Going grain & sugar free - How to make the transition

Going grain & sugar free – How to make the transition

As it’s almost a year to the day that I made the decision to ditch grains and sugar and go low carb high fat (LCHF), I thought it was about time to share some tips and what I’ve learnt along the way…

- So when’s the best time to start?
If you’re also a typical sugar/carb addict like I was, try and pick a time that doesn’t have a whole load of potential pitfalls like Christmas, Easter etc.

But in saying that, don’t procrastinate and then use every possible social event as an excuse of why you’ll “start next week”. Once you get through the initial hurdles in the first few weeks while your body adjusts, you’ll breeze through social functions without batting an eyelid.

I was lucky, as almost simultaneously my brother and mom-in-law all sent similar articles and links relating to the same theories… Were they trying to tell me something perhaps? Was it an intervention? I personally think it was just coincidence, but a coincidence that has most certainly changed my life for the better! Thanks guys!

The information they sent me really made me question my outlook on what I was eating. Once I had informed myself I was horrified that I had been in the dark all along, so the switch over was instant and I never looked back. I was so motivated by my new found enlightenment with food that I never saw it as a “diet” or something I was just going to “try out” for a while. I was converted, literally over night.

Primalize your fridge and pantry – Give out all unwanted food rather than having it sitting there on the shelves looking at you seductively in the first few challenging weeks. I won’t lie the first few weeks are the hardest, and it takes a good three weeks or so to kick the carb-dependent crutch and give your body a chance to adapt and become a fat-burning beast.

- Keep a food journal – Be honest with yourself and write down everything you eat in the first few months. It will help you keep track of everything, and motivate you when you see how far you’ve come and where you could make a few tweaks.  You’ll be amazed to watch how your eating habits gradually change and all those annoying cravings slowly go out the window!

- Keep fatty snacks in arms reach initially – As you reduce the carbs, you will need to get your energy from somewhere and fat is your new friend. If you do feel a carb craving attack coming on, grab something with a high fat content to keep your energy levels constant, but this time without the constant dips and spikes. Once you keep your carb intake under the reccomended 50g per day you will start to go into ketosis, which is the optimal hormonal environment to burn body fat. Keep lots of banting carb-crutch replacements on hand in those first few transitional weeks which will help you break through the cycle of wanting to burn carbs. Things like:
Cream
Macadamia and Brazil nuts
Olives
Ham & salami
Cheese
Olive oil or coconut oil
When you feel the urge to have something carby or sugary or you’re feeling ravenous have a piece of cheese or a slice of salami or a spoon full of cream or olive oil. Ladies, for those blinding chocolate cravings that will haunt you initially, make a cup of creamy cocoa and xylitol or have a block of Lindt 90% chocolate!

- Drink some water – After years and years of our true hunger signal being blurred we often confuse thirst with cravings for food. So try a few sips of water and see how you feel… If you still have that niggling feeling then go for something fatty…
Veggies dipped in cream cheese or mayonaisse (check labels for hidden baddies)…
A few slices of cheese…
Some macadamia nuts…
Chicken liver or mackerel pate & crudites…
Prawns dipped in butter…
Berries & cream…

Initially it’s all about transitioning over to being fat-adapted, and these little tricks will help you stay on track during those first few trying weeks. Once you reach the fat-adapted phase, annoying food cravings and blood sugar dips will be a distant memory.

- Eat till you’re satisfied not stuffed – Once you’re about 3/4 of the way through your meal stop and assess how hungry you still feel? You can always eat the last little bit later if you feel peckish again. But the key is to re-train your brain to notice when you’ve had enough. But it’s really hard to over-eat on a high fat diet anyway. The key is re-learning that “I’m satisfied” stage. It takes a while for your body to learn to trust itself and your leptin (hunger hormone signal). Initially in the transition phase your body starts to distinguish between actual hunger and blood sugar cravings, and you will learn the difference too.

- Eat only when you’re actually hungry – It helps to let go of the “3 square meals” concept. Understandably, this has been handed down to us from post-war parents who didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. But the whole “don’t leave the table before you’ve finished everything on your plate” concept has been damaging to interpreting our individual leptin response. In fact we can learn a lot from kids and their sporadic food needs. Of course, I totally understand parents putting their foot down about meals being polished off before dessert and junk food fill the gap. But once you find your own unique grazing pattern, your body will be a happier place when you leave the table content not like an engorged tick.

You need to give yourself at least three strict weeks. You’re body has been a carb shark your whole life, it’s not going to be too happy with you when you say” hey lets try something new”. It will throw a strop in the first week as it tries to defy the change. None of us like change. But a few weeks in and as your body learns to burn fat for fuel, it will literally stop and say “Thank you! Why didn’t we try this sooner”. But until then you have to be the adult and say no to all the whinging and carby nags that usually take place in the first weeks.

I felt rubbish in the first week, I was headachy and sluggish and even had the “carb flu”. But then one day you wake up one morning and its like somebody has turned a light on inside you. Then you realise you’ve been living in the dark all these years. So if I can do it, then really anyone can. I promise you will never look back…

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