Around the time we took a break from TTC, I started playing around with diet again. I think that may be partially (wholly) to blame for the subsequent severe dearth of cycles, so I’m going to officially stop playing around and settle somewhere more comfortable come November.
But I’ve learned a lot! I started with a Wahl’s Protocol Plus approach – which is a ketogenic, AIP-style diet – progressed to a laxer, low carb paleo, then plunged into a very low carb, ketogenic diet for the last few weeks. For the past month and a half, I have also been VERY good about avoiding nightshades, in all their sneaky & insidious forms.
My goals for the last two months were to: a) lose some of the bloat from this summer, b) eat less meat and save money on groceries, c) experiment with eating more fat, d) eliminate snacks, & e) have more stable energy throughout the day.
On the nightshade front, I have not slipped up once and I can tell. I hadn’t realized how much of an impact even a little paprika or a little potato starch was having on that particular skin issue. I’m getting more comfortable asking weird questions at not-home, be it when friends feed me or while out at a restaurant. I now realize that nightshades must have been slipping into my food more often than I even knew during the first few months of AIP implementation, if only because I had no idea where to even start asking about them. I still can’t get over mustard. Why would you put paprika in mustard? And then there are all the ready-made gluten free treats that have potato starch…
Okay, enough about nightshades (may they all be horribly cursed). My last two months were primarily about FATS. I tried cutting my meals down to two a day a la the WP+, but alas, I ended up running into too many problems. One: I simply can’t eat enough in two meals to stay satiated all day without making myself sick. Two: I was creeping into eating problem territory, that is, my self-talk was becoming obsessed with eating less and less and enduring the very real hunger and pushing through to shakiness and faintness at all costs. Maybe if I’d given myself more time, I could have eventually adapted, but instead I chose to heed the warning signs and back off.
I made a small change – breaking my large breakfast into two meals – and instantly felt much better for it. I also chopped my protein intake in half – from 6-8oz a meal down to 3-4 oz – and haven’t missed the protein one bit. I was afraid my workouts would suffer, but in fact they improved! I hit a new personal best for deadlift and squat during that time, while we dropped our weekly grocery bill by a good 30%.
Despite eating less and biking more and weightlifting consistently, I still wasn’t feeling my best. So for the last few weeks, I decided to actively try for a very low carb approach. This was… not fun. I aimed for no more than 50g carbs total, while keeping protein at the 10-15% of calories range. This meant a lot of extra fat, which I had been slowly working towards since August.
I didn’t test, but I aimed for – and probably hit – ketosis. I must have already been fairly low carb because I had none of the carbflu symptoms I had heard about. Instead, after only a few days I lost most of my remaining bloat, stopped craving carbs, and began feeling very stable energy throughout the day.
Aside from realizing I was still mentally alert and onboard at 3pm – which is usually when I begin tuning out – my biggest change was the complete lack of sugar cravings. See, I have this thing I like to call sugar-sense that absolutely bewilders my wife. We cannot have treats in the house because I will be hyper aware of them and know where they are at all times. For example, whenever we get chocolate or cookies, I know which shelf they’re on in the pantry and how much is left. And I do not forget. I can list off every single sweet and sugary thing in the house at the drop of a hat. And because I can do that, sweet things do not last long in our house, because I am constantly drawn back to them.
Lady, on the other hand, can open a bag of sweets and then forget about them for weeks. I don’t know how she does it.
Or I didn’t know. But midway through the ketosis experiment, I opened the freezer and was surprised by a half-eaten tub of TJ’s pumpkin spice ice cream. Somehow, I had completely forgotten it. That just doesn’t happen. Next thing I knew, Lady had bought Halloween oreos for her birthday and they stayed unmolested in the pantry for over a week, going on two now. A bag of dried mangos, which would normally be devoured within an hour, maybe a day, survived for a full five days. Somehow, I forgot about these things that normally sat whispering – quiet & malicious – in the back of my mind.
It was amazing.
Now even after the massive carb fest that was this weekend, I can’t list all the sweets in our pantry without stopping to think first. The success I’ve had has definitely made me want to continue with low(er) carb, but perhaps not very low carb. I’m going to try to balance and see how I can keep that mental clarity without being too militant about my food. That’s a stressor in and of itself, and I certainly don’t need any more of stress.