Thursday, December 20, 2007

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb On YouTube (Episode 19)

Today's episode is all about Dana Carpender, a well-known low-carb cookbook author. (I have nearly all her books, by the way.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007 mentioned in today's Moncton Times & Transcript!

Click here to read the article on the website or see below. My interview is at the end of the article.

Dietary dilemmas: Holidays can be challenging for those with health conditions or trying to lose weight

By Cathy Donaldson, Times & Transcript Staff
Published Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Appeared on page B1, Moncton Times & Transcript

It's become an annual ritual at our house.

On Christmas Eve, you'll find me happily chopping in the kitchen, preparing the ingredients for the stuffing to accompany the next day's turkey feast.

Make that two stuffings.

My mother-in-law has celiac disease, a disorder of the small bowel caused by a reaction to a gluten protein found in foods like wheat, rye, barley and oats. The treatment: a lifelong gluten-free diet.

So, while I use wheat bread for the stuffing that most of the family eats, gluten-free rice flour bread forms the basis of a second stuffing for my belle-mère.

While the small added task is no hassle here, mealtime can sometimes be challenging for those preparing food for holiday guests with dietary or other health concerns -- not to mention for the guests themselves.

"It's definitely an issue for many people," says Judy Burgess of Moncton, an executive member of the local chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association.

"I just spoke to a girl in our chapter who has lots of parties to go to coming up. Some relatives are saying to her, 'Oh, a little bit (of non gluten-free food) won't hurt. Just scrap the pie filling off the crust.' Some people don't realize that we can't do that because of cross-contamination concerns. The goal is to be 100 per cent gluten free."

Taking chances with food when you have such dietary conditions is not a good idea, says Judy, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 1958 at the age of 11.

"You're doing damage to your small bowel whether you have a little bit or a lot (of non gluten-free food)," she says.

Fortunately for Judy and other celiacs -- and those who may host them during this festive season -- more gluten-free products are now available in stores, providing additional choices.

Specialty items can be quite expensive, however, with gluten-free bread costing as much as $7 a loaf, for example. An avid baker, Judy cuts costs by making much of her own food, such as breads and sweets.

If you have relatives visiting during the holidays who have special dietary needs, try to determine in advance what you can do to accommodate them, says Judy.

"It's really up to the person with the disease to call and ask what's being served and how it's being made," she says. "For example, if you're celiac and there isn't going to be gluten-free bread or rolls at the dinner you're attending, you can say you'll bring your own. Be willing to help yourself out and not put complete pressure on the hostess."

Sharon Zeiler, senior manager of Nutrition Initiatives and Strategies for the Canadian Diabetes Association, says it's important for anyone who wants to stay healthy to watch their diet during the holiday season, but especially important for those with health conditions.

"It's a busy time of year and people's routines get changed because of holiday parties and the stress of shopping, preparing and so on," says Sharon. "For diabetics, it's really important to take some time to eat before you go to a party so you're not tempted by all of the treats there."

If you really want to eat something at a party, like a piece of cheesecake, go for it, she says.

"But if it's not a 10, if you really don't think it's fabulous, just have a few bites and leave the rest," says Sharon. "Unless it's really special, it's not worth it."

Another option at treat-laden parties is to take a small plate and sample items, she says.

"We also try to encourage people who might be worried that there is something they can eat to bring a tray of vegetables or a fruit tray," says Sharon. "Most supermarkets now have them ready-prepared and hostesses are thrilled when you bring something."

Remember to focus on the family and friends you want to visit at holiday gatherings, not on the food, she adds.

"Avoid standing next to the buffet table," says Sharon. "It's really easy to keep picking up chips or nuts or whatever. If you're away from those, then the focus is on the conversation."

Portion control is also important, especially at sit-down meals.

"We have on our website ( a handy portion guide," says Sharon. "You can use your hand to get an idea of what the portions should be. For instance, a piece of fruit should be about the size of your fist and a piece of cheese shouldn't be any bigger than your thumb."

Diabetics can drink alcohol in moderation, provided their blood glucose is well controlled, says Sharon.

"It's often a good idea to check with your health care professional about it," she says. "Consider making drinks that are half diet pop and half (alcohol).

Or maybe have one glass of wine and then a glass of club soda so you are aware of what it is you're drinking."

Keeping active during the holidays is also vital for diabetics as well as the general population, she adds.

"Whether it's taking everybody out for tobogganing instead of going to a movie or going ice skating or suggesting a walk after a big dinner, those are all good things," she says. "It really helps people with diabetes control their blood glucose and you don't feel so guilty."

Brian Cormier of Moncton, a local writer and author of a web blog entitled, has been experimenting recently with low-carb holiday treats, both sugar-free and wheat-free items.

Since mid-June, Brian has lost about 80 pounds on a low-carb diet, avoiding foods like potatoes, bread, pasta, flour and sugar.

He expects this holiday season to be a bit tougher than usual as he forges ahead with his dietary plan.

"We associate certain kinds of food with certain times of the year," says Brian. "At Christmas, you're talking about the big meals and especially the sweets, the candies, the special desserts, the special cookies, all that stuff. It makes it a little more challenging."

And, depending on your cultural background, there may be even more temptations, he says.
"If you're Acadian, like I am, there's poutine râpée, which is like one big snowball of carbs," he says. "It's grated potato and boiled potato and you put sugar on it after that. That is definitely a no-no for me this year."

Brian has managed to find a solution for at least one of his favourite Christmas dishes, a meat pie called "pâté" that his mother makes.

"I ordered a low-carb baking mix called Carbquik from a grocery store in Toronto," he says. "My mother is going to use that to make the crust for my meat pies."

As for sweets, Brian says he'll be making his own sugar-free selections.

And when it comes to alcohol, he says that if he indulges, he'll opt for hard liquor as opposed to beer since the latter is such a high-carb drink.

The internet is teeming with recipes for sugar-free, low-carb foods, he notes.

"I've found so much stuff there that's really delicious," he says.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Week #26: Down by another -2 lb for a grand total of -79 lb!

Hi everyone! Well, I started down this path exactly six months ago tomorrow (on June 17th)... so this is a major milestone.

Today, I got on the scale and was down by another -2 lb for a total of
-79 lb in six months. I'm very happy, to say the least... and hope to hit the -80+ mark next week just in time for Christmas. That will be my Christmas present to myself.

A few Christmas parties this week... a couple (literally) of glasses of red wine, a sit-down meal, etc. It's a challenging time of year, but I stayed away from the sweets (of course) and stuck with the cheeses, chicken wings, deli meats, etc. at a house party that I attended. At a big sit-down dinner I was at last night, I stuck to grilled seafood and salad. The lady sitting next to me even offered to eat the croutons I picked out of my caesar salad! Ha!

So yup... a challenging time of year, but stick to your guns! You won't regret it. People will start to want to shove food down your throat, but stay true to yourself. Besides, no one has yet to explain to me how eating sugar and stuff that's bad for me somehow honours the birth of Jesus. (Think about that. Good argument, huh? You'll get blank stares, trust me.)

So... two more weigh-ins left in the year. I'll hopefully be over the -80 lb mark by then... at least I should be, considering the steady losses. January brings a new year and new determination to get this "coat of fat" off. I can't wait to see where I end up at the end of 2008. If I haven't reached my goal by then, I'll be well on my way! Either way, come hell or high water, it's gonna happen.

Until next week! Cheers!

No excuses!