We’ve talked briefly about things you should avoid – pastas, bread, flour, sugar, sodas, candy-bars, etc. – but what about the stuff you can eat?
I’ve mentioned that I eat a lot of veggies like cauliflower and lettuces and things like that, but those you can’t exactly live on vegetables – well, you can, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. You need protein as well as fats, carbs and fibre to survive. Protein and fats in the right combinations are what make us feel satiated. So while eating a bowl of lettuce will definitely boost your fibre count and possibly give you a negative carb reading (those are always fun!), you’re not getting what you need out of it. Remember, we’re not aiming to starve ourselves here, we’re looking to lose weight in a healthy way, and that means making sure we’re getting the right nutrients, proteins, fats and yes, carbs, into our systems. It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
Say you’re having a steak for dinner at a restaurant. Awesome, steak = fat and protein and no carbs. Eat as much of that as you want. Ask for the sauce on the side if there is any – avoid it if you can, sauces can sometimes have thickeners in there which are chock full of carbs – and instead of chips or potatoes ask if you can have a garden salad. Most places can replace things and change things for you if you ask – obviously, it’s better to be polite about these things, remember: you’re the one on the special diet, so it’s your responsibility to fix it so that you can eat what they serve you.
What I always aim for is a balance between protein, fat, and complex carbs. My breakfasts tend to be one-egg omelettes – made without cream or milk! – with tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. With a meal like that I get protein and fat from the egg, carbs and fibre from the veggies so I feel full and comfortable and I get the energy I need to last me for a few hours. If I feel like I’m going to be extremely hungry I’ll make it a two-egg omelette for the extra boost, which will means I won’t be craving food right after I’ve eaten. I tend to need a snack ever 2-3 hours, which isn’t unheard of, so when I get hungry again between main meals I go for a celery stick, a bit of ham, or some almonds.
Which brings me to nuts – almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, etc – and seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, etc. These things will rescue you in your darkest hour, I promise. I’ve always tried to have almonds in the house, because they’re a great snack and because they’re crunchy they make you feel like you’ve actually eaten something. They’re also full of omega oils which makes them great brain food, as are with most nuts. Have a look at this table which I found here, I’ve rearranged them so they run lowest net carb to highest.
|Cal||Tot. Carb||Fiber||Net Carb||Sat. Fat||Mono Fat||ω-3 Fat||ω-6 Fat|
So according to this my almond addiction is justified, though I should probably be tracking down some more flax seeds and pecans. Unfortunately for me, pecans tend to slight pricier than my dearly beloved almonds so it’s a matter of tossing up whether I want extra treats or not. Still, it’s a good thing to keep a hold of – in fact, I might print this off and stick it in my purse so I can look at it next time I’m shopping.
‘Does that mean I can have peanut butter and tahini?’
Definitely, just check the label – some peanut butters will contain more sugars than others for example – and double check what your makes up that specific brand. A snack that can carry you through between meals, one I regularly rely on, is the renown celery sticks with peanut butter/tahini on top – leave off the dried sultanas or currants though, people, those things are too sugary for our purposes! With this snack you get the crunch from the celery – which pretty much counts as 0 Net Carbs, by the way – and the fat and minimal protein from the tahina or peanut butter; you’ll feel satisfied and you’ll hopefully not need to eat again before dinner.