Sunday, June 26, 2005

Who Says You Can't Splurge On Low-Carb?

This Associated Press story about a Valentine, Nebraska man who has lost 573 pounds over the past year through gastric bypass surgery hits on something that I believe needs to be addressed within the context of livin' la vida low-carb.

Patrick Deuel tipped the scales at 1,072 pounds in June 2004 and decided to do something drastic to help him get his life back. He was basically an invalid who obviously had heart trouble, full-blown diabetes, and needed oxygen to breathe. This guy was a ticking timebomb just waiting to explode to an early death.

He chose to have gastric bypass surgery and implement exercise for the first time ever to help him lose the weight and is impressed that he can finally feel his ribs for the first time in a quarter century! That's a big deal to someone who has never been able to do that. I had a similar feeling the first time I could see my rib cage in the mirror after losing my 180 pounds. It's these little things that keep you going on your weight loss efforts.

As a spokesman in the obesity debate now, Deuel said something that the author of the story decided to use as a jab against low-carb programs such as Atkins.

It seems that Deuel has not completely given up on junk food that he enjoys to eat and which contributed to his gargantuan appearance before losing weight. The story states that Deuel "doesn't believe in total deprivation" and "defiantly refuses to consider any foods taboo."

"If you have a craving and don't take care of it, it's going to grow and grow and grow and it's going to make you do something stupid - binge," he says.

These "binge" moments for Deuel happen twice a month and have helped him get through his weight loss without the temptation to fall off the wagon.

"I've lost 102 pounds in 70 days, eating what I wanted," he says. "Tell me it doesn't work ... For me, the easiest way to stay on my diet and not go absolutely crazy to is eat [to satisfy the craving], get that out of the way and get back on the program."

The author of this article said the "Atkins and South Beach faithful might shudder" at this notion. But not me.

This may come as a shock to a lot of my low-carb friends because I have not seen it in any books nor has it been recommended by anyone in the low-carb community. But one thing that has helped me persevere through the weight loss and even the weight maintenance of my low-carb lifestyle are planned binges. You might call them my "splurge" meals.

Most people don't ever plan their "splurge," they just go all out when temptation hits them and eat to their heart's content. That's not what I'm referring to.

Instead, I have a date circled on my calendar that I have predetermined is my time to eat and enjoy whatever I want to eat for one meal. Just ONE meal is all this is good for! Whether it is pizza, Mexican, Italian or whatever floats your boat, you can eat all you want of whatever you are craving the most until you get your craving fulfilled.

But then you get back on the program. Immediately and no further "splurge" until the next time. When I was losing weight, I did this about every 6-8 weeks. It kept me going when temptation would be at its strongest because I could look at the calendar and see I had a meal coming up for me to enjoy the foods I couldn't have. It took away that excuse that I'm "depriving myself."

Even now that I am simply maintaining my weight, I still have a planned "splurge" about once every couple of weeks or so with my wife. I have been known to eat as many as 30 slices of pizza during my splurge meal. GASP! I know I just caused some of my low-carb friends to fall out of their seats. But it's true. It's what I do to allow myself the opportunity to eat foods that I cannot normally have while still enjoying the benefits of lost weight and improved health.

"An occasional indiscretion is OK," a doctor in the story says. "Every once in a while you have to have a piece of chocolate, providing you're not carrying the bag around all the time."

That's my philosophy exactly. But you have to realize that these "splurge" meals WILL DEFINITELY kick you out of ketosis for several days and your weight may not go down very quickly. However, I have been fortunate enough to be able to lose any extra weight that I put on because of this "splurge" meal within less than a week of doing it. If I don't need to "splurge," then I don't. But it's nice to know I can use this method from time to time to satisfy my cravings.

Keep in mind that this "splurge" meal plan may not be ideal for everyone. But it worked for me. You may not need to do this and be thankful if that is you. But this could be the key ingredient that some of you have been looking for to help you be successful as you are livin' la vida low-carb.

