Friday, September 30, 2011

Let’s simplify the whole thing

The only thing I did for my weight reduction was to count carbs.  Remember you do not have to worry about how much fat you are consuming, you do not have to worry about how much protein you are consuming; you do not have to worry about how many calories you are consuming.  The only thing you are going to worry about is how many grams of carbs you are going to consume.  As long as you are eating balanced meals, amounts of everything else like, fat, proteins, and calories, will work out themselves.

People ask me if I am allowed to eat certain foods or not.  The answer is simple.  I can eat anything I want as long as I stay within 170g of carbs.  I can eat two scones from Starbucks in the morning (180g) and nothing else for the rest of the day.  Would that constitute three balanced meals for the day?  Of course not.
Here is the mantra for today:  I will eat no more than 170g of carbs every day.

Start reading Labels on Food Products:
America is a great country.  All the packaged food in America has to have its label of nutritional value on the packaging.  Please pay attention to the amount of carbohydrates per serving and size of the serving.  A half a gallon carton of milk I have, reads: serving size 1 cup (240 mL) (or 8 fl. Oz.).  Total Carb. (per serving) 14g.  This is where you get the information about the amount of carbs you are going to ingest.  If you are going to have half a cup of milk with your breakfast, then you count 7g of carbs, simple!  Also, remember to read the list of ingredients on the label.  If there are chemicals and preservatives that you cannot pronounce then you probably don’t want to eat them.  Also pay attention to the marketing part of the label like, “Low Fat”.  Usually, items that are “Low Fat” are made tastier by adding a lot of sugar or other sweeteners to them. 

By law, the order of the ingredients in the list has to be in descending order of the quantity of the ingredients.  So the first ingredient has the highest proportion in the product and the last ingredient has the smallest proportion in the product.  So if you buy Peanut Butter from Trader Joe’s and the ingredient list reads only “Dry Roasted Peanuts”, then you know that you are getting 100% peanut butter.  If however, you get Skippy peanut butter and the ingredient list reads many items including salt and sugar, you know what to do with it.  Similarly, if you are looking at a blueberry muffin and the first ingredient listed is sugar while flour or blueberries are later in the list, then you should ask yourself why they don’t call the product blueberry flavored sugar cake.  By the way, almost all muffins sold at supermarkets have sugar as their first ingredient.  Go check it out, you’ll be amazed.  Many people have figured out this trick so the food manufacturers use another trick.  They split the sugar content among multiple different sugar equivalents.  So 15g of sugar can be split into 5g of sugar, 5g of high fructose corn syrup, and 5g of cane juice.  Now the sugar component won’t be the first on the list.  But you can outsmart them by reading …. what?  The amount of carbs.

Please note that it is my experience that many of the packaged foods sold at India grocery stores do not accurately reflect the carb counts.

Carbohydrates (carbs) vs. Sugar:
For those mathematically inclined, sugar is a subset of carbs.  All carbs get converted to sugar in the body.  The body uses sugar to convert it into energy for the cells.  Excess sugar is converted into fat and stored away for future use when additional energy is needed.  I am a lacto-ova vegetarian.  Meaning I do eat milk and egg products but no other animal products.  My discussion throughout is from the perspective of a vegetarian like me.  If I didn’t eat milk or egg products then I’d be a vegan.  A vegan diet is far superior for reversing Type II diabetes.  For a diabetic or for weight reduction, it is important to note that carbohydrate is carbohydrate.  It makes no difference for the purpose of counting carbs what kind of carbohydrate it is.  Let me explain with an example.  Some people eat brown rice instead of white rice because it is taken for granted that brown rice is better for you.  However, they are surprised to find that despite eating brown rice there is no effect on their weight or sugar levels.  That brown rice is better than white rice is true but it is not the whole truth.  Here is the whole truth:  Brown rice has more vitamins and nutritional value.  Brown rice is better for digestion.  Brown rice gives one more chewing satisfaction and that may help reduce the amount of intake.  However, a cup of brown rice has exactly the same amount of carbs as a cup of white rice.  Yes, brown rice does take longer than white rice to get converted to sugar in the body.  So the sugar levels in the blood rise slowly for brown rice but the ultimate result is the same.  A cup of rice has 45g of carbs, whether it is brown rice or white.

So if you go to an Indian restaurant and eat one cup of rice pudding (kheer) that they serve at typical lunch buffets in the U.S., you are consuming 70g of carbs (Rice + milk + 4 spoons of sugar).  The dessert alone has more carbs than what you should consume for the entire meal.

