Complacency and The Appetite Monster on a Low-Carb High-Fat Diet

Cupcake Monster

Have you heard of cronuts? A cronut is basically a donut made with croissant dough. That is, you take the puff pastry normally used to make a croissant, and you deep fry it like a donut, sweetening it along the way to make sure that it is as sugary and crispy and delicious as you can imagine. It’s something that appeared on the New York foodie scene in 2012, and it has been making the rounds. If you’ve been avoiding carbohydrates for a couple of years, you may not have been exposed to the cronut phenomenon.

Three days ago at work, somebody brought in some cronuts to share with the office. And when these cronuts passed under my nose, I felt no cravings at all. I wasn’t even interested. Well okay, I was curious just out of my natural social awareness, but I had no desire to put anything like that into my mouth. I heard my coworkers rave about the delicacy, the crispiness, and the orgiastic delight of eating a cronut, One of them even said that the cronuts had now ruined him for regular donuts. It had no effect on me.

My cravings were totally under control. I didn’t feel any desire for a cronut. And I realized at the time how remarkable that was.

Cravings Under Control

Cravings were an issue for me all my life. Some of my earliest memories are of the strong desire I felt for the foods I wanted to eat. They were invariably high carbohydrate, high fat foods. We know fat is satisfying, tasty, and good for us in the absence of carbohydrates. But the combination of carbohydrates and fats is both addictive and physically toxic. Whether accompanied by a sweet taste in the mouth or a savory one, the desire for foods that mix carbohydrates and fats can easily overwhelm our natural instincts, and drive us to eat them no matter how seriously we know they affect our health and well-being.

But cravings haven’t been a problem for me since I started low-carb high-fat eating. Food is still a sensual pleasure for the tongue, the nose, the eyes, the ears, and the lips, but it doesn’t feel like a compulsion. And I’ve come to accept this as a natural state for myself. Perhaps I’ve even become complacent about how easily I can pass by a bakery window without wanting anything more than to enjoy the pleasant aroma of baking bread. I know in my gut how uncomfortable and unsatisfying anything more than the smell will be.

The thing is, that sense of control can be misleading. I need to remind myself occasionally about the tiny demon lurking at the edges of my consciousness, who always seeks out opportunities to undermine my health and restraint.

The very evening after I so casually ignored the cronuts at the office, I went to a holiday dinner party with my friends, who had made a fabulous Thanksgiving-style dinner. There was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, spinach casserole, and an incredible array of desserts. I was in perfect form, and I knew how to handle the situation. I wasn’t having any unusual cravings. The dinner looked fabulous, and I helped myself to ample servings of turkey and spinach casserole, avoiding the starchy side dishes. It was all delicious, and I was quite full and satisfied when I was done.

Then, without asking if I wanted anything else, my host put a plate in front of me with ice cream and bread pudding made out of croissants. Just to be polite, I had a taste.

Big mistake.

Confessions of a Carbohydrate Addict

I am writing you today from my third day off the wagon. I fell off that evening, indulging in not only one dessert but a full second helping. I even had a slice of pecan pie on top of that. By the time the evening was over, I was hugging total strangers, staring glassily off into the distance during conversations, and feeling generally stoned on carbohydrates. Even though I hadn’t had any alcohol,  I didn’t feel safe driving home.

The next day, I found myself slipping a piece of chocolate into my mouth in the morning before I even thought about it. And then I baked a batch of cookies–and not the healthy low carbohydrate high-fat cookies I’ve been experimenting with; just regular cookies. Then I found a small bag of potato chips that had managed to make its way into my pantry a year or so ago, and ate those with my lunch. Dinner was pizza. Oy vey.

