Tuesday, May 28, 2013
FOOD INTOLERANCE - THE VIRGIN DIET
Well, I'm going to try something a little different. If it raises my blood sugar, I will be stopping pretty quickly. I heard of a new book by JJ Virgin, called "The Virgin Diet." It is about food intolerances, and the whole tenet of the book is that intolerance to certain foods are the real reason for weight gain. Obviously, I think that is a little simplistic, but I don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water just yet.
According to JJ, the seven foods that are the most likely to cause weight gain and other health problems are:
Sugar (including Artificial Sweeteners)
If you are intolerant of any of these foods, going through a three-week trial elimination of them should make you feel better and lose weight. After three weeks, you should try adding them back in to see if your symptoms return. JJ does give her opinion that you should probably stay away from some of these foods forever, in particular, gluten, believing that it is not safe for humans in general.
I have looked at what JJ says to eat, and it is relatively low carb by common standards (around 100 grams per day), but higher carb than what I am used to. The fat is a little lower than my current way of eating and the protein is a little higher. All in all, I see it as a healthy way to eat, but it remains to be seen if it will work for me.
SO WHY AM I DOING IT?
I heard a podcast about it, and some people that I admire have advocated it, such as Mark Hyman, Suzanne Somers and Jonny Bowden. When I listened to the symptoms of food intolerance (FI), I saw myself. Plus, I have been under a great deal of stress lately and have gained ten pounds in the past month or so. I can put on five pounds in just a couple of days, and that should not be normal. According to JJ, this could be a sign that something, or more than one thing, that I am eating is causing problems for me.
There is a long list of symptoms of FI, and these particular ones are the ones I have seen in myself:
Chronic mucus/stuffy nose
Constipation and/or diarrhea
Gas and bloating
Inability to lose weight
Out of the 24 symptoms, I have 12. So maybe I am on to something here.
Even though I have stuck with the high fat, moderate protein and extremely low carb way of eating, I have started to have food cravings that have been impossible to manage. Is this due to stress? I don't know. Possibly. It could also be that, due to the way I have been eating, I have had a lot more eggs and dairy than I used to and I may have become intolerant of them and intolerance will cause cravings. I guess I'll find out.
Of course, many people reading the book will have a tough time implementing the guidelines required. If you are eating the Standard American Diet of high, processed carbs and low fat, this will be a big change. Probably the hardest thing to do is to give up your one million daily servings of "healthy, whole grains." In my case, I do not eat grains at all, so that one is easy. I also do not eat any soy, corn, peanuts or sugar. I do have Stevia for a sweetener, but it is allowed on this program in small amounts, as is xylitol, a natural sugar alcohol.
So, basically, what I am giving up is eggs and dairy. Before today, my diet was heavy in eggs (at least 2 per day, and sometimes more), sour cream, cream cheese and lots of butter every day. JJ does allow ghee (butter with the casein removed), but I don't care for ghee, so I will just have coconut oil instead of butter.
The program calls for three meals a day (a snack is allowed, but discouraged), of which one or two are a special shake. The meals you eat are comprised of clean, lean proteins, healthy fats, high fiber, low glycemic carbs, nonstarchy vegetables and nuts.
The shake is made of non-dairy protein powder, fiber (flax, chia or hemp), organic berries, coconut milk and green leafy veggies. I added a few drops of Stevia to improve the taste. Yes, I did have a shake this morning, and it was quite filling and not totally disgusting, but also not yummy. An hour and a half after I drank it, I tested my blood glucose and it was only 84. So there was no blood sugar spike like I expected.
Although JJ does not recommend tracking food, I am of a data-collecting bent, and I put the shake into my spreadsheet and found that it contained:
44.6 grams fat
33.1 grams protein
31.5 grams carbs
Right off the bat, that is more carbs than I usually eat in a day, and that is only breakfast, so I am nervous. I will have another shake at lunch, because I am way busy today and will not have time to cook something. So just in breakfast and lunch, I will have 63 grams of carbs. Plus, the amount of protein I usually eat is around 57 grams per day. Just breakfast and lunch today will yield 66 grams of protein.
Another part of the program is that the protein you eat needs to be grass fed/finished, pastured, hormone and antibiotic free, etc. So it's more expensive.
I am concerned that eating around 100 grams of carbs each day will be more than I can tolerate.
I am concerned that eating around 100 grams of protein each day will be too much and that a portion of it will be converted to glucose, which will cause blood sugar elevations and weight gain.
I am concerned that I will not be getting enough fat.
I am concerned that a part of the diet is so-called "safe starches", which I have not tolerated well in the past.
I am concerned that leaving Nutritional Ketosis will cause weight gain.
However, I am willing to try doing all of these things and hoping for the best. If it is a disaster, I can always do an about face and go back to what I was doing before. Anyway, off I go on this new experiment. What if it turns out that I have an egg or dairy intolerance? That will be a bummer. But JJ does say in her book that once your gut has been healed, you may be able to begin eating some of those foods in moderation again. If you try it and it causes symptoms, wait another six months and try again. It may be that I will not be off of them for life. Hope springs eternal! Wish me luck!