That Atkins Smell

First of all, my intention is not to diss Atkins people, nor the Atkins Approach itself. I work from home and am the parent of two boys inside the home (my eldest is an adult and lives in the northeast); I’m a cheapskate who doesn’t believe in turning on the air conditioner until the temperature hits the 95F mark. I’m 100% certain I’ve offended someone somewhere along the line wafting past as I ran out before school pickup in a panic for milk.

You don't realize it, but, yes, Mr. Atkins Man at Stater Brothers, you DO smell.

You don’t realize it, but, yes, Mr. Atkins Man at Stater Brothers, you DO smell. Truth.

And of course if an eating plan is working for any one person, that’s the more important thing, for that person, and if the program is livable the person is entitled to it.

But I have to say…that smell. That Atkins smell. The first time I ever smelled it was in 1998, when I was working at my sister’s company. Every once in a while I would get a whiff of cat-litter-and-some-unappealing-spice and I’d think, “What the hell IS that?”

Eventually my sister brought up the name of a certain co-worker, who was amazingly fit and “lived on those crazy protein drinks.” She added confidentially, “If you ever smell cat pee, look around and you’re sure to see V—a.”

I talked to this co-worker at one point (standing a few feet away). The “protein drinks” were very low carb (I believe 3g/powdered scoop, something I recalled later when I did the same brand of shakes). She lifted weights and was cutting while bulking up. I remember she said she made her drinks with water rather than milk, so, no milk carbs there either. When I asked what else she consumed, she said “Meat and a limited amount of vegetables.”

With the exception of the shakes, which by no means are a staple of the typical low-carb diet but are allowed if the carb consumption is suitable, it was obvious she was doing VLC (very low carb).

She looked great but…oh my. I will never, ever forget that smell.

I’m sure I must have smelled like that on Atkins too. I’ve been in ketosis any number of times. In fact, I recall getting a waft or two up my own nose of my very own self and thinking, “Oh my GOD.” I don’t know what it is about that particular scent. It doesn’t just offend in the way other non-pleasant smells offend. It is somehow…aggressive. It almost screams, “Get away from me.”

There may be a chemical reason behind this. Or it may simply be my perception.

Fast forward to tonight. I was walking by a group of three people, a man and two women, and there it was…the Atkins Smell.

It was clear as day, and every bit as off-putting and aggressive (to me) as ever. And it was absolutely unmistakable, though the last time I caught some was probably years ago. Either not many people around here do low-carb, or I haven’t been within a few feet of any who do. Or it could just be the fact that not everyone in ketosis smells.

Again, I’m nobody to tell anyone else what to do, how to eat or whether their scent offends me personally. To many, low carb means great health. It means both weight and appetite control. I’ve been on all the low-carb boards, including the Big Two who shall remain nameless. There are people who are absolutely THRILLED with their lifestyle. It works for them and having been caught in the diet-go-round for so many years, I say, God bless them. Keep doing what works.

But my own personal association with the Atkins Smell is one of restriction, desperation, and trying to twist and brainwash myself into thinking I was enjoying it. It brings to mind the not-so-veiled threats and finger-wagging of Taubes and Eades, Wheat Belly and Life Without Bread and dire warnings about how wheat is going to give me arthritis, lupus and MS and may even be making me “high.” It recalls every single negative thought and fear I’ve had about myself and about eating in general that I’ve ever had in my life…all rolled into one.

So when I caught The Smell tonight, it was bittersweet. I’m glad I’m no longer there. So very glad. And I’m sad for others for whom low-carb doesn’t work, either emotionally or physically, but who are hammered down by thoughts of how “bad” they are for not “sticking with it” and how they’re “killing themselves” by eating a diet that includes wheat. (By the way, yes, there’s science on this and I’m not disrespecting that, either. But one does have to weigh the health risks of eating GMO wheat – which technically all of our wheat is now, in the strictest sense – v. the deprivation-and-binge-go-round and resultant weight gain with diabetes and heart failure that comes from, well, just not being able to stick with such a restrictive way of eating.)

Definitely a moment that gave me pause. And made me grateful for what I have right now, and for having options in general.

