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I've reported how I've changed my diet over the past year and the health progress that followed, right? About this time last year, I weighed 25-30 pounds more, had way less stamina, was weaker, and endured sore joints like you wouldn't believe - especially the injured shoulder. After assurance from my doctor that I could resume full-on exercise "as long as it doesn't hurt; sore is okay," I shifted from recuperation and maintenance to a strengthening program. At the same time, I cut out sugar from my diet - something that I had been eating far too often and in far too much volume. Hence the weight and blood-sugar swings. It also was doing me no good in the feeling-sorry-for-myself category.

Zoom ahead a month, and ten pounds fall away. This encouraged me to continue this process, and avoiding sugar was now easy because it no longer tastes good. I'd dropped my sugar addiction in a month and grew physically stronger, too, from upping the workouts. No longer do I experience any knee pain, either, despite a diversity of prior damage: Paleo-diet proponents suggest that eating grains contributes to joint and other inflammation. I suspect losing weight is a part of it, too.

Positive results reinforce good behavior, so I started dropping more processed carbs from my diet and adding more strengthening exercises, until over-doing things without assistance from a physical therapist derailed the strengthening part a couple of months ago (working on that now - almost done with Physical Therapy: The Sequel). Oh, and I've also stopped taking the 800mg x2 of ibuprofen daily that my doctor prescribed last year, because it was damaging my mucous membranes (noticeable as a sore mouth and stomach); I've also dropped sodium lauryl sulfate (in most toothpaste, for Pete's sake!), and since then no more irritated mouth or tum. If you'd like to stop putting SLS into your mouth, I suggest either the old-fashioned route of baking soda or, if you want to keep fluoride (as I do), the only toothpaste I could find that doesn't use SLS (or sweeteners) in an extensive search is Jason (with macron over the A and umlaut over the O), and only Sea Fresh is available in Lawrence (at the Merc, natch). Good stuff, dumb name.

Other benefits: I need less sleep, I'm hungry much less, I have steady energy during the day, and I'm a cheap drunk - re: the last, it seems I can only consume about two drinks before feeling tipsy. Not sure if the latter is necessarily a benefit, but you get the idea.

Drawbacks of this diet? Well, good luck finding ANY pre-packaged or restaurant food that doesn't include sugar. I was at the grocery store recently and decided to do a survey: Not a single packaged "food" that I examined was free of sugar, mostly high fructose corn syrup. Seriously? Stove Top Stuffing needs corn syrup? Unless you're looking at single-ingredient tins (canned carrots or something), you'll find a long list of not-food in the ingredients - and often, even canned veggies are loaded with sugar. WTF?

So that's one drawback. Another is not being able to have chocolate. Now we get around to the point of this entry. I was a true addict, like so many, but last time I tried conventional chocolate since altering my taste, chocolate just tasted bitterly sweet, sickeningly sweet. So I figured I was done for in this arena.

Then along comes Dutch process cocoa.

OMG yum. In case you haven't yet explored the wonderfulness that is Dutch process cocoa in milk, let me just say: DO IT. This concoction is pure delight. DPC is just cocoa and nothing but cocoa, ground fine. Mine comes from Penzy's, who describes it thus:

"Dutch cocoa is processed to temper the natural acidity of the cocoa bean, yielding a smooth, rich, and slightly less strong cocoa that mixes more freely with liquid. Dutch cocoa has long been the cocoa of choice for hot chocolate and flavored coffee. Cocoa can easily replace unsweetened baking chocolate."

Unsweetened Hot Cocoa recipe:

4-5 shakes Dutch process cocoa (use a shaker bottle to get just the right amount, way less than a teaspoon).
1/2 cup hot water.
1/2 cup whole milk (hot or cold, to taste; use quality, local, non-homogenized milk if possible).

Shake the cocoa into hot water, stir, top off with milk, and stir again.

Milk adds all the mildness needed to make the unsweetened cocoa drinkable, and the concoction tastes like fine hot cocoa. Well, I guess it is, really, isn't it? Think hybrid milk chocolate and dark chocolate in beverage form, but without the tooth-coating aftertaste or sugary tongue-burn. Yum.

Sugar-free yet retains all the joy of chocolate. That's what I'm talking about.




( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:32 pm (UTC)
but last time I tried conventional chocolate since altering my taste, chocolate just tasted bitterly sweet, sickeningly sweet.

That's probably because you ate shitty chocolate to start with. Like M&M's. Or anything by Hershey or Mars, which is really candy more than chocolate.

Dutch-process removes a lot of the bitterness, so people may not get the same if they use non-alkalized cocoa, even with milk. Scharffen Berger does have unsweetened, non-alkalized chocolate in both powder and solid form, for those that do like to keep more of the chocolate taste that is lost in the alkalizing process.

