Livin’ La Vida Lo-Carb

Zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) topped with meat sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese

I knew before we arrived in Portland that I needed to change how and what were eating because both Brett and I had been steadily gaining weight ever since we left Hawai’i. During our time on the road we indulged ourselves in delicious bakery items, telling ourselves that other countries used less sugar so how bad could it be? We were in France, we told ourselves – we were supposed to eat pastries! We were in Italy – we were supposed to eat gelato and pasta! We enjoyed a big glass of wine every evening (because we were in Argentina! in France! in Italy! in Australia!), often along with a treat of some kind. We ate rice or noodles almost every day in Japan but told ourselves it was OK because we were walking a lot and also eating lots of vegetables and fruit.

However, in spite of all the walking we did, in spite of there being less sugar, it wasn’t enough to keep up with the calories and carbs we were consuming. We gained weight, for me to the point I was often very uncomfortable in my clothes.

I decided that once we arrived in Portland, we would try going back to low-carb eating once again. I had lost weight and shaped up when we lived in Hawai’i but only when I limited my carb intake, and doing so was much easier than counting calories or points or eating vegan or whatever. I also wanted to get back to drinking at least eight glasses of water a day, and make sure we kept up with our walking.

It’s now been eight weeks since we arrived in Portland and embraced La Vida Lo-carb once again. I have no idea whether we’ve lost any weight or how much, although my clothes seem to be less uncomfortable. I have more energy these days too.

Nonfat plain Greek yogurt with berries is a frequent breakfast – the peach was a special treat!

Sticking with a low-carb diet has been easier than it was back in Hawai’i. There is a wider array of foods to choose from in Portland that don’t cost an arm and a leg, and we can find substitutes for rice and noodles that could were often difficult to find on Kaua’i. I feel too that I can now better figure out how to make substitutions when we’re on the road again, and know how to include some higher-carb foods once in a while without going overboard.

Avocado on thin-sliced whole grain bread topped with a poached egg and red pepper spread from Trader Joe’s. I could eat the pepper relish right from the jar with a spoon – it’s that good.

My breakfasts these days are usually nonfat Greek yogurt with berries, a small frittata or other egg dish, or occasionally a piece of avocado toast made with thin sliced whole grain bread. Brett usually always has a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, and enjoys a bagel once a week or so.

Every once in a while I enjoy a “power breakfast” like this one: bacon, avocado slices, and scrambled eggs topped with corn & chili relish

Our lunches are often cheese and fruit or vegetables (I have to watch how much fruit I have though – it can be very high in carbs), a small bowl of vegetable soup, or sometimes leftovers. Now and then I sometimes have an open-faced sandwich on the thin-sliced bread.

Open-face tuna salad on thin-sliced whole grain bread with one cup of grapes
Havarti with dill cheese, cherry tomatoes, avocado, sour cream, and kale chips
Open-faced crack chicken sandwich with cucumber slices

We both substitute cauliflower rice now for regular rice, and zoodles for pasta or other noodles, and are fine with that. Gone from our table are bread, potatoes, cakes, cookies and other starches, although Brett still occasionally enjoys a couple of his much-loved graham crackers or Triscuits when he wants a snack. A handful of nuts are a more frequent snack for both of us these days. I make a homemade pizza on Friday evenings and enjoy one slice (Brett eats one slice and has the leftovers during the week), and we each have a small glass of wine on Friday and Saturday evenings. I measure absolutely everything these days though, and know exactly what I’m getting in the way of carbs. I’m not following any sort of keto or other low-carb plan, but I aim to keep my carbohydrate intake around 50-75 grams per day; Brett’s allowance is a little higher.

Zucchini frittata and sausages: a nearly zero-carb dinner.
All-beef Polish sausage, fresh sauerkraut and roasted zucchini is another almost zero-carb dinner.
A Mediterranean dinner with spanakopita, hummus, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and cucumber had just 23 carbs.

I also include low-carb splurges for myself every day: heavy cream whipped cream is one of my daily indulgences as is a spoonful of natural peanut butter. We also discovered grain-free low-carb granola bars (11 grams each) and low-carb chocolate bars (12 grams each) at Costco, and I treat myself to one a few times each week. I’ve yet to feel like I’m going without anything.

