Thursday, October 04, 2007

Day 4 - Milk versus Beer

It’s Day 4 of my diet. Oops, that should be Day 4 of my new lifestyle…I still have to get used to that. A diet might end once the goal-weight is achieved and more sensible eating will maintain the weight. In a lifestyle change, those dietary restrictions need to be followed for the rest of one’s life. That’s my case, although I’ll probably whine about it until the day I die. But if this works, I’ll be around a lot longer to do the whining.

I sit here taking a break at work, munching on a chunk of Laughing Cow Light Cheese…very yummy. I’ve always liked cheese anyhow, so this is a pretty typical snack for me. For lunch, I packed a salad with some smoked salmon to add protein; a homemade dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and various spices; and a container of sugar-free Jell-O. Instead of my normal staple of Diet Coke, I’ve packed some Lipton Diet Green Tea, which I’ve become quite used to drinking. My afternoon snack will be a repeat of yesterday’s snack: some raw vegetables dipped in humus. I’m really surprised how good some of this is. And for breakfast this morning, I had a western omelet with sausage, and a little bit of skim milk.

Milk? I know that I mentioned that milk is a no-no, but I stumbled onto something last night while surfing the net. In response to one of my blogs, someone questioned as to why milk is a "Food to Avoid" on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. I really didn’t have an answer because I assumed it was related to the fat in milk, but skim milk was also to be avoided, so this didn’t make sense. What I found in my search were two things. First, skim milk is not banned due to fat (since there is none) but due to the lactose, or milk sugar. Lactose is as potent a sugar as raw table sugar when it comes to its effect on insulin (and therefore triglycerides). To get around this, I should consider lactose-free milk or soymilk…a prospect at which I really didn’t look forward. However, the second item I found was a 2004 addendum to the South Beach criteria. Basically, it allows up to two servings of skim milk per day! My SB book was printed in 2003 and I wasn’t aware of this update until last night. Other updates include allowing tomatoes and onions to be consumed in an unlimited basis and the inclusion of carrots in the later phases of this diet. (Carrots are very high in sugar, but apparently the fiber involved helps to offset). Anyhow, I was very happy to find this latter bit of information while at the same time, the first bit of info reminds me that need to drink milk in moderation. Water is still the only real recommended liquid to consume.

While I was at it, I decided to surf for information about one other consumable liquid: beer. Probably the biggest no-no with regards to TG’s (the official medical abbreviation of Triglycerides) is consuming alcohol of any kind. When I checked on the benefits of red wine, all I found was that the negative influence of alcohol on TG’s far superceded the health benefits. Basically, the liver needs to process the alcohol upon consumption. But it’s also the liver’s job to process the sugars, carbohydrates, insulin and TG’s in the body. In addition, alcohol is pretty much converted directly into TGs. It’s a chemical, physiological thing that I can’t really explain, but trust me. Anyhow, all this I already knew, which is why I’ve been drinking O’Doul’s Amber Non-Alcohol beer for the last few months. True, even NA beers have some alcohol. The way NA beers are made is that they brew the beer normally, and then remove the alcohol at the very end. There will obviously be some residual alcohol left in the brew, so "Alcohol-Free" is a bit misleading. Still, I wondered if NA beer is acceptable.

Sadly no, but not because of the minimal amount of alcohol. All beer contains maltose, which is a sugar. Apparently this sugar is one of the more kick-ass sugars there are, and it’s directly responsible for the common beer-belly. The worst kind of fat to have on one’s body is in the middle: the beer belly. Unfortunately, maltose is not removed in the process of NA or light beers…it’s just something that’s in beer. And I can’t have it.

I know it seems like I’m whining, but I’m actually just expressing some of the obstacles that I need to overcome. You see, this is why it’s a lifestyle change and not merely a diet. I got lucky with the milk in that I can enjoy that the rest of my life, and I actually like skim milk. I didn’t get so lucky with the beer. I suppose I could search the net for non-alcohol wines, but since fruit juices are also a no-no (fructose is the fruit sugar), I seriously doubt fancy grape-juice would be allowed either.

The good news is I’m allowed a lot of good things. And I’m starting to get used to the taste of V8. I’m enjoying that I’m cooking and setting a better example for my kids. I’m challenged by and enjoying the allowed foods, and looking forward to re-introducing some old favorites in the next phase of the diet, like most fruits (apples, strawberries, blue berries, grapes, etc), whole wheat bread and pudding. It’s still gonna be hard, but it’s been easier than I thought, and that has to be a good first step to a new lifestyle.

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