Lowcarbezine! 17 August 2000

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 Hey, Gang --

I'm back, tanned and well-rested!  Had a lovely time, thank you very
much, and didn't even use vacation as an excuse to eat garbage.  (I did
use the party I went to last weekend as an excuse to eat about three
handfuls of potato chips, but I've always admitted that potato chips are
my kryptonite.  I think I get points for not eating the corn on the cob
or the desserts.)  Now I've got a pile of work to plow through, after
which I'll probably need another vacation!  Ever seen 1,053 new emails,
all at once?  (*Not* a joke!)

Nice to be back!  Read on.



All contents copyright 2000 by Hold the Toast Press.  All commercial
reproduction and/or use is expressly prohibited.  As always, feel free
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it, provided that you forward it in its entirety.

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Lowcarbezine! welcomes reader input!  If you have a question, a recipe,
a product review, a low carb success story, send it on in!!
mailto:dana@holdthetoast.com  However, please note -- although I really
do read all my email my very own self, I get a *lot* of mail --
generally over 200 posts a day (not all of them about Lowcarbezine!), so
I can't promise to answer every post personally.  Or I'll never get the
next book written!

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Thought for the Week

You bought it, you paid for it, it's yours.

Your life, I mean.  No, I'm not talking theologically, let's not get
into issues of divine creation and salvation and such; we're here to
talk diet and health.  I'm talking about the indisputable truth that 90%
of the time, our lives, good or bad, are largely the result of the
choices we make.  Yes, your genetics play a role.  Yes, your upbringing
influences you.  Yes, the tides of history can intervene, and wash away
all trace of the life you carefully created for yourself -- ask anyone
in a war torn land.  Still, and always, our choices, our actions, are
the single most powerful influence we have on creating our lives, for
good or ill.

I was having this discussion last night with my dear friend Anthony, who
house sat for us while we were out of town, and who had stopped by to
pick up some stuff he'd left.  Talk about having the odds stacked
against you -- Anthony's mother abused herself, both nutritionally and
with drugs, while she was pregnant with him.  He was poorly fed from the
day he was born.  His family abused him, both emotionally and
physically.  As a result, he has struggled with attention deficit
disorder and mood swings all his adult life, and probably always will.
If anyone had a "right" to simply give up and blame his bad fortune on
malign fate, and then sit back and abuse himself and whine, it would be

Yet Anthony refuses to submit to his "bad luck".  He fights back with
every fiber of his being, and I, having been singularly blessed all my
life, can only sit back and watch in admiration and awe.  In particular,
Anthony has learned -- as did I -- that careful attention to nutrition
is perhaps the single most powerful tool we have for creating an
improved mental state and energy level.  We truly are what we eat, and
Anthony has learned the powerful alchemical formula:  good nutrition =
happier life. We agreed, as we chatted last night, that we were in
exactly the same place on this:  that while much of the world can't
understand why we're so adamant about eating right, we can't understand
why anyone would *not* do something that is so simple, yet yields such
powerful results.

Anthony puts a high priority on feeling as well as he possibly can.  So
do I.  Therefore, we choose to eat mindfully, selecting our foods from
those which we know will make us feel as energetic, stable, happy, and
*well* as our own personal bodies and minds are able to feel.
Incidentally, we both find that good nutrition helps us look as good as
our particular genetics allow, even though Anthony struggles to keep his
weight up, and I have worked to get mine down.  (Someday I'll have to
write an article about the magic nutritional beauty secret -- start
eating healthy and taking vitamins in your teens, and by the time you're
middle aged, you'll be better looking than most of the people who
outshone you in high school. :-) )

Why am I preaching this sermon?

