How Safe Is Your Heart From Attack? (Part III)

The food came and I dug into my cheesy, yummy nachos.

Chris ignored his cedar plank salmon steak and immediately went for the stuff arranged around the edges of his plate.

“What are you doing?” I asked, between gooey mouthfuls.

“Eating the vegetables before they get cold,” he said, scooping up piles of green and red stuff and putting them into his mouth.

My own mouth fell open. “Are you kidding me?! I always thought that stuff was just for decoration!”

True story.

That was a scene from one of my first dates with Chris, and a perfect example of how different we were as far as food choices went. It amazed me that anyone would willingly eat their veggies without a threat from mom about no dessert, or privileges being revoked.

Fast forward a quarter of a century. As I previously posted, the situation with our friend Noah inspired Chris and me to begin following the heart-smart South Beach Diet (SBD). It’s basically a low glycemic-index diet, which is a fancy way of saying “low sugar.”

The diet is organized into three phases. PHASE 1 lasts two weeks and has the greatest number of restrictions because it’s in that phase that your body learns to eliminate sugar cravings. PHASE 2 allows you to slowly add fruits and whole grains back into your diet (while still losing weight if you need to lose it). And PHASE 3 is never ending. But the author claims by that final phase it will be no big deal, and you’ll have simply adapted to the new way of eating.

As a self-confessed Sugar Monster, I was doubtful that this diet would really alter my life-long love affair with sugar. I mean, I love pastries, cakes, cookies, chocolate, you name it. I literally had a sweet treat every single day!

In PHASE 1, my biggest hurdle to overcome was my treasured morning Caramel Macchiato (twenty-two grams of sugar). I’m talking SUH-WEEEET, people!

In my attempts to create a replacement, I came up with some pretty horrid combinations of cocoa powder, fat-free cream, stevia, low-fat milk, unsweetened vanilla soy milk, powdered creamer, vanilla extract, almond extract, raspberry extract, …Aaarrrghh!

Nothing made me happy until I discovered this cool website: They sell all kinds of flavored stevia in liquid form. I finally engineered an adequate alternative combining flavored coffee beans, sugar-free vanilla caramel Coffee-Mate® and multiple drops of vanilla and toffee stevia. Yum!

Well, Chris and I have now completed 90 days of the SBD and the results are in. I have to say, I’m impressed!

First of all, Chris dropped about 25 pounds. And for me, it’s the weirdest thing! I look at sweet treats I normally crave, like the box of Belgian chocolates hubby bought for me on a recent trip to Europe, and…I …don’t…care. It’s so hard to even write that! I look at all that stuff and feel like I should want it, desire it, crave it. But those old lovin’ feelings just aren’t there. It’s not even particularly painful to pass the stuff up when I’m confronted with it.

Now, this doesn’t mean I’ll never eat those goodies again. Because, I mean, c’mon. God made desserts for a reason, right? And Dr. Agatston even acknowledges it’s fine to cheat on occasion. But for now, I’ll stay the path.

Other changes I’ve noticed are that I have more energy, and honestly, I feel like my brain function has even improved--less of that brain fog feeling. Chris just had a regular doc appointment, and although his cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure have always been in the normal range (just like Noah’s were!), his numbers are even better now. This is so encouraging since we’re both at risk for heart disease due to heredity factors. By being proactive this way, we’re hopefully altering our heart-health futures in a positive way.

I realized how much this diet had changed me when we went out to dinner the other night and our food arrived.

As we both dug into our side orders of fresh veggies, I said, “Who would’ve ever believed I’d be ordering steamed broccoli. On purpose!”

Chris just grinned at me and kept eating his own veggies before they got cold.

Would you try a diet if it promised to eliminate your cravings for sweets?

Image by: Mostafa Zamani

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