Biblical principles for food in the context of worship and church

Sermon delivered Sunday Morning, July 20, 2014

Scripture Readings

Psalm 104:1, 10-24

Acts 15.1-5; 22-29

Mark 7:14–23:

Romans 14:1–23:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIntroduction

In late 2012, Cathy asked me asked me to put some carriage lights up on our garage. In the evenings after doing this work, my feet were in pain which seemed disproportionate to the level of exertion. Not only so, but I fell off the ladder twice and also stumbled on the last step leading down to the garage. Now, I wondered if this lack of co-ordination could have anything to do with diabetes—a disease that runs in my family which I had been worried about getting. So I did some internet research and soon found that I had a problem called peripheral neuropathy, which is degenerative damage to peripheral nerves esp. in the hands and feet. It is a common diabetic symptom associated with uncontrolled blood sugars. Peripheral neuropathy causes loss of proprioception—and for years I stumbled going up steps because neuropathy makes you unable to sense where your feet are. Eventually peripheral neuropathy leads to amputation. So once I figured out where my diabetes was leading me, to loss of limb, I freaked out, and decided to stop eating carbohydrate laden foods—because I figured that carbs were the basis of the problem, and I found Dr. Bernsteins Diabetes Solution very early on confirming my decision to restrict carbohydrate.

Immediately, my feet and hands started getting better. As did my other diabetic symptoms—and as you may have noticed, I lost a dramatic amount of weight.

It is an interesting phenomenon to eat low carbohydrate high fat in a society which fears fat and in which the majority of “foods” are highly processed. When shopping, I spend nearly all my time in the outside aisles (meat, vegetables, high fat dairy, eggs) and only get coconut oil and coffee from the middle aisles of the grocery store. My food culture has a name: “Paleo”.

One of the chief arguments for the Paleo movement is that of Weston Price, a dentist who travelled around the world in circa 1930 to study native peoples. He noticed that the world’s aboriginal people were very healthy until they added processed flour and sugar to their diet. Thus, the Paleo movement focuses on real food, unprocessed and usually available without a food label. In addition, Paleo recommends eating good fats: butter, coconut oil, and animal fat. So while I eat all the fat from my meats, most people discard the fat—in the dread that saturated fat causes artery clogging. But the Inuit had no degenerative diseases (no cancer, no heart disease) before flour and sugar, despite eating diet very high in animal fat.

This alternate culture that I practice might cause problems for me when I travel or go out to eat at a friend’s place. Once eating at the house of an MP, the honorable Parliamentarian importuned me to eat an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but I strayed not from my menu. I don’t see such things as food any more. This clash of culture has been even more difficult for others: I know of one diabetic lady whose mother-in-law makes a fuss whenever she comes over and refuses to eat her high carbohydrate fare: She makes a remark like, “I guess she thinks our food isn’t good enough for her.” One of my African colleagues says that while he agrees with low-carb culture it clashes with his African culture—he says that his fellow African Christians become offended if you refuse to eat their high carbohydrate offerings. It does no good to explain that carbohydrate restriction is necessary for health. They will not accept refusal, says my friend. But wheat and sugar are causing new epidemics of diabetes in African countries today.

Clash of Two food cultures in our readings

Now it is interesting in three of the Bible passages that we read today that there is clearly a clash of two cultures going on: Gentile and Jewish culture. Jewish people ate a pretty strict Kosher diet then as they do today. Not only did the meat have to be of specific kind (from animals with cloven hooves and that chews their cud), but it had to be killed in a specific way, so as to drain the blood from the animal. Consequently strict Jews would refuse to eat in the houses of Gentiles. Furthermore, Gentiles would eat meat sacrificed to idols, for in antiquity, most of the meat sold in the market was sacrificed to idols. Furthermore, they often associated eating and drinking with licentious sexual practices: the Romans and Greeks, especially the noble classes, regularly took advantage of their slaves, both male and female, after having a nice evening meal with wine. This painting in Pompeii probably depicts the level of decadence of the Roman society:

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Clearly, Roman dining presented a cultural clash with the Jewish standards of the day. Both food and the behaviour of the diners presented a problem.

