April 18, 2006

Important New Information

Back in January I wrote about vitamin D supplements as a possible way to help Seasonal Affective Disorder. I still think that vitamin D helped me, and that there are a lot of people who don't get enough - and the research bears that out. Vitamin D is especially important for your bones, of course, but also is shaping up as one of the great cancer fighters.

However, it has come to my attention that people who are prone to kidney stones shouldn't take vitamin D. Because most kidney stones are made of calcium compounds, the increased calcium assimilation that comes with D supplementation - something that's a great health boon for most of us - can increase the rate of stone formation. Given that kidney stones are supposed to be the most painful thing a human being can experience short of professional torture, this is something to be avoided.

So if you're prone to stones, don't take vitamin D. Heck, if you have kidney problems in general, ask your doctor about vitamin D. (And if you've got kidney problems of any kind, remember - a strict ketogenic diet, like Atkins Induction, is NOT for you.)

Please remember: I do my research, but I am not infallible, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. Everything here is for your information only.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:09 PM

March 22, 2006

Readers Report on Low Carb Product Availability

Marilyn Olshansky, who has contributed great recipes to my cookbooks, writes:

Hi, Dana,

I have been buying the low carb breadcrumbs marketed by 4C. I find them excellent and I use them in meatloaf, meatballs, etc.

Do you have A&P supermarkets out there? Ours sells a 1 Carb Ketchup under the America's Choice label. I've bought it on sale and it's fairly reasonable.

Walden Farms makes a variety of 0-carb, 0-calorie products including all kinds of jams, apple butter and chocolate sauce. They're not exactly cheap, but they're not outrageous and their flavors are good. Some of the diet food shops around here carry them, although a local chain, Fairway, has a great selection at lower prices.

We also like a soy crisp that's available at Super Walmart. I think it's called Eat Smart. I buy my Carb Countdown at Super Walmart - it's about $1 cheaper than at the local supermarkets. I sometimes use 1/2 Carb Countdown and 1/2 cream to lower the calorie content of recipes. It lowers the carb content, as well.

Also, Steele's makes an excellent Hoisin sauce, other sauces and jams. Atkins Nutritionals used to sell them - I don't know whether they still do.

I also enjoy the Baja Bob mixes, especially the Pina Colada mix. Of course, that's only for special occasions.

I still have enough Ketatoes in my refrigerator to get me through at least two more Hanukahs. I'm glad there's another product available, though. Hope you like it.

I am hopeful that more products will be coming on the market, although the reason will be unfortunate, to say the least. I have read that Type 2 Diabetes is becoming a horrible epidemic. I guess there'll be an increasing demand for sugar-free products.

Stay well -

Marilyn Olshansky

Renee Cordrey writes:

I appreciated the product update. I have a couple products to add.

I really like the Walden Farms barbecue sauce. It makes great ribs or a dipping sauce.

For chips, my husband and I are addicted to the Eat Smart Soy Crisps. They have two flavors that I know of-- garlic/olive oil/parmesan (my favorite!!!) and tomato romano. The problem is that it is too easy to get carried away.

I get a bread at the local farmers market that's really good. It tastes a bit like "brown bread" familiar to French Canadians and New Englanders), with a bit of molasses flavor in it. I'll have to get the label next time I pick some up. I don't know it off-hand. It's from the local baker's booth, but I think he buys the bread from elsewhere.


Diana O'Brien also likes Walden Farms products:

Walden Farms makes a SF BBQ sauce, It's not bad either…. They also have a website.

Thank You,

Diana O'Brien

Margaret King, from Albany, writes:

I find www.netrition.com to be very helpful...and they have a lot of low carb things- and the best S &H price! They carry the DaVinci syrups, Steel's Gourmet l/c jellies and condiments, Mama Lupes l/c tortillas, Tippy Rosa Taco shells and all the Dreamfields products - including their new lasagna. They also have the Tova Industries Carbquik - a Bisquik like replacement...very good for breading, making muffins, etc.

Just wanted to mention all these products still out there!

Ruth Siegal and Nina Nethery, proprietors of LoCarb Diner, write:

Our business is indeed quite alive, and as you said, it has much to do with customer service. Locarbers and diabetics do need a lot of hand-holding!

Also, the reduction in competition seems to have helped boost our sales. We are back up to 2003 levels -- not as high as 2004, but much higher than 2005!

We are selling great bread and muffins on our web site: Carb Krunchers Breads and Fred's Incredible Muffins. The site is here. We would be delighted if you would let people know about these fabulous products. We are one of the few sites that still offers fresh breads.

A reader named Bonnie writes:

The Francis Simun Bakery in Dallas TX makes low carb bread, pizza crust and a few other low carb items. The bread has 2.46 grams per slice with 1 fiber gram for a net total of 1.46 grams of carbs per slice. It is made from organic wheat gluten, filtered water, garbanzo flour, black bean flour, canola oil, golden flax seed, wheat germ, molasses, onion and sea salt. There are no preservatives added. It tastes like "real" homemade bread and is wonderful toasted. They will ship anywhere. Visit their website at www.francissimunbakery.com for ordering information. BTW, the bread costs $6.99 a loaf. For a 2 pack of pizza crust, the price is $7.99. It is expensive, but it sure compliments those morning eggs. It is the best low carb bread I have ever eaten!!! Dana..thanks for all the good information! Keep it coming!

Melanie Sandridge says:

Dear Dana,

I would like to add two more sources of low-carb items. They are:

1. Atkins still makes their low-carb cereal. I've always liked them. I get mine in the "nutritional" section of Kroger.

2. A great source of low-carb bread, bagels, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, and pizza crusts is Francis Simun Bakery located in Dallas, Texas. They do ship nationwide, though the shipping cost can be a bit pricey. They're another great candidate for a group order. A majority of these items are 3 net carbs/serving and they taste fantastic. They are made with black bean flour. For more information, go to www.francissimunbakery.com. They take phone and internet orders and are quick with their shipping.


Melanie Sandridge

Joel and Nancy Ray in Columbia, MO write:

Since the current list is about low-carb products I'd thought I'd mention one that we recently found at Sams Club. It's called Philly Swirls. They are made by two guys, Alex and Max in Tampa and really hit the spot for a low carb cold treat. Here's their site.

Just wanted to help these guys and get the word out. Again, thanks for your webzine!

Heidi Green from Merced California writes:

My sister, Susan Wink from Lodi, Wisconsin turned me on to Michael Season's Original Soy Protein Chips. They are super crunchy, low carb (5 carbs for one ounce) and still available. They are very similar to the Atkins Original Crunchers, only shaped like a bubbly tortilla chip! The are organic as well.

They come in BBQ and Spicy Ranch flavors too!


Jamie from Boston writes:

* Carb Countdown Reduced Carb Dairy Beverage:

I live in the Boston area and the Carb Countdown had suddenly disappeared from the stores where I shop so I looked on the Hood website and found out that I can get Carb Countdown delivered to my home - they still do milk delivery in the Northeast.

* Low carb bread:

The Baker makes and excellent (but I think regional to the Northeast) low-carb flax seed bread. It's not quite as low carb as some of the others and I don't eat it everyday, but my husband and I can't taste the difference between a "real" hearty whole grain and the low-carb flax. They also make a low-carb bran bread that we like slightly less, but that may be a matter of personal preference.

* Low carb tortillas:

Trader's Joe's low-carb whole wheat tortillas taste like the real thing to me (and I can't taste the difference between white flour versions). They have 4g net carbs per tortilla.

* Low carb cold cereal:

The low carb Special K has been renamed Special K Protein Plus, but the ingredients and carb count haven't changed. It's available at every grocery store around Boston.

Sandy In Kansas says:

I noticed in this week's Lowcarbzine that you mentioned not being able to locate commercial low carb BBQ sauce. Our local Walmart carries a KC Masterpiece variety with only 2 carbs per 2 Tbsp serving. I love your recipe for sauce and make it often, but when traveling or in a hurry, the KC is very good and convienent too. I don't know if it's available in your area, but the upc code is 0 7460905470 2. It's the Classic Blend and has a 2g carb label on the neck of the bottle. It contains no sugar (per say), corn syrup or hydrogenated anythings, but it does have modified food starch and malodextrin which seem to be in everything these days :-( BTW, it's sweetened with sucralose and acesulfame potassium. It runs $1.50 for a 15.5 oz bottle. Just thought this might be useful to someone.

In response to your newsletter, I was told by my grocery store (Cub Foods) that Pepperidge Farms is discontinuing the Carb Style breads altogether (my husband liked it). I also have a loaf of the Natural Ovens bread (Golden Crunch) in my freezer and occassionally indulge in their Golden Crunch bagels...I'm just wondering if they've changed the name (didn't see either on the web site). SF grape spread/jelly is another difficult one to find (another fave of my hubby). Sigh.

I would also respectfully suggest that you might check out lowcarbandmore.net as an e-tailer...they were a store front here in the Twin Cities, MN area but went strictly onlinelast year. They carry a wide variety of products and are very nice to deal with (heck, they DELIVERED may last order and saved me the S/H!!)

Thanks for the great newsletter...

