KetoLife: The Joy of Cod Liver Oil

Taking dietary supplements has been a part of the low-carb/keto lifestyle since Atkins’ book in 1972. The idea was that this diet is not perfectly ‘balanced’ in a government-recommended way, and so we had to take supplements as ‘insurance,’ in case we were missing out on any stray vitamins we would have got by continuing with the traditional grain-and-fruit based daily carb binges.

One of the few things that my very conventional ‘health care provider’ (physician assistant) has ever told me was an order to add fish oil capsules to my diet. (She is also OK with my continuing low-carb since she sees it helps with my weight and my diabetes.) I worry, though, since I mostly take the cheap fish-oil capsules I can get at the local dollar store.

I also consume canned tuna (in olive oil, when I can get it) and canned red salmon. But in Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast Cookbook there was an article by Jimmy Moore listing some recommended foods, and one of them was Carlson’s lemon-flavored liquid cod liver oil. I ordered some from Amazon and started to take a dose every day. I finished one bottle already and bought a second, larger bottle.

The cod-liver-oil is perfectly fine to take right off the spoon. The lemon flavor kills any scary or fishy bad taste. The lemon taste isn’t overwhelming, either. Just a trace taste to kill the fear of taking actual cod liver oil off a spoon.

I think this CLO addition to my diet is probably far better than the nasty cheap fish oil capsules from the dollar store, which may be rancid or have other problems I don’t know about. They say that omega-3 fats are very important for heart health. This is my source, since I can’t get fresh salmon on a daily basis or at all and don’t know if I’d even like it. (I do like smoked salmon, however. When I can get to a store that carries it, and can afford it.)

Now, I am not a person who routinely consumes odd or scary ‘health foods.’ I carb-binged on ordinary processed food for most of my life, and still do so once in a while. If I can manage my daily dose of CLO, you can do it too!

As for my other supplements— I have a daily vitamin-mineral pill, low cost from the dollar store, a probiotic, and have recently upgraded the garlic oil capsule I used to get to a better grade of garlic pill from Amazon, since I have high blood pressure in spite of being low-carb. Since I am not a medical or nutritional professional, I’m hopeful you can get better recommendations than I can give from a source near you— maybe even a seemingly anti-low-carb ‘health-care-provider’ you have been assigned to. I mean, I got a good recommendation for fish oil capsules from my ‘health-care-provider’ who is certainly not a low-carb expert.

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#AspieLife: Always Being Wrong

When you are born with Asperger’s Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) you ought to be given an hourly Miranda warning: If you give up your right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in the court of public opinion, and you will be presumed guilty of being wrong, wrong, wrong.

Even when neurotypical people say vile things to us in front of witnesses, those things tend to be ignored, unless we are foolish enough to complain about it. And then, we are called whiners. Still wrong.

I have grown to a mature age and I feel I have gained a lot of insight, but it seems that no matter what I am periodically slammed over the head that as seldom as I speak to other people, whatever I say is so wrong I’d be better off pretending to be mute. I have been hated for misinterpretations of things I’ve said when other people were eavesdropping on me. And this by people who ought to know that eavesdropping and then gossiping about the things overheard are considered morally questionable behaviors.

But we can’t go the fake-mute route. The problem is, if we faked being mute we would be assigned care-givers to make our decisions for us, and we are too intelligent to be happy suffering the effects of someone else’s wrong decisions. We’d rather decide for ourselves on things that are important to us.

Why do we always get the grief in interpersonal situations? There are a lot of people in the world that have poor social skills— poorer than ours, oftentimes. Yet it feels like we Aspies are getting harshness when other people with poor social skills are getting forgiveness and understanding.

I’ve come to believe that our problem is something that most of us can’t fix. We do things unconsciously that make other people think we are weird or odd in a way that is blameworthy. When we don’t make eye contact with others, or we try to make eye contact and are found guilty of ‘staring,’ people decide we are ‘shifty.’ Not quite honest and reputable people.