Heavy cream whipped cream is very low carb (and fairly low calorie too) and a sweet treat every day.
Low-carb grain-free granola bars and low-carb dark chocolate bars are a once-a-week treat.

It’s been said that it takes 21 days to create a habit, but new research says it’s more like 66 days. We’ve been eating low-carb for over 50 days now, and this time it really does seems like it may stick. I know I will indulge again now and again once we’re back on the road, but hopefully never again to how it was during our previous travels. La Vida Lo-Carb this time around seems to be a better fit for us than it was before with all the choices we have in Portland and the fact that we don’t have to feed anyone but ourselves. We’re learning lots of new tricks this time as well. We won’t know for sure if we’ve lost any weight until we visit the doctor at the end of July, but for now we’re feeling great and that’s what’s important.

14 thoughts on “Livin’ La Vida Lo-Carb

  1. I’ve been eating similarly low carbish for about four months, and went totally off the rails in June (just lots of vacations & traveling). I gained five pounds. Yikes. I also worked out quite a bit, so that’s no good. I’m back pretty much in action, and agree that this is the way I’ll likely eat forever, with occasional splurges. Hopefully not a full month at a time again. 😉

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    1. That was my problem too – I kept thinking that since we were so active when we were traveling that I wouldn’t gain – hah!

      I think splurges are important, but it’s figuring out how to add them in without going nuts that’s the issue for me. I am frankly terrified of going off the rails again once we get to England, but I’m hoping I’ve learned enough and will have made enough progress this summer that I can control myself and make wise choices.

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  2. We’re eating low-carb, too. We’ve only been at it for a few weeks, though. I know I need to stick with it for health reasons. Your post is encouraging.

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    1. I think one of the things that’s helped this time is that I’m cooking for just Brett and myself now – I don’t have to figure out how to satisfy other (sometimes picky) eaters, and keep treats, etc. around for them. It’s easier just cooking for two, especially since Brett is easy to please. I’m trying hard to make our meals look attractive as well as taste good, so that I don’t feel like I’m being deprived of anything. Having pizza (my favorite food) every Friday helps too.

      Both Brett and I need to eat better for our health as well. I get to a point with my weight where I am miserable, and I had gotten to that point. So, that keeps me motivated. Plus, I can control my GERD better when I’m not eating starches.

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  3. We also do low carb at our house and I know I have lost 8 lbs in 5weeks! Scott is trying to do more protein due to his cancer surgery coming up in August and the Chemo follow up! I made the Crack Chicken today and I have a question for you, Do you make it as the recipe reads? I cut back on the Ranch as a lot of the reviews indicated it was pretty salty. I have high blood pressure, so I only used one package of the Ranch. I am eating some of my portion on Endive and some over Cauliflower rice. I too do that berry & whipped cream thing, so good.

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    1. Hi Sandi! First, I am so, so sorry to hear about Scott’s diagnosis. When we were at the Chinese Garden last month Brett heard a familiar voice outside and peeked through the wall and saw Scott! But, when we got back out he was gone. We will be thinking of all of you in the upcoming days, and hope for a successful outcome from the surgery and the chemo.

      I only used one packet of the ranch dressing, but then also only used one block of cream cheese because I only was using two chicken breasts. The one package was more than enough, and I agree – two would have meant too much salt, especially with the added bacon. I am so grateful to be here again for the berries – they have been missed! Sad that the strawberries are pretty much over, but we’ve still got a couple more weeks to go of blueberries and raspberries.

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  4. I have been having problems sticking with the weight watcher program, especially since we no longer have meetings in my town. I am trying on-line only but not doing well. I really need that incentive of knowing someone else is tracking your progress. One of my biggest problems is I hate vegetables. I think people who like vegetables are better able to maintain their body weight I mostly eat corn or blackeyed peas. Green beans too although they are terrible without seasoning and a chicken bouillon cube doesn’t help much. I am really sick of eating chicken. I envy anyone who can stick with a specific program. I’m afraid none of your food looks appetizing to me, but we each have our own way of losing weight

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    1. We’re all so different, aren’t we? I’m not doing any sort of specific program, but just keeping track of how many carbs I’m taking in each day. I never liked the Weight Watcher meetings, and was glad when they came out with the online only option – it worked best for me (although I still hated paying for it). I love vegetables (well, most of them) but can’t eat salads except for iceberg lettuce only. It gives them an entirely different (and better) flavor, and our kids would eat any vegetable that was roasted. Have you tried roasting vegetables? I cook my green beans with a little soy sauce. Not too much, but it helps make them a bit more interesting.