Yesterday we went to my parents’ house for dinner. We knew that my father had made his potato latkes, so it was definitely going to be an evening off. We had volunteered to go shopping and bring roasted chicken from a local rotisserie. But while we were out I managed to buy a pan of brownies with cream cheese frosting and a pint of my favorite ice cream. (I didn’t even make the brownies myself, I just bought them. The things we do!) After we got home from dinner–which included not only the latkes but also peach pie à la mode–I sampled the brownies and the ice cream I had bought. I could sense the impact of the sugar in my system as I ate, but when I paid attention, the actual flavor and texture of the food itself was dull in comparison. I kept telling myself along the way that this is what happens when you open the door to a few carbohydrates. But I didn’t feel as my behavior was under my control.

The truth is, I knew something was wrong as soon as I started eating that dessert the first night at my friend’s party. This wasn’t a scheduled carbohydrate reload; this was me going off into an indulgent little affair. I was cheating on myself. It felt naughty and nasty and wicked. And it was shockingly easy to get started. After all, I told myself, when I do a scheduled carbohydrate reload, I don’t have any problem getting right back onto my diet a few hours later. How could having one little bite of dessert at a party be any different?

Well, maybe it was the fact that it wasn’t scheduled that made it different. Suddenly my mind decided that I was on vacation, and there was absolutely no limit to what I could do to myself. I felt my mood roller coaster from being spacey and drugged out to being grouchy and unpleasant to be around. I started getting abdominal cramps the first night, and I spent the entire three days feeling bloated and uncomfortable. I won’t go into detail, but that feeling went all the way through me from top to bottom.

Placing the Blame (on Me)

Maybe it was the spinach casserole. I didn’t ask before I ate it what was in it. It looked like it was just spinach, cream, and cheese. But it was unusually tasty. If there were some hidden carbohydrates in there, they might have triggered my cravings. But it could just as easily have been me letting down my guard, and allowing a polite social encounter to turn into something dark and unpleasant. I don’t really want to know the answer. I’m just taking this is a lesson.

It was a sobering reminder of just how close we all are to being victims of our appetites when we allow ourselves to indulge in carbohydrates off-schedule. The appetite monster that lives in the back of our heads, that little demon, is not to be taken lightly, no matter how confident we are that we have him tamed. We all need to be aware of just how easily we can convince ourselves to eat “just one bite,” and what that can lead to.

Today I’m starting again. I’m not sure how long it will take before I feel my appetite back under control. But I’ve cleaned the bad carbohydrates out of my kitchen, and I know that I have a nice selection of healthy low-carb high-fat foods ready to support me as I step back into my preferred way of eating.

I started this essay with cronuts on my mind, and I have to confess that they are still on my mind. That’s the price we have to pay. But I’m glad to be getting back on the wagon. I know what it feels like to have my appetite under control, and to be eating a healthy low-carb high-fat diet, and to have my body behaving itself, and not to feel bloated and uncomfortable. The result will be worth the effort.

Tapping and Health

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Now I don’t want to get all woo woo on you, but I do believe in tapping. It’s an odd practice, especially the first time you see it done by somebody else, but it’s surprisingly effective. Tapping is a way to program yourself to accept messages about how you want to feel, and take advantage of the body to work with you rather than against you.

Pseudoscience and Perceived Reality

The theory is based on the fact that we are not simply our minds, but the integration of our minds and our bodies. What we feel communicates to our minds, coloring what we think, just the way that what we think communicates things to our bodies about how we feel.

Tapping is compatible with any metaphor system that you prefer to use for the energy in your body. Whether you follow the strictest interpretation of what the natural sciences currently tell us about how the body works, or prefer to visualize your body as a manifestation of meridians, chakras, or any other energy system, tapping is consistent with the way that you believe your body to work.

You tap in a rhythmic and consistent way against several key points in your body, stimulating the energy systems you perceive to be there, while focusing on a positive message about the way you want perceive yourself. The systems you touch will respond to the rhythmic physical stimulation, and help to record and reinforce that message.

You can use tapping to invoke the power of muscle memory, and the energy systems of the body, to help make a new idea stick. It sounds strange, and the reports from many practitioners read like pseudoscience. All I can tell you is that my own personal experiences, and those of people I have counseled and worked with over the years, have shown me that most of the people I’ve taught this technique to do benefit from tapping.

