I published six more low-carb articles on the Answers.com site, so I've fulfilled my quota of 10 for August. (I didn't link to the Cinnamon Almonds one because there's already a blog post on that recipe available on this site). Please check out the others if you have time:
Saturated Fat Intake on a Low-Carb Diet
Five Terrific Low-Carb Recipe Websites
Beyond Atkins: Low-Carbohydrate Diet Books
Tips for Staying Low Carb When Dining Out
Best Dairy Choices for Low-Carb Diets
I should also make it clear that there are a lot of third-party articles on the site that I didn't write; only the ones with my name at the top are mine. However, I encourage you to read the others as well if it's convenient, and let me know what you think of them.
Mostly, though, I'd really appreciate hearing what topics you'd like me to write on! I enjoy writing, but these articles are a little different than my blog posts, where I just write about whatever moves me at the time. There are only a few formats to choose from (Do's and Don'ts, Briefing, Lists, etc.), and while I've got a few in the works for next month on diabetes, eating on a budget, and artificial sweeteners, I'd love it if you'd give me some more ideas. You can either use the "Contact" page on this site or the "Comments" section, write on my Facebook page, or send me a tweet. Thanks so much!
We just returned from a two-week European vacation and thoroughly enjoyed it! We visited London for the first time and were very impressed by this amazing city that has the energy and culture of New York along with the history and architecture of other European cities. We also spend a few days in Zurich visiting my relatives, as we do whenever we're on the other side of the Atlantic.
In England, my husband and I met up with a UK-based dietitian named Annette Henry who is currently working on her PhD conducting research on carbohydrate restriction, appetite regulation, and weight loss. We also spent an afternoon with Eddie and Jan Mitchell from The Low Carb Diabetic website. Eddie has Type 2 diabetes and eats a low-carb diet in order to maintain healthy blood glucose levels, weight, and lipids. Jan follows the same way of eating. We had a fantastic time with each of these fellow low-carb advocates and shared a real sense of camaraderie and purpose.
In terms of carb-friendly dining options, the airlines apparently don't have much of an understanding. Here's a photo of the dinner I was served on the plane. I ordered a "diabetic meal," and this is what it consisted of (carb content approximated):
5 oz grilled chicken breast
1 large roll (30 grams carb)
1 cup white rice (45 grams carb)
1 cup mixed fruit (15 grams carb)
1/2 cup cooked vegetables (5 grams carb)
Mixed salad with fat-free vinaigrette (8 grams carb)
I ask you: Is this meal containing around 100 grams of carbohydrates appropriate for someone with diabetes? I don't even want to think of what my blood sugars levels would have risen to had I eaten the high-carb foods. My husband didn't make a special request for a diabetic meal and was served a nearly identical tray. The difference? He was given regular salad dressing, while I received the fat-free vinaigrette that was higher in carbs!
Overall, the food in Europe was very good, and it was quite easy to stay very low carb no matter where we ate. I had eggs and/or bacon with spinach or mushrooms for breakfast, and meat, poultry, fish, or cheese with vegetables at lunch and dinner. This kept me well under my usual 30-40 grams of carbs for the day, and I often had raw hazelnuts, almonds, and chocolate made with 100% cacao for dessert, as well as tea with cream or half-and-half at or between meals.
One of my favorite meals in Switzerland was Wuerst und Kaese Salat (sausage and cheese salad), which I've loved since childhood. I had this three times in Zurich. It's simply sliced sausage, cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, and carrots topped with a cream-based dressing. Delicious, nutrient-dense, filling, and less than 5 grams of digestible carbs!
I've been following a very-low-carb diet for over a year now, and I truly love this way of eating. I can tell you with 100% honesty that I didn't feel at all deprived throughout our entire vacation because I ate nourishing high fat, moderate protein foods to satiety, along with liberal amounts of delicious fresh vegetables. How could I feel anything but satisfied on such luxurious fare?
Bottom line: Stay on plan during vacation by choosing low-carb foods unique to the area you're visiting, and enjoy!
Off topic, I posted another article on Answers.com, and this one is a recipe for chili. Not really European, I know. Chili is typically served in the colder months, but I find that it tastes good year-round, and cooking on the range keeps the kitchen from getting too hot.
Easy Low Carb Chili
I have some very exciting news to share: I have been offered a position at Answers.com as their Low Carb Category Expert Writer! I'll be writing articles as an independent contractor for the website while I continue to work full time at the Veterans hospital as an outpatient dietitian. I'm required to publish between 10-20 articles a month (400+ words each) for the next year. This is such a fantastic opportunity to write about a subject I'm so passionate about! I'm still letting it all sink in.
Now the (sort of) bad news. Because I'm still working full time and will be writing at least 10 articles a month for Answers.com, I won't have much time to write my current style of blog posts, ie, voicing my own opinion on various issues. At least not if I want to have some kind of life outside of nutrition. I'll try to still write one blog post a month because I really enjoy the process.
I'm not much of a self-promotor, but I'm going to ask that when I link to my Answers.com articles that you please click on the link and (hopefully) read them. Most of the articles are pretty basic and will likely contain things you've heard before, but I would really appreciate your support on this.
