March 24, 2016

Tips for Eating Ketogenic Diet Foods on the Road

You know how sometimes you have processes in your life that would be so wildly unheard of to most people that you just don't bother trying to explain it? (What, no? You don't have those?)

Well, this is one of those things. But I trust you to have a open mind.

A few weeks ago Mr. Go and I decided it was time to do a little reset. We'd just come back from Gulf Shores after stuffing ourselves with all the seafood and booze we could get our hands on.

So we fasted for roughly 36 hours (Don't tell my dad, he'd be so mad at me) and then for 2 weeks ate as much fat as we could handle. 

(A little aside on fasting: When you fast, your body initiates important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells (read: cancer), levels of insulin drop significantly, facilitating fat burning, and blood levels of HGH skyrocket. Read the article that I just copied and pasted these facts from HERE.)

Ketogenic Diet

When your body runs out of glucose (sugars from carbs or other sweets) to burn, it creates and uses ketones as fuel, from the breakdown of fat in the liver. Here's a really good explanation on the mechanics of it that I won't bother boring you with.

Fasting is a quick way to get your body into ketosis (the state of burning ketones), but you could also eat Keto style for a while, and eventually you'd fall into it. But you know Mr. Go is all about efficiency. (If you're interested to know if your body is actually in ketosis, get some test strips to pee on.)

Eating Keto style is basically 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbs. That 5% translates to about 20g of carbohydrates. Check the labels on all the processed foods in your fridge and you'll find you probably hit that at breakfast. I'm not judging you, things like onions and carrots contain carbohydrates, which are good and necessary for the body, but the excessive consumption of carbohydrates is where you run into problems.

You want to get your net carbs each day from a crap ton of vegetables. Like, as many vegetables as you can physically stuff into your person. The link above and This Site have pretty good tables listing the carb content in veggies and other types of foods. When in doubt, google 'QUESTIONABLE FOOD X' and 'NUTRITION' and Dr. Google will tell you.

So here's what a daily Ketogenic meal plan would look like:

Brunch between 9 and 11 a.m.

  • 3 eggs/person, scrambled with a hefty dash of coconut cream, cooked in bacon grease or coconut oil
  • A couple slices of bacon, or other leftover meat/fish
  • Aforementioned crapton of veggies (brussel sprouts, spinach--raw or sauteed, asparagus, kale, broccoli) cooked in bacon grease, butter or coconut oil or a combination of the three

Dinner between 4 and 6 p.m.

  • Fish or fatty grass-fed beef
  • Crapton 'o veg (see above)

It's actually super easy to cook. Easier than making myself a plan of all the "recipes" I want to make for a week and going shopping for those ingredients. I just load up my cart with green stuff and fish. Bam. Done.

Health Benefits

Don't let me fool you, this is only the second time we've done this. But already I can tell I have wayyyyy more metabolic flexibility.

The first time we fasted, my body was so dependent on glucose for energy that I felt incredibly weak and tired, and couldn't even continue the fast for a full day. Then the high fat content in the keto diet did a number on my innards. I won't go into detail on that.

This time around, I blasted through like a rock star. I didn't even complain. (Shut up Mr. Go, I can sense you rolling your eyes.) Ok, fine, but I definitely complained less than last time. It's progress.

We drank a lot of water and watched a lot of T.V. Chasing after a toddler requires a lot of energy that was kind of difficult to muster up. But if you can make it to around 5 p.m., you're golden. We went to bed early that night to sleep away the misery and didn't really even feel the need to rush into breakfast the next day.

And this time, my gut isn't so freaked out by high fat/low carb meal compositions! Gold star, gut, you're a champ. And I know that if for some crazy reason I'm not able to get food into my body for a day, I'll be more or less ok. (For reference, in high school if I didn't eat within an hour of waking up, I'd get the dizzy shakes.)

Keto on the Road

So, if you're in a keto cycle and you have to go on a road trip, how do you eat on the road without knocking your body out of ketosis?

1. Pack your own snacks
2. Just...don't stop to eat

We thought we were brilliant. Save money AND avoid roadside fast food? Why did we not do this sooner?

