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Impact of Corn Prices on a Low-Carb Diet

Posted Oct 11 2012 2:55pm

As GMO corn-containing feed prices continue to rise, ranchers are turning to new and innovative ways to fatten up their cattle. The mad search for alternatives isn’t all that surprising, because the rumors surrounding the potential cost to raise beef these days could result in meat tripling or more in price. That would be bad news for those of us who are on a low-carb diet.

Rising Corn Prices
Affect Low-Carb Diets

(Photo by Don O'Brien )
However, the alternatives that have been publicized lately, such as candy bars, hot cocoa mix, marshmallows and other goodies, isn’t really new. Many ranchers have been doing that for decades, which is one reason why some low carbers have switched to eating grass-fed beef and organic dairy instead. With the drought last winter and the rising demand for ethanol, even dairy farmers are starting to participate in the practice.

If you look closely at the following examples of what they’re feeding the cows:
  • breakfast cereal
  • trail mix
  • dried cranberries
  • orange peels
  • crumbled cookies
  • saltines
  • tapioca flour
  • fish meal
  • peanut butter
  • ice cream sprinkles
  • alternative grains

You can obviously see that these alternative foods mixed in with their normal feed contain a lot of carbs, but they also contain a lot of sugar, starches, wheat, or high-fructose corn syrup . When it comes to HFCS, they aren’t really avoiding the GMO corn issue, they’re just scrounging for a cheaper way of getting it into the cattle.

Low-Carb Diets Saturated With Corn
(Photo by Liz West )
Of greater concern for low-carb dieters is the impact these rising corn prices are going to have on all of our low-carb food choices regardless of what the farmers and ranchers are doing. Most people following a low-carb diet believe they are eating gluten free or grain free, but in reality, they’re not. Why? Because GMO corn is as prevalent among low-carb foods as it is among highly processed, high-carb, refined products.

Corn isn’t just found in cornstarch, cornmeal, and corn on the cob. It’s extremely difficult to avoid unless you raise your own food and cattle. For example, it’s used to wash your eggs and produce, keep your supermarket meats fresh, found in most plastic wrappings and containers, and it’s what sugar-substitutes are made from. That means supermarket prices as a whole are bound to skyrocket, which will make it even more difficult to stick to a low-carb diet in the future.

I had an interesting revelation recently about Dawn dishwashing detergent. I noticed that every time I go into the kitchen and start doing the dishes, my ears begin to swell and I get dizzy. For a long time, I’ve been blaming that reaction on cheese and other foods, but I’ve finally narrowed it down to the Dawn. In fact, I’ve even discovered that it contains an endocrine disruptor, so getting rid of the Dawn has straightened out my blood glucose problems that have been giving me trouble lately as well.

I Get to Eat Cheese Again!
(Photo by Richard North )
For me, that also means I can re-introduce dairy products into my diet. Dairy, but not GMO corn. I still react to genetically modified corn and its derivatives. I’ve been adding dairy products extremely slowly, so that I can monitor my reactions. I’ve also been careful to introduce only a single variable at a time. I’ve been using no store-brand products, and only products that do not have natural flavorings, citric acid, or other obvious corn ingredients on the label.

I about choked when I stopped by my local supermarket this morning and found that traditional cheddar cheese has risen to almost $6 a pound! No wonder my local Walmart didn’t have any, at any price, last week. $12 is what it used to cost to buy a giant-sized five-pound block, but now it only gets you a measly two pounds. When you can buy a family-sized package of tender, center-cut pork chops for the same amount of money, it really starts to put a damper on variability – especially, if you’re like me and are only trying to feed two people.

Broccoli with Cheese Sauce
(Photo by Bordecia34 )
Granted, two pounds of cheese will go quite a ways. It feeds both my husband and I for snacks, and makes cheese sauce for vegetables, but it’s disheartening when I sit back and realize that no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot get our food bill below $125 a week for two adults. And that’s with me eating about 100 carbs per day, and my husband eating all of the carbs he wants. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to eat a traditional low-carb diet when prices are so darn high right now.

I’m sure there must be low-carb tricks I’m missing, and I’m sure that some of that has to do with where we live. Some of it definitely has to do with what my husband eats for snacks and takes to work for his lunch, but still… Low carb, nor not, prices are climbing and I can’t claim that eating is cheaper that health care costs anymore – not when it’s $200 for a simple office visit in my area.

Although we do have insurance now, Cigna isn’t quick to pay, and they’re spending a lot of time trying to find loopholes. Their latest letter regarding an office visit my husband made six months ago to our family physician wanted to know when my husband went to the doctor for this condition last. Say, what? I guess they’re hoping it’s a pre-existing condition. It’s not, which is why this whole mess is so aggravating! They wait six months to ask us that?

At the moment, I don’t have any answers because I recently looked into the Nutritional Ketosis movement, did an Atkins’ Induction that way, and I gained another five pounds as a result!

I know I really need to stop doing that. I need to just let go of a traditional low-carb diet and go back to what works for me, but I was so hopeful that maybe…just maybe…someone had finally stumbled on my problem: too much protein. And that the Dawn dishwashing detergent I’d been using was the real cuprit behind my dieting failures. But I’ve discovered that isn’t it. My body fights back extremely hard when I try to lower my carbs. When I lower my protein, it fights back even harder.

I’m beginning to think that when you come to the low-carb table weighing as much as I did in 2007, that your body will only allow you to lose so much of your fat stores before it wages war against you. I’ve seen this happen in others, and I’ve seen this happen in myself. Going from a size 24 to a size 14 is great. I’m happy and proud of my success, but I still look FAT. I still look pregnant! I guess, I just need to find a way to live with that.
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