“You can’t have that”

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“Oh, you can’t have that!”

The words stung, and the young child who lives in my brain immediately shouted, “Oh yes I can!” It was the very first week of my new “diet”, and my family had gone to dinner with my husband’s parents at a steakhouse restaurant that was famous for yeast rolls. The restaurant had the wait staff grab a big basket of warm, buttery rolls to slide onto the table just as guests are seated, and they replenish the rolls as often as you like.

Those big, fluffy rolls were on the table before I had squeezed into my side of the booth. Not only did my five dining companions eagerly devour those rolls, but they were very vocal about how incredibly ‘delicious’ they were as they smeared them with cane syrup sweetened fake butter spread and requested a second basket. My mother-in-law had asked for more of the fake butter spread for the second basket of rolls, looked at me, asked, “Don’t you want some?” and then remembered, “Oh you can’t have that!”

I had looked at those rolls and, thankfully, saw trouble with a capital T. My rudimentary understanding of the very basic process of why Low Carb High Fat works was that when we eat carbs (sugar), it raises blood glucose. To deal with glucose the body releases insulin, which isn’t necessarily a problem in metabolically healthy individuals, but my morbid obesity was an outward sign of inner metabolic dysfunction. In that first week I understood that insulin is also a hoarder hormone. It helps store fat in cells.

While sitting in that booth and looking at those rolls, I had a visual image of insulin being like thousands of little soldier meanie guys running through the bloodstream. The meanie guy insulin soldiers lock the fat into cells and keep it there. The energy is stored as fat and locked up as fat and no wonder we’re hungry because we don’t get to use any of that energy. It’s locked up! Even after eating, then we’re hungry again in a short period of time because there’s no energy to be used. Obesity then could be described as a condition of starving because the energy is stored and cannot be accessed to be used. If I didn’t eat a lot of carbohydrate, and kept blood glucose stable, my insulin levels should also fall, and my body could use the stored energy (fat).

I can eat those, but choose not to

Although oversimplified, I knew that even one bite of that yeast roll would start the release of a cascade of hormones, including insulin. I visualized the meanie guy insulin soldiers shoving fat into my cells, and I could feel my upper arms getting bigger at the suggestion. While others saw an unlimited supply of a favorite food, I saw poison. In those high-carb rolls, I saw the morbid obesity I was desperately trying to fight. It was the first week of my journey, but the “diet” was working. When I ate as few carbohydrates as possible, my hunger disappeared for the first time in my life. That’s when I replied, “Oh, I CAN eat those. I just don’t want them.”

At the time, I didn’t understand the power or importance of my reply, but it saved my life in two ways. First, after a lifetime of hunger and dieting, I knew that I could eat anything I wanted, but I chose not to eat the rolls. By saying “I can eat those”, I was giving myself the power of control. No one else was restricting me. The young child inside of me was not being chastised for sneaking food from the refrigerator or for eating a second dessert. My adult voice was in charge, and she knew better. She was empowered to make the decision. She looked at those poison rolls that would contribute to her morbid obesity and decided “I just don’t want them”, which is the second powerful mind shift that I unknowingly verbalized that night.

I didn’t want them even when others were raving about how delicious they were. I saw poison and disease – obesity, diabetes, plus-sized clothing, sweating with little exertion, and back pain. Since that day, I have been able to reject high-carbohydrate foods simply because I see them differently. Instead of seeing a food that tastes good, I see a food that makes me sick. My body does not process carbohydrate properly. Phinney and Volek use the phrase “carb intolerant”. Disease and obesity do not taste good.

That night I had ordered a steak, a fresh salad with full-fat salad dressing, and steamed, buttered broccoli, and I could not finish everything on my plate. While others complained of being overly full and being ready for bed, my energy level stayed high for the rest of the evening, and I was proud of my choices.

I stared down those poison rolls over four years and 100 lbs (45 kg) ago. I am still empowered to eat anything I choose, and I continue to choose low-carb high-fat foods that keep me healthy.