The Message You Want To Send

To start with, you need to find an affirmation that you want to program into your perceptions. As with many affirmation based processes practices, the difficult part is coming up with an appropriate affirmation. It’s very important that the affirmation you tap into your system is a positive one, not a negative one. It has to actively communicate the behavior and state of mind that you’re trying to encode into yourself. It must be specific, concrete, and positive.

I’ve seen too many experts give examples of tapping in which they show negative phrases being tapped into the muscle systems. For example, tapping a phrase such as, “I will not oversleep,” Or “I accept myself, even though I have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.” Both of these declarations carry with them the weight of the negative concepts that someone may be trying to reverse. Similarly, affirmations such as, “I want to have more energy” are about the future, not the present, and they are not specific enough. You need your affirmation to be clear and explicit, so that you can visualize exactly how you want it manifested in your life.

The most useful affirmations are the ones that conjure up an image in your mind of yourself the way that you want to see yourself. Focus on the positive result you want from tapping. For example, you might tap a message like, “I wake up every morning refreshed.” The message is simple, positive, and specific about the way that you want to perceive yourself.

I think one of the reasons people shy away from some of the most useful positive affirmations is that they feel like lies. You’re stating, in the present tense, a description of yourself the way that you believe you want to be, not the way that you currently believe yourself to be. The critical point to realize is that the way that you perceive yourself right now is not the way that you actually are, but merely the way that you are perceiving yourself. Tapping is a way of adjusting your perceptions, not changing reality. You are not lying if you change your perception, and use tapping to help make that concrete.

The Tapping Procedure

The process of tapping is very simple. You just find a short phrase to affirm, and repeat it quietly to yourself out loud as you gently tap the index and middle fingers of both hands progressively, two or three times, against these parts of your upper body:

1. your temples,
2. your cheeks,
3. your jaw,
4. your neck,
5. your collarbone,
6. the center of your chest, and
7. the bottom of your rib cage.

I generally recommend following this sequence three times, And then stopping. You don’t want the affirmation to begin to sound like a nonsense phrase, or use it like a mantra. Importance is communicating the idea to yourself, and cementing it.

Some people prefer to start at the top of the head, and some people move all the way down to the feet, but the basic process can be done fully clothed, seated or standing, anytime you have a few minutes free.

Do It For Yourself

Even if you’re not shy, and even if part of you wants people to ask you what you’re doing, this is not a practice to be done in a public place. The point of this is you. You are communicating with yourself. If your attention is on whether people are watching you, or what questions they may have, or how you may appear while you’re doing it, tapping me not be as effective. Focus on yourself. Let this be something that you do just for you.

I generally prefer to tap no more than once or twice a day, and to focus on a single message for at least a week at a time. I find that I get results that are positive and noticeable within a day or two, but I try to continue tapping the same idea for a week, just to cement the effort. Making a significant change in your own perception of yourself takes time, and you need to give each message the opportunity to sink in fully. If you’ve chosen a message that’s important to you, you want to make sure to give yourself time to reap the full benefit from it. And if you’re tapping messages that you don’t really want to embrace, you may as well not be tapping at all.

Approach tapping using whatever system you prefer for identifying affirmations. Tapping does not have to be done exclusive of other approaches for working with affirmations, but it’s a powerful technique for giving an affirmation the support of the systems the body naturally provides.

Creamy Low Carb High Fat Coconut Flour Cake

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Since I’ve been following a low-carb high-fat diet, I haven’t really found myself craving sweets. The pattern I follow includes a six-hour cheat window once every week or two. If I ever feel the need for something that’s not on my regular diet, I know that it’s less than a week’a wait before I can have it again. And honestly, on my cheat days, I generally find myself craving fats and proteins.