In this context, gentiles had come to faith in Jesus Christ, and their teachers, Paul and Barnabas, did not think it was necessary to impose upon them the Jewish law. But when Jews from Jerusalem came to the church in Antioch, they began to insist that these people follow Jewish laws. So Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss this with the powers that be. The result was that the council of Jerusalem in Acts ch. 15 only imposed four requirements, to abstain from:

(1) what has been sacrificed to idols
(2) blood
(3) what is strangled
(4) unchastity/fornication

These instructions would have been the minimum requirements making of it possible for Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians to dine together. Why was that necessary? Because in the early church, the Lord’s Supper (i.e., Holy Communion) wasn’t just going up to take a wafer and a sip of wine, but a sacred meal that Christians ate together under one roof. The Jerusalem apostles and Paul were trying to create a single unified church which worshiped together, not a fragmented movement, which had separate Gentile and Jewish factions. The Jerusalem Council made it possible for people of two cultures to worship and dine under one roof. Both groups would have to make compromises so that neither would be overlooked or offended.

This compromise resulted in a certain tension for Paul. Paul had internalized the view that the whole of creation was the Lord’s and therefore nothing in it is evil in and of itself. So also Jesus says in the Gospel of Mark that uncleanness, sin isn’t a matter of what one eats but what comes out of the heart. So, Mark explains that Jesus thereby declared all foods clean. But this freedom to eat any food remained a problem for Jewish Christians. Paul, in his attempt to be all things to all men, would eat with Gentiles but not ask whether the food was sacrificed to an idol (1 Cor 10.23-32). All things were created by God—as the Psalmist also declares in our reading, “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the earth is full of thy creatures.” But knowing that food wasn’t intrinsically harmful wasn’t good enough. What if two people were eating together and one took offense or would stumble because of what was on his dinner plate? Paul says that the stronger brother must out of love cede his freedom and make concessions for the weaker brother—this is what love requires. In Romans 14, then, the weaker brother who could not partake of certain foods and for whom some days were more important than others was undoubtedly the Jewish Christians, who had very strong scruples about days (e.g., the Sabbath) and about foods. So Paul says to the Gentile Christians, make sure that you don’t offend your Jewish brothers by what you eat. So compromise was the course of the day: the Jew would compromise by eating with Gentiles, and the Gentiles would compromise by not putting anything on the menu that would offend Jews. Nor would the Gentiles continue their typical loose morals of having sex with slave woman or young slave boy—rather they would practice monogamy (a man would have one wife, a woman one husband). Through these restrictions, one church and one faith was possible. The ruling principle was one of loving one another, not putting out stumbling blocks, because that is more important than food.

Now let’s bring these readings to the 21st century and try to figure out some principles and applications that might help us to think about food in a biblical manner, particularly as it affects us as a church. Today, we have one dominant culture of food, let’s call it the Standard Western Diet, consisting largely of highly process foods with a few meats, fruits and vegetables thrown in. But there are many subcultures in our Canadian context. For example, we have many Iranians in our area, and as most are Muslims, they would typically eat no pork or alcohol; we are bordering on Thornhill with a large Jewish population, many of whom eat strictly Kosher meat; we also have a large number of vegetarians and vegans in our culture. And also now as I mentioned, I belong to a growing Paleo movement. There is also a growing number of people with severe food intolerances, such as people who go into anaphylactic shock around peanuts; but there are other food intolerances: diabetics are intolerant of carbs; many others are intolerant of gluten; alcoholics are intolerant of alcohol. So in light of these Scriptures readings, how should we think about food in this multi-cultural context?

