We do not encourage the use of extreme, trendy, or single food diets which limit the nutritional variety of food intake and can be unhealthy in the long term. Instead, we recommend a healthy, balanced diet rich in lean protein, healthy fats fruits, vegetables, and moderate portions of whole grains. We suggest limiting overly processed and artificial foods as much as possible.
Meals: Eating 3 balanced meals a day eaten in control portions with all include a protein source. You can also enjoy to healthy snacks per day in between meals (these should be low sugar, low-carb). Eating small meals and snacks every few hours – instead of three large meals – will help keep metabolism and energy steady throughout the day as well as avoiding sugar spikes. Foods that are high in sugar or calories should be limited; however, a small treat on occasion will make it easier to stick with the healthy diet.
Portion Sizes: It is important to be aware portions. Some food, such as iceberg lettuce, could be eaten in almost unlimited quantities without any weekend. However, it’s generally smart to eat a balanced variety of foods in appropriate portions. The recommended serving size of protein is approximately the size of your fist. A serving size of chicken the size of your fist equal approximately half of the breast which is 3-4 ounces or 20 grams of protein. If you struggle with portion control, you may want to eliminate the guesswork by purchasing a pre-divided portion-control plate. A safe general guide is to eat the largest to smallest portions in the following order: fruits and vegetables (largest), protein (moderate), grains (smallest).
Artificial Sweeteners: These are primarily made from chemicals and we recommend limiting them if possible. One exception is Stevia extract, which is actually healthy for leveling insulin. We recommend Sweet Leaf brand Stevia. Raw honey, in moderation, is also a nutritious sweetener; however, it is still a sugar and should be used in small amounts.
Condiments: We suggest whole fat when choosing condiments such as salad dressing or mayonnaise. Many nutrients need that in order to be observed, so a full-fat salad dressing will actually aid the nutrients from your salad in being absorbed. Furthermore, low-fat foods are generally higher in sugars, so it’s often an unhealthy trade off. For example, whole milk is lower in sugar than skim milk and the extra amount of fat is minimal. Olive oil is an excellent dressing and cooking oil. Coconut and avocado oils are also healthy sources of fat. Vinegar spices, seasoning, and herbs can be used for flavor. Ketchup is an excellent source of lycopene, however, opts for the reduced sugar version. Butter is recommended over margarine which usually contains artificial ingredients. Smart Balance is an acceptable butter substitute.
Beverages: Avoid drinking your calories! It’s easy to quickly intake large amounts of sugar and calories in just a single beverage. We suggest you strictly limit your intake of alcohol, diet soda (or drinks with artificial sweeteners), regular sodas, juices, or other sugary drinks. If you must drink a high calorie beverage, see if taking a few sips and stopping will eliminate your cravings. If you’re craving the fizz of soda, try mixing seltzer water with a small amount of low sugar juice or flavored drink. Drink plenty of water through the day (important for health as well as helping you feel fuller). If you dislike plain water, try adding mint, berries, citrus fruits, cucumber etc. infusion bottles are useful for adding flavor and color and are good to carry with you if you tend to forget to drink water. Coffee and tea are healthy and are high in antioxidants (limit the amount of added sugars) TIP: Drinking a glass of water before meals will naturally help you avoid overeating!
Tips for Staying on Track while on Vacation: Many patients express the challenge of sticking with the healthy diet on vacation. Vacations (especially all-inclusive hotels or cruises) often present the opportunity to indulge and can quickly sabotage a healthy routine. Unfortunately, once you’re in the “habit” of eating sugary foods or large portions, cravings will hang around once back home. While vacations are a time to enjoy, we suggest consuming unhealthy foods and beverages in moderation. Be aware of beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) that contain high amounts of syrups and sugars. Try to choose one meal to treat yourself to a dessert or stick with one sugary drink per day. Take advantage of delicious local produce when possible and try to fill up on healthy options before you give into a craving for sweets. Write out your food plan prior to your vacation and read it when you are tempted to give in to the dessert tray. New locations also offer the opportunity to be more active. Skiing, walking on the beach, swimming, jogging, sightseeing, hiking, biking etc. are all fun ways to stay active on vacation. Take advantage of a new place in unique ways to explore the area while challenging yourself! Keep in mind that your long-term goals vacations are fun but should not be an excuse to toss aside your weight-loss progress. If you stick with a moderate diet and are physically active, you can come home from vacation healthier than ever!