But I’m not doing this alone. My husband is very fond of my baking. It may be one of the reasons he married me. And baking isn’t a big part of low-carb high-fat dieting. But there are a number of my recipes that he’s gotten used to over the years, and sometimes love comes in the form of food. One of these recipes is the moist, spongy tres leches cake that I used to make for him every now and then.

There are number of alternatives to flour for baking on low-carb high-fat diets. After experimenting with a few, the one that I’ve decided is probably the most practical for cakes and breads is coconut flour, made from very finely powdered dried unsweetened coconut meat. It has an even texture, only tending to be just a little bit grainy if you pay attention. It also absorbs liquid very easily, which isn’t a problem unless you’re not expecting it. But coconut flour is white and smooth, and it doesn’t take very much of it to add real body to a cake.

I tried a few of the coconut flour cake recipes that I’ve seen on the Internet. The results have been a little disappointing. They tend to have a texture more like a quick bread than a cake. Imagine cornbread without the corn.They satisfy the need for something bread-like, but not really for something cake like.

So I decided to apply a few of my own baking techniques to the problem. I started with coconut flour, erythritol, eggs, butter, salt, baking powder, and coconut milk. I think the coconut milk was the real secret to making my cake stand out from the crowd. It lends a creamy richness to the recipe, encourages the cake to rise, and makes the result very moist, while enhancing the healthy and delicious goodness of coconut.

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Erythritol is a bit tricky to cook with. It behaves just like sugar, but it’s not as sweet. If I’m going to use a sweetener, I generally want something a little more slutty. I like the way that Splenda, saccharin, and stevia just give it up when it comes to sweetness. You don’t have to poke around with your tongue to figure out if it’s sweet or not; you know that it’s sweet as soon as it touches your mouth. That’s what I like in a dessert recipe. But erythritol brings number of excellent qualities to baking, including the way that it caramelizes, and the way the dissolves in liquids. So I wanted to make this recipe with more erythritol, supplemented with some other sweetener. I decided to use Stevia.

Separating the eggs is the other trick that I brought to this recipe. Most of the coconut bread recipes that I’ve seen just call for mixing the coconut flour into the eggs directly. I decided to mix the yolks with the flour and the other ingredients, and then fold that into whipped egg whites. That, in addition to the baking powder, gives my recipe a lot of extra lift.

The result of is still very dense, but not as bread-like as most of the other recipes I’ve tried. This is not a light cake, but it is a very fluffy cake, and very moist.

First I melted the butter, and mixed the erythritol in so that it will melt.

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Then I separated the eggs. (Well, in this case I got my husband to do it, for the camera.)

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I mixed the yolks in with the butter.

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I combined the coconut flour, baking powder, and salt,

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and mixed that into the egg yolks.

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The resulting mass was similar to the dough that many of the other coconut flour cake recipes produce at this point. But half a can of coconut milk did a good job of lightning the egg yolks to a more batter-like consistency.

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I whipped the egg whites with the cream of tartar.

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I knew the whites were ready when I could see stiff peaks.

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I mixed a little bit of the egg white into the batter to lighten it.

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Then I folded the lightened yolk and flour batter into the whipped egg whites, gently.

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When using this technique, getting it fully mixed is not as important as being delicate, so as not to deflate the egg whites.

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The result should have a smooth, cake batter consistency. I spread the batter into a buttered square baking pan. (Resist the urge to rap the pan on the counter to dislodge air bubbles, the way you might with a traditional cake. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites.)

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I baked it at 350° for 35 minutes.

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After cooling, I cut the cake into squares right in the baking pan.

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The texture is very cake like, and incredibly moist, even several days after making it. Just cover it with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. If you like, you could also make a cream cheese frosting with powdered erythritol and butter, or just top it off with a little bit of raspberry purée.

