Combining Sense and Soul
St. Patty's Day Feast
The Story of St. Patrick's Day
Low Carb Kitchen Hints & Tips
Change: The Essence of Life
Interview: Jonny Bowden
Quashing the Weather Excuse
St. Paddy's Day Chuckles!
Getting Back to Basics
Make It Low Carb!
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"Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way.
Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be."
— Marsha Petrie Sue
Sometimes after we've been low-carb for a long time, we stray a bit... sometimes a lot. For others, they're new to the plan and
not so sure of what the core of low carbing really means. No matter what, it's always a good idea to get a firm grasp on how you
should live your plan... day to day. So let's go over some of the important basics:
1 — Decide On A Plan and Follow It:
For many, the most basic plans to begin with are Atkins, South Beach, or Protein Power. But don't begin this with an attitude of
"I'm going to low-carb. Now someone tell me how many carbs I can have..." We see a lot of letters like this... as well as those
asking us to send them "a list of all foods they can have and all foods they can't have."
If you're a seasoned low-carber, you know this is not a task we could undertake. It would require listing every food known
to man and trying to separate them into "yes" and "no" groups.
Read your plan (get the books!) and follow. Once you understand the guiding principles behind them, you'll know what to look
for on food labels, what to avoid, and how to plan your meals.
And remember, everyone's different, so while your friend, sister, mother, or coworker might be able to lose easily at 45 carb grams
a day, you might need to keep yours below 25. Your plan will guide you to find what's right for you.
2 — Remove Temptation:
If at all possible, get the temptations out of your house. Unless you have no choice but to keep high carb foods on hand,
do your best to rid your refrigerator and cabinets of those foods that could be your undoing.
Some of you will have a spouse, roommate, or child that will not go along with this. If that's the case, at least fight to
remove those things that are your personal "trigger" foods (what you usually turn to when you stress-eat, or when you
generally lose your way on diets.
Your biggest removal target is sugar. It will be hard to make a case that your child NEEDS refined white sugar, so
this can probably be dealt with.
Remember, when you have moments of weakness — and you will — it's much harder to "give in" to a Sara Lea
layer cake if you have to go purchase one, than it is if it's sitting in your fridge looking at you.
3 — Keep Low Carb Foods On Hand:
As important as removing the tempting high carb foods from your home, is stocking your kitchen with low-carb SAFE
foods. And as you begin, spend a little extra and go for those things you really LOVE. Perhaps you adore chilled
jumbo shrimp. Or cracked crab. Or filet mignon. Treat yourself to those. And keep plenty of fresh low-carb
veggies on hand too. Remember, this is a LOW carb diet; not a NO carb diet. You'll want (if you enjoy them) to have
big crisp, cool salads when you wish. And make them special with strips of ham, turkey, or chicken. Add some crisp
bacon. Perhaps some diced hard boiled egg. Even toasted almonds. Choose Ranch, Bleu Cheese, or Italian dressings to
start and pick ones that don't list "high fructose corn syrup" on the labels. Your chosen dressing should have no more
than 3 carbs per serving (and preferably less.)
Think about keeping chicken salad, tuna salad, ham salad, and egg salads on hand and ready to eat. (Be careful of
commercial and deli versions of these as they often contain sugars and fillers.) Make up batches of cheese chips. (Here's
a quick "reprint" of the method for making them):
Take the square slices of Kraft Swiss Cheese (the ones that are "real" swiss — (See reference photo) — and cut or tear each in quarters. I take a round of parchment paper and arrange the cheese squares in a circle about 1 1/2 inches from the edge of the paper - using 6 little squares in all. In my microwave, exactly 2 minutes makes these perfectly crisp and lacy, about the size of a large potato chip (they become round) and no browning or hot spots at all. I do a large batch of
them and place them in a Ziploc bag. They become my "potato chips" for the week and are great with Dean's French Onion Dip (or any LC
dip!) I also did a batch by sprinkling Coney Island Chili seasonings on before microwaving, and they came out just like Chili Cheese Chips! A bag of these are great to take to a movie.
Do NOT try to make these on waxed paper. They'll make a terrible mess. Parchment works best, but I've been told the shiny side of
commercial freezer paper (deli/butcher shop type) works well too.
Basically, keep a bounty of very low-carb favorites nearby so you're never tempted to reach for something questionable.
4 — Drink Your Water:
Whatever plan you choose, water is of great importance. Drinking enough water is the easiest thing you can do to lose excess fat.
