Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Year's Perspective on Low Carb

The holidays provided a challenge: stay on a low carb diet and jolly at the same time. Tis' the season. Now that the toughest days are over, it is time to gear up for a low carb New Year. Ring in 2010 with a plan to stay on plan. Begin on January
1st, 2010 and continue throughout the year. The results on January 1st of 2011 will be worth the effort.

1. Set your carb limit based on your body, your health, and your beliefs. In the book, Protein Power, Dr. Eades shows you how to calculate the carbs you need for your body to run efficiently. My personal carb limit is 20 a day. If I start to creep over 20, my blood sugar begins to creep up. Some people can handle a little more, and some need less.

2. Make your carbs healthy carbs. Healthy isn't on the back of a cardboard box or plastic wrapper. Healthy is in the vegetable section of your grocer (or better yet, the farmer's market). Healthy comes from the Earth. It isn't altered with chemicals. It isn't man made. Healthy carbs come in the form of low glycemic vegetables and fruit.

3. Create a weekly menu. If you take the time to sit down and plan, chances are you will follow through with your plan. Think through your week. Do you need to take Chris to scouts or ball practice? Does Mindy have ballet? Does hubby have to work late this week? These are the kinds of things you should anticipate while planning. And don't forget to plan for breakfast and lunch. Always have a backup, emergency plan for when things go awry (and they will). Planning a menu will also save you money. When you go grocery shopping you will have a list (and surely you will eat before you go), and stick to your list. Peruse your grocery store fliers (you can do that online these days) to see who has sales on meat. This type of planning is effective cost cutting in a tough economy. It will also save your hips from that emergency candy bar from the vending machine. After you've created several weeks worth of menus, you can cycle through them. Time up front will save you time in the long run.

4. It's time to start back on the exercise plan as well. Fitness centers run lots of specials this time of year, giving you the opportunity to shop around. If you can't afford a gym, pick up an exercise dvd or try Jorge Cruise's 8 Minutes in the Morning (avoid his carby diet plan).

5. Cut the diet sodas and add back water. If you were like me, you probably hit the caffeine harder during the stressful holidays. It's time to dump the diet drinks and pour a glass of ice cold water. It's the Earth's greatest diet drink and it's free (well, sort of).

If you need a little motivation, check out the following books:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Staying on Your Low Carb Plan Over the Holidays

Let's face it - all of those sweets are tempting! Pies, cakes, cookies, candy, and the list goes on. How do we stay on our low carb plan when faced with parties and treats and family get togethers? Plan, plan, plan!

1. Plan your meals. This is the key. Every time I don't get around to planning, we tend to slip up at my house (hubby and I are both diabetic). On Sunday I still down and create a menu for the week. Next I create a grocery list from my plan, and then I eat a healthy, low carb meal. That's right - I eat before I go grocery shopping. This cuts down on impulse buys and helps me to pass up the ladies giving out free samples. Stick to your shopping list. If you must impulsively buy something - make it non food related, perhaps a stocking stuffer.

2. Give it away. I teach school, so of course, I received about five sweets the other morning. Bless their hearts, if only I could eat the scrumptious treats they brought me. I shared the candy with the kids, made little bags for my own kids plus my nieces, and I've put aside some other treats to share with my family on Christmas day. Let the aunts and uncles eat it up! Or wrap it up and take it to a local nursing home. If someone gives you a sweet treat, say thank you, and then pass it along to someone who can eat it (or will eat it regardless). You are taking care of you. Don't blow it over a few pieces of chocolate or banana nut bread.

3. Plan your low carb treats. Counter the sweets by making a few of your own -low carb style. You can find tons of recipes at Low Carb Friends. Search their recipe section for fabulous low carb treats like pumpkin bake and chocolate bark. Save your sanity and your body!

4. Exercise. Hit the gym - now! Everyone is shopping this week. The rest of the world is waiting until after New Years, after they make that resolution. Resolve to beat the crowds. You simply can't spoil a great workout with a piece of pecan pie. It just wouldn't do.

5. Drink your water and take your vitamins. This isn't the time to slip up on the small things. Keep the water glass filled and stay on schedule with your vitamins. You need energy during the busy holiday season. Remember - carbs will shut you down. They will make you feel groggy and tired. Oh sure, you might get a ten minute burst of fake energy, but afterwards, you will need a long winter's nap. You just can't go to sleep and miss Santa! (Isn't he bringing you a Wii Fit Plus Biggest Loser Fitness Bundle (Nintendo Wii) for Christmas?)

6. Get a massage. The holiday season tends to bring stress. All of those crazy relatives, hours bent over Christmas gifts wrapping them up, shopping at the mall... You deserve a massage. You need a massage. Even a 20 minute chair massage can give you new life. Give yourself the gift of relaxation. If you can keep yourself from tensing up, that Godiva chocolate might not look so tempting. You can pass it by and say, "No thank you."

7. Remember the reason. And don't forget the true reason for the season. It's not about gift giving and eating and Santa, it's about the birth of our Saviour. Keep things in perspective and allow Him to give you the strength you need to stay on plan. Keep this Bible verse in your pocket: "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." Philippinas 4:13.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Low Carb Dinner Menu for December 6 - 11, 2009

It's dinner time! I'm going very low carb (VLC) in order to break a stall. Here is the menu:

Sunday - grilled pork chops, steamed sugar snap beans

Monday - talapia, salad

Tuesday - grilled chicken, green beans cooked with bacon

Wednesday - hamburger patties w/cheese and bacon, tomato slices and cucumbers

Thursday - steak, steamed broccoli

Friday - fajitas (Mission Carb Control Wheat tortillias are 4 carbs each. I found them at Kroger.), guacamole salad

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Low Carb Fruit

Fruit is nature's way of providing a healthy, sweet treat. If you must indulge in sugar, then eat a piece of fruit. If you are diabetic, then you need to use caution with fruit. Avoid fruit in the mornings, and never, ever eat it alone. Fruit can spike blood sugar. In fact, you should monitor your blood sugar to determine which fruits your body can handle, and how much.