Creamy Low-Carb High-Fat Coconut Flour Cake

6 eggs
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 can (6oz) coconut milk
2/3 cup crystallized erythritol
Stevia to taste

  1. Set the oven to 350°, and butter a square baking pan
  2. Melt the butter, and mix in the erythritol until it dissolves
  3. Separate the eggs, adding the yolks to the butter
  4. Mix the coconut flour, salt, and baking powder
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the yolks
  6. Add in the coconut milk, and stir till smooth
  7. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until it forms stiff peaks
  8. Mix a little of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it
  9. Gently fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites too much
  10. Spread the batter into the baking tray, and bake for 35 minutes
  11. Allow it to cool before cutting it into squares

 

Deviled Eggs: The Perfect Low-Carb High-Fat Snack

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Sometimes when you’re following a new way of eating, you find you have to make modifications to some of your favorite recipes in order to make them appropriate for your lifestyle. Not so with one of my favorite snacks, deviled eggs. These yummy little bites of goodness are perfect for low-carb high-fat eating exactly the way they’ve always been made. What could be healthier than eggs and mayonnaise, spiced with mustard, paprika, onion powder, and salt?

Deviled eggs are also one of the most convenient foods to have on hand. They come pre-portioned into two-bite pieces, and they keep very well in the refrigerator. The spiciness of deviled eggs is completely adjustable by the cook, and a perfect way to tempt the reduced appetite you get from following a low-carb high-fat diet. The eggs are a great source of protein, and the yolks contain a lot of healthy saturated fat. The added mayonnaise also helps supplement the fat; just make sure the brand of mayonnaise you choose doesn’t have any extra sugar added, and uses oils that you feel comfortable eating.

This is my husband’s favorite recipe for deviled eggs, but there’re so many out there, you could follow practically any one, and you’ll be in great shape.

We like to do a batch of about eight eggs at a time. Boil them up on the stove until they’re hard-boiled; about 10 or 15 minutes. Hard-boiled eggs are very forgiving.

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Peel the eggs carefully. The trick is to crush the shell gently all around the egg without damaging the white, and then dig in at the wide end. There’s a bubble of air under the shell with the wide end, so you can break the membrane that surrounds the white of the egg under the shell at this point. Then separate the shell from the egg by digging under the membrane all around. This should make the process go pretty quickly.

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It’s okay some of them aren’t perfect. These aren’t the deviled eggs you’re going to bring to Aunt Trudy’s picnic. This is health food!

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Slice the eggs in half lengthwise.

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Pop the yolks into a separate bowl by stretching the egg whites gently around the yolks; they come out easily.

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To the yolks, you’ll want to add about a half cup of mayonnaise, a couple tablespoons of yellow mustard, and a half teaspoon each of salt, paprika, and onion powder. If you like, you can add some hot sauce or powdered cayenne pepper. And you can experiment with the proportions. A lot of this is to-taste.

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Cream this mixture together until it’s smooth.

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Transfer the yolk mixture into a disposable plastic bag, unless you have a pastry bag.

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Squeeze the mixture down into one corner of the bag and twist the top so there’s no air left.

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Then snip off the tip, so that you can squeeze out the filling in a controlled way.

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Fill each of the egg white halves generously with the yolk mixture. Since you added ingredients, there will be more yolk than there was to begin with, so they should all end up with a nice mound of filling.

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Just for pretty, sprinkle on some paprika at the end.

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You can whip up a batch of these very quickly. I’ll bet the ingredients are already in your pantry. And don’t be afraid to experiment. So many different spices and flavorings can go into the filling. Want to add dill pickle relish? Have a little chopped onion on hand? Do you like minced olives? This is one snack you’ll never get tired of.

Classic Low-Carb High-Fat Deviled Eggs

8 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

  1. Boil the eggs until hard; About 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Peel the shells off the eggs and slice them in half lengthwise.
  3. Take out the yolks, and put them in a separate bowl.
  4. Blend the remaining ingredients with the yolks until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Put the yolk mixture into a pastry bag, or disposable plastic bag with a cut out corner.
  6. Squeeze the mixture back into the empty egg white halves.
  7. Sprinkle with paprika if desired.