Now I want some chocolate. Thanks ;)

Jan. 19th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
I'm sure you're right! Still, I can now taste the nastiness of sugar in things that previously I didn't realize were sweetened.

Like EVERYTHING in a package, it seems.
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
So can I, I agree with that. It doesn't taste the same.

The same thing happened with me and salt once I cut out pre-packaged foods, which was previous to the paleo diet. A lot of franchise restaurant dining food is way too salty tasting.

I've had a few pieces of good chocolate, akin to high cocoa content Valrhona, and it doesn't taste too sweet. It still tastes good to me.

Jan. 19th, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
It still tastes good to me

See, I didn't need to know that. :P

Some people (I'm looking at you, clevermanka) didn't believe that cocoa with milk as the only sweetener would be tasty. Happy to prove 'er wrong!
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
That's also because you are drinking good tasting milk, too, which helps. The uber-pasteurized, plastic container, non-fresh, mixed cow breed milk isn't so great anymore. At least, not to me. I can't drink it. Blech.
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
Great point. Updated my recipe, above.
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
It's not that I didn't believe it wouldn't taste good. I didn't believe you would think it tasted good.

Jan. 19th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Er, not exactly sugar-free. Lactose is a sugar too. All the carbs in milk are lactose.
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, I understand that, but I'm just avoiding processed sugars. The stuff you find in milk, fruit, veggies - none of these seem to cause the blood-sugar and energy swings the way candy and such did. And the whole-er the milk (more fat), the less lactose, right?

Edited at 2011-01-19 05:41 pm (UTC)
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC)
As a percentage, yes, because the lactose is found in the water portion of milk, and not the fat, so you are drinking more water when you drink one glass of low-fat milk than you are in an equivalent glass of full fat milk.

I tell people that I avoid added sugar in food. I still eat food that contains sugar, such as fruit.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that sounds tasty....
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
The diff between skim and whole milk in lactose content isn't really that large. Stuology is right on as to why the diff exists in the first place. It's a volume thing ...

Jan. 19th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC)
Have you tried it with coconut milk yet? I wonder if it works the same.
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
Nope - I'm not a huge fan of coconut. But I think clevermanka has tried it - I'll have her weigh in.
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
Yes, I love it with coconut milk!
Jan. 19th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC)
On food and sugar:
Background history: I'm a Type II diabetic, I found out when I got back from the Trade Center in '01, and they did a CBC on me. "Your blood glucose is 300. You want to talk to your doctor about this."

I cut out beer :(, most candies, and a lot of other things. Pasta, for example, potatoes, and lots of seed-type vegetables have to be eaten in moderation. It felt like I was down to rocks, sawdust, and skim milk.

Then, one night, I was hungry, and my blood sugar was low. I ate a double cheeseburger at a fast-food joint. I had one bun. My blood glucose shot up to 250 and stayed there overnight, until well into the next day. A little research indicated that the bun probably had HFCS in it.

I stopped that. Over night, my blood glucose came down, and stayed down, in a more manageable region. So I started hunting for it in my food. My GF has a cottonseed/rapeseed/sesame seed/other-seed allergy, so that's become a standard shopping practice. I cut HFCS out of my diet, as much as I could.

I won't say that my blood glucose is normal. But it's not swinging high for days at a time, now. As a test, I had some "normal" pasta, without HFCS in it or the sauce, and lo and behold! My blood glucose went up, some, but not as much, and came back down to where it was supposed to be by morning. Go figure.

We need to get, and keep the snake oil out of our food.

--EMT Hawk
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
I can't drink beer anymore, either, without getting stomach upset. The cheaper light beers (in bottles only) seem to be okay, but they just don't taste good anymore. The worst offenders are full-bodied tap beers. Urp. A few sips and they get passed to a friend. *sad*

I cannot find bread that is sugar-free, and usually they're HFCS-full. Something needs to make it rise fast! So I mostly just don't eat bread anymore, either; once a week or so I'll have a slice of pizza or breaded chicken, but even that is often enough to cause... digestive issues.

We need to get, and keep the snake oil out of our food: No kidding!
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
I love cider but haven't been drinking it much over the past year. I mean, wow, but does it taste sugary! Aren't they high in sugar?
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
Time to get a bread machine and make your own?
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
I've considered that, but I'm not sure I want to add the concentrated calories of bread back into my diet. I'm kinda pleased with keeping my weight low!
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:39 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
I didn't realize you ate any wheat at all anymore, but if you get a hankering for some then I'll just make a loaf for you because I like to do that and it doesn't need sugar at all.

Ditto for pizza dough. I can make that too, no added sugar needed.

(Because I like to make it, but rarely do because it would be in my house and I would likely eat it.)

(ETA: Not that I'm trying to lead you to temptation, but if temptation overwhelmingly strikes, then I can provide you with a better quality product to fulfill it. And I miss baking.)

