|I've had slightly high cholesterol for a while now, and after a few different failed attempts at regulating it with natural supplements and exercise, I decided to give the South Beach Diet a try. My normal diet consists of lots and lots of carbohydrates, both in the "pure sugar" variety and in the "chocolate-covered" variety. Thankfully I was blessed with genetics that enable me to eat whatever I want and never gain any weight. But unfortunately I was cursed with the silent killer of high cholesterol. There's some evidence that a diet high in vegetables and fiber and low in carbohydrates might have a beneficial effect on cholesterol. As sort of a last ditch effort before I started taking prescription drugs, I decided to try it out for six months.
The first few days were unpleasant. Heck, the first half of the first day was unpleasant. I stopped eating sugar and all other carbs before slowly reintroducing limited whole grains after a few weeks. My body had to go through a period of withdrawal, where I felt tired and annoyed, and no amount of food made me feel satisfied. It's a truly unique feeling to have a stomach full of food but to not feel full. This mostly went away over time, and I found a few foods (like peanut butter) that took away hunger like magic. I was surprised that I lost about 8-10 lbs in the first couple weeks, which was an added benefit I suppose. I really didn't have a problem eating meat and vegetables all the time. I'm a fan of things like Brussels sprouts, so it wasn't difficult increasing my intake of vegetables. But after a solid month of daily salads for lunch, I got sick of them, though largely because of the dressing. It's hard to find salad dressings with no or low carbs.
Each week I was supposed to introduce a new whole grain carb, such as whole grain rice, whole grain bread, etc. But by about the third week, I couldn't really find any more room in my diet for more food without cutting out the good stuff like meat and vegetables. The diet's literature says to keep adding a carb until you get up to seven per day, which I still think is ridiculous. You'd have to eat a boatload of food to reach that amount.
It was interesting how my brain changed while on the diet. I began thinking of my diet in terms of right and wrong, so that the foods I could eat were considered right, and the foods I couldn't eat were considered wrong. That made it so that I didn't get too many cravings for things I couldn't eat. And when I did give in on occasion, I felt bad about it. I couldn't even have a guilty pleasure. It was only guilt.
My birthday occurred while I was on the diet, and my method of celebrating consisted of Dunkin Donuts coffee and a muffin, pizza and root beer for lunch, and ice cream cake for dessert. That was a good day, and aside from that initial rush of sugar directly to my brain, my body experienced no ill effects.
At about the three month mark, I happened to get a blood test for life insurance. I fasted for twelve hours before the test just so my cholesterol readings would be accurate. The results came back a few days later and showed that my cholesterol hadn't changed a single point. I really wasn't expecting that outcome, so I took a few days before I decided to give up on my diet early. The thing is, I was kind of looking forward to the diet not working because that would mean I could go back to my normal way of life and just take a magical pill to prevent a future heart attack. Someone suggested that it was kind of cheap or weak to have to depend on a drug to fix me; I think of it as a miracle cure for something that would've killed me by middle age if I was living 50 years ago.
I also feel bad about giving up on something early. I'm not a quitter, but I just can't see a point in continuing this lifestyle change when there is absolutely zero benefit. It was suggested that I continue the diet anyway because it seems like a good idea to eat healthy, but I argue there's literally no benefit to a change in diet for me, and that was proven pretty conclusively by a blood test. I think it helps that my normal diet is actually fairly healthy, with only the occasional fast food and somewhat limited snacking (i.e. I don't eat a whole package of anything in one sitting). Even without the diet, I typically eat healthy meals and exercise regularly, which is most likely a good thing. So it looks like I'll continue doing that, with the addition of a daily pill. It was worth a shot. #health