If we say the things we think, and other people feel we are being tactless, people think we are mean or crude or socially unacceptable. It won’t matter if you play the disability card and tell everyone you have Asperger Syndrome. People feel it is quite OK to ‘discriminate against’ someone who is mean or shifty, even if they also have Aspergers.

And so, in many situations, we just have to accept that we will be considered ‘wrong’ for reasons we can’t control or fix. We could try being very ready to apologize, but I used to get yelled at a lot for apologizing too much. I don’t have any ultimate answers, but I know that we can’t let these things give us low self esteem. We are doing the best that we can. If other people say we are ‘wrong’ but expect their own flaws to be ignored, we shouldn’t let that get us down. Just try to be kind to others on a regular basis— they already think you are weird, so what do you have to lose?

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KetoLife: With Keto, Thou Shalt Cook

It’s maybe sad, but it’s true— if you go keto/low-carb, you have got to know how to cook. At least, you need to know some simple basic low-carb recipes and cooking skills.

Sometimes YouTube can help with this— there are a number of different videos showing how to make ‘Diet Revolution Rolls,’ a kind of bread-substitute made from separated eggs which is a recipe in the original Dr. Atkins Diet Revolution book (1972). I learned that I had to beat the egg whites longer than I had been doing. From a non-video online source, I also learned what a good idea it is to bake such rolls in a muffin top pan or Yorkshire pudding pan. (I currently have 6 such pans of different types.)

But it’s also a good idea to have a supply of good low-carb recipe books. I have all the Atkins books and cookbooks, most of the Dana Carpender cookbooks, and a couple books with recipes by Maria Emmerich (both from books co-written with Jimmy Moore.) I like to look through my many recipe books and find ones to try, even though I’m not normally a girl that’s big on cooking or trying recipes. I do like to eat, though.

Here is a big secret about cooking for those non-cooks out there: when you find a recipe you like, as you make it multiple times it gets simpler to do. My mom used to make a great (but high-carb, alas) tuna casserole. She got so good at making it she could throw it together about as easily as she could put a frozen dinner in the oven. So, here are some recipes that I have tried that might be worth doing again.

CREAMY SCRAMBLED EGGS

Recipe Book: 200 Low-Carb High-Fat Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2015.)

Dana is kind of famous for giving explicit directions for how to make omelets in every cookbook of hers. I’ve done them, but this is simpler and better, at least when I do it. After trying it the way Dana says to do it, I’ve also tried mixing the cream into the eggs directly when I prepare the eggs, Either way works, and the eggs are delicious. Of course, I’m lucky enough to get eggs that come from my own laying flock, but store-bought eggs also work well when the hens are being unproductive.

GEORGE HOLLENBECK’S HAMBURGER STROGANOFF

Recipe Book: 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2004.)

I was looking for some recipes that I could make and freeze, so I’d have some low-carb meals I could just heat up in the oven. This is one recipe I tried. It’s quite good. I would suggest ignoring the instruction to use ‘lean’ ground beef— it’s an old cook book, relatively speaking. The recipe suggests serving it over ‘spaghetti squash’ which kind of adds to the carb count. I serve mine over heated frozen veggies, usually green beans. I thaw the frozen stroganoff overnight and heat it in a mini loaf pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. I heat the frozen veggies for about 15 minutes in a disposable mini pie pan which I get from Amazon. For serving I pour the stroganoff on top of the veggies. I found that dividing the stroganoff into 6 servings was not enough for me. The second time I made it I divided into 4 servings, which is more satisfying. I might also add a small can of mushrooms to the next batch.

HAMBURGER CURRY

Recipe Book: 500 More Low-Carb Recipes, Dana Carpender, (2004.)

This recipe calls for making cauli-rice to serve it over, but I omitted that step and just serve it over whatever veggies I have. It’s very good and a nice change of pace. The recipe calls for 16 ounces (two small cans) of tomato sauce. Be sure and read your sauce labels in the store— some have sugar added and some don’t. We want the kind without added sugar. Since the tomato sauce adds carbs, you might try cutting the amount in half and see if that agrees better with you. I’ve also considered making it with one can of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes & green chilies (10 ounces) just to see how that would turn out.

