Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Sweet It Isn't: Part Two

In Part One of this underwhelming series, I explained how I've been eating lately. Along the way I've found plenty of little tricks to keep the low carb thing going without missing out on life. These work for me and might not work for anyone else, but I’ll share.

kale linguica soup
kale linguica soup
Subs. Just Not the Jared Kind. 
Get creative with substitutes. If you can find some healthy alternatives that work for you it will easier to stick with the plan. I tend to try white beans instead of potatoes in recipes like soups. Experiment subs that work for you. A Word of Warning: Anyone tells you that mashed cauliflower tastes just like potatoes is not to be trusted.*

Veggie Love
Seek out yummy ways to prepare vegetables and you'll find they make up more of your diet. I love greens sauted with olive oil and garlic and brussel sprouts punched up with parmesan. Find your veggie happy place and you'll miss the bad carbs less.

Fight Fat With Fat
Fats are not that bad. That doesn't mean bacon should be a daily staple but for the most part meats and cheeses aren't going to make a huge impact on weight loss. You'll stay on course if you’re getting delicious fats instead of trying to go both lean and low carb.

Search Far and Wide
The internet is jam-packed with low carb recipes that are not all horrible. Some call for specialty substitutions like splet flour but many are easy to whip up with what you have on hand. Search around and be brave - some dishes will be great, and others not so much.

buffet brunch
Resist the scones, double up on fruit.
Eat in, Cheat Out
Cheat but be discreet. Terrible advice for a relationship, but helpful when trying to stay healthy in the face of birthday parties, wedding buffets and every major holiday. Plan smart meals for every day but don't deny yourself on special occasions, like the upcoming Thanksgiving food-fest. Just double up on the the turkey and veggies, and take smaller bites of the pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and homemade rolls. 

Sweetness Is My Weakness
Cravings are easier to curb when you end sweet. Find a sugar-free dessert than you like and stick with it. Mine is Greek yogurt, a little peanut butter and some sugar-free Torani chocolate syrup, which tastes more like a Tootsie Roll than actual chocolate but it works for me. Find what works for you.

cauliflower crust pizza
cauliflower crust pizza from
That's a good motto for weight loss, or anything you want to change about your life: Find what works for you. If you can stay skinny and pleasant while eating all the white carbs in the world, keep on rockin'. If you haven’t quite found your groove yet, keep testing new things. Get ideas, experiment, and stick with the stuff that treats you right. For me, it happens to be red wine and cheese. Just hold the crackers.

*Though I will admit I'm in love with this recipe for cauliflower crust pizza

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Friday, November 16, 2012

How Sweet It Isn’t: Part One

I've been changing the way I eat lately. I don’t want to say "diet" because diets never work, at least not long-term and certainly not for me. Also I get to pretend that it’s all about healthy living and not losing weight, which isn't 100% crap but neither is it all that close to the truth. I've kept close track of my weight and managed to lose over 10 pounds, which makes my driver’s license no longer a lie. Not that the number is all that impressive for a woman my height, but I take what I can get.

My eating changes are pretty basic. Carbs are the enemy. Specifically the whites are to be avoided: sugar, flour, potatoes and rice. And sadly, beer. For me, the more carbs and sugars I eat, the hungrier I get. Before I cut these out you did not want to be around me when I missed a meal. I never understood how someone could “just forget to eat” (*sidelong glance at my husband*). Now I see that when you eat in a balanced way your body does not constantly plunge you into mood swing hell. I can actually feel hungry without also having an overwhelming urge to murder someone.

spicy pumpkin seeds
spicy pumpkin seeds
I started by going cold turkey, cutting out not only the whites but all sugars and flours, even fruit and whole wheat. And alcohol. I've tried this method before with limited success. My craving for bread is just too strong and I cave. This time around I made sure I had plenty of low carb snacks to grab instead. Beans tend to knock out the bread craving for me, so I loaded up on hummus and three-bean salads. Instead of focusing just on vegetables, I let dairy, meat and nuts played a big role in my diet. I’m sure I would have lost more weight more quickly if I had laid off the fats, but I was still amazed at how steadily the weight came off. After a few weeks I let fruits and whole grains back into my diet, but kept them a small part of my meals. Alcohol is now exclusively red wine, and not too much of it.

Of course there is everyday eating and party eating. If I’m having dinner at a friend’s house I’m not going to turn down a homemade apple pie or skip eating if she serves pasta. I’ll just have a bit less than I used to, and maybe double up on salad. When I’m out at dive-bar karaoke red wine isn't really an option, so I’ll have a Bud light. This way of eating is really about the trend, so the occasional indulgence isn't a cause for concern. As long as the Halloween candy binge doesn't disrupt the healthier habits, no real harm done.

Coming soon... Part Two: That advice you didn't ask for.