My name is Joanne McCormack and I am a freelance family doctor in Warrington and Halton, Cheshire, UK. For 23 years I worked in mainly one practice but now I work across several practices as a GP and also as the Named GP for Safeguarding Children.
One of my friends used to work for the processed food industry and told me she spent her time devising foods that people could not stop eating. The people who worked there tried to find the bliss point, where people felt they were in some sort of momentary heaven. There used to be an advertising slogan for one of these concoctions- “one nibble and you’re nobbled”
I used to eat like this:
Cereal or toast for breakfast, a wholemeal sandwich for lunch and maybe a chocolate bar as a treat and a home cooked tea/dinner, preceded by 2 pieces of toast while I cooked it, and then my meal itself with pasta, potatoes or rice. Sometimes I would have a few biscuits in the morning, and often some crisps or nuts with drinks if someone came round for dinner (which was not often). My meals were always home cooked, and I would have condiments with them, without thinking about it. I especially loved mint sauce with lamb, and horseradish sauce with beef. I didn’t think of myself as someone who had processed food addiction. I thought I had a healthy diet because I home cooked my main meals, and ate whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat cereal and whole-wheat pasta (if the children didn’t complain too much!). I tried to balance my eating with an active lifestyle. I played golf and often had a cereal bar on the way round, with a can of diet cola. I climbed mountains and took sandwiches and cake for a meal in the middle of the climb.
The truth was that I ate a lot of processed food and that contained a lot of sugar, or starch that changes into sugar. It was no wonder I gained 2 stone in weight. I am going to reprint the above paragraph and highlight all the foods that are processed. Look at this:
I used to eat like this: cereal or toast for breakfast, a wholemeal sandwich for lunch and maybe a chocolate bar as a treat and a home cooked tea/dinner, preceded by 2 pieces of toast while I cooked it, and then my meal itself with pasta, potatoes or rice. Sometimes I would have a few biscuits in the morning, and often some crisps or nuts with drinks if someone came round for dinner. My meals were always home cooked, and I would have condiments with them, without thinking about it. I especially loved mint sauce with lamb, and horseradish sauce with beef. I didn’t think of myself as someone who had processed food addiction. I thought I had a healthy diet because I home cooked my main meals, and ate whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat cereal and whole-wheat pasta (if the children didn’t complain too much!). I tried to balance my eating with an active lifestyle. I played golf and often had a cereal bar on the way round, with a can of diet cola. I climbed mountains and took sandwiches and cake as a meal in the middle of the climb. I didn’t mention alcohol, which is a processed product and should be considered as something that is very ‘more-ish’ and stimulates your appetite to eat more processed food, and drink more of itself! It also reduces your inhibitions in relation to eating more…; you’ve guessed it and I don’t need to say it.
My life was punctuated by processed food, but I never would have thought I had a processed food addiction. I even made my own processed food with white flour and sugar!
I never thought I could have given it up, but I did, as explained on the front page of this website. I enjoy my food a lot now, eat it with relish and it gives me great pleasure, and I no longer feel drawn to the processed stuff. Think about how you are going to do it, and believe me when I say 4 years on, that it is worth it, and the cravings left long ago.
I am mindful that many people have not the money or inclination to cook roast beef, and yet it is a very filling and tasty treat, especially if done well. It is also very low carb, and healthy fat so excellent for diabetics and people who want use up their body fat stores, as well as being highly nutritious for us all. Just don’t eat too much of it- 75-100g(3-4 ounces) should do.
If you eat it when out for lunch, have it with the leafy vegetables, and avoid the starchy potatoes, chips, gravy, and Yorkshire puddings. You can always ask for extra other vegetables and a good helping of meat..
When cooking beef, consider using brisket( or other cheap cuts) and cook it nice and slow:
salt and pepper
a bunch thyme and bay-leaf
Melt the dripping, sear the beef till browned, put it in pot, add ingredients above, cover with foil and a tight fitting lid, and put in oven for 3 hours at 140 degrees Celsius(gas mark 1, 275 deg f)
plenty of above ground veg* to serve
If you want to make it a bit more interesting add in any of:
6 small whole onions
4 small carrots
4 sticks celery
120g chestnut or other mushrooms before it goes in the oven.
* include cabbage, cauliflower, courgettes, broccoli, mushrooms, asparagus, leeks, onion
Can’t lose weight on LCHF?
When I started a 30g carbs a day way of life, I never imagined the changes it would bring. The weight loss was an unexpected side effect and not my primary concern.
However, not everyone does lose weight with the first version of LCHF they try
If this applies to you have a think:
Do you eat a lot of fat e.g. fat on your chicken, and in your coffee, and cream on your fruit? If you have fat on your body, you don’t need to eat that much fat in your food.
Fat is your friend and protects your body from too much glucose, and it is also a source of fat calories when you want to lose weight.