I froze the individual servings in 1 pint, wide-mouth Ball canning jars. I take out a jar the evening before I plan to eat it, and stow it in the fridge. I heat it in the mini loaf pan in the oven at 350 F for 30 minutes, and heat the veggies as mentioned in the recipe above. I haven’t done it with cauli-rice yet, but do have some frozen that I could take out of the freezer next time I heat some curry.

More Recipe Notes to Come:

I see this blog post is getting a bit long, so I will write about some other recipes I’ve tried recently with special notes for freezing and re-heating, including Salisbury Steak and Asian Meatballs. I hope that this post will inspire some other ketonians to get in the kitchen and start cooking! (Order the cookbooks from Amazon— Since the recipes do not belong to me I’m not going to steal them for this blog.)

Have you had any success stories in learning keto cooking skills? What helped you?

 

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KetoLife: The Learning Curve

In The Complete Guide to Fasting, Dr. Jason Fung tells how he got started using fasting for his diabetic patients. He had been trying to get them to adopt a low-carbohydrate diet. He gave them information about it, and then had the patients keep food diaries. And found that many of his patients had no clue. They proudly announced they had given up bread— and their food diaries showed that they were eating crackers, pasta, or even pita bread in its place. It was easier to tell some patients to eat nothing at all!

The biggest lesson that we need to learn when we are starting keto/low-carb is that it is different than low-calorie/low-fat dieting, and that the rules are different. We don’t count calories, we count carb grams. We don’t embrace hunger, we take it as a sign to eat something (on our allowed-foods list.) We don’t shun fats as long as they are natural, more-healthy kinds of fats— our bodies actually need fats, and they keep us from being hungry and get us into ketosis (which is where we want to be.)

One of the major rules we have to learn is how to avoid carbs. We need to know what foods have carbs in them, and that all carbs count. We can’t eat the carbs in bananas just because bananas are fruit. The carbs in a slice of whole wheat bread count just as much as the carbs in white bread. Carbs are carbs!

In the early learning phases, we need to learn lists of what foods have carbs in them and are to be avoided. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (french fries) and sweet potatoes are as forbidden as bread and oatmeal. Even non-starchy vegetables, since they have carbs in them, need to be limited to the allowed quantity. Some low-calorie diets allow you as much lettuce as you can stuff down. We can’t do that— even small quantities of carbs add up when you take the ‘free-food’ approach to things like lettuce.

Dr. Atkins recommended that if you can’t get into ketosis in the Atkins Induction phase, you cut back on your allowed vegetable salad— having one a day instead of two. Some people these days try the ‘carnivore diet’ to get into ketosis— after all, our Paleolithic ancestors probably ate meat alone during the winter seasons, or when the kinds of vegetable food they ate were not currently in season. They couldn’t go to the supermarket and get apples and salad greens year round!

This is why it is so important to measure your state of ketosis. Those urine test strips Atkins recommended are better than nothing, but the best approach is to test your blood for ketones. It’s a similar procedure to testing your blood sugar, but you need the right kind of meter and test strips. Since the test strips are $1 each, I can’t afford that system myself (I’m on SSI disability) but I have a Ketonix breath ketone analyzer which I use daily.

You may have read (on ‘keto’ diet food packaging) that you are supposed to count the ‘net carbs’ or even ‘sugar carbs.’ That is not currently recommended. I’d suggest keeping your eye on the total carbs of a food item. The important thing is what carbs are measured by your body. A high-fiber keto tortilla may not be something you want to eat too regularly if it sends you out of ketosis.

KetoLife: Dr. Atkins’ Fat Fast Diet

You may have heard the term ‘fat fasting.’ Maybe you think it’s a kind of fasting. Maybe you think it is fasting from fat, as the low-fat diet advocates seem to want. But the truth is, Fat Fasting is a kind of temporary diet, used by Dr. Robert Atkins with his patients who had hit a weight-loss plateau. That is, they were continuing to do low-carb but the weight loss they were expecting had stopped.