Dieters beware: fruit turns into sugar when it enters your body. Too much fruit can sabatoge your weight loss efforts (especially if you are insulin resistant). I measure my fruit carefully, and eat no more than 2 servings a day (with lunch and dinner). I also count it within my daily carb limit. I've made a list of fruits, measurements, and their carb content:

1/2 of a small grapefruit: 3.5
1/2 of a small orange 4
1/2 c. blackberries 4
10 small strawberries 5
1 small wedge of cantelope 5
1/2 c. of watermelon 5
1/2 of an extra small apple 6
1 - 1/2 inch slice of pineapple 6
1/2 of a small peach 5

I share my fruit with my husband and children to keep it from going to waste (1/2 an apple). If I notice a spike in my blood sugar or the scale, I cut back on fruit and monitor it carefully. I am not of frame of mind that you can't have fruit on a low carb diet, afterall, fruit is directly from nature, but if you think about it, fruit should not be available to us year round. Due to advances in agriculture we can eat strawberries all year long, but in nature, strawberries have a season. The same can be said about all fruits. An all fruit smoothie is loaded with carbs and calories. Eat your fruit, but eat it sparingly, like a special treat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dinner Menu for November 15 - 20, 2009

Each week I take the time to plan out my dinner menu. This helps me to stay on budget and to think about my week in general. We eat leftovers for lunch.

Sunday - Bacon cheese burgers w/o the bun, grape tomato/cucumber/celery salad (combine a tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil w/a tbsp of Italian seasoning)

Monday - Crockpot BBQ Chicken Breast (KC Masterpiece Low Calorie BBQ sauce is also low in carbs. Add chunks of onion and cook on low.), Low Carb Cole Slaw (bag of coleslaw salad, Hidden Valley Coleslaw dressing, walnuts, 1 small chopped apple)

Tuesday - Fajitas (use low carb tortillias, meat, pice de gallo, and cheese), guacamole salad

Wednesday - Creamy Chicken in the Crockpot (1 pkg. cream of cheese, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, mushrooms if desired, salt and pepper), green beans, tomato wedges

Thursday - Parmesan Pork Tenderloin (mix a pkg. of fresh parmesan cheese w/cumin and black pepper to taste - press mixture on pork tenderloin before baking), grilled vegys

Friday - Cajun butter shrimp (HEB has a great cajun butter), steamed broccoli/carrot (just a few shreds)/bell pepper (dashed with parmesan cheese)

Low Carb for Life

What does it mean to eat low carb?

There are different eating plans followed by low carb dieters. The most popular and well known plan is Atkins. Unfortunately, Atkins out of the medical box thinking got a bad rap, and a reputation for downing bacon and butter. There is certainly nothing wrong with eating bacon and butter, but eating in moderation on any diet is key to weight loss management. And besides, you can eat vegetables on Atkins. That's right - vegetables.

You can try other low carb plans as well. Just to start there is Protein Power, The Zone Diet, Metabolism Miracle, Stillmans, and others. In a nutshell though - low carbing means eating meat, fish, healthy fats (which includes butter), low glycemic index vegetables, and some low glycemic index fruits. That pretty much covers it. Eat what God put on this Earth to eat, and avoid what man has altered, processed, or chemically created. Eat real food - whole food.

Why eat low carb?

In my case, I began eating low carb when my blood sugar jumped up to 464. One day I was an in-denial prediabetic, and the next day I was a full blown diabetic. If you visit the American Diabetes Association website, you will discover they recommend 45-65 carbs per meal. I never bought that idea, so I ate about 20-25 carbs per meal. So did my diabetic, on insulin husband. His numbers jumped all over the place, going high to low on a daily basis. Mine just jumped. And then I couldn't see. I mean really, I couldn't see. I had to wear a pair of reading glasses on top of my regular glasses until I could get my blood sugar under control, and get to an eye doctor for a new prescription. Wearing two pairs of glasses not only made me look foolish, but not being able to see was a major wake up call. Immediately I cut to 20 carbs or less a day (sometimes only 10). It took about two weeks of low carbing (plus Metformin medication) in order to get my blood sugar under control.

Two months later - I can see again. My blood sugar is under control. My husband cut his insulin back 5 times. I am sleeping better. I've lost weight. I have more energy in the afternoon. I have found my new way of eating for life.

What does a low carb menu look like?

Breakfast - Scrambled eggs w/sausage or bacon, 4 strawberries, coffee
Lunch - Grilled chicken salad
Dinner - Steak w/grilled vegetables, salad
Dessert - Sugar free Jello w/a dollop of real whipped cream
Snack - Handfull of walnuts and blackberries
Workout Protein - Jay Robb Protein Shake or a Power Crunch Protein Bar

What about my heart?

This interesting presentation (it's not dry and boring - really) by a Stanford researcher debunks a lot of the myths about low carb dieting, and he didn't even do it on purpose! The results of his research speak for itself.