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Newsletter 27, December 2010

Christmas Diet Willpower

Christmas is coming. Time to get my Christmas diet strategy sorted out. For me that means minimising any 'off-diet' time by replacing the traditional high carbohydrate, high sugar foods with low carb versions.

Tins of chocolates have already started appearing in the office (horrors!) but luckily I am fairly immune to temptation at the moment, having been low-carbing without a break for many months. As a result, I am in what I call 'non-addicted mode'. I can look at something carby, think it would be nice to eat, but I don't absolutely have to have it. I'll stay that way until I eat something that triggers a strong blood sugar/insulin reaction (like a piece of non-low carb bread or cake, or more than just a small piece of fruit). At that point, I'm in 'addicted mode' and carby treats become almost impossible to resist. I may succeed at first, but the 'I must eat that' messages will keep disturbing whatever I'm doing. And one piece of course will not be enough. By then my biochemistry has well and truly taken over my conscious will.

This is why I hate it when failing on a diet is blamed on 'lack of willpower'. I think those who use the phrase have never experienced this 'addicted mode' and don't understand that there is a great difference between 'willpower' as they experience it and the willpower that a carbohydrate intolerant person has to exert when in addicted mode. The pity of it is that the dieters themselves accept this insult of 'lack of willpower' as some sort of character defect, not realising that they are fighting against a biochemical imperative that is almost as strong as the basic urge to eat or drink. Until they escape from 'addicted mode' they cannot hope to succeed on their diet. And they cannot do this while listening to the 'everything in moderation' brigade. Expecting a carbohydrate-intolerant person to moderate their food intake is about as logical as suggesting 'just a tiny sip won't hurt' to a recovering alcoholic.

So, if you 'just can't resist' a carby food, and particularly if you keep wanting more, you may well be in addicted mode. If you haven't ever tried a very low carb diet, you may never have experienced the 'take it or leave it' kind of easy willpower that 'normal' people experience. Try it and see!

To get back to my own diet strategy this Christmas, the first danger event will be an early Christmas lunch at work. I'll be having the usual turkey and bacon rolls and lots of veg but leaving out the potatoes. Christmas pudding and mince pies are on the menu for dessert, which would send me into 'addicted mode' straight away, so I'll either take a piece of my own low carb Christmas pudding or a low carb chocolate éclair, and perhaps one of my low carb mince pies. That way I'll fully enjoy the meal and won't feel deprived. But most importantly of all, I'll come away feeling satisfied, with no awful cravings to fight against.

That should keep me on the straight and narrow until Christmas Day, when I'll follow a similar strategy of replacing the most carby foods and minimising the damage if I choose to indulge in the odd chocolate. The leftovers of the big meal will figure largely in menus in the days after Christmas, risotto and bubble and squeak (fry-up of cooked green vegetables and potato) being particular favourites of mine. Of course, the risotto will be rice-less and the bubble and squeak will be potato-free (grated cauliflower and mashed swede substituting for the rice and potato respectively.) A low carb Yule log will also ensure I've always got a low carb dessert treat on hand when necessary.

All my low carb Christmas recipes are in my Low Carb / Low GI Cookbook.

Your Successes, Requests and Questions

This is your spot. Whether it's your dietary success story, a request to cover a particular topic in a future newsletter or a question you would like answered, we would love to hear from you. Please do contact us.

Here is a question we answered recently:

Q: I have given up coffee and really hate tea so I like to start my day with a cup of Cocoa as I need a hot drink. I make it with one heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder and 60ml of cream (I also hate soy milk) topped up with water. I add some sweetener. Is this low GI and low carb?

A: Yes, this is both low GI and low carb (presuming your sweetener is not in granular form, which usually means sugar has been added as the filler, and that your cocoa is pure cocoa powder and not a ready-mix cocoa drink powder - these also contain sugar).

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With best wishes for your continued good health

Jackie Bushell
Founder Director, GoodDietGoodHealth.com

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