Ginger Klietz writes:


I love your e-zine by the way. I just got done reading the most recent about low carb products. You mentioned the low carb bagels. Natural ovens has a "Golden Crunch" bagel that is low in carbs (I believe 7) and high in protein. I can get these in my local Jewel and Cub foods. They have fructose in them but it is not one of the main ingredients. They also have flax and are high fiber. They are great. Just wanted to let you know.

But then Joyce Nahorski added:

Hold that thought on the Natural Ovens Golden Crunch Bagels. I just noticed they are temporarily unavailable and not listed on their website. I just bought some last week. I hope that they are not discontinued.

(I called Natural Ovens - the Golden Crunch Bagels have been reformulated, and are not specifically low carb anymore. The new carb count is as I reported in last week's Lowcarbezine! - 21 grams of net carbs per bagel, or 10.5 per half.)

Terri says:

Hi, Dana.

I'm a low carber, been this way happily since 2002, plan on it forever.

I have all of your books and consider them - literally - lifesavers. I come from a long line of people with really crummy cardiac histories, and my lab values are now so perfect my internist is impressed (duh!). I have learned so much from you, and, even though we are now divorced, I always forward your nutritional updates to my former husband, a public health physician, who says he too is always learning from you.

Thanks! I just bought your latest, Every Calorie Counts, and haven't tried anything yet, but am really intrigued by the cauliflower tabouli. Can't wait!

I just wanted to let you and everyone know that Netrition sells a terrific low carb tortilla made by Mama Lupe. They are a little bit smaller than the ones you can find in the stores, but at 3 gm net carb, I can make a cheese tortilla filled with cheese - sometimes with some sauteed onion, sometimes with a little avocado - and have this meal come in at less than 8 gm net carb with plenty of protein from the cheese.

Thank you for your work, and I wish you all kinds of continued success!

b'shalom/bis salaam/in peace,


Carol Doersom says she can find these products at HEB in Texas:

LaTortilla Factory wraps -- they're at the deli counter instead of with all the other wraps!

Mootopia milk (lactose free & very tasty) -- white is 4 net carb grams per cup; chocolate is 10 net and sweetened with acesulfameK & sucralose.

Sugarfree pickles & pickle relish -- various brands, sweetened with sucralose.

Judy Ritchie writes:

Hi Dana,

I noticed in the grocery stores out here they have a Del Monte Carb Clever, peaches, pears and fruit cocktail.

The sliced peaches are 7 g total carb, 1 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugars, 1 g protein. The list of ingredients are: peaches, water, asorbic acid, acesulfame, potassium, sucralose and on the can it says, "sweetened with Splenda". Have you seen these? What's your opinion of them?

Judy Ritchie

Renton, WA

A reader named Barbara writes:

Hi Dana,

First, let me thank you for the great LC information you pass along! Its so helpful and your newsletters are written very well.

I just read you recent newsletter, and the Lite Minute Maid juice drinks reminded me of a question that I had. Many of the 0 cal/0 carb juice drinks have fruit juice in them. I am looking at the label of Talking Rain Purely Passion drink (bought them at Costco). The ingredients are: water, citric acid, natural flavor, apple juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice for color, potassium benzoate, ascorbic acid, tea extract, sucralose....etc. The label states 0 cal/0 carb per 9 oz serving. I also found a really good sugar free orangeaid at the market, and it also had juice in it, but 0 carb/cal. I can only think that it is such a small amount, its not effecting the carb/cal count, but do you think it could cause a glycemic impact? These drinks are all good, but I'm afraid to use them.



(Legally, food processors can label a product "0 grams" if it has 0.4 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving. Pay close attention to the serving sizes - it's not unknown for food processors to label a product you think of as one serving as 2 or 3, or even something odd like 2.5, just so they can get that 0 grams label. Keeping that in mind, I go by the total carb count, but I would also pay close attention to how my body reacted to these juice drinks. If I found myself hungry, tired, or craving after drinking one, I'd drop them. And diabetics - you know there's no substitute for your blood glucose meter!)

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:13 PM

January 30, 2006

Addenda to Last Week's Article (on S.A.D.)

I heard from several of you about Seasonal Affective Disorder; it's clear I have plenty of fellow-sufferers. I wanted to clarify one thing, though: If you decide to take vitamin D supplements, discontinue taking 2000-3000 IUs per day as soon as you start getting some sun in the spring. 400-1000 IUs is far more reasonable in the summer, assuming you spend some time outside, and don't bath in SPF 4,683 every time you set foot out the door. Vitamin D overdose isn't common, but it's not unknown.

A couple of readers added their experience with SAD. A reader named Karen says:

I just wanted to add one thing to your SAD article. My brother, who lived in Pittsburgh., where the sun doesn't shine much in winter, found that if he started going to a tanning salon in late November, he didn't get depressed or crave carbs.

Something to think about.

I've heard of this too, but didn't mention it because I couldn't find anything in the Pubmed Database. Most medical websites recommend not using tanning beds for phototherapy, and insist that the light must shine in the eyes (which is dangerous in a tanning booth) to be effective.

However, if Karen's brother was using a bed that provided both UVA and UVB light, it might be that the improvement is due to increased vitamin D levels.

(Too, I find sun phobia to be a lot like fat phobia - everyone is just sure that sun is bad for you, but the research doesn't back it up. There's growing evidence that sun exposure without burning actually has many benefits, and cancer rates are lower in the southern part of the USA than they are in the north.)

Another reader wrote regarding the use of a light box:

Spare yourself the trouble and the money.. I spent well over $200 and it did not work at ALL with sitting closely in front of it for 30 minutes a day.. it was a waste of money..! Good luck to you. I live in Berlin, Germany and believe me, I can relate to the gray dark days.. it is TOUGH!

All I can say is thank goodness January is almost over, February is a short month, and by March it's usually spring here in Southern Indiana!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:49 PM

April 01, 2005

How To Make Dana Cry

I got an email just recently from a reader who had purchased 200 Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes, and wanted to know how to convert the recipes that use Splenda to use sugar instead. While people certainly have the right to do what they like with my books once they've ponied up the money for them, up to and including using them to line the cat box, I have to admit to an overwhelming dismay at the question.

Yes, I know that there are some of you who don't like the idea of using Splenda, mostly because it is artificial. Please, if that's the case, just skip those recipes. Or use erythritol, or inulin, or stevia, or something other than sugar. (But not corn syrup! If anything, high fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar.)

Of all the possible faulty logic in the world, "sugar is safer than Splenda because it's natural" is among the most illogical. Folks, rattlesnake venom is natural. Death angel mushrooms are natural. Botulism toxin is natural. Heroin, cocaine, and tobacco are natural. Natural means squat in terms of safety.

I am not convinced that Splenda is 100% safe, but then I am convinced that nothing is 100% safe. That's not the important question. The important question is "Is Splenda safer than what it replaces, ie sugar?" To my mind, the answer to that question is a resounding "yes."

That being said, I don't use a lot of Splenda; I drink no diet soda, and I only make Splenda-sweetened desserts when I'm working on cookbooks, and for special occasions. I really think the ideal is to wean ourselves away from a lot of sweetened stuff. But using a few tablespoons of Splenda in a slow-cooker-recipe sauce or a marinade? As far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue, health-wise.

By the way, another reader who took me to task for using Splenda felt I should use organic sugar. I feel the same way about organic sugar as I do about organic tobacco - if you use these things because you think that their being organically grown somehow mitigates the fact that they're sheer poison, you're fooling yourself. I think health food stores embarrass themselves by even carrying such rubbish.

For the record: I have read the FDA test papers for Splenda, and it is absolutely true that sucralose - the sweetener in Splenda - caused thymus shrinkage and kidney swelling in lab rats - in doses that in a 150-pound human being would be the equivalent of over ten thousand teaspoons of Splenda per day. In doses that were the equivalent of just a couple of thousand teaspoons a day, the problems didn't happen. Since it's a really big day when I get as much as 20 teaspoons of Splenda in a day, I'm not sweating it. Always remember, the first rule of toxicology is "Dose is everything."

Anyway, do you have any idea what would happen to you if you ate over ten thousand teaspoons of sugar a day?

Posted by HoldTheToast at 01:17 PM

February 13, 2005

Reader Success Story

I've worked harder in the past couple of years than I've ever worked in my life. Want to know what makes it all worth it? Mail like this:

Well, as we close out 2004, I've been on my carb controlled diet for 46 weeks now, and wanted to pass on a successful update… I have now lost 47 inches (measuring my neck, bust, waist, lower abs, hips, arms and legs)… that's 1 inch away from 4 FEET!! That translates to approximately 75 lbs (may be a bit more) (now that I can actually weigh on a regular scale!!), but not knowing my exact starting weight, I can't be accurate on that data until I request my health records from insurance).

I started this journey with the basic "Atkins For Life" book, and that was my basic starting point and has been a tremendous help, but I can't thank you enough for the inspiration I've received from reading your book (How I Gave up My Low Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds)… your sense of humor, your style of writing and non-biased approach to your extensive research has kept me connected to this diet and the effect is immeasurable. This, in addition, your Low Carbezine Archives -- both of these sources of information been my 'textbooks' and constant source of support and all the 'fuel' I have needed to keep me on track. I'm up to around to having made over 60 recipes in your original book (500 Low Carb Recipes) and I also now have the "15 Minute"; "Barbeque" as well as the original 500 Low Carb and also the new 500 More Low Carb recipe books… from which I'm adding many more new items to my cooking repertoire. Now when people ask me what I'm doing to lose weight, I tell them about your cookbook (and, of course your "…40 Pounds…" book) and tell them I cook everything from your cook books and eat (but not over eat) to satiety… simple, simple, simple!!!