We were packing a cooler for Babs' snacks anyway, so we brainstormed some good fatty, fibrous snacks to eat on the go. They certainly weren't full meals by any means, but we'd just proved to ourselves that we could go over a full day without eating anything, so we were pretty sure we'd be fine. And something magical happens when you load up on fats, protein and don't get hungry as often.

Here's what we packed:

1. Just a big ole chunk of ham
Something fatty. Bonus points for eating it like a savage straight out of the package. (See photo 1 above.)

2. Hard boiled eggs
Tiny oval-shaped packages of protein sent from heaven

3. Asparagus
Even tastier raw than cooked, imo

4. Homemade ranch dressing
Here's a recipe. In absence of homemade, get the purest plainest mayo available, and the fat content will be wonderfully through the roof.

Like this one

5. Hard cheese
Not soft, like colby jack or cheddar (which is just mozzarella with food coloring, my friends). Go to the specialty cheese section where all the $45/lb cheeses are and get yourself a tiny slice of hard aged cheddar, and then savor every morsel.

Let me clarify, this is not a thing we do on the reg. But on occasion, after we've let ourselves slide and I find myself snacking on Babs' cereal, we feel the need to break our body's dependency on carbs.

But as far as packing healthy snacks for the road and avoiding the stress (mental and bodily) of finding a good place to stop and eat while trying to make good time and keep Babs happy in the car--that's a no-brainer.

bonus photo of Subey packed to the gills again and Babs with a bucket on her head

March 16, 2016

Unpopular Parenting Decisions (And Why You Should Make Them)

This parenting job is full of tough decisions.

From the ones you think are tough at the time (what stroller should we get?) to the lose-sleep-at-night kind (who should we choose as our nanny?) to the deceptively simple with potentially life-threatening consequences (should we let the babysitter take Babs in her car?)

What it all boils down to is What is Best for Your Kid. Not what's best or easiest for you, though sometimes in rare occasions those two will not be mutually exclusive, such as when a harried mother (read: me) needs to set the baby down to cry and take a breather outside.

Many times these decisions will be at odds with the opinions of others. For example:

As much as I wanted to sleep at my childhood home when visiting my parents, their house is just too small (bad for quiet naps), and had 2 other guests at the time, so we stayed with Mr. Go's family much of the time, to my family's perfectly understandable dismay.

Or, when we had lined up a babysitter for Babs, but the day before, she mentioned that she wanted to take her to a kid's function with her 3 kids. It would probably have been great fun, but Mr. Go has witnessed her driving, and we weren't comfortable putting Babs in that situation. So we said 'thanks but no thanks' and found another sitter.

Anything that can make that kid's life easier or better, you just gotta do. Screw everything else. If anyone dares to question you as to the best course of action for your child, feel free to tell them this. But make sure to thank them passive aggressively for their advice. Just kidding. But they'll probably feel like a jerk anyway, so that's like a bonus.

Don't be afraid to break the social code of excessive politeness. Even (especially?) with family and friends. Their intentions are probably pure, but ultimately you know what's best for your kid. Period. Full stop. End of discussion.

For a people pleaser like me this is sometimes a struggle, but I remind myself at the end of the day, nothing is worth jeopardizing my daughter's comfort (or god forbid, safety), especially not the awkwardness of telling the moms in Mom Group that Babs isn't going to eat their well-meaning gluten muffins.

March 9, 2016

A Toddler at the Beach

Imagine lugging your squirmy, loud, completely-without-boundaries-and-prone-to-running-off toddler to a vacation destination surrounded by people and drowning hazards. Sounds fun, right?

That's what I thought at first, too.

Three weeks ago, Mr. Go, Babs and I took a little drive to Gulf Shores, AL. I haven't written about it (or anything else for two months) because I am the human equivalent of a bag of garbage. So here's how it went:

You know what? Babs loves new places. New people to look at. New things to do. (Sand? Seashells!? Putting sand and seashells from one bucket into another?!? GOLD.)

Plus I had backup. The whole reason we took this trip is because my Aunt was renting a condo for the whole month of February. So since she was down there, my Uncle decided to go and rent his own place and make it a lil vaca. And while we were there ANOTHER one of my Aunts came to visit.

wrapping Uncle Hulk around her little finger

Also Mr. Go has a cousin who lives there, and so his Uncle and Aunt were there vacationing since January.

