There’s an awesome quote I’m too lazy to look up. Mark Twain or someone said “I always assumed that if anything interesting was going to happen, it would happen at night.” As an inveterate night owl, this has always felt like truth to me.
I always like where I am the MOST. If I’m awake, I don’t want to go to sleep yet. If I’m asleep, I can’t bear to get up yet. If I’m writing, I don’t want to clean out the garage. (Today’s chore, and really very satisfying; I really ought to get to it.)
Among other ripples that this general situational contentment creates in my life, I’ve always stayed up way too late, and gotten up equally late. (Before I became a freelance copywriter, every boss I ever had could summon up the annual review with two statements: Please put on your shoes and please get to work on time. The last boss who said it to me was astonished when I thought about it and said “No. I’m sick of lying about it; I’m going to be barefoot and I’m going to be late. Can we dock my pay, or something?” Life is better as a freelancer.)
Where was I?
Oh – morning. By the time I finally got out of bed, I was far too late to even consider breakfast – and who needs it anyway? I have things to do that I’m late on!
That was me. A rebel. A bare-foot rebel; don’t fence me in, man.
Now I look back on this through the eyes of Chip the nutritionist at Body Dynamics, and what he’s taught me about burning fat versus burning carbohydrates.
If you burn fat, your body has a steady supply of energy all night long. You wake up fairly easily, all other things being equal, and look forward to breakfast mildly.
If you burn carbs, then you have the typical boom-and-bust cycle that comes from a fast-burning energy source. (Chip will talk about blood sugar and insulin and cortisol and I don’t know what all; this is my uneducated version.) You go to bed fine; then maybe in the middle of the night you wake up and want a midnight snack.
…or maybe you wake up in the morning filled with lethargy and need coffee RIGHT AWAY to offset it.
Some people wake up ravenous.
All three are signs that the body is craving carbs – a fast-burning high that is utterly addictive. That’s a more-more-more cycle that is not going to end well…
Of course, eating fewer carbohydrates is MUCH HARDER. It takes more time. It never comes in convenient foil-wrapped pouches for consumption on the road. It’s more expensive. Last night I made myself chicken with fresh celery and tomatoes, cooked in onions in butter. Delicious, yes – but it took time. Dirtied pans. Required attention and energy. A pizza from the fridge would have been FAR easier (and cheaper, too).
But I just spent more than two weeks on the sugar reduction diet, teaching my body to burn fat, not carbs. (And I think I can see the difference; I have a lot more energy than I used to.) And I’ll be damned if I’ll give up THAT particular lesson without a fight.
“How do I know?” I asked Chip. “What if my body goes back to burning carbs and I just don’t notice?”
Soothing Chip. WISE Chip. “Once a week, do a mini-fast of 12 to 18 hours. Have juice or something for dinner, and go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, see how you feel. Are you lethargic – or ravenous? If you are, dial back on the carbs because that means your body has gone back to old habits.”
Whether I’ve fasted or not (and I keep forgetting to do it), I now pay attention to how I feel in the morning when I first wake up. And then I make my breakfast – whole fat, no sugar organic Greek yogurt; a tablespoon of wheat germ; some fresh fruit (today six ripe strawberries); a fistful of walnuts (so tasty); and that powerhouse of zinc-y goodness, the raw pumpkin seed – a fistful and then a pinch because they make me happy.
This takes forever to put together (when compared to, say, ripping open a Pop Tart)… but it tastes so delicious.
Then the dog gets to lick the bowl. He deserves good gastrointestinal health, too.
As do we all!
A tableau! I have made a tableau – a non-copyright-infringing tableau that will anger no one! (Unless Stony Field Dairy and Kretschmer Wheat Germ get pissy about it, in which case OH COME ON!) I did NOT eat all the walnuts after taking the picture. (Well… not ALL of them.)
4 thoughts on “Breakfast”
I think I need to go on a carbohydrate fast, after reading your blogs on the subject. I realize from your descriptions that I am addicted to carbs! Can you describe exactly what you did? I get that it was 2 weeks, and no sugar, no flour, no grains?
Juli, I am delighted to post what Chip gave me; it’s upstairs in my office as we speak! But before I do, I’m just going to check in with Chip to make sure he’s cool with it. I’d been working with him for a few months before I did the sugar reduction diet, so I want to make sure I don’t stupidly advise you to do something that might do you harm, you know? Hold, please!
Juli, I emailed Chip. Here’s his response:
Yes, you are correct in that we worked together for a while before jumping into the sugar control diet. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with any serious blood sugar dysregulation: pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or diabetes because it could cause serious reactions. She could experience brain fog, fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, or worse.
I tried to make sure that you were in a better state of sugar regulation and that your system was behaving “normally” so that the chance of any of these reactions was minimized.
If she wanted to start somewhere, I would suggest that she try to eliminate processed foods and wean herself off of simple carbohydrates such as sugar, bread, pasta, and rice over the next few weeks. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t start anyone on any of these elimination diets until I’ve worked with them for a couple of months at a minimum.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you need any follow up information or if she has any other questions.
thanks–this is a good place to start. I am pretty healthy overall, but have a definite sweet tooth that I cannot seem to get under control. I think this might help get a handle on eating healthier.