When weight control is the goal, I generally recommend a low carb diet for my patients with metabolic problems such as type 2 diabetes and thyroid disease. Even those who are completely healthy often find the low carb approach the most successful for weight loss. We are pleased to offer the following suggestions on how to manage your carbs from Elizabeth Somer, R.D., M.A., author of a new book “Eat Your Way to Happiness”.
10 Steps for a Carb Makeover
by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.,
Author of Eat Your Way to Happiness
If you are a carb craver, you need to treat yourself with a little kindness. It’s not your fault you can’t keep your fingers out of the cookie jar or the bag of chips. You can’t “will away” those cravings. They are hardwired in your head.
So work with your carb cravings. Make sure each meal contains at least one whole grain. Plan a quality-carb snack at your most craving-prone time of the day (typically midafternoon or late evening). To maximize your mood and minimize your weight, you need to take this quality-carb message seriously. That means tackling the issue with a 10-step plan.
Step #1. Purge the kitchen of all white flour. Open the cupboards and toss the junk. Throw out the obvious: the white rice, the instant mashed potatoes, any cracker or cookie made with anything but 100% whole grain (you are pretty much down to Triscuits and 100% Whole Wheat Fig Newtons), all potato chips, Pop-Tarts, boxes of bread crumbs, Pasta Roni, Hamburger Helper, cans of Chef Boyardi Ravioli, Costco muffins and such. Search the freezer for French fries, hash browns, breakfast foods made from processed grains or other high-calorie/low-quality items like Marie Callender’s frozen pasta entrees or pot pies.
Definitely toss your carb triggers, junk foods that you are powerless to resist. Remember, if you have to drive to the store to get ice cream, you will be much less likely to binge.
Then read labels on the rest. If wheat flour or enriched flour is in the top three ingredients on a label, you are holding a poor-quality carb. Toss it.
Okay, okay, if this cold-turkey approach is a bit over the top, then keep two or three junk carbs and toss the rest. But beware: these items may be “trigger” foods that tempt you to indulge. Also, keep in mind that this is not so much about “giving up” as it is giving to” your health, your mood, and your belly and thighs.
Step #2. Restock the kitchen with the 100% whole grains you like, such as 100% whole-wheat bread, old-fashioned oatmeal, Kashi Autumn Wheat Cereal or GoLean Cereal, Zoom hot cereal or instant brown rice. Experiment with new grains, like barley, millet, amaranth, whole-wheat couscous or bulgur.
If you can’t imagine your spouse or kids loving whole-wheat pasta or whole-wheat tortillas, then choose the next best thing. For example, try Aunt Jemima frozen Pancakes with Whole Grains, or tortillas or pastas made from blends of whole wheat and refined wheat, such as Ronzoni or Barilla whole-wheat blend pastas.
Step #3. Switch to quality carbs in recipes. For example, if a recipe calls for
white rice: use instant brown or wild rice, bulgur, millet or other whole grains
flour: use at least half whole-wheat flour
bread (such as French toast): use whole-grain bread
potatoes: use sweet potatoes, yams, squash and/or corn
Step #4. Plan snacks and bring grains with you. When packing your lunch and snacks for the day, make sandwiches with 100% whole-grain bread, use low-fat cheeses such as Cabot Vermont 50% Reduced Fat Cheese, and include other grains like 100% whole-grain crackers or air-popped popcorn.
Step #5. Create nonfood rewards. Praise yourself with a manicure, flowers, a game of golf on Saturday or a Netflix movie. Follow the “if . . . then” rule: if you steer clear of the junk, then you get the back rub, hour of alone time or bubble bath.
Step #6. Take time. Often we grab food before we even know whether we really want it. That knee-jerk reaction gets us into trouble. Take a 10-minute pause before diving into any snack, from popcorn to leftover doughnuts.
Step #7. Identify the craving. Is it for something crunchy or chewy? Cold, sweet or creamy? Once you have pinpointed exactly what you want, then find a low-calorie food that satisfies that craving. Luckily, the better you eat, the more your cravings for fatty or overly sweet carbs will dwindle.
Step #8. Eat breakfast. As discussed in Chapter 2, eat a nutritious breakfast and you are much more likely to resist junk-food temptations throughout the day.
Step #9. Keep hunger at bay. Eat small meals and snacks evenly distributed throughout the day. This helps keep serotonin levels (and other nerve chemicals like NPY) in the normal range.
Step #10. Out of sight, out of mind. Put another way, seeing is craving. Watch out for temptations at the mall, restaurants and friends’ houses. It is easy to overdo carbs when most of the ones offered to you are the low-quality ones. For example, studies at the University of Illinois found that people ate 45% more calories when there was a bread basket placed on the table in restaurants than when the waiter came by and offered them a slice from a basket. Ask that the tortilla chips be removed when dining at a Mexican restaurant and you will save yourself 300 unnecessary calories. Avoid the coffee shop with the display of muffins, scones and croissants.
The above is an excerpt from the book Eat Your Way to Happiness by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D.. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
Copyright © 2009 Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Eat Your Way to Happiness
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, is a registered dietitian and author of several books, including 10 Habits That Mess Up a Woman’s Diet, Food & Mood and Age-Proof Your Body. She is a member of the editorial advisory board of Shape magazine and editor in chief of Nutrition Alert, a newsletter that summarizes the current research from more than 6,000 journals. She appears frequently on NBC’s Today and other national television shows.
For more information please visit www.EatYourWayToHappiness.com.