Final installment of the diary of a low carb dabbler – Part 5

Helen Kilding with Ella and Tom

The final day of my 7 day LCHF dabble is here. I’d love to tell you that meal 21 of 21 was a big eye fillet drenched in a creamy butter sauce served with deep fried broccoli but hey, that’s not what dabbling is all about. Poor planning , a lack of motivation to go shopping and wanting to have the same meal as my husband, meant that my last supper was, of all things, a bowl of pasta, albeit with a very oily sauce.

So I’ve done it, the 7 days is over, and it’s time to think about what I’ve learned, and what I haven’t learned. In the end, I didn’t really dabble; I actually think I hit it quite hard. I say ‘think’ because my first observation is that I have absolutely no idea how much carbohydrate I actually consumed each day. In the absence of a simple tool to do this (but watch this space on that), my approach was to try to eat pretty much none. Hence why without planning to, 20 out of 21 meals ended up being LCHF, although whether they were L enough and H enough is anyone’s guess. What I can tell you is that:

  • I definitely had less sugar highs and, to start with at least, less sugar lows
  • I found the food I ate tasty but lacking in variety, but this bothered me less as the week wore on, probably because my normal diet isn’t particularly varied either and that doesn’t/didn’t bother me
  • I realised I don’t have to have bread, pasta, rice or potato at every meal to feel satisfied
  • Eating LCHF didn’t affect my ability to exercise, or my exercise performance, except on one occasion
  • It didn’t seem to affect my milk supply either
  • The extra cost of things like raw nuts, seeds, good quality canned fish, more fresh fish than normal, high fat yoghurt, etc undoubtedly outweighed any savings from cutting out milk, bread, cereals etc.
  • Eating out was about 50% more expensive
  • Dietary fat does not immediately appear on your hips! Although I think I was still a bit tentative about adding fat to things – old habits die hard
  • I was more thirsty than normal, or at least I drank more water
  • Going LCHF takes some planning and preparation
  • Pepsi Max is highly addictive[1].

Although 7 days is a very short period, I could still kick myself for not doing at least some baseline measures, but that’s what happens when you start a trial accidentally and only plan to ‘dabble’. So I probably have more questions than answers right now. Some might be impossible to answer and/or the answers are only relevant to me, but others might form the basis of future research to a) confirm the benefits (or otherwise) of the LCHF approach, and b) help make the approach more appealing and/or accessible to the general population. So here goes…..

  1. Is eating LCHF some of the time better than eating LCHF none of the time? How often is enough?
  2. If I do it for a while and then go back to my old diet, will I end up worse off than if I hadn’t done it at all?
  3. Am I helping myself in one way but doing damage in another?
  4. If I have a cheat day or a cheat meal, is it better if it’s HCLF, HCHF, MCMF, or any other combination of the above? And is there a better time of day to cheat?!
  5. Why did meals/snacks that satisfied me at the beginning of the week not quite hit the spot as much by the end of the week?
  6. Does being told that if you do this diet right you shouldn’t feel hungry affect your perception of whether you feel hungry or not?
  7. Could there be any negative effects, for mother or baby, of breastfeeding while on a LCHF diet?
  8. Would a diet based on real food (and not necessarily LCHF) be more appropriate for someone like me?
  9. Should I be changing how I feed my toddler?

I’d love to know what “the experts” think about what I did and what I ate. I’d love to discuss some possible research projects that might answer some of the questions identified above. And I’d love to know what I can eat to make my little boy sleep through the night and my 2 year old stop having tantrums! Over and out from the LCHF dabbler…..for now.

[1] On Day 6, feeling a bit tired, I decided an inch of Pepsi Max wouldn’t hurt. It tasted OK but not as nice as normal. And when the glass was empty….I had no need for any more. But the following night, I felt the need for another inch and this time an inch wasn’t enough and I could feel myself falling back in to old habits. At my worst, I would drink up to a litre of Pepsi Max a day but in recent years, I’ve been able to limit it to 1-2 glasses a night.

7 Comments on “Final installment of the diary of a low carb dabbler – Part 5

  1. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your dabbling, Helen! I think I fundamendally agree that lowering carbs (esp refined ones) is a good thing. I think the thing I’m not grasping is why the need for high fat? Surely extra lean protein is preferrable? Isnt such a high fat diet bad for your heart/cholesterol?

    • Oh and in terms of why the need for high fat, it’s for satiety. If you cut out carbs and only replace them with lean protein, you’ll still be hungry and will need to eat more, or will give up. There are also side effects of eating too much protein and excess amounts inevitably end up being dealt with in the same way as carbohydrate. Fat on the other hand is the body’s preferred fuel source and isn’t associated with an insulin response so is burned rather than stored (providing the carbs aren’t present). Again, let me know if I need to provide a better explanation!

  2. Very interesting Helen. I wonder if your midweek headache was caffeine withdrawal from quitting the Pepsi max? I recently have up coffee and felt crappy with a headache for 3 straight days. Maybe you had 2 experiments in 1? I eat a diet without wheat, dairy or sugar these days which was originally very LCHF, but I recently added in some complex carbs – oats, rice, sweet potatoes. Happy to discuss if you’re interested.

  3. Hello! I too have enjoyed following you on your LCHF journey the last 7 days. I have just finished doing a one month challenge with LCHF, and I too have a few similar questions/doubt as you do – so hopefully you will get some answers that I can see as well 🙂 I think the hardest thing for me with this diet is re-introducing high fat – it was really difficult to change my mind set! However despite my doubts, after 1 month, I feel fantastic – and have decided to give it a try another month…lets see how that goes 🙂

    • I know what you mean! So many years of being told something completely different and actually doing OK with it too. The whole “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” was/is definitely going on for me. Are you tracking your progress in any other ways, blood tests etc? Good luck with month 2 and let us know how it goes. Just realised your blog will probably tell me all that. I’ll have a read now 🙂

  4. Thanks Clare. The slightly sore head on Day 6 was definitely self-inflicted! Your approach is definitely where I’m heading I think, although probably with more dairy than you. I’d definitely be keen to hear about the changes you experienced as you eliminated and reintroduced things 🙂

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