Kristie Sullivan

More

A keto low-carb diet for beginners

How to lose weight

Earlier with Kristie

It’s the journey

That girl

Carb trouble

Taking out the garbage

Disrupted by hunger

Ruining the world, one drink at a time

The vault

The sound of silence

How a pumpkin pie spice muffin can mean freedom

Mastering the waves of ketosis

My miracle oil

Low-carb movies

Weight loss

Insulin

18 comments

  1. Scout
    This is so accurate it's unreal. It is true that it's just our inner child stomping its little feet, daydreaming that it can wolf down 4 ice-creams, a bar of chocolate and a few sweet rolls on the side "because we can". It's just conditioning; I hear people allowing their kids sugar and candy because not allowing it "deprives them" (of what? Tooth decay?). We are conditioned to believe that as adults we can and therefore should scoff whatever we like.

    I'm slowly learning that food is fuel, it's not some thing that I must consume just because it's there in many forms.

  2. Diane
    Another great post, Kristie! You always seem to publish things at just the right time for me. I just had a stare down with bagels this morning and went through that same thought process.
    Reply: #9
  3. Angel
    A powerful message! I couldn't agree more! "Disease and obesity do not taste good". Well said!
  4. Brian
    Thank you for the post. Congratulations on your success. I am so surprised about how upset friends get when I don't eat the bread or dessert..."Just have a bite, just try a little bit." I know they are trying to be kind so I just smile and say, "I'm allergic to them, my abdomen swells whenever I eat too many carbs!"
    Reply: #10
  5. Lynn
    I had to change the way I responded to people saying, oh sorry you cant have this. I used to say I can't, and they seemed to feed off of it, like they were enjoying the struggle. Once I said "I can have that, I just don't want it.", everything changed. People don't bother me as much anymore about what I can and don't eat. It's freeing to say the least. Thank You for this post and keep on keeping on!
  6. Genevieve F Collrin
    I equate overeating and smoking (which I have recently given up) as two very bad life style choices. My friends generally bug me to eat fat laden foods or telling one smoke won t hurt . After reading your article I am now going to adopt the "I can nut don't choose to " stance. Thank you i believe this will help my ongoing battle with both problems.
  7. Vince
    That change in phrasing and approach (from 'I can't eat that' to 'I can, but I don't want to) is much more critical than people realize. It can make a large difference in the success of any approach. For me personally, that concept makes things seem less restrictive and more viable, especially in the long-term.
  8. Kristie
    Yes. it's the mindset of control, but also reward and "deserving". Once I understood what the food did to me, I was able to remove the emotional connection of reward. We unintentionally build that in our children at an early age.
  9. Kristie
    I'm glad you won the battle!!
  10. Kristie
    Brian, it has always surprised me that folks will encourage "just a bite". I suspect it has to do with their wanting you to enjoy it and not feel deprived. That couldn't be further from the truth!
  11. Karen
    Fantastic - my new mantra! Thank you
  12. Theresa
    I really appreciated this article and your perspective. You've helped me better understand the role of insulin.
  13. marilin joy neden
    Thank you for your well written and informative article, I hope to emulate your journey!
  14. Elisha
    Thanks for sharing! Powerful message and encouraging :)
  15. Patricia Wright
    For me it boils down to a matter of choice. Whenever temptation strikes, I always tell myself to make the choice. I can be unhealthy with little or no energy or I can be happy, full of energy, healthy, with love for myself and others. I am not deprived of anything. I simply choose to be well.
  16. Barb Williams
    I totally relate to this story. A switch has flipped in my head too and I now see carbs as poison for me. My husband baked fresh bread the other day and I was not even tempted. I'm not feeling deprived in the least and am excited by the progress I've made since discovering keto. In just 2.5 months I'm down 34.6 lbs and have reduced my A1C blood sugar from 11.4 to under 7. Can't wait for my next doctors appointment so I can show the progress I've made.
  17. Tina Van Dongen
    Thanks so much! My new motto!
  18. Donna Cox
    "I saw poison and disease – obesity, diabetes, plus-sized clothing, sweating with little exertion, and back pain." I heard this sentence louder than any other. Being overweight from eating too many carbs (especially when you're insulin-resistant) is SO much more than just "being fat". It's also the little-but-constant other negative things that add up to an unhappy life of "eating what you want" but being uncomfortable in your own clothes, left out of activities, being exhausted when you wake up, feeling embarrassed in public, and being fat-therefore-invisible everywhere you go. I'm excited at the very real prospect of ending this daily misery! Thank you Kristie and Dr. Eenfeldt for all that you do!

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