One final bit of good news -- well, it's actually great news :) As of January, I will no longer be working at the VA hospital because I'll be going into private practice. While I will really miss talking to our veterans, I feel that I'm not really helping any of them get healthier. It will be such a relief to be able to counsel people and provide information based on my own beliefs obtained from reviewing current research rather than continuing to try to talk around our "Healthy Plate" handouts, to the extent I can without getting into trouble. My website will be updated to explain the services I'll offer. I'll also be developing some low-carb teaching materials for doctors and writing for Answers.com, of course.
At any rate, thank you to all my regular readers who have voiced your support for this blog. As I said, I'm going to continue to write my blog posts, just not as frequently for a few months.
Below are the links to my first three articles on Answers.com:
8 Benefits of Low-Carb Diets
How to Choose the Right Amount of Carbs on a Low Carb Diet
7 Healthy Low-Carb Snacks That Taste Great
Thank you so much for checking out those articles. Also, I won't have computer access for a couple of days, so if you leave comments, I promise to approve them once I'm able to.
As someone who tries to read a wide variety of blogs devoted to carb restriction, I often see negative statements about dietitians not understanding the science behind energy balance, hormonal regulation, and blood glucose control. I frequently get e-mail from people saying something to the effect of, "I didn't know there was such a thing as a low-carb dietitian!" There are actually several registered dietitians I know of personally who believe in at least moderate carbohydrate restriction and higher fat intake than currently recommended by government health organizations. However, the majority of RDs favor low-fat diets that are inherently higher carb given the relatively narrow protein range of 15-30% that is almost universally agreed upon.
Why are so many dietitians against low-carb? It's usually one or more of the following beliefs -- some of which I used to share, by the way:
1. They think it's dangerous. Ketosis. Just hearing the word makes most dietitians uneasy. The thought of someone eating fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day is generally considered unhealthy and insufficient to support brain health. Never mind that our ancestors were often in ketosis for long periods of time and many scientists, physicians, athletes, people with diabetes, and others eating low-carb diets use ketones as an alternative energy source with excellent results. There are studies demonstrating that ketone bodies are the preferred fuel for the heart, adrenal cortex, and other tissues in addition to the brain. Aside from people with Type 1 diabetes who can develop the very dangerous condition of diabetic ketoacidosis from illness coupled with inadequate levels of insulin, levels of ketones do not rise to dangerously high levels in the blood because they are efficiently used for energy by the body.
2.They believe the diet-heart hypothesis. Despite much evidence to the contrary, many dietitians think that fat, particularly saturated fat, raises LDL ("bad") cholesterol and increases heart attack risk.
3. They think the diet is unbalanced. I've heard the following comments many times: "How do you get enough vitamins and minerals if you don't eat whole grains? And what about the fiber?" A low-carb diet can provide high amounts of all vitamins and minerals (animal products are the best sources, despite what's promoted in the media), as well as adequate fiber from nonstarchy vegetables, berries, nuts, and seeds.
4. They think no one will follow it long term. Some of my colleagues say that while low-carb diets may help people lose weight, they don't really stick with it and just end up regaining all the weight plus more. Well, for some folks this may be true, but I tend to believe they'd behave the same way after losing weight on any other diet. There are many people who follow a carbohydrate-restricted diet for life and stay healthy doing so, and their experiences shouldn't be discounted just because others end up abandoning it.
Again, these are beliefs held by many, but not all, dietitians. I'm obviously very much in favor of LCHF diets, and there are at least five other RDs I know of who more or less share my view:
Valerie Berkowitz,MS,RD,CDE, and her husband, Dr Keith Berkowitz, worked with Dr. Atkins at the Atkins Center for several years. She offers carbohydrate restriction as an option for her patients and has also written low-carb articles for various magazines.
Algaee Jacob, MS, RD, CDE, is a Paleo dietitian with expertise in digestive health and diabetes management using a low-carb approach. She recently wrote an article on the benefits of low-carb diets for diabetes published by Today's Dietitian -- very encouraging!
Adele Hite, RD, MPH, educated patients about carb restriction while working at the Duke Lifestyle Medical Clinic with Dr. Eric Westman and is currently working on low-carb research and pushing for policy change in the area of nutrition.
Cassie Bjork, RD, LD, is the co-host of the Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore podcast and a proponent of eating lower-carb, higher-fat real foods.
Lily Nichols, RD, CLT, is a whole foods dietitian and Pilates instructor who specializes in digestive health, follows a moderately low-carb diet, and understands the benefits of carb restriction for weight and diabetes.
There are many others out there as well, along with more conventional RDs who don't advise their patients to follow a low-carb diet but don't discourage them if they're achieving good results. I understand the frustration with dietitians not "getting it," but we need to remember that the women I just listed, myself included, weren't always so favorable toward carb restriction either. There is always hope that more will come over to our side, and I think that's likely to happen if we continue speaking out about the research supporting LCHF and the benefits so many have experienced from adopting this way of eating.
I had a fantastic time discussing the myth of low-fat diets with Dr. Mike Trenda of Natural Weight Loss Truth. We talk about the benefits of saturated fat, carbohydrate restriction, and choosing natural foods. It's a fairly short interview -- about 25 minutes -- so please listen if you can!
Debunking the Low-Fat Myth podcast
Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE