August 12, 2012

Reader Questions & Answers #23

On Sundays, I will answer some readers' questions in a post. If you have a question that you would like me to answer here on the blog, just send me an e-mail with the subject "Q&A", and I may include them in a future Q&A post. They don't have to be about weight loss or running--anything is game!  (Remember, I'm not a doctor or dietician, or any sort of medical professional--I can only answer questions from my own experience).

Q. What is your favorite kind/brand of peanut butter? I am surprised that you have natural and Jif. I used to eat Jif, but now that I get natural (or make my own), I find that Jif is WAY too sweet, plus I don't want the added oil. Have you tried all the other kind of nut and seed butters? I LOVE sunflower seed butter, but I can't keep out of it, so I try to avoid it!

A. I don't think I've ever come across a peanut butter brand that I didn't like! I do have favorites, though. My absolute favorite is the Smucker's Natural Creamy peanut butter. I use this on toast, on oatmeal, and by itself. I buy the Jif (or, more likely, the store brand) peanut butter to always have on hand for making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or for baking. There is a natural brand called Krema that is also really good (my second favorite)--this kind has the same texture as Jif, so if you're new to natural peanut butter, it may be the way to go. (If cost was no issue, I would buy the Krema over the Jif).

I really love the flavored peanut butters, but I have to be really careful about what I have in the house, because I will binge on them. Peanut Butter & Co. makes a White Chocolate Wonderful pb, and it's AMAZING. Hands-down, my favorite flavored pb. I love to top oat bran with it! Their chocolate one is good, and their Cinnamon Raisin one is awesome on Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin bread.

I love almond butter almost as much as peanut butter. My favorite brand of almond butter is Kettle creamy. Maranatha makes a dark chocolate almond spread that is SO GOOD (too good!). I tried Barney Butter, too--you can read about the difference between Barney Butter and Kettle on a post I wrote.

I've also tried cashew butter (yum, but super expensive); sunflower seed butter; Cookie Butter; coconut butter; some sort of peanut butter spread from the Amish; hazelnut butter; and walnut butter. I don't think I've ever disliked one! :)

These were all in my house at one time ;)

Q. I'm a coffee drinker, mostly because I am a busy mom. I work full-time outside the home on top of being a mom. I need my coffee in the morning because I feel like its the only thing that can give me the jolt I need! I used to drink tea and that was fine, but now I guess I need something stronger? What are your reasons for quitting coffee and how did you do it?

A. I quit drinking coffee at the end of October 2011. I had no intentions of quitting it altogether at the time, however. It was a week before I went to NYC to be a guest on The Dr. Oz Show. I was SO NERVOUS about the show. I realized that drinking coffee made me feel even more anxiety, so I decided to quit drinking it until after the show. I wasn't a huge coffee drinker in the first place--I would drink two cups every morning, but I didn't feel like I "needed" it. It was a habit.

But I had a horrible headache for about three days when I stopped drinking it--I didn't realize it at first, but I'm sure it was the caffeine withdrawal that caused the headache. That headache was so bad that I realized I had been addicted to coffee, and I decided that I wasn't going to resume drinking it after the show. I felt a million times better without the coffee (and once my headache went away). My anxiety (on a daily basis, something I struggle with) was much better. 

Ty (a reader) recently sent me a link to an blog post about coffee that I found really interesting. It basically says that your body adapts to the caffeine--so if I was to drink a cup of coffee right now, I would get tons of energy, because my body isn't used to it. But for you, that coffee wouldn't have the same effect. For people that have coffee on a daily basis, it becomes "the norm" in their bodies. But drinking coffee only very occasionally (when you really need a little pick-me-up), that coffee is going to give you more than "normal" energy. Very hard to explain, but here is the link to the post

I also read a very creative way to give up coffee, and it almost made me wish I was still drinking coffee so that I could do it ;)  You can read about that on this blog post. But if you're happy drinking coffee, and it's not negatively impacting your health in any way (like it was with my anxiety) then there probably isn't a reason to quit drinking it, as far as I can see.

Q. I come from a family of over weight people, and then Atkins came out and they all lost a bunch of weight (and most gained it back). My question is this, do you worry about your carb count on a daily basis or just calorie intake? I have had success with low calorie diets in the past, but I think my family has brainwashed me because I keep counting carbs too! 

One of my favorite "carb" meals:
pasta, peas, olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese.
A. I always say that it totally depends on the person, and you should experiment to see how your body is happiest. But that said, I don't give carbs a second thought! I love carbs, and the majority of my calories come from carbs. I had success (obviously) losing weight while eating a lot of carbs. I counted calories and I tried to eat a variety of foods. I also gradually switched over to whole grain carbs--brown rice, whole grain pasta, etc. I've never been a huge fan of meat, so my protein comes from carb sources as well--beans and lentils.

The reason for this is that from the very beginning, I KNEW I would not be happy eating a low-carb diet. I decided this time around to make changes that I was willing to live with forever--and counting carbs, or worrying about carbs, was not a change I was willing to make. So I focused on calories, and foods that made me happy and my body feel good. I knew if I wasn't happy with what I was eating, I was never going to stick it out long enough to lose the weight.

A lot of people have told me "You eat too many carbs", "You don't eat enough protein", "You don't eat enough vegetables" and all the other things they believe are "wrong" about my diet. I'm not perfect! But I eat in a way that makes me happy, and my body feel good. Some people actually feel better eating a lot of protein and few carbs, but I am not one of them. So I think it's best to experiment to see how you feel best, and what works best for you as an individual.


  1. Cool coffee experiment! (and thanks for the link to my blog!)

  2. I am like you...i totally love all nut butters!! I am still on my weight loss journey so the only one i allow myself to have in the house is PB2. I know that if i buy any jar of any kind of nut butter i'll be tempted to binge on it! Someday, when i get to my goal weight (75 down, 25 to go!) i'll try to incorporate my nut butters back in! I miss them but know my limits to my will power! I too decided to only count calories. I am kind of brainwashed from previous diets to limit my carbs but with my running i am trying to get over that cuz i know i need to add carbs for energy.
    You seem to share so many of the same struggles i have, thanks for sharing and letting me know i'm not alone!

  3. We grew up on pasta with peas, with beans, with broccoli, etc... It was an economical, healthy way to feed a lot of people!

  4. Ahh, it makes me feel better to know that you didn't give carbs a second thought. I've been slowly losing weight and wanted to see if I was doing something wrong, so I began reading things online and soon felt like I was effing everything up because I didn't take in x amount of carbs and y amount of protein. Hopefully, just keeping a tighter belt on my calories will help.

  5. I haven't commented on your blog before. I've been reading it for about a month. But just so you know you are such a huge inspiration. I enjoy your posts very much. I started walking, and jogging when I can, 5 weeks ago (I'm on week 6). Doing this and changing some bad eating habits I've lost 12 pounds. I want to drop another 20 and with age it just gets harder. Keep up the wonderful work. I am sure you have inspired countless people :)

  6. It's nice to read that you don't give a second thought about carbs. I'm constantly reading about how too many carbs is bad. I've done low carb and my body reacts well to it and lose a lot of weight, but it's definitely not something I could do forever... I can barely do a week!

  7. People are so quick to judge, aren't they? Your success at losing and keeping the weight off, along with your running, says to me that you have it all figured out. You know how to eat, have enough energy to raise a family, RUN almost daily, and feel good. I don't think there's any question that what and how you eat works for you.
    I have a couple jars of both Biscoff spread (creamy AND smooth versions), and Cookie Butter in my house right now, along with several jars of regular peanut butter, a jar of PB2 and one jar of Better'n Peanut Butter. The one I tend to binge on in the Cookie Butter/Biscoff spread stuff. To me that tastes like candy and I LOVE IT! I try to forget it's in there.
    I love carbs too and never counted them--sticking to calorie counting for my weight loss and maintenance. But since I really LOVE meat too, I can't eat all my calories in carbs--it would just be too much!!
    Keep doing what you're doing Katie!

  8. I've recently fallen in love with Smucker's natural! I've been using it to make banana/pb ice cream or pudding. Never thought I could love another besides Jif ;-)
    I'm also a Carb lover. For me at least cutting out all carbs would never work. I have cut out Kraft Mac &cheese & french fries. Those were two things I ate way too much of & heavily salted. Between better food choices & exercise I've come down 6 lbs this month! I really think all the extra salt had me puffed up.
    Love your blog!

  9. I love all peanut butter too. I think it's all delicious.

  10. I love Peanut Butter & Co, they actually have it here in Japan! I will spread white chocolate wonderful on toast, or put dark chocolate dreams in my protein shake. YUM! :D

  11. I have been following your blog for about a year now and it inspired me to train for my first marathon! Because of your inspiration, I've nominated you for Liebster blog award, you can check out all the info on my blog.

  12. My favorite peanut butter is the organic salted kind at Trader Joe's. The Costco Kirkland organic brand is also awesome and a bit cheaper, too.

  13. Thanks for answering my question, Katie!!!!!:-)


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