Principles of Food in the Church

1. All foods are clean because they are part of God’s creation. No one sins only because they eat a certain food. If I eat only saturated fat, and you eat wheat, and vegan abstains from every sort of animal product, no one of us sins for that that reason alone.

2. The church should be focused on unity and compromise when it comes to food. If today some Muslims and some Jews walked into church and were baptised, we wouldn’t start a separate Halal service and a separate Kosher service, but I’m sure we could find a way in which all of the Christians of differing cultures could worship together so that we could remain in fellowship and Holy Communion together. I will therefore never be the founder of Paleo church. And for that matter, our church is not a Standard Canadian Diet church, as the little sandwiches and pork sausage rolls after a funeral would suggest. We are Christ’s church and we all belong to him.

3. Love should be the guiding principle around food. So we should do nothing that would injure someone: Paul says, “If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died.”

Applications specifically at our church

1. Holy Communion: (a) I am pretty sure no one here is offended by the small amount of wine in the cup. But if we had Christians of Muslim background come to our church, we would perhaps have to discuss this with him or her. (b) The bread that we use, however, may a present a problem for those who are eating gluten free. It may seem like a small amount, but let me talk about Dr. Terry Wahls: she has secondary progressive MS and she has reversed her symptoms through eating a strict Paleo and gluten free diet. The Youtube video of her TedX talk, “Minding your mitochondria”, has gone viral with over 1.8 million hits.

Terry Wahls says that if she eats even the tiniest amount of gluten, for example in a sauce at a restaurant, her MS pain comes back in her face. We have gluten intolerant people in this congregation. So if we out of love want to make sure that we do not injure people, we would do well to have gluten free alternative. Of course, I am not picking on our church alone here—that’s not my intention. But I think that love requires that the knowledge of the negative effects of modern wheat (cf. Wheat Belly). Love would require that we rethink what communion bread should consist of.

2. Coffee Time and other occasions where we serve or consume food as a church: This is a mixed problem to me because I see our coffee time as especially important for conviviality and fellowship. I remember my first few Sundays at here and how people here were so welcoming. I am also thankful for the great and consistent effort of the people who provide the coffee and accompaniment; for I know that your hearts are in the right place.

A good effort is made to try to welcome those who have food intolerances: (1) Often I see gluten free items on the table; (2) Cheese and vegies are also often available for those who do not like or can’t tolerate sweets. I can see an attempt to provide alternatives and that is definitely within the spirit of compromise that our Scriptures mention.

However, I wonder if we put several selections of hard liquor:

What impression would we have of that. I wonder why we don’t do that? We have a lot of alcoholics in our society, so this may actually injure someone who has a problem with alcohol. Also, it may impair us on our drive home, and make it impossible for us to have a very good afternoon except to sleep off the alcohol. But what about a coffee-time table that looks like this:

Gluten to a celiac is like peanuts to a person allergic to peanuts. Carbohydrate and sugar are to a diabetic like alcohol to an alcoholic. Well, I think we all know that such food is fattening, and most of us have some weight to lose. Also it is commonly accepted that sugar often alters the behaviour of children for the worse. With such offerings, do churches put a stumbling block before weaker brothers and thus injure them? I leave you only with my own testimony: I love the coffee time, and the opportunity for fellowship. But I used also to love the sweets and I would go home often with a bag full of Tim Hortons, you know the one that someone used to bring. Well, this is what happened to me after church on Sunday: I would fix dinner, Cathy and I would eat, then I would have an afternoon nap and wake up at around 6:00 pm. Yes, the carbs regularly knocked me out—without them today, I nap most of the time only about 10-30 minutes. Furthermore, I reached a top weight of about 260 and 44 inch waist, and the hospitality of our church made its contribution, to be sure.

Well, this story isn’t about me. It isn’t about our church alone either. It is really about asking ourselves what hospitality could possibly require in our culture. The early Christians literally forbade certain cultural foods in the context of church, even though both Jesus and Paul said that they were not intrinsically sinful to eat—they did so because some people were weak, and could handle neither eating them nor being in the presence of those who did.

