself' snacks were processed crap and a one-way ticket to screwing with one's metabolism.

The way I eat now isn't 100% perfect and I don't suppose for a second that it ever will be (weak-willed is my middle name), so there is 'some' inevitable processing to some of the foods I choose. Still, it's a dramatic improvement over what I considered 'good' choices back then.

The little miracle to me is that the vast majority of what I eat now, and this is largely led by the serendipity of my moving to a low-carb lifestyle to fit in with lovely hubby's needs, is either natural, or has been only 'lightly' processed. What I mean by this is that it does not automatically contain the sort of junk and padding which makes us sick.

I wouldn't classify my eating habits as primal per se, but there are a lot of overlaps. Mark's Daily Apple sums up the basic approach in his advice on "What to Eat and What to Avoid for Lifelong Health". Must admit, while I don't necessarily agree with him over supplements (or the carbs for athlete's option, being only an armchair athlete myself), his primal food pyramid makes pretty good sense to me

Hey, though - there was silly old me thinking primarily of my low-carb food choices in terms of keeping my weight settled (and lovely hubby's blood glucose levels under control), when all along it's also helping to promote an altogether healthier fat lass and family.

Miraculous indeed, and another of Mum's 'blessings' to be counted.


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