Good will win, however, for the low-carbohydrate diet just happens to be the one that’s used in the treatment of hypoglycemia.
At any rate, I was given clear, concise instructions as to what I could eat and what I could not eat. What I could not eat came as a real surprise to me, a lifelong dieter. Organ meats, for one. When you think about it, it’s pretty obvious, for things like the liver are the organs that hold the sugar in the body, and sugar is what you must avoid like the plague. Shellfish, of all things again, high carbohydrates. Tomatoes, onions. It had simply never occurred to me that these two placid little vegetables are loaded with sugar, as are carrots. And alcohol. For the first week, I would have to forego it completely. That hurt. But I reluctantly gave up the alcohol.
I was warned that there were hidden carbohydrates in seemingly innocent products that could completely throw off the accurate results of the test. And that is exactly what the first week’s dieting is. A test, not a way of life. Nobody, least of all Dr. Atkins, expects you to live on no carbohydrates at all. I doubt that you could for very long.
Some of the hidden carbohydrates to watch for were chewing gum, tomato products like catsup (one more surprise), diet soft drinks which, it appears, often contain a small amount of sugar and that small amount of sugar is quite enough to make the test results go haywire. (I might add, it was enough to make me give up diet soft drinks forever, knowing what I now know about sugar.)
I was told to watch out for meats, such as hot dogs, that might contain starchy fillers (check the labels). In other words, any meat had to be 100 percent pure meat.
No fruit or fruit juice, which happened to be no problem for me, as I’ve never been an orange juice addict. In case it should be an impossibility for you, there is a perfectly terrible substitute on the market . . . terrible to me, but then I don’t even like the real stuff. It’s called Tropi-Cal Lo and it’s simply orange juice that’s had all its real sugar removed and fake sweetener substituted. If juice you must, you might be willing to have a go at it. But you would have to be juice-desperate.
I could no longer drink milk. Most especially, I could no longer drink skimmed milk. For it seems that skimmed milk is much higher in carbohydrates than even heavy cream (which was also a first-week no-no). Odd fact, but true, and the world is full of odd nutritional facts, you may find. Fake creamers were most definitely forbidden, as was yogurt and, for the first week, vegetables. None at all. And that was tough. But, then, so is losing weight.
With the Atkins “allowed list” before me, it was not necessary for me to get my hands on a carbohydrate counter. The list was there and I could eat as much of anything on it as my stomach desired. When my stomach didn’t desire it, the instructions told me to stop. Stop eating when I wasn’t hungry. I was cautioned again, in print, about all the things I could not have that first week. And I was warned about such things as sweetened liquid medications, or cough drops none of which would have ever occurred to me as throwing a wrench into the test, so good thing I was clearly and concisely warned against them.
And then there was a prophetic it proved warning, right there at the bottom of those instructions. It said: “We expect you to feel physically improved on this diet. If in some way you do not, please call this office at that time rather than waiting until your next visit.” Good thing they told me, because I was going to need help.
Right on! I was on my way to becoming a beautiful person. I staggered (literally, from weakness) into the street to begin my new low-carb life-style.
Happily, I had a lunch date waiting with physical and moral support. I needed both. But the problems of that no-carb week were yet to come. Have you ever tried getting a green salad without tomato? Or onion? How to proceed without bread? No organ meats. No sugar.
Somehow I made it through the remainder of that day, but the next was yet to come.
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