Cinshad, from Michigan, is 39, has been married for 21 years. She is the mother of four children. Cinshad has been low carbing for a year, and recently reached her goal weight of 145. In fact she has dipped below her goal weight and now weighs 138!! That is 35% of me gone through low carbing!” she declares proudly.
Cinshad began with the Atkins program for two months, then switched over to the GO-Diet and lost about a pound a week. “Since I eat Middle Eastern food, it is the low carb plan that fits me best,” she told me.
The GO-Diet stresses much higher fiber (25 + grams a day), about 5 servings of low starch vegetables, one serving of fruit, and probiotics (yogurt, kefir, and buttermilk), which actually have fewer carbohydrates than the labels report because the milk sugars are turned into lactic acids by the active bacteria in them.
The GO-Diet also stresses the ‘good fats’. “You are allowed up to 1/2 cup of berries, rhubarb, melon, kiwi fruit,” Cinshad told me, “up to 1/2 of a small low-sugar, tart apple or pear. You could have a few other fruits, but I would still be cautious about very high sugar fruits like bananas and dried fruits. But basically, if you stay under 15 grams of net carbs (subtracting the fiber) per meal or snack, you are fine. That would be an awfully small serving of bananas!”
Cinshad has been overweight since she tore the cartilage in her knee as a child, but could maintain a ‘good weight’ by dieting until she had children.
“I did try the T-factor diet, which counts fat grams, and lost about 30 pounds,” she told me. “Then no more and I rapidly put on that 30 plus another 30 while still maintaining a low fat diet. I just thought I was not meant to ever be a normal weight and had stopped dieting after trying a low fat for a couple of years,” Cinshad added. ” I did not feel good and was always hungry and tired and still could not exercise! I really had just given up. My highest weight was 245, but then, finally, just eating what ever I wanted, I settled in at 215 for a couple of years. I really had resigned myself to be that weight for the rest of my life.”
Cinshad was waiting in the pharmacy for a prescription and found Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. For ‘some reason’ she bought it. “I read it and said I would give it a whirl.” she explained. “I had no expectations, really, but after induction, losing 12 pounds, and never being hungry, I was hooked. I still had nagging doubts as to the long term health affects, so I continued to read any low carb book I could get my hands on. I read Protein Power, Sugar Busters, The Schwarzbein Principle, Somersizing, The Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet, and both editions of Dr. Atkins New Diet Revolution. I probably learned the most from the Protein Power books.”
It was at that point that Cinshad was really convinced that low carb was the way for her. “They all reinforced each other,” she said, “and made my commitment to lifelong low carbing solid. I will ever be grateful to Dr. Atkins for paving the way.”
Cinshad began her low carb journey with the Atkins program. “I really pigged out on Induction to stay legal,” she admitted. “I still lost 12 pounds, and was totally amazed! I did get into a deep ketosis. I felt bad during the carbohydrate withdrawal, but was not hungry. I had headaches and took Tylenol. Around day 5 , I felt much better. I now (while on the GO-Diet) hang around in trace ketosis. I would suggest anyone really start with the Atkins Induction. It just puts you into the benefits of ketosis more easily and stronger than anything. Even now, occasionally, I binge on legals. But it is very infrequent. It gets easier.”
Cinshad would stall occasionally and finally found the Internet low carb bulletin boards, which were great helping her stick with her program through the stalls. “I ran into the GO-Diet site and a light went off, it was THE low carb program that I could live with permanently,” she told me. “It stresses low carb, high fiber, high monounsaturated fats, high and colorful veggies and fruits, and of course probiotics like kefir, yogurt, and buttermilk. I eat yogurt daily and stay in ketosis. Yogurt/berry/flaxseed smoothies are my choice for a snack or shake. Frozen yogurt anyone?”
“I am one of the few low carbers who does not eat pork skins,” she chuckled. “I also can only eat fish with scales, as it is the only meat that I will eat that is not Islamically slaughtered. (No one has to slaughter fish.)” There is not much fast food or restaurant food that is legal for Cinshad as a low carber. For example, the only thing she could ever have at McDonalds is the filet of fish sandwich, which is loaded with carbs, or the garden salad. “I make much better salads at home,” she told me. “I love to make jerky, but the family eats it as fast as I can make it. I cook Arabic foods, mostly, of course, but many dishes are low carb, if you avoid the rice and flat bread. The kids like American food best, so I am used to cooking many different foods for each meal. I will only eat the low carb stuff. It is the best anyway, although I do love taco salads.”
I had to ask Cinshad to share some of the low carb meals she does prepare. She was happy to tell me. “Some of our low carb friendly foods, I am sure you would not like, such as last week we had sheep brains. Or chicken livers? Or kebbeh, which is a raw lean meat like steak tartar, I would guess. We do mix it with a bit of cracked wheat, and a good mixture of ground spices and serve with olive oil. We make taboulleh with very little cracked wheat, not like I have seen in Americanized recipes, where they ask for a ton of it and also soak it…no, never. We just sprinkle in a small amount right before we serve. Now, I will take some before I add the cracked wheat and add a bit of ground almond, or TVP (textured vegetable protein). Most of our stews are low carb; I had green bean stew a day ago, but served mine on spaghetti squash and the rest of the family had rice and bread. If I do miss bread, I will use a romaine lettuce or a piece of a La Tortilla Factory tortilla, but that is not too often. I bought a case when I started, and still have some in the freezer.”
