Everyday Low Carb High Fat Eating

Everyday Low Carb High Fat Eating

White plate with wilted vegetables, two slices of meat, and rice, with a fork on the plate.
People want to know how hard or easy it is to eat a low carb high fat diet on a daily basis. Read this post, and watch my embedded video, to hear more about making this work for you.

As I ran along the flat trail, cyclists zipped past me. At their speeds, they barely noticed my 14-minute mile pace. Some of the other runners on the trail, however, easily passed the woman whose slow jog could have easily been eclipsed by a fast walker.

And that was just Mile Number Two. Sigh.

Nearly an hour later, a female runner overtook me from behind. As she passed by, she quietly said, “At that pace, I bet you could run forever.” And then she smiled at me. She completely understood what I was doing.

You see, running at that turtle’s pace was a purposeful part of my training program from my coach. Because my diet was already nutrient dense and naturally low in carbohydrates in its absence of cereal grains and processed foods, we wanted to turn my body into a fat-burning, efficient machine. The way you do this is to match the diet with months of slow, low heart rate running. Ultra runner Larissa Elaine Dannis  used low heart rate running to transform herself from a recreational road runner to a 50 mile trail running champ in four years.

But this is a blog about food, so let’s talk about the food side of this equation. You can find quite a few articles about Dr. Phil Maffetone‘s non-method methodology of training bodies to go long, including the diet that helps this to happen. What I share with you isn’t about what this diet is, as much as it’s about how to pull this off on the day-to-day life of having a job, training for a Half Ironman and an Ironman, and having the energy to enjoy life.

This is everyday low carb, high fat eating, which is essentially what most people on the LCHF, Autoimmune Protocol (aka AIP), and medically Paleo diets are eating. What is life really  like when you eat like this?

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Allium-Free Legume-Free Cauliflower Hummus

White plate on brown background, round rice crackers surrounding full cup scoop of cauliflower hummus, topped with parsley and four Greek olives, silver spoon on side of hummus.
Miss hummus because of a legume and allium food allergy? Here’s a vegan and AIP compliant version that is tasty and super easy to make! Let’s eat!

Some years back, I reproduced a hummus recipe that was given to me by a person I once dated. He was a “foodie” – one of those men who took the time to know what was in his food, portion everything down to exactly how many crackers should be on plate with your spoonfuls of spread, and source his food from local farmer’s markets.

We both enjoyed hummus because it was that protein rich, easy-to-make food that is a staple of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern meals. When I was able to eat as a vegetarian, hummus and pita were weekly staples.

Well, his hummus recipe lasted longer than our dating life. Then I developed food allergies, and then Celiac Disease. On top of that,  a recent diagnosis of an allium intolerance (low allergic response),and my long-standing intolerance to legumes such as soybean and chickpeas made me say good-bye formally to hummus, and I began snacking on brown rice crackers with a whole lot of ‘nuthin on them.

I know; boring boring BORING. Oh so horribly boring. I started fantasizing.

I fondly recall the amount of garlic this recipe called for: it easily had an entire compound bulb and two and half cans of drained chickpeas. My bellydance teacher at the time, a woman of Lebanese-Syrian background, complimented my hummus and asked for the recipe. I didn’t care that this hummus left me with breath that could kill someone standing on the other side of the room. It was delicious.

But if you have an allium allergy, how on earth do you get that pungent flavor that is at once strong, mellow, and sweet? And if you can’t have chickpeas or soybean, what options are left for a base? 

Oh hungry Minions, my gut’s army of hungry hamsters calling out to be well fed with flavorful food has been working on an answer for you! There are limits to the magic*, but for a large contingent of you, you’ll find this allium-free and legume-free cauliflower hummus a tasty solution, and a fantastic pairing with vegetables, gluten-free pasta served cold (like a mac and cheese, but without the cheese), and gluten free brown rice crackers.

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Living With Food Allergies and Intolerances

Kale held next to a white and green mandoline from Chef'n, sitting on a kitchen counter, coffee maker in upper left hand corner, sink next to piece of kale
What does it look like, day to day, living with multiple food allergies and an autoimmune disease such as Celiac Disease?

The most common question I get from others dropping in on My Allergy Advocate or talking to me on Social Media is this:

“What is it really like living with so many food allergies, intolerances, AND also Celiac Disease?” 

[Update: 09/05/2016 – I’ve added a few updates to this post because things have changed a bit for me since I wrote this, as it will for anyone with multiple food allergies and intolerances. As my diet became uber clean and more heavily restricted, the response became worse. -IH]

I know, O Hungry Minions, you are not just talking about how to read ingredient lists, or how to pick a safe restaurant (although both of these are very important skills to master).  This question is potentially a much deeper question about how I live, day-to-day, with a lifestyle that is labeled too restrictive by some, and dismissed as, “I could never do that!” by others.

For those of you peering into the world of food allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, and autoimmune diseases, or GI problems requiring a dramatic change in how you feed and nourish yourself (or a dependent child or elder), this post is for you. If you’re “old hat” about this topic, I’m also thinking of you, and my hat is off to you for figuring it out, caring for yourself, and making food fun again. We can swap food stories, empathize, and share a good laugh or two.

And for those who are curious, who are attempting to try a Whole30 or paleo diet because of the potential health benefits, I’m thinking of you too! It’s been hard enough changing my lifestyle to avoid illness, and there is a sharp learning curve that actually makes it easier when you have so few choices. In many ways, having no food restrictions other than your own mind choosing to eat in a less familiar, more restricted manner is difficult because at some point, you can always convince yourself you can have a “cheat day” or a “cheat meal.” But a cheat meal isn’t something I can do without dramatic negative consequences, and in that sense, I think you have it way harder than I.

Still, I think most people look at my diet, my choices, and my lifestyle, and quietly thank their lucky stars that they aren’t me. I get comments like, “You poor thing!” and “I’d die if I couldn’t eat out as much!”  If the tables were turned, perhaps I’d be the one with the secret thoughts of feeling lucky.

Where there is illness, there are these little deaths. And in the little deaths, there is new life and stories that I believe are valuable enough to be shared and passed on. Take a look at my typical weekend, from Friday to Sunday night, and see for yourself. It’s just one window into this challenging world of food allergies and autoimmune disease.

It does get better. It did get better. And the results are extraordinary.

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