So we had lots of family time. It was awesome. Everybody couldn't wait to get their hands on Babs. I hardly had to touch her the whole time (except when there was a dirty diaper involved. typical).

Since it was so early in the vacation season, things weren't all that busy. There were just lots of snowbirds going to happy hour and having early dinners. And since it was chilly, we only went swimming one day. Babs wet her feet in the ocean and got up to her waist in the pool. It was very exciting.

being passed around the lunch table like a tray of tapas
We found out that women of a certain age are all 'Gamma' to Babs, which delighted them all to no end. Babs adored all of her Aunts and most of her Uncles, probably because they had no reservations re: letting her watch as much T.V. as she wanted and giving her questionable toys that mean ole Mom and Dad had deemed too dangerous. They were like Grandparents in that way, except worse.

Babs. Loved. It.

We spent a lot of time eating, and talking about where to go for our next meal. Mr. Go was incredibly excited about eating sea food for breakfast lunch and dinner. I was slightly less excited, but enjoyed most of it, if only for the experience and making Mr. Go happy by eating oysters with him. But I did very much enjoy these crab legs and Mr. Go's lesson on how to eat them.

Aside from visiting and trying to coordinate 8+ people and a baby for meals, we took a nice walk at the Gulf State Park, where there are miles of paved trails alongside the water. We spotted a couple turtles and apparently there's a three-legged gator named Lefty who lives a few miles up that you can go see (but we did not).

taking a walk at the lovely state park

Going to the Zoo

Zoos are so much fun. Anywhere we go, we'll definitely hit up the zoo. Gulf Shores had a cute little zoo where you could actually feed the animals. Not the cool ones, like the bear or the tigers, but you could feed goats, kangaroos, llamas, ponies, ducks and deer.

I didn't know if she'd do it, but Babs was fearless and frankly it was alarming. You know how goats are in the petting zoo, they'll swallow your hand if they think you have a piece of food in it. And Babs was just shoving her hands at them like, go on take it! She didn't care. I was a little concerned about losing my digits, but that girl didn't know any better. Which is good; I hope she keeps most of that fearlessness.

The coolest outing was Alligator Alley. I mean, it was way overpriced for what it was; you go and look at alligators, but it was also super rad. It was a cold day, so they weren't feeding the gators, but it also meant that we were the only people there (a bonus for any outing).

We saw tiny 5" baby crocs, all the way up to terrifying 11' nightmare-inducing monsters. Walk the boardwalk in the swamp and get within mere feet of modern day dinosaurs.

pretty sure this one was stalking Babs

You could also hold the dinosaurs alligators. This little dude was about as old as Babs:

Mrs. Tell is made of steel and couldn't wait to get her hands on a gator
don't let that easy smile fool you, the man was terrified

The Travel

It was only a 8.5 hour drive from Arkansas to Gulf Shores, and we did it during the day so Babs was awake most of the time. On the way there she decided to give mom a hard time and not nap very long, so I chafed my underarm twisting my arm back around to hold her hand and give her toys and food. 

She was pretty good, though. We stopped a couple times to let her stretch her legs, and otherwise she played with toys and was occupied with little snacks.

On the drive back she slept a lot more, having been worn out by a week of playing with loving Aunts and Uncles. Still though, having movies and games loaded on your phone is a lifesaver. (The Fisher Price apps --the ones that say no in-app purchases-- are Babs' favorite.) 

Sometimes FaceTime with Grandma is the most useful. If you're lucky like we are, she might read your little one some books and keep her occupied for up to 30 minutes. This is where Guided Access comes in handy so she can't hang up or exit whatever app you want her to play with.

The extended-family time we got on this trip meant a lot to Mr. Go and I. It's strange being able to relate to your Aunts and Uncles as adults; it changes the dynamic of your relationship a little. But in a good way.

I count my Aunts amongst my friends now, and am grateful for the means to spend this time with them, so Babs will know her great-Aunts and Uncles and have a relationship with them. 

I'm also grateful for having a place to crash for a beach vacation.