What's a Low Carb Diet Really Mean?
When I hear low carb to me it means, "low sugar," or "less processed foods." If we'd all make an effort to avoid chips, cookies, cakes, high corn syrup drinks, and candy, then we'd be reducing our overall carbs and eating more healthfully at the same time. There is also no need to avoid foods that are grown and served as close to their natural state as possible such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nor must you avoid brown rice or even pasta.
It's not pasta that makes us fat, it's the creamy sauces and the loaves of bread, desserts, and drinks we have along with our spaghetti. It's the combination and quantity of food, not just one food or category of nutrients. When I hear someone say they eat bacon non-stop but they refuse to eat a baked potato or fresh peeled orange it makes me want to scream. I'm not a nutrition expert (even the experts can't agree at this point), but it does not take a genius to know that bacon is not a better choice over an apple. It just makes sense to eat the foods that grow in our soil first and to avoid the processed versions (think apples versus Apple Jack's cereal).
For a good basic diet overall, eat as much as you like of wholesome, clean foods. Include healthy grains, rice, beans, salads, vegetables, fruits, nuts (in moderation). Use nut and vegetable oils for cooking. Cook at home once in awhile. Stop super sizing. Buy fresh produce when it's available from your local farmers. Buy as close to home as possible, and walk to the store, if you can! What a concept.
Check the Serving Size on Processed Foods
If you want something pre-packaged read the label. How many servings does the label state? If more than one, multiply the numbers if you know you'll eat the whole thing, or if you and your spouse will eat it all, then multiply by servings and divide by two. I've seen candy bars that say they serve 2.8 people! When's the last time you split a candy bar?
I teach people to incorporate healthier eating into their lifestyles, not go on food plans dictated by some book or program which say what you can and cannot eat. Even those who can stay on the plan and do lose substantial amounts of weight, eventually eat something "off plan," which leads to something else and finally to the mental shift, "Well, I'm off that plan. Better eat up!" What did that experience do for that person? Nothing, but probably they'll end up a bit heavier than when they started.
Far better to learn how to eat within your usual lifestyle and create new habits that you then can live with, so even though Sunday is the big family party and you may (probably will) overeat, it won't matter because Monday you'll be back to your usual habits and patterns. That's how people without a weight problem eat whatever they want -- they just usually eat reasonably with the occasional deviation into unhealthy foods and quantities, rather usually eating an unhealthy diet and occasionally dieting like crazy to lose weight before a big event.
If you want a treat, have a treat, and no, it's not a treat if you eat it every day. That's a habit.
Start by Cutting Back Only 500 Calories
Get a reasonable idea of how many calories it requires to maintain your weight, i.e. if you are basically sedentary (get little or no movement regularly) then multiply your body weight by 12. Example, 200 X 12 = 2400. That would mean that if you did nothing but sit in a chair all day, you'd still need 2400 calories just to maintain your body weight! Start by cutting back the calories required to maintain your weight by 500, so our 200 pound fellow would be perfectly fine eating 1900 calories a day. I eat around 2200 calories on average every day (weekends I eat more than weekdays but it averages out to around 2200). I'm active, and I maintain my weight at around 135 pounds which on my 5'7" frame is fine for me.
No matter where you begin, start by cutting back by just 500 calories, instead of trying so valiantly to stick to 1200 calorie eating plans that aren't suitable for a 10-year old child. Remember, your activity increases your calorie requirements, so if you do get out of bed, you'll likely need more calories than your base. Whether you prefer low carb, low fat, low calorie or any combination thereof, just start to reduce what you're eating now, make substitutions where possible and create a healthier diet that fits, then add more daily exercise and you'll reach your goal in no time. Stand up in your chair, sit down. Stand up, sit down. That's exercise. It can be that simple.
So yes, the low carb approach can be right for everyone. We can all adopt the low carb approach when it means eating less processed foods and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of the free e-book: Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com.
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