Dana - THANK YOU so much - Please keep up your outstanding work!



PS - I've since now bought and given away 8 of your cook books to family and friends, who are enjoying as much as I.

Wow. Thank you, KT.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:43 PM

Another Reader Success Story!

Okay, I couldn't stop with just one. This stuff just makes me grin like an idiot all day long.

Hi Dana:

I started low-carbing on Jan.1, 2000, so I'm at 5 years. I just got back my lipid-profile - The computer is concerned that my total cholesterol is border-line high at 220 - but my HDL went up again - to 108! My triglycerides are the lowest ever - 53! Blood pressure and blood sugar are normal - and I have a terrible family history of diabetes (you may remember me - father, grandfather, sister) and I am now 52 years old - the age when my father was diagnosed.

So - thanks for all you continue to do. I really appreciate the links to the articles - will share them with my Doctor boyfriend who has been flashing my cholesterol numbers all around his office!


HDL of 108?! That's not just good, that's downright astonishing. I don't think I've ever heard of someone with HDL quite that high. Your triglycerides are like mine, in the "startlingly low" range. I'm betting your doctor boyfriend's colleagues are scratching their heads, muttering, "How'd she do that?!" Think he'll be able to convince them it was that "crazy low carb fad diet" that did it?

Posted by HoldTheToast at 12:38 PM

December 03, 2004

Dreamfield’s Pasta – Is It Really Low Carb?

I’ve gotten more questions about Dreamfield’s pasta than any other product, and with good reason – it’s made from the same ingredients as regular pasta, and has the same total carb and fiber counts as regular pasta, yet it claims to have only 5 net carbs per serving. The manufacturer claims that through a secret proprietary process they have rendered most of the carbohydrate in their pasta indigestible. This is an interesting claim, and one that definitely sounds too good to be true. (It also strikes me as vaguely disturbing. In a world where millions of people are starving, Americans will pay for food that passes through their systems undigested, so that we don’t have to change our food-addicted ways. About the same way I feel about those “carb blocker” pills. Here’s a link to the issue with my article about carb blockers: http://www.holdthetoast.com/archive/010607.html )

Last issue, I promised to do blood sugar tests on Dreamfield’s pasta and report back. I also asked those of you who had tried it to write me about your experiences.

What a massive confusion! The bottom line seems to be that there is no bottom line. So far as I can tell, this stuff works differently for different people, and may even work differently from meal to meal in the same person. My personal experimentation with Dreamfield’s pasta was not terribly encouraging. Here’s how it went:

I started just over four and a half hours after breakfast – technically on an empty stomach. I carefully measured 1/2 cup of Dreamfield’s dry elbow noodles, which is the serving size listed on the label, and cooked them 9 minutes in boiling water. I drained the noodles, and tossed them with 1 teaspoon of butter, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.

At 2:25 pm, I took my fasting blood sugar; the reading was 83. I then ate my noodles, which were very nice – indistinguishable from any high-quality regular pasta. I finished eating at 2:34. I then took my blood sugar every 15-20 minutes for three hours.

By 2:51, just 16 minutes after I finished eating, my blood sugar was at 101, and by 3:07, a half hour after eating, my blood sugar topped out at 144. I know from experience that low carb meals rarely bump my blood sugar much above 110, and often it doesn’t get above 100. This tells me that I absorbed a significant quantity of carbohydrate from the Dreamfield’s pasta – certainly far more than the 5 grams of digestible carbohydrate claimed on the label.

By 3:21 my blood sugar had started to drop – down to 125 – and I was hungry again, that awful familiar feeling from my carb-eating days. (In fairness, I must note that this could instead be evidence that I hadn’t absorbed many calories to fill me up.) By 4:30 I was sleepy, but my blood sugar was still at 119.

All of this made me not terribly eager to try Dreamfield’s pasta again, despite the fact that it has an excellent taste and texture. I do plan to try eating it as a part of a meal – I’ll eat a measured portion of protein and vegetables along with my measured portion of Dreamfield’s, and track my blood sugar. Then I’ll try the same thing with just the protein and the vegetables. We’ll see what happens.

However, there are folks who feel that Dreamfield’s is working for them! One woman who runs a low carb specialty store got a group together for a test of Dreamfield’s, and found that roughly half of them got a blood sugar spike, while the other half didn’t. I’ve even talked to folks who got a blood sugar rise after eating it – then ran a second test a few days later, and didn’t get a rise at all. Something weird is going on here!

Many of you responded to my request for your experiences with Dreamfield’s pasta. Here are some of your stories:

As a previous pasta junkie (now low carb) I was thrilled with the introduction of Dreamfield’s pasta. I have seen ads stating 5 net carbs per serving but here in Canada the net carbs on the package is 8.

I am a type 2 diabetic and consistently check my blood sugar. My results are usually 90 before I have eaten Dreamfields pasta and 110 or a little less 2 hours after eating the pasta. I always eat with a good portion of protein. It’s a great treat twice a month!


Dear Dana, you asked for feedback -- I'm happy to give a bit!

My husband is the poster child for insulin resistance and carb-sensitive to the max. If he eats even one bite of sugar (and the big dummy is prone to doing that occasionally!) then he's off to the races, so to speak.

Used to be, before low carb, that he would polish off a humongous plate of pasta with chicken and cheese and broccoli and fat-free (EW!) Italian dressing. I mean I'm talking a platter of the stuff. And an hour later, he'd be back poking around in the fridge because he was "STARVING!" I could never comprehend that, until reading the good Dr. A's book.

So out with the processed carbs and in with the leafy veggies, eggs, cheese, coconut oil, and of course what every non-low-carbing person alive thinks we eat exclusively -- plenty of meat!

And gee, dear hubby's problems are suddenly under control (until he can't pass up a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, which are now thankfully available in a 1 carb variety, made with Erythritol and Splenda...but I digress....) and he feels GREAT and he's even -- gasp -- losing weight!!

SO back to the original subject, it is with great trepidation that I actually bring the Dreamfield's Pasta into this house.

Now, we've tried other low carb pastas and all I can say is -- PASS! Unless you actually prefer chewy cardboard.

SO again, my expectations were not high for this new product with a new-fangled way of reducing the carb impact!

I cook it up (ONLY in the recommended serving size, which I actually DID weigh out on my digital scales before cooking) and served it up with homemade pesto as a side to a nice thick-cut, panfried center-cut pork chop and a whole passle of veggies and green salad. We eat. We smack our lips, declaring that this stuff tastes JUST LIKE REGULAR PASTA! Wahooo!

And not one word passes DH's lips later about "I'M STARVING!" or even "I'M HUNGRY!" No heebie-jeebies. No cravings. Seemingly, no elevated blood sugars leading to a CRASH and urge to carb-binge!

Now, we don't test blood sugars (thankfully) and the ketostrips have NEVER registered for DH, but judging solely by his reaction -- or more accurately, LACK of a reaction -- leads me to believe that for us anyway, this product is fine IN MODERATION, OCCASIONALLY, PER THE SERVING SIZE, AND WITH ADEQUATE PROTEIN AND FAT served at the same time. Now, that's as it should be, right??

Your faithful reader

Char Cunningham

I've tried the spaghetti noodles, the ziti, and the elbow macaroni from Dreamfields. I ate a very small portion and found that it tastes just like regular pasta. I've been doing Atkins for a little over a year now and have been stalled out at a 52 pound weight loss for about three months. I've been tweaking things, trying to get it moving again without much success.

In spite of that, my weight has stayed the same when I've had the occasional portion of Dreamfield's pasta. I don't notice any carb cravings and I've stayed in very mild ketosis like I've always been. I plan to continue using it in controlled portions for variety. I'm looking forward to hearing about your own experiments!

My experience is not 'hard' data but this is my take on Dreamfield's...

I can eat this about twice a month... in small portions. I will be up the next day routinely but nothing major... -- 2 pounds. But goes down by the next day with adequate water intake. Don't get rebound hunger, but I do feel that I get that sleepy feeling within 2 or so hours of eating it. Haven't tried this with regular pasta, so not sure if my response would be the same.

Looking forward to your take on this product!

Lisa, Rhode Island

Hi there....

I'm a low carber who came this way via gastric bypass surgery. Because of my new "plumbing" things like regular pasta and breads do a NUMBER on my stomach. I can attest that the Dreamfield's pasta HAS to be different in some ways, because I can eat a 1/2 cup of that and not have the heavy, leaden feeling that I get if I try to eat regular pasta. I also have not seen weight gain from adding the product to my diet. I now eat it about 1-2 times a week and it's been a lifesaver. I don't know how it works either, but I do know it's somehow different!

Laura Walker
Fort Collins, CO

Hello Dana and crew!

