5 Ways to Turn a Low-Carb Diet Into a Way of Life

Avocado toast

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You've probably heard health experts say that diets don't work. It's true. Juice cleanses, fasts, super low-calorie diets, extreme carb restriction, and other modes of depriving your body of food may work initially to help you drop weight, but they usually are not maintainable.

For improved health and sustained wellness, it's important to choose an eating pattern that you can stick to for life. The key to success on a long-term low-carb program lies in transitioning from "dieting" to a new way of eating that meets your unique needs and goals. Try any—or all—of these techniques to make low-carb living not only manageable but enjoyable.

Find Your Carb Sweet Spot

The initial purpose of carbohydrate reduction is to figure out what carb level keeps you at your best. This is the intake that keeps your energy high, reduces your hunger, and helps you reach your lowest sustainable weight.

Ideally, the amount of carbohydrate you eat will also keep your blood sugar steady. This means that your energy level won't feel like it is on a roller-coaster, you won't crave sugar and junk food, and you'll decrease belly fat.

Once you find your unique carb tolerance—the amount that keeps you satiated without craving more carbs—and experience how good it feels, you are on your way to making low-carb eating part of your lifestyle.

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8 Quick Tips for Avoiding High-Carb Foods

Make It About Health

There is no doubt that it's difficult to remove enjoyable foods from your diet. It is also no fun to learn that your body needs extra attention to function well. When health is at stake, your new way of eating simply becomes a way of life.

For instance, if you were allergic to wheat or gluten (the protein found in wheat), you would learn to live without it. In restaurants, you would get used to ignoring the bread basket, asking to hold croutons, and skipping the pasta. Sure, it would be challenging at first but, eventually, it would just be the way you eat.

There are also many medical conditions that require people to permanently adjust their way of eating. If you have insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes), you may have unstable blood glucose levels. As a result, you need to avoid high-carb foods because they increase your blood sugar and make insulin resistance worse.

Once you accept that your body has individualized needs, you can do something about it. Low-carb living costs very little money, doesn't involve surgery or medication, and has no side effects.

De-Carb Your Comfort Foods

If eating low-carb seems too strict or difficult for you, it's time to find low-carb, healthy substitutes for some of your favorite foods. For example, consider using zucchini or other squash to make noodles—also called zoodles—in place of wheat noodles in your favorite pasta dishes.

You can also make cauliflower rice in place of white rice. Some people use cauliflower to make pizza crust. Instead of potato fries, try making carrot fries. There are endless ways to use vegetables, providing a variety of health benefits.

Learn Simple Cooking Techniques

Without knowing how to cook, there's only so far any eating plan can take you. Learning basic healthy cooking techniques can help you to enjoy a wider range of foods and flavors.

When you eat at a restaurant, you usually cannot control the ingredients used or the fat, carb, calorie, or sodium content of your food. This makes it hard to know what you're eating, let alone count carbs.

Learn how to make one food you really like and get good at it. Then add another and keep building. Cooking can actually be a relaxing, creative activity if you get the hang of it. There is no shortage of online lessons showing you how to cook everything from eggs to steamed broccoli to more complicated dishes.

Cooking at home provides a myriad of benefits. So many delicious, healthy meals can be made in minutes if you master a few easy-to-learn cooking skills.

Watch Your Language

Be careful about the words you use to describe your food choices. In short, banish the terms "cheating" and "falling off the wagon."

Yes, most of the time you will choose vegetables instead of pasta, bake with nut flours and flax seed meal, and focus on protein and vegetables at every meal. But if you go out for sushi with a group of friends, you don't have to pick all the rice out of the rolls. If there's crème brulee on the menu, you can indulge.

This may be the most important tip of all, because when low-carb becomes the way you eat, any high-carb food that you choose from time to time is still acceptable. There has to be room for flexibility in any diet and food is an important part of life.

Of course, it is possible to get too flexible. If this happens, you're likely to experience carb cravings, weight gain, or even "carb hangovers." However, there's no need for self-blame or criticism. Simply acknowledge that you've wandered off slightly and need to wander back.

Getting back on track needn't be a struggle. You now know the eating pattern that works best for you, so aim to get back on course after those inevitable bumps in the road!

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