‘Fat Fasting’ is not fasting at all. It is a kind of low-carb and low-calorie diet, based on some scientific research, that helps some low-carbers. It usually calls for 4-5 mini-meals a day, which have to be composed of certain percentages of the macronutrients. Dr. Atkins might have had people eating 4 to 5 handfuls of macadamia nuts on a Fat Fasting diet day.

Dana Carpender, author of many low-carb cookbooks, has two cookbooks out especially for the Fat Fasting diet. These recipes open up the Fat Fasting diet, and give you a lot of choices for your mini-meals. You still can’t do the Fat Fasting diet for too long at a time— it’s meant to be temporary. (That’s why we can call it a ‘diet’— it’s not our lifestyle!) Get her Fat Fasting books to learn more about Fat Fasting.

Many modern Ketonians don’t use the Fat Fasting diet, but use actual fasting to deal with weight-loss plateaus. Dr. Jason Fung has some books out, including The Complete Guide to Fasting, which can help you learn more about how to use real fasting safely and effectively.

But sometimes the Fat Fasting diet may be what you want to do. Maybe you are having a hard time getting into deep ketosis, or staying there. Maybe you just have a hard time not eating anything at all— or you live with loved ones who will get frantic if you skip even one meal, no matter how heavy you are.

I have tried the Fat Fasting diet a few times, before I got Dr. Jason Fung’s book on real fasting, and it worked, though I’m lazy enough to like the break from actual cooking you get while you are real-fasting. I also use a few recipes from the two Fat Fasting books in my regular low-carb life. A few I adapt— the two mac-and-cheese recipes call for shirataki noodles, which I dislike, so I use a good serving of green beans or perhaps canned bean sprouts as a substitute for the noodles.

The advantage of the Fat Fasting recipes is that most are single-serving recipes— which is grand if you are cooking low-carb for one and don’t fancy eating the same meal again and again. And the recipes are high in percentages of fat, which is good if some of your regular low-carb foods are also too low in fat. (Remember, fat in your food is what makes you not-hungry!)

KetoLife: Funner Than Water

Nothing is worse torture than to be sick, barely able to ‘watch’ TV with my eyes closed, and have that dreadful Vitamin Water commercial come around again and again and again. They say ‘Vitamin Water’ is funner than water. You know what would be even more fun? Frosty chocolate milkshakes!

I was appalled when they first started marketing drinks with flavorings, sugars or sugar substitutes, possible carbonation,  carbs and calories as ‘water.’ That’s so unfair to consumers! We are all taught when we are dieting or trying to be more healthy we don’t have to restrict our ‘water’ amounts. But when they sell us a soft drink called ‘flavored water,’ what does that do to us? We may think we can consume any ‘water’ freely.

The purpose of water— actual water— is not to be fun. It is to hydrate our bodies. Without enough hydration, human beings die. That’s why it’s a popular method to execute disabled people— just quit hydrating them and they die quick, though probably not without a lot of suffering.

Before putting any soft drink called a ‘water’ into your body, check the nutrition facts on the label. How many carbs does it have? How many of those carbs come from sugars? How many from fiber? How does it compare to a typical sugared soft drink? A diet soft drink? And you are expected to be drinking it as a ‘water?’

Water has zero carbs, zero sugars, and, for those who still care, zero calories. That’s why you can drink as many glasses of water as you like without worrying about breaking the low-carb/ketogenic lifestyle OR a low-calorie hunger plan.

Need more flavor to your water? The traditional solution is to make the water into tea or coffee. Both tea and coffee are now held to have health benefits— though if your drown your tea or coffee in sugars, artificial sweeteners, and non-cream ‘creamers,’ you have only yourself to blame for bad results. But if you can manage to learn to drink plain tea or black coffee, you are set with ‘funner’ water for life. There are also keto things you can put in tea or coffee to make them ‘bulletproof,’ or more helpful for getting into ketosis and staying there.