I wanted to let you know that my husband and I have been using Dreamfield's since it came out. We have had absolutely NO slowing in our weight loss and we eat it probably once per week. We never fall out of ketosis and we never have sugar spikes (and we definitley know what that feels like through our own times of weakess as well as times of sugar being sneaked in on us via restaurants). Granted, we don't test our blood sugar, so we can only report that it's worked for us instead of how it's worked for us. I personally think that it depends on one's sensitivity to wheat products (i.e., Does wheat make one's blood sugar spike?) and it depends on the individual. I have a degree in Biology and when I read Dreamfield's site before trying their pasta, it sound scientifically sound. Then again, so did Thalidomide, Fen-Phen, and more recently Vioxx and we all know how that went.

FYI, I am a 30 year old caucasian female and my husband is a 40 year old caucasian male. I don'tknow if that data will help with your information gathering or not, but I thought I would throw it in there.

Thanks for this opportunity to speak out for Dreamfield's. We love it.

Melanie Sandridge

Hi Dana,

I just wanted to submit a comment about the new Dreamfields pasta with "5 net digestible carbs". I had a fiasco with it that upset me and thought I should advise others.

One evening, I painstakingly measured out one serving of the pasta to try it. Of course, it tasted wonderful -- just like regular pasta -- and when I looked at the ingredients, it really wasn't a whole lot different from regular pasta. I should have known something was up. The label couldn't explain how they went from 40+ total carbs down to 5g "digestible carbs". The next day, I didn't gain any weight because the serving was small, but it had completely kicked me out of Ketosis. I knew then and there that the labeling was not what it appeared to be. What little I ate of it had the same effect on my ketosis level that a full carb meal would have had.

I had measured my ketosis that morning and it was in the second to last shade of purple, and I had been on strict Atkins and writing everything I ate down to the last bite, so there is no doubt of what caused the crash in ketosis. I went to their website www.dreamfieldsfoods.com and read their explanation of the miracle of this pasta and it still doesn't make any sense how they're doing the "digestible carbs" count or even what they mean by that phrase. I just really feel deceived when they make the claim of "for healthy low carb lifestyle" and it turns out not to be it.

Test it yourself if you can and pass it on!

M. MacLeod


I bought the Dreamfields pasta. i called the 800 number to inquire as to how they tabulated such low carbs out of this product. (the numbers did not add up.) The lady was nice and explained that a special process denatured the carbs and that is how they derived their numbers. i calculated the amount to cook and how many carbs in my low carb pasta sauce. i checked my blood suger 2 hours after eating and it was 110. i have experimented and tested this product and each time (12 times) my glucose was good. i am happy this product is out there for diabetics like myself.

Hi Dana,

I'm on my second box of Dreamfields pasta (actually, two boxes, this time I bought both the ziti and the elbows). So far, I haven't noticed any problems, although I'm on maintenance right now, and not really in ketosis, and I don't check my blood sugar. But I haven't had any noticeable blood sugar spikes or associated cravings. I don't eat it often, but it does make a nice change once in a while and, if I mix it with healthy amounts of meat and veggies, maybe with a creamy cheese sauce, it really fills me up and keeps away the late night nibblies. It also works well in my homemade low carb soup.

So I'll be very interested to read your conclusions in the next e-zine.

Thanks for all the great low carb info.


I live in NZ and have just discovered this pasta. I also happen to have Type 1 Diabetes (48 years duration) so test my blood 8-10 times per day. I also use an insulin pump & count carbs.
I trialled Dreamfields pasta (linguine) over 2 nights on behalf of www.lowcarbnz.co.nz Blood Glucose was 4.8mmol/L before I ate. I am on a regime of 1 unit of Humalog Insulin per 11gms carbohydrate. For that serving of pasta (5gms CHO.) I had 0.5 of a unit of insulin. 2 hours after eating 56 gms (dry weight) pasta my blood glucose actually dropped to 4.6mmol/L. I was amazed as ordinary pasta used to elevate my blood glucose enormously so I have always kept away from it.

I didn't feel hungry afterwards... on the trial nights (I tried it two days in a row with similar BG results) I only ate the pasta with a heart healthy pesto sauce ( recipe from the Dreamfields web site).as I didn't want to affect my BG resulrt by eating anything else. I am an ardent fan of this pasta and am thrilled that I can eat it again. I would be interested to hear what others think.

Gail E.

Hi Dana,

You asked about people's reactions to Dreamfield’s pasta... I find that a decent-size serving (a quarter of the box) spikes my blood sugar by about twenty points within an hour. It stays up there for a couple hours. I've never tested a serving of "regular" pasta, so while I suspect the "real" stuff would be worse, I'm not sure. A normal low-carb meal for me barely affects my blood sugar, and even if I throw in a small baked-potato skin, it usually raises my blood sugar less than ten points.

For a little background... I'm unofficially pre-diabetic -- that is, when I started testing my blood sugar, during one of my between-low-carb-attempts periods, my fasting glucose was between 100 and 115 every day. I didn't have my doctor confirm this, although I did tell him. When I got back on track with low carb, my fasting glucose dropped to the 75-90 range.

Meanwhile, I have a friend who's diabetic. She finds Dreamfield’s barely affects her blood sugar.

Discussions I've read online suggest that reactions to Dreamfield’s vary widely.

Love your newsletter!



I love the taste of Dreamfields pasta. My trigger for knowing if I have had too many carbs is raised blood pressure. I had been on blood pressure reducing medication for many years. Three dayson a low-carb diet and I was feeling dizzy, overdosing on the medication. I have been off of medication for a year now. Any time I stray across the line on too many carbs, my blood pressure spikes within hours. As to Dreamfield’s pasta, my blood pressure stays normal right after eating, but it elevates later. I stayed within the portion guidlines. A quick way for me to gain a few pounds is to have a Dreamfields pasta meal followed by eating two left-over portions in the next days.
I have asked my wife to not cook Dreamfields pasta except very occasionally
and only as a small portion side dish.

Mike Scott

Dear Dana,
First of all, I have three of your cookbooks, love them and use them all the time.

Dreamfield’s: I am prediabetic and found it difficult to believe the "digestable carbs" claim by Dreamfield’s so I did an experiment. I prepared and ate one serving of Keto spaghetti with low carb sauce. Two hours later there was a very modest increase in blood sugar. The next day I prepared one-half serving of Dreamfields pasta with the same amount of the same sauce.(I was afraid to eat a whole serving). Two hours later my blood sugar was very high, in the unacceptable range. Having read interviews with the Dreamfields people about the mechanism by which they protect carbs from digestion, it doesn't seem that diabetics or prediabetics should respond differently, but if that is the case for others as well as for me, people should be aware of that..


There you go! Either Dreamfield’s pasta works for you or it doesn’t, or maybe it works for you sometimes, but not other times. How the heck are we to know?

So I’m afraid I can’t give you any hard-and-fast guidelines. You’ll just have to try Dreamfield’s pasta for yourself, if it appeals to you. I would heartily recommend eating it as a side dish with a full meal that includes protein and low carb vegetables, rather than eating just a big plate of pasta for dinner. If you test for ketosis, blood pressure, or blood sugar, pay attention to what happens! Pay attention to your weight and the fit of your clothes the next day. See if you feel hungry a few hours later. Then make up your mind whether Dreamfield’s is a great product for your low carb diet, or really is too good to be true.

I’m planning to try some other pasta possibilities for us; I’ll report back in a future issue. Stay tuned.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 02:16 PM

October 06, 2004

Very Interesting Reader Letter


A Yahoo search directed me to your piece on Lowcarbezine of May 17 2000 regarding low carb diets and alcoholism. You asked to be contacted by readers so 4 years later here I am - ha.

I am 55 and have been an alcoholic for probably 40 years. I have been the "sneaky" kind - primarily drinking beer to excess by always finding an excuse to explain why I needed to go to the office or wherever I could be to drink for a few hours. Often times I would spend much of the day thinking about or planning on downing a six pack.

I was raised in the 1950's on the typical diet of lots of potatoes, corn, pies and cakes. My memory of my school years is dominated by remembering coming home at 3:00 or 4:00 lethargic and dazed unable to do much of anything. I had no idea about sugar levels. I just remember every afternoon meant I was going to be tired and in a fog.

A few months ago I read Dr. Atkins book and it explained a lot of mysteries in my life. I used to love drinking a cold beer with a fist full of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Whenever I asked friends if they ever tried it, they all uniformly said "yuck!". That was a clue for me that something about me was different. Now I understand the correlation of sugar and alcohol for me.

When I do Atkins approach my energy level soars to levels I haven't experienced before. And they remain constant - no more afternoon dives.

Much like the letter you quoted in your piece, I found that my interest in alcohol virtually disappeared if I abstained from it for a few days while doing a low carb diet. Doing Atkins and still drinking 3 or 4 light beers didn't work for me (heaven knows I tried for months). Once when I abstained from alcohol while doing Atkins I was dry for a month, never thought about alcohol and didn't even find it appealing.

Then of course came the slip. A night out and some drinks with dinner and I was hooked again.

I just started back on the program Monday 9/21/04 and and am committed to treating it not only as a weight loss program but a de-tox program for me as well. On my second day I already have lost the intense craving for alcohol but it remains lurking in the back of my mind. This time around I'm going to accept the fact that I'm addicted to alcohol and like any addiction I just can't have one.

In addition to following the eating program for induction I drink 10 to 12 glasses of water and take L-Glutamin which seems to also reduce cravings. This all makes up my low carb "de-tox" program.

I hope this is all helpful. I'm looking forward to reading Lowcarbezine! I subscribed to it just before writing this.

(Name Withheld for Confidentiality)

Thank you so much for writing! This is a topic that I don't claim to fully understand, but seems very important; all information is helpful.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:36 PM

February 23, 2004

Reader Success Story!

Several months back, at the request of a journalist, I asked for stories from those of you who had successfully controlled diabetes with a low carb diet, and was absolutely flooded with great stories in response. I published a few, but have been meaning to publish more. So here's a success story for you!

Hey Dana:

I'm a low-carbing diabetic, female, age 44. I was diagnosed in November 1999, and it's not like I was borderline. My fasting blood sugar was 245, and went up from there after the drinking the glucose solution. I had had gestational diabetes with both my pregnancies, so it wasn't a total

surprise. I was prescribed Glucophage, plus Synthroid for a hypothyroid condition diagnosed at the same time.

I read every book in the library about diabetes, and researched the heck out of the Internet. The only plan to control it that made sense to me was Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's "Diabetes Solution". I started low-carbing then, and have continued to this day. I also do weight training, as recommended by Dr. B.

I lost 35 pounds in three months, and keep my blood sugar readings between 80-100. My doctor says my blood sugar is lower than his, and he's not diabetic. In addition, my gums, which had been in dreadful condition, rallied so much after surgery, that the periodontist was astounded. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, too, so this is important. Yeast infections are a thing of the past. Colds, which before diagnosis would invariably worsen into sinus infections, now last 3 light-sniffling days, less than once per year. No more late-afternoon slumps, either.

I know that low-carbing has brought me all these benefits, and it amuses me when people feel sorry for me, because I can't have some carby goody they're having. Meanwhile, they will take all kinds of scary medications, or undergo radical surgery for things that I believe would clear up if they would only try low-carbing. (Sorry for the rant, I'm a little militant about LC, and now I have a forum!)

Please pass on my story to the journalist, and my e-mail address if they want it. Keep up the good work, and I look forward as always to to the next Lowcarbezine.


Jeannie Aromi

Bay Shore, NY

Great story, Jeannie! It did, indeed, go to the journalist, and here it is to inspire your fellow Lowcarbezine! readers, as well. Thanks!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 06:49 PM

October 08, 2003

Success Stories! I Get Success Stories!

I was just thinking that what this issue needed was a reader success story when my little "you've got mail" tone sounded, and this was in my inbox:

Hi Dana - so excited I just had to e-mail you! I just went out at lunch and bought a new pair of dress slacks for work and they are a SIZE 8!! My husband and I have been low carbing since January - I've gone from 157 down to 131 this morning and from a size 12 to 8. And we've been very relaxed about it - probably more maintenance type than induction. We reward ourselves once in a while with a burger or some pizza, or lo mein with Chinese. I wore one of my size 12 suits to work yesterday and my husband informed me I was to never wear them again - looked like a family of dwarfs moved out of the seat of my pants! That's why I went shopping at lunch today. I'm just loving this low carbing! Also, more great news. One of our very best restaurants here in Hattiesburg MS just started having a separate "Low-Carb Atkins Friendly Menu" If you have a fax, I'll fax it to you. It is so great! They offer an entree, choice of two vegetables and dessert for one price. All delicious! People are starting to finally notice all of us - isn't that great!?

Posted by HoldTheToast at 09:51 PM

September 02, 2003

Reader Success Story

This inspirational reader story come from Cardiff, Wales:

Dear Dana,

I have already read your 500 recipes and 'Hold the Toast' but this week I finished 'How I gave up my low fat diet...' and I wanted to tell you how totally inspirational it is and thank you for your great writing. (I bought it from Amazon with no problems.. it came the next day.)

I have followed Dr. Atkins' Way of Eating since August 2001 and have come down from 29 stones, 12 lbs to 24 stones. I had better translate that for you! 418 pounds to 336 pounds. [Dana's note -- a "stone" is a British measure of weight equaling 14 pounds.] I have type II diabetes but all symptoms are gone now. I suffer from M.S. and am virtually unable to walk so exercising is very difficult. However, I care for a beautiful daughter with profound mental disabilities and the Lord helps me every day to manage; indeed, it was He who directed me towards Dr Atkins in the first place

I know you have many emails to read so I will not prattle on but thank you, thank you for the wonderful support via your email messages and the super books.

With very best wishes

Ruth King

Ruth, your story made me smile, and also illustrates a very, very important point: That a dietary program need not get one down to a super-model's size to have a hugely beneficial impact on one's life. All the best to you and your daughter, and thanks for writing!!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:38 PM

August 13, 2003

A Reader's Suggestion Re: Mexican Restaurants

Last issue we looked through a Mexican restaurant menu to see what there was for the low carb dieter. I got this response to the article from reader Renee Cordrey:

Don't write off enchiladas. Last time I was out for Mexican food, I asked for the beef enchiladas without the tortilla. They were happy to accommodate, and I enjoyed a nice plate of beef, cheese, and sauce (which is generally low-carb).

Thanks, Renee! You're a woman after my own heart. Notice, folks, that Renee is following the first rule of getting a good, low carb restaurant meal: Ask for what you want!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 05:00 PM

Great Reader Letter

A reader identified only as Jennifer sends this:


First of all, I can't write to you without telling you how much I absolutely love 500 Low Carb Recipes and how I have recommended it to at least 3 other people who've run out to Borders to buy it. At last! A comprehensive recipe book full of recipes for real people! I have been so disappointed that as more and more LC cookbooks come out, so many of them have ridiculous dishes full of ingredients that might make someone's mouth water (not mine) but are just not practical for family dinners. My husband (not a LC'er) and young son barely notice that dinner is diet friendly when I make recipes from your book - they are so family friendly and good that they don't realized they are eating low carb!

I am a 31 year old woman who has done the low carb thing several times, and who this time has finally really "got it". I am also diabetic (so I know carbs backwards and forwards) and have PCOS (so I know how insulin resistant I am), and after just three months eating this way I have not only lost three sizes, but my health has improved. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the

cookbook, the ezine...the information!

I am reading through your Lowcarbezine! past issues and I just finished your "rant" about the fast food restaurant law suits. In it, you mention how frustrated you were with the blame being placed squarely on fat. That rang a huge and loud bell with me. I recently read an article in Redbook talking about how to raise your metabolism, and while I was thrilled to see increasing protein in there, I was a bit ticked when this was immediately followed up with "this doesn't mean you have to do the Atkins diet" or something of that nature.

I get so frustrated that so many people just don't get it. I see people in front of me at the grocery store with all the prepackaged low fat foods in their carts that probably give them the fictitious satisfaction that they are eating healthily. Then I look in mine and see all the vegetables, proteins, cheese, and I know that I truly am doing the right thing. I want to tap them on the back of their shoulders with a box of processed fat-free cookies and tell them that they're doing it all wrong! And then I see programs talking about food items being healthier because "It's leaner and much lower in fat than beef," etc. and my eyes roll so far back into my head that I have to smack myself so I can see again. (Not literally, of course! :) ) In short...blaming fat annoys me.

Why, why, why? There is so much information out there! Why do these people deprive themselves of all the luxuries we have? Excellent food, satisfying portions, outstanding health! I want to scream, "LC'ers don't eat six eggs and half a pound of bacon for breakfast every morning! We don't eschew vegetables! We don't eat sticks of butter with a spoon! We can have fruits! The media and health industry take the exaggerations and try to scare you away from this healthy high protein, high vitamin, nutritious lifestyle!"

I am alternately frustrated by the lack of understanding in mainstream people and encouraged by the amazing availability of low carb products now. I live in a medium sized city (65,000 population) and without paying a penny in shipping I can buy low carb bars, shakes, bake mixes, tortillas, chocolate, candies, etc. etc., at retail and discount stores. My dream? That someday we'll have Low Carb Restaurants and Food Network will have a low carb cooking show (any thought of this as a next step to promote your books? Hmmmm? Hint!) and doctors will begin widely prescribing the LC lifestyle as a way to improve...well...everything!!

Anyway, that is my rant...something about your writing and your passion for this lifestyle struck a chord in me and I wanted to write to you. Again, thank you so very much for what you are doing to educate anyone who wants to learn. I am very much looking forward to your new book, and will be one of the first in line to buy it.

Please keep up the outstanding work!


Thanks, Jennifer! Great rant! I know exactly how you feel about the carts full of fake low fat food. I always feel like the kid in The Emperor's New Clothes; I want to run up to people and cry, "NO! Don't do it, buddy! It's a lie, it's all a lie!";

But I generally don't. Which may explain why I'm still free to walk the streets... ;-D

Thanks again!

By the way, it's funny you should mention The Food Network. I actually have a television producer who is "shopping"; me to The Food Network for a low carb show. I was going to suggest that you email The Food Network and suggest that they do a low carb show, but their website makes it clear that they only take show suggestions from television producers and agents. So we'll just have to see what happens.

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:59 PM

The Issue of Fat and Breast Cancer Raises Its Head Once Again...