Because, first of all, people often like to deny their own influence
over their lives.  How often have I heard, "I'd do *anything* to lose
this weight!," only to be told, when I suggest a low carbohydrate diet,
"Oh, I couldn't give up *sugar*!" or "I can't stop eating potatoes!"  I
have little patience with "can't" and "couldn't."  I much prefer, "I
could, but it's not worth it to me.", or even an honest, "I don't want
to."  I have absolutely no problem with people choosing to eat stuff I
wouldn't touch -- I just get a little bent out of shape when they
complain about the results as if they're out of their hands.

But people do, all the time -- indeed, they do their level best to
ignore any connection between eating badly and feeling badly.  I was
amused by a quick conversation with a waitress at a Bob Evan's
restaurant  while I was on vacation.  We had finished our steak, salad,
and vegetables, and she came by and asked didn't we want some dessert?
I said, "No, thanks, I don't do sugar."  "You don't eat sugar?" came the
(usual) incredulous reply.  "Why not?!"  "Because it makes me fat and
tired and cranky," I smiled.  "But..." she said, "It tastes so good!"
Is that classic, or what?

It's quite common for folks who are changing their way of eating to feel
sorry for themselves, like victims of a cruel fate.  I want you to
exchange that feeling for a feeling of *POWER* -- power over your
health, over your happiness, over your life.  Total power?  No.  I can't
make myself taller, give myself a longer waist or a smaller rib cage, or
-- apparently -- even become fashionably skinny.  But I can, and I do,
rein in my body's tendency to gain weight to a dangerous degree.  I can,
and have, gotten rid of some *nasty* energy and mood swings, and the
seeming "neurosis" that went with them.  (It was astonishing to me, when
I found, in the very first nutrition book I ever read, a list of 45
symptoms of low blood sugar, and found that it read like a list of my
"emotional" problems.)  I have reached the age of 41 (42 in October)
with no wrinkles to speak of.  I am physically powerful all out of
proportion for a small, middle aged woman.  I can run up a flight of
stairs or climb a long, steep hill or dance for hours without becoming
winded.  And I genuinely believe that I have a fighting chance of
avoiding the heart disease and cancer which run in my family, and
enjoying a healthy old age, God willing and the crick don't rise.  This
much power over my life is mine, and I get that power by *choosing* --
by making conscious choices.

Maddeningly, it's not just a matter of choosing once.  That would be so
easy, wouldn't it?  "Okay, I choose to eat a healthy diet."  That's it.
For the rest of your life, nothing but tasty, healthy, low carb food
would appear in front of you.

As if.  No, damn it, it's not just a matter of choosing to eat healthy.
It's a matter of choosing and choosing and choosing and *choosing* and
*CHOOSING*, over and over again, every day, practically every hour, for
the rest of your life.  It's a matter of choosing the best thing
available from the limited selection at the mini-mart when you're
*starving*, of choosing to pass up yet *another* birthday cake at the
office, of choosing *not* to give in to the path of least resistance and
just grab a sandwich this time, of choosing to soothe yourself with a
hot bath or a phone call to a friend, instead of a candy bar.  And it
goes on, I'm sorry to say, forever.


Yet there are two things I can tell you that soften this knowledge.  One
is that making intelligent nutritional choices gets far easier over
time.   Part of that is just familiarity -- you know what you do and
don't eat, and you've built up a repertoire of favorite choices, menu
picks, recipes.  Part of it is that tastes, believe it or not, really do
change.  I've had the experience several times now of deciding to have
an Indulgence, and discovering that the formerly favorite food just
doesn't taste anywhere near as good as I'd remembered  -- this
especially happens with sweets, most of which taste way, way too sweet
to me now.  Part of it is just plain getting used to it.  And quite a
lot of it is seeing the benefits -- weight loss, energy, emotional
stability, mental clarity, improved health -- and understanding that
*this* -- this wonderful feeling of just plain *wellness* -- is the
reward you've been choosing in place of the carbs.

The other somewhat comforting thing I can tell you about this need to
choose is that it is so not only where nutrition and health are
concerned, but for your whole darned life.  You can choose to get up and
go to work today, or you can choose to not get paid, and possibly lose
your job.  You can choose to slog through cleaning the kitchen, or you
can choose to live with grime, smells, and bugs.  You can choose to put
a leash on your temper and your tongue, and be kind and polite to those
around you, or you can choose to be exceedingly unpopular.  You can
choose to put your money into investments, and eventually be wealthier,
or you can choose to spend it frivolously, and make little financial
headway.  You can choose to get to bed at a decent hour, or you can
choose to stay up for the Late Show, and feel tired in the morning. We
all know these things, and most of us choose, most of the time, to do
the thing that will result in the greatest happiness over time.  Why do
we feel that our nutritional choices should somehow be different?  And
why do so many people, after years and years of bad nutritional choices,
assume that ill health just sort of happened to them?

Food is just one of the billion areas of your life where wise choices
will reward you greatly.  And I'm here to assure you that the reward
will, indeed, be very great, and far more immediate than many!

You can have anything you want; you just can't have everything you
want.  Choose wisely!


Is Obesity Catching?

Oh, boy.  This obesity research stuff just gets more and more
interesting.  Now there's research, just come out of the University of
Wisconsin at Madison, suggesting that there may actually be an obesity

Yep, you read it right.  Meet adenovirus-36, one of a family of
adenoviruses with about 50 members.  Most of these nasty little specks
of genetic material cause colds, diarrhea, or pinkeye -- but lab animals
infected with adenovirus-36 ended up, after several months, with more
than twice as much fat as control animals!  Interestingly, they only
*weighed* an average of 7% more; a clear reminder that weight is not
always a good measure of *fat* -- these rats may not have weighed that
much more than their uninfected lab mates, but they were a whole lot

The researchers then looked for adenovirus-36 in humans, and found that
a much higher percentage of overweight people were infected with the
virus than were lean folks -- between 20-30% of overweight people have
it, as compared to only 5% of the lean population.

While it is not known how the virus causes fat gain, it is clear that
the infected lab animals were not eating more than the control animals.
Some effect on metabolism is posited, but more research is needed.  In
an interesting anomaly, the virus also decreased blood cholesterol and
triglycerides -- exactly the opposite of what we generally see in the
obese human population.  Other than fat gain and a shift in bloodwork,
the only effect of adenovirus-36 appeared to be a couple of days of
cold-like symptoms.

Does this mean that obesity isn't cause by carb intolerance?  I'm not a
research scientist (nor do I play one on TV), but I can hazard a guess,
and say no.  First of all, it was only 20-30% of overweight human
subjects who tested positive for the virus; that leaves a whole lot of
overweight that needs another explanation.  Secondly, who's to say that
adenovirus-36 doesn't do its dirty work by messing up carbohydrate
metabolism?  There's just too little known yet about this twist in
obesity research.

One point, however, shines clear:  the old, ugly accusation that fat
people are only fat because they're lazy slobs who eat too much is
crumbling before our eyes.  All along, those of us who have struggled,
with varying degrees of success, against our bodies' tendency to
squirrel away fat, have been convinced that we had different metabolisms
than skinny people.  We were right.  But who knew we that we might have
caught it along with a cold?

Here's the kicker:  There's at least a glimmer of hope that someday
there may be a vaccine.  It's far too early to know, but we can live in


Cruise!!!  Cruise!!!  Cruise!!!

Come cruise the Caribbean with me!  You know you want to!!  We're going
to have whole lot of fun, learn a lot, get away from *WINTER* (which
*is* coming, you know!), get rid of the holiday stress, get the New Year
off to a *great* start, sample new low carb products, learn way-cool
breathing exercises to accelerate metabolism -- all on an outrageously
luxurious and beautiful floating resort called the Carnival Victory, the
newest, largest, and most luxurious ship in the Carnival fleet!  You
have to see this ship to believe it!  And we're going to Mexico, Grand
Cayman, and Jamaica!  How cool is *that*?!

So come meet me!  Get an autographed preview copy of my second book!
Meet new low carb pals!  Knock off another five pounds!  And have a
*ball*!  We sail on January 7th, 2001 (You'll want to be in Miami by the
evening of the 6th -- we can arrange that, too.) for a full week!

But you want to get your reservations in *now*.  Why?  Because just like
with airlines, you get a better rate with cruise lines if you *book in
advance*.  This is the last week that our original prices for the cruise
will hold -- after this week, you'll be able to book, but the prices
will be at whatever the going rate might be, and they'll get higher as
we get closer to the winter cruise season.  So book now!!  Your deposit
is fully refundable through October 15th, should anything untoward
happen.  Check out all the details of the cruise at
http://www.holdthetoast.com/cruise.html .

C'mon, which would you rather be doing come the second week in January?
Shoveling snow?  Or sailing blue waters with me and a whole bunch of low
carb diet pals?


Spotlight Low Carb Food-of-the-Week!

My goofiest food find while on vacation:  "Lite" avocados.  No joke.
Saw 'em at a grocery store in beautiful Jamestown, New York. (And my
sister has since informed me that they have them in San Diego, too.)
There they were, big, gorgeous Florida avocados (the big ones with the
smooth green skin, as opposed to the small, rough-skinned black ones,
which are from California), and I'm thinking, "Gee, too bad I'm on the
road, guacamole would be nice..." when I notice the stickers on them,
bragging about how they have 30% less fat than a regular avocado.

Sheesh. Hasn't the news gotten around *yet* that monounsaturated fats --
the sort found in avocados -- are downright *great* for you?   Bragging
that your food product has "one third less monounsaturated fat" is like
bragging that your steak has one third less protein, or your oranges
have one third less vitamin C.  Dopey.  Fat is one of the things to eat
avocados *for*.

So, of course, is the fact that avocados are yummy!  But beyond that,
avocados have many virtues to speak of.  Here's a few:

* A whole California (small black) avocado has only about 7 g of usable
carb.  A Florida avocado is somewhat higher in carb, ounce for ounce,
since it's correspondingly a bit lower in fat (even the non-"Lite"
variety) -- choose the black, rough skinned  ones when they're
available.  (Of course, the Florida avocados are bigger, too, so they're
going to be higher in everything, if you eat the whole thing.)

* Avocados are a fantastic source of potassium, far better than bananas
ever dreamed of being.  There's 1097 mg of potassium in one 8 ounce
avocado!  (By contrast, a banana has about 325 mg -- and about 28 grams
of carb!)

* They're a fine source of vitamin A, a  modest source of C, and an
excellent source of folic acid.  Folic acid, as I hope at least all my
women readers know, has been shown to prevent neural tube birth defects
-- if you're pregnant, you could do far worse than to eat avocados

* Avocados also contain lesser, but still meaningful, amounts of many
other nutrients, including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3),
and magnesium.  They even have a little protein!

So you should eat avocados!  (If you like them, that is.  If not, send
yours to me...)  What to do with them?

* Chunks of avocado in a tossed salad are a very nice touch.  It's
easiest just to scoop bits out with the point of a spoon.

* Plain sliced avocados are lovely with a sprinkle of lime juice and a
little salt.

* Surely we've all heard of guacamole (jokingly referred to around here
as "whack-a-mole").  But what to do with it if you're not eating
tortilla chips?  Stuff it into tomatoes (I published this recipe
recently as "Guacamatoes") and serve as a salad.  Spoon it over a
broiled steak.  Make a guacamole omelet, with salsa and/or sour cream on
top.  Or you could use low carb tortillas to make your own chips.  Hey,
guacamole is pretty darned good eaten off your fingers!