This diet is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular death as well as overall death. It is also associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Almost all healthcare organizations encourage healthy adults to adapt a style of eating like that of the Mediterranean diet for prevention of major chronic diseases.
Key components of the diet:
Avoid veggie burn-out: Although many think of a low-carb diet as full of meat and fat, vegetables are an important part of the diet. However, many people fall into the trap of limiting their vegetable intake to salads and steamed vegetables. Here are some other ways to enjoy your veggies: raw vegetables and low-carb dip, vegetables in a casserole with cheese, cream cheese, and/or cream. Stir-fried veggies with garlic, ginger, chili’s, and or soy sauce. Vegetables in soups or stews (with or without meat), for example, cream of broccoli soup. Veggies for breakfast, in an omelet, quiche, or frittata roasted veggies toasted with olive oil and garlic.
Be creative: Breakfast for lunch or dinner? Dinner for breakfast? Be creative and try breaking out of the rut when it comes to what to have for breakfast or dinner. Omelets make a quick, delicious dinner; chicken slices dipped in ranch dressing aren’t so weird for breakfast after all!
Focus on what you can have: Butter? cream cheese? and steak? – you get the picture. These are not a required part of the diet, but they are options. Any diet that is to become a lifelong way of eating should not only be healthy, but enjoyable. Fat carries the flavor and texture of food; enjoy it as a part of your low-carb diet. If you find that you miss a particular food, you can find a tasty, low-carb alternative.
Shop low-carb – Know your grocery stores. Most grocery stores are organized with the good stuff around the outside aisles: produce, meat, dairy, and seafood. Temptation and carbohydrates lurk down the center aisles. Leave your grocery cart on the end of the aisle and make only short scouting missions down the aisles in the middle of the store. Read the labels. Carbs hide in many places. All food that comes packaged and processed should be checked for carb count, taking serving size and the list of ingredients into account as well. An item that has a low carb count, but has flour, sugar, or corn syrup as its first ingredient, is probably not a good carb choice. When you find a good low-carb item (pasta sauce or salsa, for instance), write down the brand-name and variety on your shopping list for future reference. Or, when you run out, save the label. Look in your cart. Before you check out, take a good, hard look at your grocery cart. All the food in it is going to be eaten by you or someone you care about. Sugars, preservatives, wheat flour, corn syrup— are these hiding in your cart contents somewhere? Choose wisely, and don’t be embarrassed to re-shelve the stuff you know should not be there.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive: Shop the Sales. Remember that usually food sales run from Wednesday to Tuesday (our local Kroger stores run from Sunday to Saturday). All of the local grocery store chains have their sales flyers online (Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Giant). Match the coupons in the Sunday paper to the sales in the grocery stores, and shop for savings early in the week. Shop smart. If you have a warehouse club card, use it for bulk purchases of meat to be frozen for later use. If you don’t have a warehouse club card, check out your local international stores. They have good meat prices, beautiful produce sections, and weekly sales as well. In addition, you can find delicious low-carb products you can’t find elsewhere (frying cheese, fresh string cheese, fresh pork skins, etc.).
Protein is protein: Your body doesn’t know the difference between a chicken leg quarter (cheap) and boneless, skinless breasts (expensive). Because you know that “fat is your friend,” you don’t need to pay extra for lean cuts of meat or ground beef. Use your slow cooker to make a tender beef stew or shredded pork BBQ with cheaper cuts. Don’t forget eggs; buy them in bulk, and they are even cheaper.
Eat at home: If you are on a low-carb diet and eat out a lot, you may find that you do spend more money (a steak is usually more expensive than a plate of pasta). Even fast-food places that offer low-carb options usually charge a premium for them. Take your lunch to work or school, and use the planning tips above help you get in and out of the kitchen fast. Eating at home also helps you avoid temptation and hidden carbs—both of which are easily found in restaurants.
Avoid low-carb specialty products: With only a few exceptions (almond flour & xanthan gum), your grocery list should look just like everyone else’s—without the pasta, flour, beans, and rice. If you really miss some of those carby treats like muffins and brownies, learn to make a low-carb version at home or give them up altogether. Substituting expensive, highly- processed, low-carb food for expensive, highly- processed, high-carb food is not doing your body or your wallet any favors.