Don't know if you caught it, but a few weeks back a new medical study made the mainstream press, asserting that saturated fat is, indeed, associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. Since the world at large assumes that we low carbers pretty much live on bunless bacon cheeseburgers with a side of sour cream, I've had a couple of inquiries as to what this study means for us.

Truth to tell, I don't really know. The news reports have been fairly sketchy on details, and I haven't been able to read the whole report yet, or even an abstract. Here's what I do know:

The study, which was done in Cambridge, England by the Medical Research Council's Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, looked at "food diaries"; kept by over 13,000 women from Norfolk. It concluded that women in the top 20% of saturated fat intake had roughly double the risk of breast cancer as the women in the lowest 20% saturated fat intake group. The researchers carefully matched the women for what the news reports simply called "other unhealthy lifestyles."; What those unhealthy lifestyles might be was not detailed.

Dr. Sheila Bingham, deputy director of the Human Nutrition Unit, was quoted as saying, "The study shows that there is an emerging link between eating too much fatty food and increasing the risk of breast cancer."; She went on to add, "The effect seems to be related particularly to saturated fat found mostly in high fat milk, butter, meat, and some cereals such as biscuits [Dana's note: That's "cookies"; here in the US] and cakes.";

So, should we all panic, and give up our low carb diets?

What, did you really think I was going to say yes? Look, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. However, I have a few thoughts, regarding this study.

First of all, this is only one study, and it comes on the heels of several years of studies that turned up no positive correlation between fat intake and breast cancer. Indeed, more than one study -- including the truly immense and astoundingly long-term Harvard Nurses' Study -- found that the women with the lowest fat intake had a significantly increased risk of breast cancer. This one study, while provocative, and a good cause for further research, does not suddenly render all the previous studies meaningless.

Secondly, while we're still unclear on the causes of cancer, we are quite sure that cancer, once established, feeds on glucose -- blood sugar. There is also a strong correlation between high insulin levels and insulin resistance, and breast cancer. And, indeed, there are also studies that have shown that high intake of carbohydrate, and especially high impact carbohydrate, increases breast cancer risk.

Third, given the fact that we know that insulin levels are tied to breast cancer risk, it would be interesting to know what the effect is of eating saturated fat is in the absence of a high carbohydrate intake. We can gather from Dr. Bingham's statement that these women were, indeed, eating sugar and white flour -- biscuits and cakes -- (indeed, at the BBC site the illustration was a piece of chocolate cake: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3074561.stm ) and one assumes they also were eating bread, potatoes, pasta, and the like. Is it not possible that there is some interaction between saturated fat and dietary carbohydrate? Without a study of saturated fat and breast cancer risk in the context of a low carbohydrate diet, we simply don't know.

Another factor that I found myself wondering about was calcium intake. There are now several studies suggesting a protective effect against breast cancer -- and colon cancer, too -- from a high intake of calcium -- and while milk and cheese are high in saturated fat, they are also high in calcium. (Butter, cream, and sour cream are not good sources of calcium.)

Most importantly, there is nothing in this study that indicates that carbohydrates are good for you. Even if, indeed, we learn that saturated fat is a causal factor for breast cancer, that won't somehow make sugar less devastating to health, or make white flour less than a total nutritional wasteland. It won't change the fact that grains are not a part of the evolutionary diet of human kind, nor will it make carbohydrates less of a trigger of high triglycerides, diabetes, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

I've said it before, and it bears repeating: We don't know exactly what balance of fats is safest yet. We do know that farm-raised, grass-fed meat has a different fatty acid profile than the game and grass-fed meats that our ancestors ate for millennia; it is unclear yet how big a problem this may be. We do know that some fats that come along with the saturates appear to be darned healthy -- most particularly CLA, found in beef and cheese, which decreases fat storage and reduces cancer risk, and stearic acid, a major component of beef fat, which has a similar LDL lowering, HDL raising influence to olive oil and other monounsaturated fats.

One thing is clear, and has been since long before this study hit the press: A low carb diet that consists of nothing but beef and cheese would be a bad idea -- both boring and nutritionally limited. There's every reason to eat not only beef, but pork (which, despite a bad image, is one of the most nutritious meats -- and which contains more monounsaturates than saturates) and lamb. There's even more reason to eat poultry -- not only chicken, but turkey, duck, Cornish hens, and even quail and the like if you can get them and afford them -- and overwhelming reasons to eat fish on a regular basis. All of these flesh foods are just as low carb as beef, of course.

There's also no reason not to use lean cuts of meat if you are concerned -- again, beef round and pork loin are just as low carb as fattier cuts like short ribs and pork shoulder, and they're almost as low in total fat as skinless chicken or turkey breast (not to mention higher in some nutritients.) If you choose to do this, you can add more fat calories -- since of course fat is where low carbers get most of their fuel -- by sauteing in olive oil, adding guacamole, topping salads with nuts or seeds -- or simply snacking on them -- in short, by adding more monounsaturates.

I, on the other hand, am unlikely to panic. I am unconvinced that this one study outweighs the many that show no danger from fat, and I am quite convinced that cheap, trashy, high impact carbs are the biggest dietary cancer risk.

But however


As all but my very newest subscribers are aware, last week I put out the call for stories of those of you who have successfully controlled or treated diabetes with a low carb diet. Within 48 hours, I had 92 posts, all but a couple of them truly wonderful and exciting success stories. The other few were from folks wanting to know if a low carb diet was helpful for diabetes. Well, folks, I'll start publishing the email I've gotten on the subject, and you tell me! Here's the first low carb diabetes success story:

Hi Dana! I've been getting your newsletter for a couple of years now, but this is the first time I've written you. Back in 1999, I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes. At 5'11" I weighed in at 236 pounds and a size 20 or 22. My doctor suggested the Protein Power diet (he was on it!). My original thought was "moderation in all things". Ha!

I started on my low carb diet and have never looked back! 80 pounds later I'm at 156 pounds, a size 10 or 12 and have stabilized there for quite a while. I went for a blood test last month (July, 2003) and not only have I NOT been diabetic for a couple of years (my doctor and I have known that since I get blood tests on a regular basis for high cholesterol), but ALL of the blood test numbers test smack dab in the middle of normal! And I'm 56 years old! I'm no longer on medication of any kind and my blood pressure which had been in the hypertensive range in 1999 is now "low" (which is good).

My doctor is particularly interested in heart disease (it runs in his family and also in mine) and has recently discovered a direct correlation between adult onset diabetes and heart disease. By going on a low carb diet to initially lose weight and back away from the diabetes, I've also saved myself from heart disease! Go low carb dieting!!! (And by the way, if I read one more "expert" contending that low carb diets are unhealthy, my low blood pressure will be at serious threat of blowing!!).

Donna Hoff, Longmont Colorado

Too cool!! Donna, I'd love to have before-and-after photos. I'll continue to publish these diabetes success stories in upcoming issues. It's important that people realize just how effective low carb is for controlling this potentially devastating disease.

By the way, I'd love to have before-and-after photos from all of you. Don't make me send out a Special Notice! Send me your before-and-after photos, and let's show the world what low carb can do!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 04:57 PM

August 02, 2003

Reader Success Story!

Reader Laura "Gooch" Sircher sends this ebullient success story:

Say! I don't think I told you my Low Carb success story, so, bear with me! Here I go:

In 2000 I nearly died from Lupus Nephritis! I had to get a kidney biopsy (with the 6" scar as proof). I've struggled with illnesses since '77! I first decided to challenge my willpower late '76 when I graduated High School (yipe!). I'm 5'9" so weight wasn't really a big deal. I started at 146. I went down to 109! First and only time I was in a Juniors.size 7! When my Doc saw me, he suggested I "put on a few pounds" & I went back to 150! I had anorexia before it had a name. Lived on 500 calories a day. But anyway:

In '94 I had Lupus of the joints. Do you think the anorexia nervosa did this?? Who knows? I was okay for a while even though my life was in turmoil. - I got divorced in'97, my Dad got ill and I had to put him in a home.

I remarried my best friend, and things were good. Then the 2000 attack! Kidneys only functioned at 10-15%. I was placed on aggressive meds, blood and "pee" tests and 12 chemos to boost my immune system. As a result, there were side effects: edema, high blood pressure and fatigue, plus I lost my hair, my mind and my self esteem. I went into early menopause as well. To top it off, I shot up to 199 lbs! EW! (1X-16-18) Gross!

Well, after my last Chemo/Doc visit, I decided to begin my version of Atkin's. Cleared out the pantry (no white flour or sugar in there!) Read and altered recipes, and today it is 71 weeks since I started. Proud to say I lost 80 lbs. and I'm in a Juniors .9! My Hubby is so happy for me, and HE's cutting his carbs even though he doesn't need to! He lost 2 pant sizes!

I still have residual effects (tired/can't drive-depression), but I've come a long way, and Ed is a saint for putting up with me! To make a long story short, I'm on maintenance! I've experimented with food show recipes and I made a TERRIFIC LC Worcestershire Sauce which I altered from the Burger Meister! Yesterday I made a LC Hawaiian Salad and it turned out fabulous!!!

Well I rambled enough! You take care! Even though you're busy I hope to hear from you soon! All the best.

