Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's interesting to me: How I got started in nutrition

My name is Sarah Czipowski, I was born in early 1994, and this is my first post on my low-carb blog.

I'm very passionate and interested in this subject and hope to post often about low-carb diets and why they make sense to me.

I might as well make my first post about how I got started.

When I was about 13 I started to get interested in diet, basically as every teenage girl does. I was a very skinny child and am a normal-sized teenager now (5'10" 145), but as I went about the diet and nutrition world online I kept hearing about how in your 20's or 30's, your metabolism suddenly slows down to a crawl, and suddenly you're overweight and struggling like hell to get the extra fat off. Of course I didn't want this to happen, so off I started into the diet and nutrition world, trying to find and learn good healthy diet and exercise habits to take with me into adulthood to, at least, lessen the impact of the impending "metabolism meltdown."

I've been homeschooled my entire life, so of course in junior high and highschool I began to choose more nutrition-directed elective classes. In one of these homeschools, you get shipped a box with many CDs with videos on them to help you with your studies. Y'know, the ones that look like they were filmed in the 70s with bad acting. One that actually stood out to me was one that, obviously, pushed the mainstream, low-fat, moderate exercise dogma as a healthy lifestyle. It included doctors in white coats, people in a gym, and random clips of people scraping the sauce off of their burgers and peeling the skin from their chicken. One of the characters in the video was a stereotypical grumpy fat gym-teacher in a cap and sweats. When the kids observed his lunch of a cheeseburger, they whipped out a menu and pointed out there were so many grams of fat in that slice of cheese, was it really worth it?

That's when it hit me. No, the fat isn't worth it! What is a slice of cheese compared to having a healthy body? Nothing! So from then on I began to read labels, count calories, avoid foods with high amounts of fat, eat turkey, tomato, and mustard sandwiches with skim milk and lowfat yogurt. I exclaimed to my mom, "Yeah, mom! All of the calories in this mayonnaise come from fat! You might as well spread pure fat on your sandwich!"

And then began my quest-like trek to find the perfect diet, the diet no one could get fat on, the diet I couldn't screw up. I had considered like a bad observational scientist, who was stereotypically thin and considered adopting that diet. Not as a teen living off that my parents shop for, but one I'd embrace once I'd left the nest, lived on my own, and bought my own food. I'd considered vegetarian, vegan, organic, asian.. All of the diets proclaim by low-fat spokesmen to be "the best," "the easiest," and "fool proof." Of course, the only reason why is because people looked at vegans and asians saying "Oh, they're thin, let's just adopt their diet willy nilly."

The only thing I could do as a teen living off my parents' food however, is count my calories, avoid fat, and exercise. I got a nifty little online calorie counter and made sure to count everything. One of the issues with calorie restricted diets is, of course, you end up obsessed with the counting. You write journals, you don't touch snacks you can't count, you research to the T how many calories are in a food.

Something I always noticed if I began my day with a high-carb, starchy breakfast of cereal or toast, was within the hour I'd get the most intense food cravings. It wasn't physical hunger I could feel, but something I almost felt in my head that I wanted food so badly. For me, if I feel stress or cravings or any emotion strongly enough, it seems to become a tingling in my head of some sort, which worsens if I try to control such emotions.

"Aha! This is a test! I'm not physically hungry, but I want to eat! I must show my self control and not eat." I thought. I tried to ignore the feeling, snap a rubber band on my wrist, play a game, read, study, something to get my mind off of food. But eventually, I couldn't take it anymore, I had to cave in. I'd eat a sandwich when I didn't feel physical hunger. And I beat myself up for it. "They're right! People eat too much and have no self control!" At the end of the day, a satisfied tummy ended up being over 2200 calories. "I'm doomed. At 25 I'm going to be a fat girl everyone judges," so thought my shallow teenage brain.

So I kept on trucking, eating high-carb, low-fat foods and feeling the endless cravings, trying to wait until I was physically hungry, and failing. It came to the point one day I hated myself so much for what I did, I went through a phase of starving the fat off. That's another story in and of itself, and thankfully I recovered from my underweight state unscathed, but looking back it scares me how close I was to an eating disorder.

As I continued to look into diets, low-carb wasn't something I'd considered. The only person I knew who was low-carb dieting was my friend's mother, "D." At the time I thought it was some strange, underground, bohemian thing that rebels used, and hence couldn't possibly be healthy. I had no idea how it worked, or why. I just kept taking the skin off my chicken and occasionally eating a burger with no cheese or mayonnaise.

One day on YouTube, the website which is the equivalent of cocaine, I fell across a channel called "fatheadmovie," and saw a few video titles that peaked my interest. "Why you got fat." "Big fat lies." Hmmm.... I watched the videos on the channel, and was, frankly, confused at first. What does blood sugar have to do with your diet? Insulin? I thought that was a medicine for diabetics (d'oh.)

I decided to get the movie. It felt to me like a "Low-carb for dummies" movie. This new perspective on fat and whole grains was strange, new, and exciting for me. I finally understood how it worked, why, and why people did it. Now looking at it biologically, a lot of it made obvious sense.
"Well of COURSE natural foods like eggs and meat contain fat."
"Well, of COURSE we've been eating these foods for millions of years."
"Well.... of COURSE we've only eaten bread for a small fraction of that time."
"Well....... of COURSE omnivorous mammals don't eat grain."
"Well........... of COURSE livestock are fed grain to get fatter."
Wait a minute. Hold the phone. Rewind. Hormones and body functions and our brain are dependent on fat? This guy lost shit-tons of weight eating mostly protein and fat? All carbohydrates are made of sugar? Blood sugar spikes insulin, which in turn stores fat fervently and causes hunger? Grain spikes blood sugar as much as, or worse than sugar does? The first fat-heart disease association study was skewed? A few random people in the government who liked low-fat diets decided to put out eating guidelines for everyone BEFORE substantial evidence was published? Research scientists who aren't pro-low-fat can lose their salary and their jobs? Half of heart attack victims have normal or low cholesterol? Saturated fat makes good cholesterol, and carbs make bad cholesterol?
.... What the hell, man.

And interviews, podcasts, books and blogs later, here I am now.
... The end.


  1. So proud of you, Sarah! NEVER STOP LEARNING!!!

  2. interesting.. just about ALL of it enlightened me, the small bits that didint was things i allready knew