I don’t want to prescribe a certain action. But I believe God would have us open up a dialogue. Are we able to think through the issue of food so that our love and our concern for everyone at church, both regulars and visitors, shines out? How can we benefit as a church from dialogue: Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church has lost a collective 250,000 lbs on diet similar to mine: low carb low fat (I do low carb high fat). I am told on good authority that our church also did 3D years ago—a church weight loss program. I am hoping that we can do something here again to help folks lose weight. If Rick Warren can lose 65 lbs, and his church 250,000 lbs, that encourages us to try something as a church.

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The Carb Bubble: On how the theme “carbs are poison” relates to this blog

The US government promoted carb bubble

A person surveying this blog may find it difficult to understand how the themes of this blog, especially the latest category, “Carbs are poison”, cohere except that they all involve the author’s own concerns.  I started this blog with the idea that a Christian could be an investor, and that there would be right ways to do it and wrong ways.  So it touches upon issues of Christian ethics and praxis, especially in the area of investing and finance.  But does low carb dieting relate to these themes?

Imagine that I was writing instead about the production, marketing and exportation of a substance that causes lung cancer, emphysema, and heart disease; many ethical investors would argue that one should not invest in a product that is essentially a dealer of death.  Tobacco, of course, is off the list of many people’s investment portfolio for ethical reasons.  If I started sharing about how I stopped smoking and began to expose how tobacco is a killer; and I began to recommend that others quit smoking and stop listening to all the ads that say that smoking is cool; if I recommended divesting oneself of tobacco stocks, I think it would be easier to see the connection between the this subject of investing and Christian ethics. But people would soon become bored.  We’ve known about the evils of tobacco for decades now.  It would hardly be contrarian to oppose tobacco.

Lately, however, I’ve been railing against carbohydrates.  Unlike tobacco, which carries warning labels about how deadly it can be, carbs market freely in our world with no such  labels.  Here would be an appropriate label for a loaf of whole grain bread:  “Warning: the Minster of Health has determined that this food is high in carbohydrates; the excess consumption of carbohydrates can lead to diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, Alzheimers and death.”  In the small print, “Please check your blood sugar level after the consumption of this product; you may be suffering from dangerously high, organ-damaging blood sugars.”

Food is a big part of our economy, and a large part of the population in the world suffers from diseases related to uncontrolled blood sugars that damages, among other bodily tissues, the eyes, the nerves, the kidneys, the arteries, the pancreas and the brain.  Excessive blood sugars can also feed cancerous growths and are likely related to terminal cancer.  Blood sugars spike in normal people after the consumption of high carbohydrate foods.  The person with metabolic syndrome, prediabetes or diabetes, however, will have high blood sugars for many hours after such a meal, high enough to cause cause physical damage that can lead to premature death.  These facts are scientifically verified and hardly controversial.  What is controversial are the opinions as to the best way to deal with the problem.  Most doctors, dieticians, and even diabetes specialists and associations (e.g., both the American and the Canadian Diabetes Associations), recommend that diabetics and prediabetics lose weight by avoiding too much red meat, dietary fat and by consuming a low calorie, high carbohydrate diet–i.e., they recommend that people receive the majority of their calories from the very carbohydrates that lead to uncontrolled blood sugars.  If you don’t believe me, google the “diabetic food pyramid” and see that according to official recommendations diabetics should eat a “Standard Western Diet”, high in carbs and low in meat and dietary fat.