"Gootch" Laura Sircher

PS: Saw the Rheumy on a follow up & he was amazed! Blood pressure is great! Kidneys are back to normal (that's about the only NORMAL thing about me) LOL!

So glad you're better, and thanks for sending in your story!

Speaking of success stories, folks, we're looking for folks who will send in their success stories, and share their before and after photos, so send 'em in! You may see them here, or on the website, or even in a national magazine or two! feedback@holdthetoast.com

Posted by HoldTheToast at 10:11 PM

June 26, 2003

Email! I Get Email!

Jane Bailey writes:

Hi Dana (or whoever is reading this)!

Just bought your revised "40 lb." book - I've finally found a low-carb philosophy that is simple! I'm looking forward to great results! Pray for me!

Had a couple of questions:

1) Please please tell me what company you get your multi-vitamins from

2) How much or little fruit do you recommend to lose weight? A fruit lover in summer is a dangerous thing!

3) What do you think of food combining? Eg. Somersizing, Fit for Life etc.

4) What are your favorite Firm videos? I have a bunch - they are the best! Try Traci Long's other videos (same creator as The Firm but more intense - more in the line of slow burn)

5) I have 3 kids. What "good carbs" do you recommend that won't create sugar/carb addicts? Luckily they love cheese, fruit, some meat, whole wheat pasta, eggs etc.

Thanks again for your great books and sense of humor! Keep up the good work!

Jane Bailey (on her way to the "whoosh")

Hey, Jane! Wow, bunch-o-good-questions.

First of all, I read my own email, really I do. I even reply to a lot of it, though, I confess, not all of it. I get a lot of email. I also get way, way more spam than any one person should get, and fear that I occasionally delete reader email accidentally while block-deleting all those (ahem!) marvelous offers. Still, I do my best.

Okay, taking your questions in order:

1) Please, please tell me what company you get your multi-vitamins from.

I buy the vast majority of my vitamins from Puritan's Pride, a mail-order vitamin house that has a huge product line and excellent prices. I generally bulk-order all of my vitamins for the whole year during their biggest annual sale, thus saving mucho bucks. (I store all the oil-based stuff - fish oil, extra vitamin E, and the like, in the freezer, to prevent rancidity.)

The only drawback to ordering from Puritan's Pride is that the product line is so big that you really have to know what it is you want, or you can get confused just flipping through their catalogue. I've been a vitamin freak for years, and know what I'm looking for, so this isn't a problem for me, but if your eyes glaze over in the vitamin aisle at the health food store, the Puritan's Pride catalogue is likely to induce the same reaction and then some.

For the record, the Puritan's Pride multiple I take is called Green Source, and I buy the Iron Free formula, because I get lots of iron in my diet, what with all that red meat. Green Source is a very good three tablet per day formula, but it's short on calcium and magnesium, so I take those, too. Indeed, I take three forms of calcium/magnesium/other mineral supplements, chosen for a balance between formula and price. If I had to pick one cal-mag product from Puritan's Pride, I'd pick their Bone Reinforcer.

All of this being said, there are plenty of good multiple vitamins on the market. In the past I've been very happy with a few formulations by Twin Lab, for instance - their Mega 3, Mega 6, and Dual Tabs are all quite good. Other brands I've come to trust include Now, Solgar, and Nature's Plus. Too, some of the network marketing companies put out excellent nutritional products, though they tend to be quite expensive. Still, some of the most cutting-edge formulations I've seen have come out of the network marketing industry.

I'm not a fan of one tablet per day drug store supplements. They're virtually always short on something, and often use forms of nutrients that are not well absorbed by the body. However, it should be duly noted that I long ago attained the status of True Believer where supplements are concerned, so I may not be as objective as some.

(If you'd like to check out Puritan's Pride, they're at http://www.puritans.com . I'd request a catalogue; navigating their website can be sort of clunky.)

2) How much or little fruit do you recommend to lose weight? A fruit lover in summer is a dangerous thing!

Oh, boy, don't I know it. I've been known to eat an entire quart of cherries at a sitting. Better for me than Skittles, no doubt, but still more sugar than my body needed.

I'm afraid I can't give you a hard-and-fast number for fruit consumption; bodies differ too much. You have to go with your own critical carb consumption level - the quantity of carbs you can eat and still lose.

Keep in mind that fruits vary a lot in carb content - eating a wedge of cantaloupe will mess you up far less than eating a banana. Fortunately, a lot of the summer fruits are fairly low carb. Which? Take a look at my article, "Summer Fruit Roundup," here: http://tinyurl.com/f7um

Also interesting is the fact that fruits vary quite a bit in glycemic index, and their GI doesn't generally have much to do with their carb content - for instance, cantaloupe has a high glycemic index, but it's quite low in sugar as fruit goes. How can this be? Because glycemic indices are evaluated using a specific number of grams of carbohydrate of the food being tested - so you'd eat lots of cantaloupe, but not much in the way of bananas (which also have a high glycemic index, by the way, along with having a high carb content.)

Personally, I'd worry more about the number of grams of carb in a given serving of fruit, and less about the glycemic index. Need to look up a fruit not in my article? Here's a link to the USDA Nutrient Database, which everyone reading this should bookmark! http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/cgi-bin/nut_search.pl This is a wonderful resource, and one of my favorite examples of Our Tax Dollars At Work.

I personally would be reluctant to eat more than 1-2 servings per day of fruit; I can eat a lot more vegetables for those carbs!

3. What do you think of food combining? Eg. Somersizing, Fit for Life etc.

I haven't tried Somersizing, but then, I don't eat the starches and sugars she allows, so my meals tend to be "properly combined" anyway. I do take exception to her downgrading of some fine foods as "funky" - most notably avocados, which are not only delicious, but highly nutritious - in particular, they're about the best low carb source of potassium.

I will say that I've heard from folks who have done well with the Somersizing approach, and I can't quarrel with success. However, I'm guessing (and that's all it is - a guess) that this has to do with a general reduction of carb intake, rather than any magic from food combining.

As for Fit For Life, I did try it, for about a week, despite being singularly unimpressed by the Diamond's "logic". Did nothing for me except make me hungry.

(What was my problem with their "logic"? Fit For Life asserts that you should eat different foods at different times of day, and that, in particular, you should eat nothing but fruit in the morning, because this is your "cleansing cycle." First of all, your body is processing waste constantly; I'm unaware of any particular time of day that is devoted to this process. Secondly, I kept wondering if my body would know if I flew across time zones, or was working the night shift, or when it was daylight savings time...)

Is there any truth to food combining? I think so. It's certainly true that proteins digest in the stomach, in an acid medium, while carbohydrates digest in the small intestine, in an alkaline medium. This means that eating the two together can trap undigested carbohydrates in your stomach, waiting for proteins to digest - and those carbohydrates can start to ferment in your stomach, leading to indigestion and heartburn. No fun. This is one of the reasons that many people find that reflux clears up on a low carb diet.

However, I am unconvinced that there's something magic about digesting your food thoroughly that causes weight loss. After all, food that isn't digested is passed through without being absorbed by the body. That food we don't digest or absorb will cause weight gain flies in the face of everything I know about nutrition. If this were the case, fiber would be the most fattening food stuff, and we know that this is not the case.

4) What are your favorite Firm videos? I have a bunch - they are the best! Try Traci Long's other videos (same creator as The Firm but more intense - more in the line of slow burn)

I will! That sounds very cool.

My all-time favorite Firm video is an old one - number 3, Interval Training, with Sandahl Bergman ( http://tinyurl.com/f848 ). I have "Maximum Body Shaping - very much focused on weights rather than aerobics - and like it a lot.( http://tinyurl.com/f83z ), and the "Time Crunch" 45 minute workout, also wonderful. ( http://tinyurl.com/f83p )

I was never wild about the Janet Jones Gretzky tape; it was always too light on the weights for me. Conversely, the very first tape, with Susan Harris, is too tough for me to do all the way through. Harris, for those of you who have not seen her, is a delicate looking blonde - who, I swear, was a Marine Drill Instructor in a former life.

I recently purchased the three tape set with "fanny lifter." Sadly, I still cannot do The Firm on anything like a regular basis without setting off the pain in my right leg left over from my car wreck 3 years back. I keep hoping some day I'll be able to go back to it regularly, since I know of no better home workout program.

I haven't tried anything like all of the Firm tapes; I tend to acquire a few and do them in rotation, over and over. But Lowcarbezine! reader and Firm Believer Carol Vandiver wrote me a very comprehensive post about the Firm videos a couple of years back - here's a link: http://tinyurl.com/f858 - scroll down through the issue to find Carol's article.

Folks, if you've been looking askance at The Firm because it's now advertised by infomercial, all I can say is "don't". There simply is no better home fitness product on the market today. Every Firm video I've tried has been well-designed and well-instructed, and offered an excellent workout. The combination of aerobics with weight training that The Firm videos offer is superb for getting you into killer shape in the shortest time possible. The workouts are not easy - we're talking weights, here - but they are simple enough for anyone to follow, and because you can choose lighter or heavier weights, they can be easily adjusted to any level of fitness - and you'll never outgrow them.

If you're serious about getting in shape, it's hard to do better than The Firm.

