November 10, 2008

Making Low Carb a Way of Life

I read a lot of low carb boards and egroups, a lot of blogs, and am always hearing the same advice: Low Carb isn't a diet; its a way of life. It seems to me though, that while it sounds like a good idea, very few ever make that transformation. Far too many stay glued to the dieting mindset, and return to their old ways of eating whenever they are not on plan.

So what's the problem?
Why don't we seem to be able to make that mind shift?

The idea behind carb restriction is to lessen or eliminate cravings, to control hunger, to stabilize blood sugar, and fix overactive insulin responses. It's not really about deprivation, yet more often than not, we tend to make it exactly that. We complain and whine that we can't eat what others are eating and still maintain a normal weight. "I can't have this," and "I can't have that," poor me!

Now part of the problem is just our human conditioning. We find ourselves in discomfort whenever we can't have our way. And then go to great lengths (like the complaining, look at me I'm suffering game) to make that discomfort go away. We self-sabotage, we do everything we can to draw attention to ourselves, we play the martyr.

Sometimes it works, but more often than not it doesn't. Because sitting around whining and complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves doesn't change what is. It won't fix our insulin problems, and it won't make our fat stores magically disappear. So what "CAN" we do???

If you're trying to live on plain grilled chicken breast and salad, it's no wonder that you're feeling discomfort. I've tried to do that myself, and the boredom was such that I completely lost the game. Not that simplicity won't work for some of you, but if you're going to limit your food choices, I've come to realization that you've really got to LIKE what you're eating. And I absolutely HATE chicken breast.

So to me, it seems that the first step in making low carb a "true way of life", is to look over a list of acceptable food choices, (like the Atkins Induction list, for example), and then pick out the ones you really LOVE the best. Make those favorite foods your foundation. Eat them often, at least once a week if not daily.

For me, off the top of my head, that would be chicken leg quarters rather than chicken breast. Catfish fillets and shrimp. Pork chops, meatballs, bacon, deviled eggs, and cheese. Salads with full-fat Thousand Island dressing. Asparagus, mushrooms, olives, avocado, and artichokes. Grapefruit, strawberries, and tangerines. Hot Cocoa, and Chai Tea made with heavy cream. Cheesecake, chocolate pudding, strawberry, blueberry or chocolate pie.

I'm sure there's lots more if I just LOOK. Which begs the question...why don't I eat those foods more often?

There was a thread over at Low Carb Friends recently about low carbers becoming a bit obsessed with low carbing, and whether or not that was a good or bad thing. I'm beginning to see though that sometimes obsession is necessary if we're going to meet our goal of transformation. We need to be vigilant. We need to be committed. And we need to be ever watchful for new food ideas and recipes that fit our personal programs, so as to keep ourselves from falling into the ditch of boredom.

Cuz nothing will kill our dieting efforts and weight/fat loss goals quicker than boredom.

So learn to experiment with new things. Check out the low carb recipe websites and egroups. Learn to cook, even if it's only simple recipes. You've GOT to keep adding to your foundation. You're got to keep expanding. The same as you'd do if you weren't dieting. At least...that's what "I" would be doing. I've always been addicted to the collection of, and trying out, new recipes. So low carb dieting shouldn't be any different.

Maybe the thing to do is to sit down and devise a list of all of the foods, recipes, and ideas you'd be following if you were NOT low carbing. Then look over that list, and pick out the things that do fit our new lifestyle. The things that can be altered slightly to fit our new lifestyle. My favorite pre-low carb foods were tacos, fried chicken, pizza, chinese food, and lasagne. Most of which can easily be fit into a low carb lifestyle anyways. For me, it's mostly go-withs that get me into trouble. The rice and breads and potatoes.

So to compensate, I need to find go-withs I love as much as I used to love the rice and breads and potatoes. Because "that's" how a lifestyle is made. It isn't built around the feelings of deprivation, of depression, and the realization that you can NEVER have your "favorite" foods again. It's built around finding new foods you love, and new foods that will satisfy you during those emotional trying times that we know we are all going to face one day or another.