Talking about Indian restaurants, I should mention that most of them add sugar to almost all the curries.  I know that because I estimate the amount of carbs for the curries I’ve eaten and take insulin accordingly.  Five hours later I find out that my sugar reading is way off.  Based on the numbers I can pretty much tell you how much sugar was put in that curry.  Therefore here is another mantra I follow: I will never eat from a buffet at an Indian restaurant.

Here is a summary of all the mantras:
·         I will eat no more than 170g of carbs every day.
·         I will never eat a scone or a muffin again.
·         I will never eat from a buffet at an Indian restaurant.
·         I will never eat commercially prepared cereal ever again.
·         I will wait at least three to four hours after dinner before lying down to go to sleep.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Counting Carbs:

The theory is actually quite simple.  For a diabetic the amount of fat consumed does not matter; the amount of proteins consumed does not matter; the amount of calories consumed does not matter.  The only thing that matters is the amount of carbohydrates consumed.  I was told that the ideal amount of carbs for an adult with moderate amount of physical activity was about 170 grams of carbs per day.  I’ll describe moderate physical activity later but first let’s discuss 170 grams of carbs.

The first step was to split up 170 grams into different meals.  I was taught that the current thinking in diabetes treatment was that eating every two hours (grazing) was not a good idea.  It was better to have three full balanced meals a day about five hours apart without any other intake.  So I split up my meals as follows (time indicated is the beginning of time of the meal):
 7:30 AM    Breakfast   40g
12:30 PM   Lunch         60g
 5:00 PM    Snack        10g  
 7:00 PM    Dinner       60g
                Total        170g

Notice that I added a fourth meal “Snack” at 5:00 PM.  I had to do it in order to accommodate my dinner time of 7 PM, about 6 and a half hour gap after lunch. 

Before I get carried away and give you details of each meal let me just throw in this jewel.  Before I started this plan I’d go to a Starbucks, get a medium coffee with cream and sugar (15g), and a scone (90g).  What do you think happened to these 105g of carbs?  They got converted to fat, of course.  If you thought McDonald’s food was bad for you, think again.  Starbucks is much worse. 
Here is a new mantra: I will never eat a scone or a muffin again.

Basic Rules for the meals:
·         Do not skip a meal
·         Lunch and dinner must be balanced meals.  Not only do I not skip a meal but I do not just eat a piece of fruit or only have a salad.  That is a big non-no.  The meal must be balanced.
·         Each meal must fully satisfy you.  Meaning you plan your meal in such a way that without exceeding your carb intake you feel full at the end of the meal.
·         Initially and until you get really good at this, do not eat out.

We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This has been engraved in our minds by the “education” imparted on us by the big cereal companies.  “An educated consumer is a good consumer”, otherwise who would buy the concoctions that get sold as breakfast foods? 

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? 
I never used to eat breakfast before, but I forced myself to start eating breakfast.  Why?  Because I had decided to surrender myself to whatever I was going to be taught about revising my eating habits (I’ll discuss more on the subject of spirituality of surrendering later).  That breakfast is the most important meal of the day is true but it is not the whole truth.  Here is the whole truth.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, if and only if, it is actually breaking a fast of 12 hours.   In the old days before the advent of electric lights people used to go to sleep early and wake up early.  By necessity dinner was an early affair.  Nowadays people eat dinner at all kinds of late hours.  It is common in Indian dinner parties these days for the appetizers to arrive at 10 PM.  Many people in the cities of India, like Bombay, arrive home from work at 9 PM, cook dinner, and eat after 10 PM.  If you are going to eat dinner at 10 PM or a snack at 11 PM, should you be eating breakfast at 7 AM?  Of course not! In that case it makes more sense to skip breakfast.  Also, keep in mind that if you have not taken a walk after eating dinner, and not waited at least three hours, the food you have eaten is still sitting in your stomach putrefying.  The stomach is trying to produce more acid to digest the foods, and all this is causing symptoms of acidity and acid reflux.
Here is another mantra:  I will wait at least three to four hours after dinner before lying down to go to sleep.

Should breakfast include high carb foods like pancakes and cereals? 
In the agrarian and industrial societies, when people used to get up early in the morning to go and work hard in farms and factories, it made sense that the breakfast was rich in carbs.  But does it make sense for the current information age worker to eat a muffin for breakfast while sitting with her laptop in a Starbucks cafĂ©?  Does it make sense to eat donuts with your morning coffee at the office?  Should business meetings have sweet rolls for morning and cookies for afternoon sessions?  Not if they want you to pay attention to what is going on in the meetings.  Now I know why I used to feel sleepy in all those meetings – carbs overload!