5) I have 3 kids. What "good carbs" do you recommend that won't create sugar/carb addicts? Luckily they love cheese, fruit, some meat, whole wheat pasta, eggs etc.

I'd go with a few main criteria: Minimal refinement/processing, high fiber content, and modest glycemic index - you'll notice that these tend to go together.

Whole wheat pasta is a perfect example: It's unrefined, minimally processed, and relatively high in fiber - and it has a modest glycemic index. Another similar starch choice would be whole wheat pita bread, which, for some reason we don't yet completely understand, has a much lower glycemic index than whole wheat loaf bread - and most kids think it's sort of cool. A third choice would be brown rice - and if you can combine it with unhulled barley, better yet; barley's glycemic index is far lower than brown rice's. (They'll cook happily together in the same pan.)

What about potatoes? Potatoes are a little trickier. First of all, all potatoes, in every form, have a high glycemic index. Still, if you give the kids minimally processed potatoes, they'll have some vitamins in them, and a bit of fiber, so they're not the worst choice. It's when they're turned into fries, chips, potato sticks, and the worst - instant mashed potatoes - that potatoes become a real problem. If your kids aren't overweight, I don't see why they can't have a baked or boiled potato with dinner.

But the kids like chips! Sure they do, but they like popcorn, too, and it's a better bet. One ounce of popped popcorn contains 22 grams of carb, with 4 grams of fiber. An ounce of potato chips sounds better - 15 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber. But an ounce of potato chips is roughly 15 chips, or 1/8th of a regular size bag, and who ever ate that few? The ounce of popcorn, however, is almost a quart - a far more realistic serving size. Go with the popcorn. Just don't buy microwave popcorn - it's virtually always loaded with hydrogenated fat. Get a popcorn popper, fercryinoutload - you can find them cheap at thrift shops everywhere - buy bulk popcorn, and butter it yourself. You'll save a pile of cash, too.

Sadly, all grocery store crackers of which I'm aware - Ritz, Club, saltines, Triscuits, Wheat Thins, et al, contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, and most are also made from white flour. Can't recommend 'em. However, health food stores carry whole grain, hydrogenate-free crackers. Wasa crackers, available in many grocery stores, are also a good choice, especially since rye has a lower blood sugar impact than wheat. Give the kids some cheese or natural peanut butter and low sugar preserves to eat with those crackers, and they should be content.

I'm sorry to have to tell you that all cold cereal except All-Bran has an immense glycemic index; the stuff is sugar-shock in a box. It's also wildy expensive, of course. If the kids want cold cereal, consider making a big batch of homemade granola on the weekend. Making granola is easy - you just assemble the ingredients and toast it lightly in the oven; it should take you a big ten minutes hands-on time. There's a recipe for high protein, relatively low carb granola in 500 Low-Carb Recipes, but you'll also find granola recipes in many "health food" cookbooks. Decrease the grain a bit, add extra nuts and seeds, and substitute Splenda for at least part of the sugar or honey, and you'll be well on your way to a better cereal than any you can buy. Stir in some protein powder, too, if you like - it'll keep the kids full longer!

I'd let the kids eat fruit pretty much with impunity, again, assuming there's no weight problem. Beats the heck out of candy bars and cookies. Avoid "fruit roll ups," "fruit leather" and the like, even if it's the no-sugar-added stuff from the health food store - maybe as an occasional treat, but this stuff is concentrated, and it's easy to get a lot of sugar this way. Even natural sugar is sugar, as you know. I'd skip dried fruit, too, for the same reason - one of those little snack boxes of raisins represents an entire bunch of grapes! (And grapes are a high impact fruit!) No, whole fruit with all the water and fiber still in it is best, because the bulk naturally limits what they'll eat.

What about "real" sweets? Here, fat and protein are your friends. Avoid all candy that's pretty much solid sugar - jelly beans, Skittles, Twizzlers, gummis, that sort of thing. Chocolate covered nuts are about the easiest on blood sugar of all the candies, because of the protein and fat - this includes peanut M&Ms, by the way. Personally, though, I'd probably give a kid the sugar free stuff - so long as I could count on said kid not to overindulge and end up with a belly-ache! All cookies have a high blood sugar impact, but oatmeal cookies are somewhat better than stuff like chocolate chips and sandwich cookies, apparently because of the fiber.

The true diamond on the list is super-premium ice cream - Hagen Daaz and the like - which has a relatively low glycemic index, again because of the fat and protein content. Still, the sugar free ice cream, ice pops, and fudge bars are virtually indistinguishable from the sugary kind. I'd probably go with sugar free.

I'd stay away from the commercial yogurts marketed to kids - "Go-gurt" and the junk with sprinkles to mix in and such. "Health food"? I think not. Buy plain yogurt (or make it yourself,) and stir in a few mashed berries and some sweetener, or some low-sugar preserves. Vanilla or lemon extract plus sweetener also makes for very tasty yogurt. Takes roughly 30 seconds to put this together.

One last carb you should let them have: Milk. Milk has 12 grams of carb per cup, but it's all in the form of lactose, which has a very low glycemic index. And of course milk is a superb source of calcium, and a good source of high quality protein. They want chocolate milk? Can you talk them into drinking sugar-free chocolate protein shakes, instead? Healthier than chocolate milk - all that extra protein! Still, even sugar-sweetened chocolate milk is far, far better for them than soda pop, though I'd still limit it.

Hope this helps!

One final thought: I can't claim to be any sort of authority on child-rearing, being childless myself and all. Still, I've heard from friends with kids that the number of things a child will "just die" without drops dramatically when they learn that they're expected to pay for the stuff themselves. Accordingly, if I do have kids (working on it!) I will not ban sugar/junk food outright. Instead, my policy will be "Not in my house, not with my money." If they want to buy a candy bar or a can of soda with their money while their out of the house, there's little that can be done to prevent it. But I will draw a very hard line on the issue of spending my hard earned cash on rubbish that will make them unwell and ill-behaved, not to mention racking up dental bills.

6) We love ethnic food but every country in the world seems to combine grains with their vegies or meat. Any suggestions for Mexican, Italian, Chinese etc.?

Sure! It's a rare restaurant where I can't find something to eat without carbing out. Be very honest with yourself, though - it's pretty common for people to think, "Oh, I'm at a restaurant, it's a special occasion - I'll just go ahead and have whatever I like." Fine if you've planned ahead for an Indulgence, and it's truly a special occasion - birthday, anniversary, day-you're-dropping-$100-per-head-at-a-three-star-joint, whatever. But most Americans now eat out at least once a week; having an Indulgence that often is a bad idea.

When I eat at a Mexican place, my most frequent pick is either steak or chicken fajitas, with extra guacamole (I love guacamole!) I simply pile the guac, sour cream, and pico de gallo on top of the skillet of fajitas, and eat the whole thing with a fork. Depending on the restaurant, I might also have Puntas de Filete ( bits of beef fillet - these come cooked a variety of ways), or steak done Mexican style (look for the work "bistec"). My favorite local Mexican place (El Torre, here in Bloomington, Indiana) also does a wonderful dish of pork stewed with zucchini and tomatoes. Another good choice can be the taco salad - if you can trust yourself not to eat the taco shell. Sometimes these have refried beans; I've never had trouble getting a restaurant to hold the beans and replace it with extra meat or chicken.

(Confession: On those rare occasions that I find a Mexican restaurant that serves Chicken Mole, I declare an existing state of Indulgence. I adore Chicken Mole, and it's very hard to find in Indiana. This is not a huge indulgence - not like, say, eating a huge platter of spaghetti - but the sauce generally has ground tortillas in it as a thickener.)

Most Italian places will have some sort of meat or poultry in an acceptable sauce - veal or chicken piccata (cooked with lemon, white wine and capers), chicken Marsala (the Marsala is a sweet wine, but there's not likely to be enough to truly mess you up), something in Alfredo sauce, or the like.

Italian places also often have good fish and seafood dishes - Scampi (shrimp with lots of butter, olive oil, and garlic) is a low carb Italian classic.

Furthermore, if an Italian restaurant has a good antipasto platter, that can practically serve as a meal in itself! And Italian restaurants virtually always have good salads.

At Chinese places, you can always eat your food without the rice. You'll also want to avoid dishes where the meat, chicken, or fish is breaded and fried - sweet and sour dishes, for instance. But then, you'd want to pass up sweet and sour anyway because of the sugar in the sauce. In general, stick to meat, chicken, or shrimp stir fried with veggies of one kind or another. Hot and sour soup and/or egg drop soup are also pretty good choices, as is Eggs Fu Yong.

That being said, I've come to generally avoid Chinese food. I'm almost always a little bloated the day after eating it, even with no rice. It seems that - at least in their American incarnations - virtually all Chinese dishes have corn starch and sugar in the sauces. Since I'm a good and enthusiastic cook, if I find myself craving Chinese, I'm likely to cook something myself, instead of going out.

I hope this has helped. I've found myself very interested in this subject, so I'll tell you what: Next issue, I'll do an article where I link to really-truly menus that I find online, and we'll go through them, looking at what we can eat in various restaurants. Should be fun!

Thanks, Jane, for a great bunch of useful questions!!

Posted by HoldTheToast at 07:50 PM