Thus, just like my fear of hyperinflation and my investment in silver and gold, oil and gas, my low-carbing is contrarian.  All you have to do is walk into Costco to see how contrarian it is.  While I know a handful of people who have started low-carbing, including other members of my own family, the vast majority of the people you see in grocery stores are carrying about 25-100 lbs too much weight.  Rarely do you see anyone under 30 who looks like they are at a healthy weight, and when you see their grocery carts, they are always buying high carbohydrate food and drinks, such as juice, fruit, and wheat products.  The stores have multiple aisles (essentially all the middle aisles) with high carb foods that I can’t purchase or consume, and I assume they do this because these products sell very, very well.  I’ve also had some folks at my church walk away from me as I tried to explain how I lost weight on a high fat, low carb diet.

The public, it seems, is not at all aware or accepting of this reality and it seems that we are towards the end of the first stage of a low-carb bull market (“shock and fear”–not of carbs but of the good foods: e.g., red meat and dietary fat; see this post for the six stages of a bull market) of what I think is a “bull market” in nutritional change, that begins perhaps with the life work of Dr. Robert Atkins, the quintessential contrarian.

With the seminal work of Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories; the effective diabetes therapy of Richard Bernstein, The Diabetes Solution; and the condemnation of modern wheat by William Davis, Wheat Belly, and finally, many paleo-diets, we are seeing a significant upward trend in low-carbing; however, we are still only at the beginning of the second stage of “guarded optimism” by only a few contrarian dieters.  Eventually, as with well-performing companies, the market may remain irrational for months or even years, but eventually the fundamentals will win out.  Unfortunately, many millions of people will die before this low-carb bull market comes into full swing.  The standard fear of fat and low-carb dieting still prevail.

Thus, good nutrition is like good investing.  The best hope that anyone has is to be contrarian and do the opposite of the what the majority of experts recommend.

In the meantime, we live in a major carb bubble and it manifests many signs of distress, just like the housing bubble.

  1. About one out of every four people in Canada and have diabetes or pre-diabetes.  In the United States it is almost one out of every three people.
  2. I go to an aging church: many parishioners are suffering from diseases related to high blood sugars: obesity, artery disease, cancer and Alzheimers.  However, you would never know this from our table of hospitality at coffee time–full of an assortment of high carb treats. I used to partake handsomely and every Sunday afternoon I would sleep for about three hours to recover.  Thankfully, they sometimes also offer cheese, and the occasional vegi platter and cold cuts:  I can also have the coffee with 10% cream and this contributes to conviviality, the ultimate goal of our coffee time.
  3. When I eat in a restaurant, I usually have to order a large steak (12 oz) in order to not leave the table hungry.  If you ask for more vegetables instead of potatoes and bread, they are unable or unwilling to provide adequate quantities, so the only way to compensate for it is to order a over-large steak.  I haven’t seen a low carb restaurant yet, though some have a few low carb choices.
  4. Marketing promotes low fat products, even when they are loaded with carbs:  e.g., low fat honey.
  5. Marketing promotes “heart healthy whole grains”.  The book Wheat Belly explains how that is actually quite the opposite of the truth.
  6. Some ethicists have promoted the eating of grains instead of meat in order to fight world starvation.  For example, Christian writer Ronald Sider, Rich Christians in an age of hunger (IVP Press, 1977) famously claimed that it takes thirteen pounds of grain to provide one pound of meat, and that Christians should respond by eating grain directly instead of feeding it to livestock (p. 42-43).  We now know that these grains are poisonous to many people.  What are they supposed to eat when meat is off the table?  Didn’t Jesus declare all foods clean (Mark 7.19)?
  7. Sugar and grain industries have had great success in lobbying to the effect of having their products declared safe for human consumption, even for diabetics.  The bacon and egg industries have been far less successful.
  8. Governments have largely promoted high carbohydrate dieting (see USDA food pyramid above).  Thus, like the housing bubble, the carb bubble is a beneficiary of various kinds of government policy and stimulus.  Government literally promote nutrition which destroys the health of the population.

Could a ketogenic diet help prevent or even cure cancer?

In 1977 my mother passed away from cancer at the age of 47.  I was thirteen and my little sister was eight.