Drinking water is not just to make your mouth feel less dry. In fact, if
you wait until you're thirsty, your body is already dehydrated because
your salivary glands are the last resort for getting hydration to your
cells. Water is what causes your body to function efficiently.
Water helps your liver convert fat into usable energy. If you don't drink
enough water, your kidneys are overwhelmed with concentrated fluids, and
they make your liver do extra work. Your liver works hard to turn your body
fat into energy you use, and if it has to do the kidney's work, then you
hold onto the extra fat that would have been burned if you'd simply had
enough water. And what's worse is that instead of excreting water and
waste products, you reabsorb used water to reuse again. This is what
causes water retention and bloating.
You need at least 8 cups of water a day, but we strongly recommend 10-12.
If you exercise or live in a dry climate, add 2 more cups, and if you're
more than 25% overweight, drink 1 to 2 extra cups. Overweight people have
higher metabolic requirements, more waste products to flush out, and it
helps keep extra skin from sagging after the fat is gone.
5 — Plan Ahead:
We all have days where the usual routine can't be adhered to. Perhaps an "average" day for you is breakfast at home, a packed
lunch at work, and dinner at home. But what if your day calls for you to attend an office party or luncheon where a pre-arranged
menu will be served? Or you're attending a Wedding reception? Or a holiday party? The key to survival in these situations is
planning ahead. Wherever possible, the host needs to understand your dietary restrictions. Don't feel shy or embarrassed about
expressing them. Anyone that could not tolerate peanuts, or eggs, or gluten, or wheat would not hesitate to say so. So be
assertive yet friendly and warm and you'll see how quickly people will want to be sensitive to your needs. Offer to bring something.
A low-carb dish or two that even non-lowcarbers would want can be very welcome (especially since most functions inspire other
attendees to bring desserts!) Bring a salad, or a plate of deli meats. Bring deviled eggs. Bring a relish tray, or some seafood.
If it's not the sort of function that people can bring dishes to, you have two options — pick and chose what you eat and don't be
shy about avoiding what's off your list. Or eat ahead of time and simply attend for the social value. If you must, take some food
and move it around your plate a bit. It can work wonders to appear you're nibbling. Just remember to plan. Being unprepared when a
situation arises is the number one reason people fail.
6 — Be Good To Yourself:
It's all about perception. Always remind yourself that you deserve this great treatment, rather than focusing on what you've
"given up" and feeling you're being punished. When you do well, reward yourself with something a slimmer you would have or would
do. A trip, some new clothes, jewelry, a concert, a movie. Just never let the reward be food of any sort.
7 — Avoid Toxic Relationships:
If someone in your life fails to support your new choices and indeed attempts to sabotage you, they are not what you need to succeed.
Attempts to sabotage one's dieting efforts (and this is true no matter
what the diet) are surprisingly common and more often come from loved
ones and family members than from friends.
Never let sabotage in any form go unchallenged. It won't go away and feelings
buried only gain momentum. Family get-togethers and parties can be the worst.
The saboteur can rationalize with "it won't hurt, just this one special time..."
8 — Don't Rely Only On "Specialty Foods":
They are a great adjunct to low-carbing and can be very useful in cooking and for occasional snacks, but they cannot and should
not make up the core of your diet. Whatever plan you follow, your diet should be based on good protein rich meats, fish, and fowl;
fresh lowcarb (non starchy) vegetables, and some measure of whole grains or other fibers. Depending on your plan, you might also
include nuts (especially macadamias and almonds), dairy products, and a limited amount of low-sugar fruits (berries, melons,
The "extras" like potato substitutes, low carb breads, etc should be added only after the first two weeks. And remember, they are
extras, not the core of your dietary plan. Some of the specialty items (like bars, candies, etc.) are not tolerated by all. Some
can eat them and still lose, but they can be stall-triggers for others. So add them in judiciously, and see if you can handle
them. Do NOT try starting a low-carb plan with eating protein and snack bars, shakes, candies, crackers, etc from the first
day. Get your body used to eating a basic, healthy diet.
9 — Get Support:
Almost any task is more difficult when we go it alone. The ideal course is when best friends, a committed couple, or co-workers undertake this together. The support is there and in person. Tasks like making dishes and trying new recipes can
Don't go this alone.
10 — See #1:
Really. Don't try and do this by reading what you can online. As I just mentioned, there are great tips and support out there. We hope
our site is one of them. But they are no substitute for having your actual plan to refer to. You're worth the $5 for the book. This is
Good luck! A new life awaits you.
Copyright © March 2004 Lora Ruffner and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2004 Neil Beaty and Low Carb Luxury