But please be careful not to rationalize this method when you see a box of doughnuts at work and tell yourself that THIS will be your "splurge" meal. It doesn't work that way. Plan it well in advance, look forward to it to avoid temptation, do it enjoying every single bite and then get back on the plan as soon as possible. It's that simple and it worked for me. Hopefully, it will work for you, too!


Blogger NewsBlaze said...

Planned splurging sounds like a great idea, as long as you can control it.
Some people can't and the splurging never stops.

Low Carb Recipes

6/26/2005 3:25 PM  
Blogger DietKing said...

I agree with 'newsblaze'/Alan; As long as you don't let things get out of control, it's probably a good thing to balance healthy eating with 'fun'--although hopefully the healthy eating stays in effect most of the time. One of these days I'll figure out that balance myself LOL.

6/26/2005 10:09 PM  
Blogger Sandylp said...

I think planned splurges might work for me after I've lost the weight, but I'm too afraid to attempt them while losing weight.

6/26/2005 11:14 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

I guess I have done something similar to your "planned splurges" (although I couldn't eat 30 pieces of pizza; it would kill me). When I have a special occasion coming up I circle it on my calendar for at least a week before that time I really watch my carbs. Then on that day, for that meal only, I eat whatever I want. I do this about once a month. It has worked just fine for me.
Kalyn Denny

6/27/2005 11:31 AM  
Blogger Kent said...

Sorry, I am one who lives by routine and planned splurges would be just interruptions in that routine, a decision point. Much easier for myself has been remaining in control, and if I want to splurge, there are certainly enough legal (aka by the book) ways to do it than not. 1-2 pounds of juicy roasted meat at Brazilian steakhouse, anyone? The allure of sugar, flours, starches were what got me in my condition. Not deviating and the simple inertia of eating the same basic plan every day of every month is my sure fire plan to staying at goal. Creating decision points of this pizza is fine for today or no this sugar-filled donut is not poison for today only for me would put me on the track.

If it works for you Jimmy, great, but I think for many it is playing with fire.

6/27/2005 11:11 PM  
Blogger Kent said...

One final thought convincing myself I can eat whatever I want for one meal alone simply would remind myself that what I am doing is not who I am (a low carber at heart) or what I am doing is burden the other 29 days. I killed those pizza and General Tso's chicken cravings a long time (and in a galaxy far, far away). Why would I want to resurrect? Again, just the balancing the planned splurge theory out. Whatever gets you to goal and helps you maintain it, the better.

6/27/2005 11:15 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

If this makes you stumble, then don't do it. But it can be just the thing for some who have wanted a way to enjoy foods they like without gaining the weight they don't like. I agree you lose your taste for some things after a while of livin' la vida low-carb (I talk about one such food in my upcoming book), but I know how much the "planned splurge" helped me.

6/28/2005 7:49 AM  
Blogger Levi said...

Planned splurges, or "vacations" as I've heard them called sometimes, are definitely something to be careful with. For some people they work great, but for others they can be the first step on a very slippery slope. I tried this out after low-carbing for about three years and I think it weakened my resolve. I was constantly thinking about that next time that I could splurge, and then eventually around the holidays that year it became very easy just to just allow myself to splurge on a much more regular basis.

What I find personally works better for me is having the flexibility to go "off" the diet in certain ways. I'll allow myself to have a taste of something I know is carby once in a while, but I try to really make sure it's something that is WORTH it. I'm not going to have a bite of a donut or something like that, but something home-made that I've never had before, or just something unique that I wouldn't be able to just go to some local place and buy it. It has to be special in some way. That way I can filter out a lot of stuff and also I just have a taste and that's it. Once in a great while I'll have more than a taste, like if I go to the movies and get popcorn, but I at least try to take into consideration the carb/health factor of the food. Popcorn, while carby, does have a lot of fiber, so there are a lot of worse things to have than a small popcorn. This all works well for me, but it might not work at all for others who are much more prone to binging if they eat something tempting. Luckily, I'm not, it's just the thought of a PLANNED splurge that messes with my mind!

7/01/2005 8:12 PM  

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