      I’m sick of chicken too – we rarely eat it these days, maybe only four or five times a month, if that.

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  5. Indeed we are all different…just had this discussion with my DD yesterday. I went back to WW, as I was experiencing weight creep and didn’t want to buy new clothes, at least in a bigger size! I find I do better with the group motivation and the online version didn’t work for me. Losing weight at my age is so slow, but I’ve managed to drop 7 pounds and feel so much better eating a healthy diet. It’s also easier to make myself exercise in the summer – long days, warm temps, etc. I love Greek yogurt, fruit, and most veggies, so that’s easy for me. I also like chicken and fish and have been able to work most foods into my program so far. I can’t eat a lot of sugar anyway, as I get terrible heartburn, so the thought of that restricts me more than any diet. 😦 And in addition to all that, I have genetically high cholesterol, so hoping that dropping some weight will also help with that.

    I love your food pics…wish I could hire a chef. LOL.

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    1. Sounds like we have a couple of the same issues – I also have genetically high cholesterol (managed for over 15 years by a statin – I’m grateful the dose has never changed), and sweets really aggravate my heartburn which is also managed with medication, but that and the statin are all I take these days and I’d like to keep it that way.

      The fruits, veggies, nonfat Greek yogurt, and lean proteins are no effort for me. However, I no longer enjoy cooking as much as I did in the past, but still enjoy tasty food so I’m having fun coming up with recipes and dishes that look and taste good while also being easy and quick to prepare. It will be interesting to see at the end of the month whether I’ve lost any weight or not, and if so, how much. My clothes are no longer as tight as they were when we arrived so that’s a good sign. Weight loss is very slow though these days – it took me over a year to drop the weight before (and then I couldn’t sustain it) so I’m not expecting great things.

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  6. Stupid questions here from a lurker who have enjoyed reading your blog for a long time.
    How do you prepare the zoodles? Cauliflower rice? Blanch quickly? Eat them raw? I have tried cooking and always end up with a soggy mess. I like my vegetables crunchy. Thanks.

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    1. I like my vegetables somewhat crunchy too! I usually put the zoodles in a bowl and cover with a slightly damp paper towel and microwave on high for about 2 minutes. It seems to be enough to to soften them up without having them become soggy. We buy frozen cauliflower rice so I just put a serving on a plate or bowl and then microwave for a little over a minute for the same effect – soft but not soggy. I’ve never cooked cauliflower rice from fresh so would have to experiment a bit to get it right but don’t think I would cook it for a whole lot longer. Hope this helps!

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  7. Thanks for the tip on microwaving zoodles- I’ve never tried that. I have found that salting them, letting them drain for 10 minutes and then wringing Ina kitchen towel helps the texture if you are going to sauté them in a skillet.
    We’re currently Whole 30 folks-it’s pretty restrictive but I do lose weight and my arthritis pain is greatly diminished. Definitely difficult to maintain when eating out or traveling, but not so hard when cooking at home. Luckily, we are both happy with a giant salad topped with a grilled protein which also has been helpful in keeping the house cool during this unusually hot Alaskan summer.

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    1. Looking back I can see that trying to eat low carb while traveling would have been nearly impossible, or at least very difficult, even with fixing most of our own meals. We especially wanted to try and eat things that the places we visited were famous for, which meant pastries in France, pasta and gelato in Italy, egg tarts in Portugal, etc. I’m glad I got to try all those things because it made our travel more meaningful, but I’m having to deal with it now.

      I so wish I could eat a large salad most nights, but can’t eat most lettuces (iceberg is the exception) due to a food allergy/intolerance. I’m getting good at finding other options though.

      I do the drain and wring out with zucchini for the frittata, but have found that if I microwave the zoodles they lift out of the liquid using a pair of tongs, or I can drain them in a strainer for a couple of minutes before serving.

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