Fairly recent research has shown remarkable facts about cancer cells (Gary Taubes, Good Calories, Bad Calories, ch. 13):  cancer cells use thirty times as much glucose as healthy cells because they depend on fermentation for energy.  Furthermore, they are not insulin resistant–when other cells in the body resist the efforts of insulin to import glucose for energy, cancer cells happily accept them.  Thus, cancer cells apparently thrive in people who have high levels of blood sugar (e.g., prediabetics who have glucose intolerance), for diabetics and prediabetics have a much higher rate of cancer than people with normal blood sugars.

So I ask myself if it would be possible to starve cancer cells to cure cancer or to prevent their appearance in the first place.  With a little bit of internet research, I found a some sources that may suggest this:  (1) A 2011 scientific study shows that a low carb diet could prevent cancer in lab mice; (2) Some claim that a ketogenic diet (i.e., a diet consisting of a absolute minimum of carbohydrates resulting in the burning of fat for energy) is a useful therapy against cancer, also in combination with traditional therapies (chemo or radiation).  One man claims that a ketogenic diet cured his cancer when doctors had given him only three months to live (see here).

Now the medical profession as a whole has been slow to accept low carb dieting, and this is much to their shame.  Personally, I’ve benefited from low carbing: I now enjoy normal blood sugars, normal blood pressure, 35 lbs of weight loss, and a significant attenuation of all my diabetic symptoms.  I feel better and I have hope that I may actually be able to live longer with much better health.

My mother was a physician and she had diabetes.  But I am certain that she did not have her blood sugars under control–our family ate rice everyday, along with other high carb foods.  Moreover, the technology to be able to monitor blood glucose at home did not exist before 1977. Dr. Richard K. Bernstein champions the Diabetes Solution, which requires diabetics to monitor their blood sugar several times a day and implement an ultra low carb diet (30 gm of carbs per day)–Dr. Bernstein only started using a portable glucose tester for the first time in 1969 (p. xvi).  The makers of this glucose tester designed it for hospital use only, but Dr. Bernstein, who was an engineer at the time, was able to obtain one through his wife who was a physician.  Then it took him a few years to perfect a technique for establishing normal blood sugars.  Today, many diabetics use his method to successfully maintain normal blood sugars.

It makes me wonder:  Had my mom been able to control her blood sugars, could she have prevented her cancer? I hope through this blog post to encourage low carb dieting as a legitimate effective therapy and preventative method–for many ailments related to diabetes, but perhaps also for cancer.  I think that this is where the research is leading us, and hopefully the medical profession will pay attention.

PS:  As I finished writing this post the news of Hugo Chavez’ death from cancer at age 58 has surfaced.  Undoubtedly, he suffered from metabolic syndrome, as his girth would suggest.

Carbs are poison: carpal tunnel or peripheral neuropathy?

Carbs are poison (for those with elevated glucose levels)

I’m going to start a new tag/category called “Carbs are Poison”. This is my new motivational motto as I have entered a major lifestyle change that took place two months ago.

About sixty days ago, I learned that the tingling I feel in my hands was related to elevated glucose levels in my blood stream. I’ve had this tingling in my hands for about ten years now, and it affects my comfort when driving, playing a guitar or ukelele, typing on a keyboard, and even holding a cell phone to my ear. I would have to lower my hands below my waist and shake them out to get rid of the tingling.

For years I thought that it was carpal tunnel, and generally speaking, my investigations into the question showed that carpal tunnel was work related, i.e., caused by repetitive use of, e.g., a keyboard or a jack hammer. But the more accurate term for my condition is peripheral neuropathy, a condition whose most common cause is diabetes. Once I learned this about two months ago, I was certain that I was diabetic.

Well, I also have four risk factors: I am (1) Asian, (2) obese, (3) over 40, and (4) I have a family history in that my brother, my mother, my grandmother and my grandfather all have/had type II diabetes. So I immediately went into get tested for diabetes and the hbA1c test came back 6.0, which means that I am prediabetic (between 5.6-6.9; 7.0 is considered diabetic).