Good luck and good health to any and all reading this post tonight, and, whatever eating plan you adopt, may you find peace.


Week Two Weight

Yeah, yeah, I know. I swore I would never weigh again.

Then, like, two days went by and…You know the story.

Hey, I’m still new at this. Sue me.

So I did weigh and was shocked – absolutely gob-smacked, as my friends across the Atlantic would say. My weight this morning, at the two-week intuitive eating mark, was 209.8. That’s two pounds gone since last week at this time.

I shouldn’t be shocked. I shouldn’t be amazed. I shouldn’t be disbelieving. This is what all those books said would happen, after all. But a lot of books say a lot of things, and I’ve been fed (no pun intended) many, many promises by many, many diets – excuse me, eating plans in the past.

Here’s the thing. I did overeat this week – I’m sure of it. I noted it quite a few times on this blog. And I had one binge.

But I still lost two pounds.

It’s too early to go crazy and proclaim all of this a tremendous success, and I know the focus shouldn’t be on the weight (in fact that runs counter to the principles of intuitive eating), and I know it’s dangerous to feel proud of a loss, just as dangerous, perhaps, as it is to feel ashamed of a gain. Like I said, I am still new to this. But that number was staggering to me, and I thought it was worthy of note here.

On to the weekend – so glad it’s here! Whew, it was a crazy week. I feel like I learned a lot this week; we’ll see how I go forward with all that.

Too Many Bagels? No, Just Too Much Food

So yesterday I bought a package of Thomas’ Bagels.

Oh my GOD. Yes, I made the food-orgasm face. For real.

Oh my GOD. Yes, I made the food-orgasm face. For real.

And HOLY COW. After having gone from no bread, to gluten-free, to grabbing the crappy bagels at Ralph’s bakery (yes, this chain brand IS better than the store bakery’s brand, which is kind of a weird twist of events if you think about it), I absolutely, positively made the food-orgasm face I’ve described in the past.

It was SO GOOD. I wanted one right away. But I couldn’t have one because, you know, bagels are unbelievably calorie-dense, they’re fattening, yadda-yadda.

So I told myself I could have one the next day (today) and I ate my dinner and thought BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL and I had too much dessert and thought BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL and I went to bed and thought BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL and had two cookies instead (which must have been way more healthy…erm…).

This morning I thought BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL but I knew I’d miss my trusty Raisin Bran Crunch so I had that instead, and proceeded to think BAGEL BAGEL BAGEL all morning until 12:00 on the dot…when, hunger cues be damned (well, I guess I was a little bit hungry), I had tuna salad on a bagel. Finally!

And then I thought “now I can’t have another until tomorrow…it’s all over for another 24 hours” and I couldn’t stand it and I had another bagel. With butter this time.


Oh sweet mother of pearl BAGELS BAGELS BAGELS.

I ate pretty far past satisfaction and I feltl like shit about myself.

And then I did something interesting. I actually looked at the calories on the package.

270. What? Is that all??? Here I was thinking, “I CAN’T eat bagels for more than once a day because they’re like 400 calories…or 600…” this latter based on an article I read once about deli bagels. Were they high? What the hell was IN those bagels, anyway? I wasn’t aware that there was a “Traditional Bagels Double-Dipped in Pig Lard” recipe out there somewhere.

But I digress. Here’s what I realize: If I had just buckled down and had a bagel for lunch AND for dinner like I wanted, and maybe one for breakfast, who knows, I’d have probably been a whole lot calmer, a whole lot more satisfied and I’d have eaten less food.

I wonder when the hell I’m going to get all this right. In trying to not have too many bagels, I had too much food. I think that’s kind of Zen, in a way.

Now excuse me while I go explode right out of my pants. But happily. Very happily.

You get the moral of the story. I should have just had the freakin’ bagel(s) when I wanted it (them).


Ate Too Much, and it Feels Okay


Oh God, I didn’t realize there was a real issue here. NOW I feel bad.

I ate too much for dinner – tuna salad on a bagel, and a small but very rich brownie. I can tell it’s too much because of the way my stomach feels (believe it or not, I’m 99.9% certain that’s NOT a weird thing to anyone who has ever had an eating disorder – no, we really can’t feel our stomachs, not in the normal way).