Edited at 2011-01-19 09:50 pm (UTC)
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
Thank you very kindly for the offer, but I daren't have that kind of temptation around the house! If I have bread, it's usually because I'm hanging out with Da Boyz and we're having pizza. Of which I'll have a slice, leaving the pizza bones for the urban wildlife.
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
when i felt the same, goose island bourbon stout still hits the spot
Jan. 19th, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
Ooh, thanks for the rec!
Jan. 19th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
Re: On food and sugar:
On the topic of common things we can't digest anymore, pizza is off my diet forever. I just can't handle the grease. Two slices and I feel sick to my stomach. Back in college I could eat a whole pizza myself, but my ex-wife had me on a very slimming diet, and I lost all tolerance.
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:54 pm (UTC)
Chocolate is very important...
I just wanted to say that this has one of the best titles for a health update post ever. :)
Jan. 19th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Chocolate is very important...
I'm here to help ;-)
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
Lying buzzards! I suspect they didn't use HFCS in 1835....
Jan. 19th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
I tend to use English steak sauces now, they don't have as much HFCS in them. They still have corn syrup, but it's the old-fashioned kind, allegedly, not the HFCS.

Jan. 19th, 2011 08:02 pm (UTC)
OH! must try!
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
'Tis yummy!
Jan. 19th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC)
I really need to go back and read all your posts on your health process again, mainly because I started Weight Watchers two weeks ago, have had some success, and find myself reading food labels more. On the subject of chocolate, I went cold turkey when I started and then, two nights ago, had enough points left over to treat myself. It didn't taste as good as I remembered, and I didn't feel very good. I can't tell you how long it had been before I started the program that I'd had chocolate, but it was different, which surprised me. So it's interesting to read your post.
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
I was talking with someone recently who uses Weight Watchers and comparing it to the Paleo diet (which I'm using as my general eating framework). Seems that WW has come a long way since their pre-packaged-foodstuffs days!

Despite this guy's abrupt turn toward selling "energy drink" puff, he writes a TON of great info about eating Paleo and Primal. Another great source is Whole9, which offers a 30-day program to eliminate inflammatories and addictive substances from your diet.

Best of all, eating Primal means eating REAL FOOD! I've even learned how to cook for myself ;-)
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
I've been cooking a lot more in the last two weeks than I generally do, and I've been eating a lot more fruit and vegetables than I used to. The program encourages that sort of eating by making it "cost free," by which I mean it costs you no points to eat fruits and veggies, so I'm turning to apples and cantaloupe and carrots and broccoli a lot when I'm peckish. There's also a lot of emphasis on portion control, and I can already tell how that's changing my habits, too.

The Whole9 site is interesting, and I'll probably drop by for recipes and ideas. Right now, WW seems to be working for me, so I'm not going to mess with it too much. But thanks for the resources; I'm sure I'll find good stuff there to supplement my program with. And maybe, at some point, I'll be able to post the kinds of pictures you've posted occasionally. Now that would be entertaining!
Jan. 19th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC)
My father has had great success with weight watchers. Unfortunately my mother takes it as a bit of an affront to the wisdom of her cooking, so once he loses the weight he drops the program, gains it back, gets back on the program...
Jan. 19th, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
Sounds like dad needs to advocate for his health in that relationship. Is it that mom takes it as an offense to her cooking, or is she envious of his success? Seems like there's a little sabotage going on there.
Jan. 20th, 2011 06:28 am (UTC)
My mother would have to admit that her cooking was what made him unhealthy in the first place. She grew up on a farm where people burned off a lot of calories, but she and my dad are white collar workers, so the same diet isn't a good idea. A doctor managed to convince my mother to cook healthier food, but it's always more of an uphill battle for my dad or I. Her whole side of the family is like this, which, I suspect, has a lot to do with her siblings being divorced.
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:44 pm (UTC)
a couple years ago, I was ordered to cut hormone imitators and influencers from my diet (and hygiene). I cut sweeteners and hfc syrup and started moving to a whole foods, no simple carbs (plenty o complex), higher protein, mostly vegan diet. I ate and slept better and lost 70lbs. I also got pregnant - which was never supposed to be possible.
However, I also lost my taste for sweet - almost everything tastes TOO sweet. It drives me batty: if you look for a packaged food that says "no sugar added", it means "artificial sweeteners added." I'd like just nothing added please. Why does peanut butter need sugar? recently, a daytime doc told viewers to retrain their tastebuds to like less sweet. good luck to those suburban viewers finding products

I ignored sugar - but cut out the artificial sweeteners (ended up lowering sugar intake overall)
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's fantastic. Go you!

I haven't completely cut artificial sweeteners (still drink diet soda), but I now cut it 50/50 with soda water. I know....
Jan. 19th, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC)
use highre quality choc and "sweeten" w fresh mint!
Jan. 24th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC)
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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )

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