Juices for breakfast anyone?  Stop this practice immediately.  My son and daughter-in-law taught me that.  They do not give any juice to my grandchildren.  My grandchildren can have all the fruits that they want but no juices.  A small glass (8 fl. Oz or 240 ml) of orange juice is 30g of carbs!  Do you think you want to have a hearty breakfast of a large glass of orange juice, coffee with cream and sugar, a stack of four pancakes with syrup, and hash brown potatoes?  My computation for that “hearty” breakfast is 170g of carbs, as much as I should eat during the whole day!  Drinking juice takes out the function of the mouth chewing the fruit, mixing saliva with the fruit, helping in digestion, and helping in sending the signal to the brain when you’ve had enough.  Drinking juice on the other hand is like gulping down sugar.  Your brain has no chance to get informed when you’ve had enough.  Juice is perfect food when you are sick because you can provide energy to your body in form of sugar without having to chew solid food and digest it.

“Cereals” evolved from the practice of eating breakfast items made from grains.  Not a bad practice for an agrarian society.  However, what gets passed on to us as cereal by the big companies is not good food.  This is what I suggest you do.  Take a look at a box of cereal, any cereal, in your home and read the label for ingredients.  I assure you that you’ll find the cereal has both salt and some form of sugar listed in the ingredient list.  Having both, salt and sugar, in any food is a sure fire way to make sure that you find it tasty and eat more of it.  This is a marketing strategy, for increasing sales, built into the formula of the product.  Next count the number of ingredients in the list.  If there are more than one or two ingredients, then it is probably junk food. 
Here is another Mantra:  I will never eat commercially prepared cereal ever again.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In the Beginning:

I have lost almost 70 lbs over the last two years.  As I try and answer the question that everyone asks (namely, how did you do it?) I find that the answer becomes complex and long-winded.  Finally, I decided that there are so many people interested in my success at weight reduction and that there are so many points to be made, that I should start a blog and post as many points as I can remember over a period of time.  This way many people can benefit from what I have learned over the last two years. 

So here I go.
January 2009, I weighed 255 lbs.  It came as a total surprise when I ended up in the hospital in August of 2009 with the diagnosis of diabetes keto-acidosis.  While it is true that most adult onset diabetes is Type 2, I am Type 1, meaning my pancreas does not make any insulin, so I have to take multiple insulin shots every day.  My medical coverage is through the Kaiser system in the mid-Atlantic region (DC).  I was hospitalized while I was in San Diego.  The first thing we experienced was that the ambulance took me straight to the Kaiser hospital 10 miles away.  The second thing we experienced was how seamless the Kaiser system was.  There was no paperwork to do.  All Kalpana had to do was to sign a couple of prefilled forms to transfer benefits from Kaiser Mid-Atlantic to Kaiser Southern California.  That’s it!  We have never again had to sign a piece of paper from Kaiser again in two years.  The third and most important thing was that after I went home the Kaiser staff made sure that I attended certain classes meant for diabetics.  They also kept reminding me until I made the appointment to attend the classes and thereafter they made sure that I actually attended the classes with my wife, Kalpana.  Most of what I am going to be describing in this blog I learned from attending 6 hours of those classes.  I believe that without that training I could have never achieved the weight loss that I have achieved.

Please note that I am not a doctor.  I am not giving medical advice.  All I am doing is describing my experiences and discoveries.  What I have learned and discovered works for me but may not work for others.

Before and After:
That being said, I’ll begin with my before and after pictures.  The picture on the left is from April 2008 when I weighed 255 lbs.  The picture on the right is my picture from November 2010 at 189 lbs.  I am continuing to lose weight at an extremely slow rate of about one pound over a period of six months.  At the time of publishing this blog I weigh 187 lbs.


Weight Goal:
My weight was 198 lbs. in 1970 when I left India for the U.S.  I am 6’ 2” tall and the weight of 198 lbs. had stayed with me for many years and suited me quite well.  With the abundance that America offers I started gaining weight and reached 255 lbs.  My goal in 2009 was to reach the weight 198 lbs; however, my daily affirmations included a phrase about reaching “my ideal weight”.  Based on the outcome, I guess my “ideal weight” is 187 lbs. or less.

How I did it:
In short, I did it by counting carbs (carbohydrates).  I also did it through discipline, focus, single-mindedness of purpose, and dedication.  It was not hard work.  In fact it was quite easy.  More than requiring a change in lifestyle, it required a change in my thinking.  I had to change my views on various things especially about different foods and eating habits.  I will describe all of that in detail as I continue to write this blog.