Carbs are my ultimate weakness. I love bread. But also pasta. And potatoes. And who are the people who don’t eat pizza crust? (They’re not to be trusted.)
I wondered if breaking up with bread and other carbs in the evening could help get my scale going in the right direction. Here’s what went down.
At first, I was going to put off the challenge until after I got home from a vacation in Aruba. But then I realized it would actually be easy to start it on an island where fresh seafood is abundant. The chef at Hilton Aruba serves a special at dinner: grouper ceviche in a hollowed out, edible cacti. I skip the toasted plantain chips because I think they count as a carb and don’t want to take my eyes off the sunset long enough to Google it. This is going to be easy, I think.
This is no longer easy. I’ve got a tight connection in the Boston airport headed home to Denver, and basically my terminal options are pizza, wraps, and hamburgers. I go with option c, and eat it with a lettuce bun. Our flight home to Denver is more than four hours (thanks to a bizarre late-May snowstorm) and all of the free, in-flight snack options are carbs (chips, cookies, crackers). My stomach is growling because it’s either mad I ate a greasy hamburger or mad I only ate half of it and am still hungry. I know it’s probably too soon to feel any major differences from skipping out on carbs, but I feel more bloated than ever after traveling, and doing it with Aunt Flo in tow. Note to self: Travel with healthy snacks in the future.
Back to life, back to reality. My refrigerator is basically just storing condiments after being out of town, so I hit up Panera, get a summer salad with fruit, and grilled chicken, and order it with an apple on the side instead of their crusty bread. I play in a basketball league and we have a game tonight. It’s three on three, full court and, confession, I need extra time at the foul line to catch my breath. I’m hangry after the game, and feel totally justified learning that cutting carbs can, indeed, play with your emotions. I usually snack on a banana smothered in almond butter. But since bananas are notoriously higher in carbs than other fruits, I make a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home and have a bowl of mixed berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.
I go actual grocery shopping and stock up on lean proteins and veggies to power through the next week and a half. I cook almost exclusively from the Skinnytaste website because the recipes always turn out great. This time, I scour the site for low-carb recipes.
I almost always have a hearty, crusty loaf of bread that I eat with soups or salads, but do not pass go, do not collect my bread at the grocery store because that would just be too tempting to have on my countertop at night. For dinner, I make a sheet-pan meal with chicken and a rainbow of veggies (like bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms) that were tossed in balsamic vinegar. This is a meal I’ve got on heavy rotation because it’s super-easy to make. I have a key lime yogurt for dessert, which, had I been on the carb train still, would have crumbled graham crackers on.
I wake up and feel lighter and my face no longer looks like I just got my wisdom teeth removed. I’m guessing this is mostly because I’m off my cycle, but I’m wondering if shunning carbs helped accelerate the de-bloat. I have a date tonight with a guy who takes Instagram live videos of his Crossfit workouts and eats chicken breasts and grapes every night for dinner except for on his one cheat day when he indulges in pizza and a doughnut, a.k.a. all the carbs. He invites me along for his ritual. I think about going, but don’t want to just observe his process while trying to find something low-carb in a pizza shop. He seems super set on the whole pizza and doughnut thing. So, instead, I decide to just meet up with him at the movies. I make dinner at home: salad with a pear-champagne vinaigrette, gorgonzola, baked pear, and toasted pecans.
I eat leftovers from the chicken-and-veggie sheet-pan meal I made the other night. My intense carby carvings seem to have settled down some. I limit getting on the scale to once a week, and I try to do it at the same time each week. I’m down exactly one pound. Woo-hoo.
I’m a big believer in Taco Tuesday. So, I get creative and slice my zucchinis in half and use them as a vehicle for taco toppings, rather than a fried tortilla. I toast the zucchini boats in the oven for just a little bit and load them with ground turkey, onions, beans, and some melted cheese.
I remember during a meal-prepping stint a few weeks back that I made a foil packet meal with shrimp, thinly sliced andouille sausage, corn, and bell peppers that’s in the freezer. I defrost the meal and have it for dinner. Usually, I love to use a piece of bread to sop up the cajun sauce. But tonight I don’t. I don’t notice any changes in my energy levels, but feel lighter.
My girlfriend and I meet up for dinner at an Italian restaurant. I feel like this is my ultimate challenge. The bread basket and nearby oil and vinegar are tempting AF. Instead of the lasagna I usually order here, I get the tomato soup and a caesar salad sans croutons and indulge in a dulce de leche gelato for dessert.
I pick up some shrimp from the grocery store and make a homemade ceviche. I usually like to have chips on deck to dip into the ceviche. Instead, I end up pairing it with some arugula for a makeshift salad, and surprisingly, it’s delish. A girlfriend comes over for dinner and we end up enjoying some wine and the ceviche. (Learn how bone broth can help you lose weight with Women’s Health’s Bone Broth Diet.)
I have a first date with a guy I met on Tinder and he suggests meeting for breakfast. Yaaas. This will be much easier to negotiate than a night dedicated to pizza and doughnuts. I get my carb fix in the form of toast drenched in butter alongside a veggie omelet and Bloody Mary. That night, I still have more shrimp so I make a one-pan meal with the shrimp as well as broccoli and tomatoes.
Finally, Denver weather is playing nice (enough). I uncover my grill that was covered in snow just a week or so ago and make a pesto with the herbs from my indoor garden. I coat chicken in the pesto and put it on a skewer with cherry tomatoes that blister to perfection on the grill.
It’s Memorial Day weekend and I’m visiting my mom. We’re grilling, and I rush her to finish the hamburgers and hot dogs before 5 p.m. (my carb cut-off time). Hot dogs are a guilty pleasure, and I don’t want none unless its got buns, hun. I indulge in a hot dog, corn and tomato salad with basil, and a fruit salad at 4:45 p.m. Admittedly, this was cheating because our late-afternoon barbecue was my dinner.
I step on the scale and am down 1.4 more pounds. I’ll take it.
I make my favorite tomato salad to take to a picnic. It’s a mix of heirloom tomatoes, celery, mozzarella cheese tossed in red wine vinegar and olive oil. I top it with the basil that’s growing out of control in my mini-garden. This is my contribution to the barbecue. I pair it with barbecue chicken because I think I’m hot-dogged out.
In all, I lost 2.5 pounds in two weeks without changing much else in my routine aside from cutting out carbs (mostly in the form of refined carbs) at night.
My takeaway: By eliminating carbs, I scaled back on unnecessary calories. The chunk of bread I usually eat with a salad or dunk in my soup doesn’t got a long way when it comes to adding nutritional value to a meal or filling me up, but it quickly tacks on an extra 200 calories. Plus, carbs can hold their weight and then some in water, so it’s possible I lost some water weight here.
And, bonus, since I cook a majority of my meals at home, I almost always have leftovers from dinner that I eat for lunch. So by not eating carbs at night, I wasn’t really eating them for lunch either.
I also think when we make one change in our diet, it causes us to be more aware of what we’re eating. I already track what I eat as a part of Weight Watchers, but knowing that I’d have to share it with my editors added another layer of accountability.
I actually think I’ll continue the no carbs at night for a few more weeks to see how it goes.