* Another *killer* dip made with avocado is this:  4 oz cream cheese, 4
oz white cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, and 1 ripe avocado, peeled and
seeded, put through the food processor until very smooth.  Then add
canned jalepenos, one by one, processing until smooth in between,
tasting as you go along, until it reaches the desired degree of heat.
This dip has been known to make my mom a *very* popular person at
parties. It also makes perhaps the most elegant omelets on the face of
the earth.  YUM.

* Put a can of chicken broth through the blender with a peeled, seeded,
ripe avocado, then heat through and serve.  A little curry is nice in
this, too.  We call this "California Soup".

* If you have an Hispanic grocery store nearby, looked for canned broth
for "Sopa Tortilla" -- this is a chicken-and-tomato broth, and very
nice.  Traditionally it's served with grated Monterey jack or queso
quesadilla in the bottom of the bowl, and chunks of ripe avocado
floating on top, along with chipotle peppers if you like hot food (leave
them out if you don't.)  Of course, traditionally it's also served with
strips of tortilla, but with all that cheese and avocado, who needs

* You'll notice, when you cut an avocado in half and remove the seed,
that you're left with two nice, big hollows.  This makes the avocado a
fine container to serve things in!  Tiny cooked shrimp.  Tuna salad.
Crab or lobster salad.  Impress your guests!  Heck, impress yourself.

One final note on avocados -- you'll want to sprinkle cut avocados with
some lemon or lime juice, or else they'll brown just as quickly as cut
apples do.  You can mash some lemon or lime juice into guacamole to keep
it green -- indeed, I don't think it's guac without it.  As for that
cheese/avocado/jalepeno dip, my mom always saves the pit, and sticks it
in the middle of the bowl of dip.  She says it does something magical to
keep the dip from turning brown during the party, and she appears to be

So go buy some avocados!


Reader Review of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_

I have been low-carbing for about 8 months now, and I have read most of
the popular low-carb plans. Dana's book is a wonderful, chatty volume
filled with facts and inspiration. It summarizes the popular plans,
explains in plain language the processes involved with low-carbing. It
is not committed to any single plan, and affords the reader a tour with
her intelligent, informed notes on the different approaches. As she
reiterates, everyone is different. Here is a book that helps the reader
make sensible choices, and customize a plan for success. This will be
the book that I keep returning to as I progress.

 Martha E. Mullis,  Beaverton, Oregon

Thanks, Martha!!

You can read this and other reader reviews at

And you can read the first chapter of _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and
Lost Forty Pounds!_ for FREE at http://www.holdthetoast.com !  You can
order the book through the order page on the website, through
Amazon.com, or -- and this is a *very good deal!* through Carb Smart, at
http://www.carbsmart.com .

If you'd like to order the book through a local bookstore, you should be
able to do so virtually anywhere in the USA -- just give them the title,
_How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_, and the ISBN
(0-9668831-0-1), and tell them it's available through Baker and Taylor
-- that's our wholesaler!

International readers, I'm afraid you'll have to order through the
internet, or by sending us a check or money order here at Hold the Toast
Press -- we don't have an international wholesaler yet. :-(  But we've
shipped as far as Japan!  We'd be happy to ship to you!


Low Carb Success Story

Got this email yesterday from a cyberpal on a newsgroup I hang out on:

For what it's worth, I read your book, and Protein Power, and an Atkins
book. Decided on a high protein, few carbs, no processed sugar, no
obvious starch  diet.

When I went to the doctor on 31 July, my blood sugar was 240.  Today it
was  134.  That's in 15 days.  And blood pressure is dropping, from
145/98 to 135/90.

Just thought I'd say thanks.
kay w

Thanks Kay!  Gosh, I love this stuff...


CarbSmart - Smart choice for a low carb lifestyle - is proud to sponsor
Hold The Toast's Lowcarbezine! For the month of July, we are selling
Dana's book _How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!_ for
$8.99 - that's 30% off of cover price! We have all of your favorite low
carb products on sale for at least *20% off list price*! Come visit us
at http://www.carbsmart.com .


Dana W. Carpender

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