Cinshad lives in an area of Michigan where there are easily available Islamic meat markets, as they have the largest Arabic population outside the Middle East. For religious reasons, many Muslims will eat only meat slaughtered by other Muslims in the specifically prescribed way. Some will eat any non-pork meat from any grocery store if they bless it. Their choice would reflect the mosque which the Muslim belongs to.
“I do make my own sausage with halal meat, which is similar to kosher meat for Jews,” Cinshad continued. “I use whatever spices I am in the mood for. Usually I include salt, pepper, sage, hot pepper, etc. We have Arabic sausages which would have completely different spices, and we can get casings from Islamically slaughtered animals if we need to make links instead of loose sausage. I will also add Splenda and a little bit of sugar free Splenda-sweetened pancake syrup, or a bit of liquid smoke, or just a spoon of regular dark molasses sometimes for a different flavor. There are some good old-fashioned sausage recipes in old cookbooks. We have not always bought our foods already made, you know,” she laughed. “I make lots of beef jerky so I can have halal jerky, too. (The kids love it!) I am making a corned beef that I have had in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks ‘corning’ for dinner for me today with cabbage and one carrot (I am in maintenance), and for the rest of the family I am making kafta and potatoes and baked tomatoes served over rice. I am the only low carber in a large family. But my point is, that if I want something, and can’t find it, I make it. I’ve been cooking for quite a while,” she smiled.
“I love to hear of more Muslims going low carb. Luckily for me, we now have such a large selection here, including halal hot-dogs, bologna, turkey breasts and growing each year. Years ago, we had to go and slaughter our own meat here, but now we have many Muslim grocery and meat stores.”
“Muslims around the world perform an obligatory fast for the month of Ramadan, in which they must abstain from food, water, (and sex and smoking, too, if you do those) from dawn (predawn, actually) until after sunset. This is the easiest Ramadan I have ever experienced! Ketosis really makes for no hunger or cravings.” Cinshad exclaimed. “When Ramadan is in the summer, it really gets harder with the hot, long days.”
Cinshad has sometimes had stalls for up to two months. “They eventually break, “she told me philosophically. I just kept reading up on low carbing, and use every tool I can find to stick with the program. It is a way of eating, and must be workable in our lives. For me, the Go-Diet most closely fit my needs. But not every day is the same so ‘mostly’ I follow the GO-Diet. Some days, it would probably be considered more Atkins than GO. I don’t count anything, and very seldom cheat. If I do, I just hop right back on the program.”
“I do not use ketosticks regularly, but usually show a sight pink reading. I only use them now when I doubt I am still in ketosis. I will do an occasional cheat CAD style, but only at a wedding or special occasion. I did start exercising for New Year’s resolution, and am getting much stronger and fitter. It works if you stick it out and don’t go crazy and start tweaking and worrying every time you stall. It is just part of losing to stall. Time cures most stalls.”
Cinshad enjoys low carbing and found she felt good and did not have to count calories or even carbs very often. “For me, low carbing is a wonderful journey and learning experience,” she said. “I really learned so much. I used ketosticks now and then, even though the GO-Diet doctors don’t suggest that, but I used them to aim for the lightest level of ketosis I could maintain and still lose. That also helped me not have to count each carb. I knew I was all right if still in ketosis. It worked for me, as I hate to count stuff. I lost weight and felt very good. I don’t have to take medication any more for my joint pains. I have also started exercising and getting stronger each day. Low carbing works and I did make my goal of 145, which was my pre-pregnancy, high school weight. I am now lower yet, and have not seen such a weight in over two decades.”
“However,” she added, “my dang shoe size went down a size and a half! Now that is going to get expensive! I do want to note that I do not have to buy new clothes as I lose weight because I wear the modest dress and scarf of a Muslim woman. I guess my clothes don’t have as much of a person to cover and are hanging a bit longer, because I did have a problem with salt stains on the hems of my clothes because they were dragging in the slush this winter! I will either have to hem them or perhaps reward myself with a couple of new dresses. It’s not like they are going to become too small, right?” Cinshad laughed. “I love trying on clothes now, and am always shocked that they fit – even some size 10’s! But I have yet to buy anything. I’m getting picky, I guess, or I want something special.”
“I was at Sears recently, and although I don’t wear jeans, I did want to know what my size is now. I went to the woman’s department and took out a 20, 18 and size 16. I tried each on and they were all too big! I asked the sales girl where to find a size to fit me and she said, ‘You have to go to the regular department.’ That really made my day! I did not go looking, but it is really neat. The last pants that I did buy were knit for under my modest Islamic dress in cold weather and they were a 24!”
“My husband recently said, ‘You really look skinny tonight.’ Can you believe it?!? He has never said anything about my weight on the way up or down, so that was a shocker!”
“I hear that 95% of people who lose weight gain it back (and more). I have faith that I will be in the 5% who maintain, as I have the ability to stay a low carber for life.” Cinshad thinks of high carb junk foods as just decorations and doesn’t even consider them edible any longer. “I don’t even crave them, which is such a surprise to me after being a low fat enthusiast for a few years. I never had the energy I have now, and am seldom hungry. Giving up white flour, sugar, highly processed ‘foods,’ and even potatoes are a small sacrifice for being thin and feeling the way I feel now. Never again! I really had not even dreamed of being able to painlessly lose weight a year ago. I thought was just destined to be fat. But now I really have faith that I will be a normal weight. My goal is not a number or a date. My goal is being the healthiest me that I am able to be for the rest of my life.”