Are you counting your carbs- e.g. through “Carbs and Cals”( remember you do not ned to count the Cals) How many grams of carbs are you having in a day? 20-30g per day should be enough. Be honest with yourself( photograph everything you eat and drink with your phone and count it up) and cut it back below 30 g a day if need be.
Are you stressed? The high levels of cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline can stop you from losing weight, so how about some relaxation in the form of yoga or mindfulness? When you are stressed you will sleep less well, and have more difficulty sticking to a sensible way of eating.
Are you eating too much protein? You don’t need more than 1g/kg, or 2g/kg if weight building or growing. Some restaurants serve 14oz, which is about 400g- beef steaks- that is not necessary. As a rough guide a piece of meat or fish the size of the palm of your hand will do.
I work in an area where people are generally healthy and people in my practice think hard about bringing their children up in the best possible way. They mostly cook from scratch and never give their children sugar or so they think….
They forget that breakfast cereals, toast and toppings, orange juice, brown bread, wholewheat pasta and rice all break down to sugar in the body. Not forgetting the “occasional” sugary treats.
People who have changed over to a low sugar lifestyle for their children experience better behaviour, better concentration, and even better sleep. A head teacher I spoke to told me that the behaviour at his school even improved when they removed the vending machines.
Where does the healthy fat in #LCHF come from?
Is it from your food, or is it from your body?
What sorts of fats are you comfortable with?
Many people are fat phobic, and fear that fat in food becomes fat on their bodies. The problem is that many people eat a high fat, high carb way and this is definitely fattening for many of us, as is low fat processed food which is high in sugar. Initially, it may be helpful to use recipes like those on DietDoctor but use minimal quantities of the high fat foods, like dairy, and oils, in order to feel comfortable with what is a radical change of lifestyle.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, do not overdo the fat in your food, especially if you dislike eating fat, as it may make you feel sick. Eat low carb, and do not ramp up your fat intake. Avoid those bullet proof coffees, and don’t add copious quantities of butter to your food. Be guided by your individual responses in terms of weight loss( a pound a week is fine), and blood glucose( it should be between 4 and 7).
I find most people are comfortable eating the fats that are in oily fish, olives, avocados and nuts, but are less comfortable with animal fats in butter, lard, beef, pork, lamb and chicken. All are healthy. The fats to avoid are trans-fats found in cakes, biscuits, donuts, and deep fried foods like chips, and also seed oils themselves, which become trans-fats at high temperatures.
One of my friends has recently improved her health enormously by changing from a standard British diet to a whole food vegan one.
She had never liked eating meat or fish but she never really thought about eating the most nutritious food possible- within her health beliefs– so she did eat a lot of junk food. Indeed, she thought that the state of her body and mind could not be improved much with changing the food she ate.
By chance, she saw a shocking programme about animal welfare and so made the switch to whole food veganism within a few days. The effects on her health have been astounding. The health problems that have plagued her for years have now gone.
Why should this be so, and what do I think of this as a GP? As a whole food vegan she will be eating a lot less sugar, salt and additives. She will also be getting more nutrients than in her previous diet that included a lot of processed foods. In avoiding processed food, she will also be eating a lot less wheat, and as wheat is broken down to glucose, it means her glucose load is a lot less. In avoiding dairy, she will also be reducing her sugar intake- think of the sugar in fruit yoghurts, milk, milk shakes, ice cream and fruit cheeses. Some people also have an unrecognised dairy intolerance, and this may have been the case with her.
I urged her to stick to whole food, unprocessed food, to take B12 supplements and to be mindful of getting enough nutrients. Consulting a dietitian would be the best way to find out how to do this, as my main concern with a low carb vegan lifestyle is nutrient deficiency.
Let’s suppose you are overweight and have accepted it, or you are overweight and still feel bad about your inability to get off the couch, and your inability to stop eating the foods that keep you and your body just the way they are.
If you could press a button and be slim you would, but it just feels too difficult, what with all the pressures of life.
Here is a different way to look at it:
You are not just you…
Your body is a complex ecosystem in which you live with trillions of microorganisms, collectively called the microbiome. There are so many of them that they outnumber your own cells by between 2 and 10:1. So over half of “you” is this microbiome. This microbiome determines how healthy your immune system is, it determines your weight, and even your food cravings. You may think you crave certain foods and drinks, but it may even be the microbiome making your brain crave them.
You can change your microbiome by what you eat and drink in as few as 21 days. You can change it slowly or suddenly and when you do, it can bring about phenomenal health changes.
We need consent so that we can analyse and publish the programme results. You do not have to do this to take part in the programme.
This is the form it takes:
Stockton Heath Medical Centre, The Forge Stockton Heath.
We would like to use anonymous data to help us and other doctors and nurses learn what can be done with low carb ways of eating. In this way, we hope that the knowledge of this method will spread throughout the country, enabling better health for many more people.
If you consent to sharing your anonymised data please sign a consent form and give the form to me when we next have a group meeting.
I hereby consent to the anonymous sharing of my data as part of the 8 week low carb behavioural change programme.