What about the vitamins? If there are vitamins in your bottled drink, it’s because someone put them there, artificially. But you don’t need those vitamins. If you are on keto, you are taking your vitamin-and-mineral pills every morning (plus probiotics, I hope) and these plus the vitamins in the actual real food you will be eating will tide you over, vitamin-wise. You don’t need vitamins in your bottled drink! You are already getting those— and your real-food vitamins are of higher quality than any you get from bottled drinks.

But what about when you need hydration but can’t drink enough cups of actual water to achieve that? As when you are sick? I had that problem recently. I did not resort to buying  Vitamin ‘Water.’ I looked at it, in the shop, found the kind they carried was sweetened with sugar, and bought something else called ‘Bai’ which is sweetened with stevia, which is one of the few fake sweeteners which is considered mostly safe even in the keto community. It has a few grams of carbs per serving (and more than one serving per bottle,) but since I intended to drink it in small amounts— thinned down with actual water in most cases— just to add some variety in my hydration when I felt too ill to bother much with food or water. (I also purchased some Atkins drinks— my standby food when I’m sick— which they now carry at the Dollar General store in Stephenson, MI.)

Hydration is an essential in our ketonian way of life. But don’t let the ‘funner’ ‘water’ sellers fool you. Water is water. Other things are not. (‘Bai’ drinks don’t claim to be ‘water,’ even though they are more water-like than sugared ‘Vitamin Water.’)

#AspieLife: Forgiveness

Yes, even if you have Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and people are mean to you all the time, you still have to forgive people. It’s an essential social skill you have to cultivate. And if you have certain religious beliefs (Christian,) you are expected to forgive people. Even if they ‘discriminate’ against you.

It can be really hard, though. I have had an instance when a person who had been rejecting me for years really wronged me, and this person staged a confrontation with me, in which the person was clearly very angry, but the person claimed to not be angry. Another, non-Aspie person in the room at the time confirmed my impression that the person in question was indeed angry. I hate being lied to that way, because as an Aspie I have limited social skills, and a tendency to believe I am the one at fault in any social situation. If the person would have just said he didn’t like me because I was ‘weird’ and it made him mad to have to have any contact with me at all, that would have been easier to forgive than the lie.

Yes, I know, the person is probably in denial about his own emotional state. And I know that as a Christian I need to forgive if I want God to forgive me. But it’s hard to forgive someone who is not sorry, who blames me for the problem, who will continue to wrong me and blame me for it, and will not change.

The situation makes me angry, for reasons I won’t go in to here. But the Bible teaches ‘love your enemy,’ and if someone chooses to act like my enemy, I not only am required to forgive that person but to love him. It ain’t easy, though.

As a person with Asperger Syndrome, I know I often need forgiveness because I say the wrong thing, or say things where eavesdroppers can hear me and be offended. It’s part of my weak social skills. But it’s harder to forgive a neurotypical person for something I feel he should have not done to me, because I assume they have better social skills and just choose not to exercise them in my case. But, really, being neurotypical doesn’t mean having perfect social skills or being a nice person or being free from bad traits such as passive-aggressive behavior.

To forgive my ‘person,’ I have decided to pray for that person. My goal is to pray one decade of the rosary per day for that person. If you don’t know what a rosary decade is, it is 1/5 of the ‘normal’ rosary prayer. I have had a hard time doing a whole rosary at a time for years, and since my stroke it’s even harder, so I am going for the shorter 1 decade at a time rosary prayer.

If you have a problem with a specific person that it is hard to forgive, I recommend prayer for that person as a solution. It’s a way of reminding yourself that God is in charge, even of that person. God can make that person more enlightened and a better person— or God can make you a more forgiving person. Or both.

Wednesday is now the day for Aspie Life posts. I hope.

Have you ever had a social situation that called for forgiveness, and had a hard time forgiving that person? What did you do about it? What would you suggest other people do in that situation?