And it feels okay, because I’m learning that when I do eat too much, my body tends not to want as much food the following meal or sometimes the entire following day. I think my body actually does balance itself out.

Now to curl up on the bed with a good book until homework time, and to tell my stomach that NO, I’m not sorry this time. Dude, it’s a learning curve. Quit your whining.

A Lightbulb Moment

I read this interesting post today and it gave me a revelation, based on my childhood.

This could have been me - forced to sit at the table crying because I "hadn't eaten enough," then being starved in between. Image:

This could have been me – forced to sit at the table crying because I “hadn’t eaten enough,” then being starved in between. Image:

I won’t rewrite the entire thought process here, as it was very painful to do the first time, but here’s a copy-and-paste of my response to the post:

This may sound weird coming from a now-210 pound woman, but ever since I can remember I had early satiety (I just didn’t know it was called that – just found out this minute, actually).

As a child I simply couldn’t eat more than a few bites of food at a time. My mother would force-feed me (sometimes literally – I clearly remember my father gripping my hair back and forcing me to gulp down a glass of milk until I vomited, for example).

Then I’d be hungry between mealtimes and I would be refused food so I could “save it up for dinner” – at which time I still couldn’t eat more than a few bites. I just starved in between, and starved overall. I didn’t grow (at all – height or weight) for two years in a row as a child, actually. I think I was malnourished.

When I began eating “for pleasure” I would force more food in so that I could continue the feeling. I turned into a dieter/binger and was very thin until about 10 years ago, when I ballooned.

I seem to have taught myself NOT to know what a feeling of fullness is…and now that I’m attempting intuitive eating I find I try to put more food in anyway (just like with binging) because I have a vague feeling that “I don’t know when I’ll get another bite.”

Lightbulb moment.

Two Days Post-Binge and Still Feeling Horrible

Oh my GOD, have I always felt this way after a binge and just ignored it? Or had my stomach gotten used to non-binge-size meals/snacks and this one did a whopper on it?

Her pain is way cuter than my pain, but you get the idea. Image:

Her pain is way cuter than my pain, but you get the idea. Image:

It is two days after my binge and my stomach is still screaming in pain at me (“Why the hell did you DO that?”) and I am still nauseated. And my appetite is still down – which should be a good thing, but which actually can be a trigger for someone with binge eating disorder.

I haven’t eaten since breakfast, it’s 2:00 pm and my stomach is still lurching and gurgling. My head is pounding. I feel tired, lethargic, and like a giant ball of dough.

I’d like to say “never again” but nobody with binge eating disorder can ever really say that. So for now I’ll just say: I have learned my lesson. For today, anyway.

An Observation: Feeling Sad About “Forgetting” to Eat

Now here’s something weird.

I have noticed that I try to eat more than I want to in fear of later “forgetting” that the leftovers are around, or that the food is in the cupboard.

My fear goes something like this: Oh no. I have to eat this NOW because if I forget to eat it later, I’ll never have that amazing, pleasurable experience of eating that food. It will be gone forever and I’ll never even know I missed it. An old friend will be gone, gone, gone and I will never, never see it again.

Now. My apologies to the sensitive (or at least semi-cultured) but…what the fuck?

First of all, does that “amazing experience” ever really happen? How often does one melt in practically orgasmic bliss over that bite of Hershey, like in the commercial? How many foods REALLY make us fall back onto the cushions, no longer able to support ourselves on our own for all the weak-legged, knock-down joy?

Oh for God's sake, lady. Change your pants.

Oh for God’s sake, lady. Change your pants.

And in fact, I already know most of the foods I feel this way about will NOT produce that experience…because I’ve eaten them many times in the past, and all that oh-wow-I-could-die-happy-right-now shit NEVER happens. It just doesn’t.

Perhaps the most important part of this (for me) is the unbearably sad feeling I get at the thought of not eating the food. As if an old friend were going away for good. As if someone I loved had just died.  I literally go on the verge of tears, and I’m not being melodramatic here.

Obviously this is something to look more closely at. For the record, this sad, depressed, panicked feeling pushes me to start meals before I’m hungry, too.


Freud would have a field day.