But later, through reading Nikolaos Papanas, Aaron I. Vinik, and Dan Ziegler, “Neuropathy in prediabetes: does the clock start ticking early?” (Nat. Rev. Endocrinol. 7 [2011] 682-690), I confirmed that my symptoms were related to prediabetes–this is one that my physician couldn’t answer, “If I’m not diabetic, then why do my hands tingle?” The article shows that prediabetics with impaired glucose tolerance are more likely to have peripheral neuropathy and non-diabetics with peripheral neuropathy are likely to be prediabetic. The elevated glucose levels in the those with impaired glucose tolerance, i.e., those whose glucose levels don’t immediately come down from a high carb meal, can have the nerve damage that is related to peripheral neuropathy. The damage was so severe that I had for about one year started to experience severe arthritis in my finger joints.

It stands to reason that a low carb diet would have the benefit of helping me to control my glucose levels. I was especially informed by Dr. Richard Bernstein, who has made numerous appearances on Youtube. But I’ve also had some experience with low carb dieting in the past. So on November 28, 2012, I used the occasion of the twelve hour fast for my blood test, to begin a new low carb regimen. This is day 60, and here are the results so far:

  1. My blood glucose levels went down immediately from HbA1C 6.0% (=3 month average of about 7.7) in my blood test to about 5.4 (when testing with personal glucose tester).
  2. Within two weeks my blood pressure has come down from high (140/90) to normal levels (127/82).
  3. The tingling in my hands largely subsided immediately after beginning the low carb diet. At day 60, I’ve been typing at this keyboard for several minutes now, without any tingling.
  4. My arthritis is almost completely gone with some mild problems in only a few of the joints, particularly my right middle finger. Nevertheless, I can snap my fingers in both hands with no severe pain as before.
  5. I’ve lost about twenty-five pounds.
  6. I’ve come down two pants sizes, as my waist has shrunk from 43 to 39 inches.
  7. I feel less sleepy after eating.
  8. I have greater energy levels and enjoy exercising and long walks (except when my knees give me problems).

My low carb diet does require fat: it is not a low fat diet! However, I am consciously trying to eat only to satiety. I snack on low carb foods when I feel cravings or hunger between meals, but after the first few days, the intrusive thoughts of food and the cravings subsided. I now avoid all sugars and starches to the degree practical. Here are the main foods I avoid:

  • any thing with flour
  • bread
  • desserts with flour and sugar
  • potatos
  • carrots
  • lentils, beans, peas
  • sweet potatoes
  • milk
  • rice
  • candy
  • fruit

Here are some typical foods that I eat:

  • meat, fish, poultry (including the skin and organs)
  • spam, corned beef, sausages (kosher salami, summer sausage. pepperoni)
  • eggs
  • hard cheese (brie, gorganzola, blue, cheddar, gruyere, etc.), low carb/high fat yogurt
  • 18% table cream; whip cream (in home-made non-sugar, low-carb ice cream)
  • coconut milk or cream
  • tofu
  • pumpkin
  • onions and garlic
  • avocados (ca. 1 per day)
  • tomatoes
  • green vegetables: cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, zucchini
  • olives
  • non-sweet pickled cucumbers and asparagus
  • mushrooms
  • turnips (small amounts in soup)

I am drinking no sweetened beverages. I have lowered my caffeine intake because I find that it stimulates the cravings for carbs. I drink a lot of water flavored with lemon or lime juice (e.g., Real Lemon), and now copious amounts of cold, weak green tea (1 tsp loose tea or 1 tea bag makes three litres). Since one is in a state of ketosis (using one’s own fat for energy), the low carb diet requires drinking a lot.

Finally, I am abstaining from alcoholic beverages for until I’ve reached my weight loss goal (at least 65 lbs–or down to about 180 lbs).