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

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You've probably heard health experts explain 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. But what if you have chosen to go low-carb? Can you turn low-carb dieting into a way of life?

The key to success on a long-term low-carb program lies in transitioning from "dieting" to a new, healthier way of eating that meets your unique needs and goals.

5 Ways to Turn a Low-Carb Diet Into a Healthy Lifestyle

Try any—or all—of these techniques to make low carb living not only manageable but also enjoyable.

Find Your Carb Sweet Spot

The initial purpose of carbohydrate reduction is to figure out what carb level keeps you at your best—intake that provides high energy, low hunger, lowest sustainable weight, and stable blood glucose.

Ideally, the amount of carbohydrate you eat will keep your blood sugar steady. 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 but doesn't make you crave more carbs—you'll experience how good it feels when you eat the right amount of carbohydrate for your body. Then, you'll be on your way to making low-carb eating part of your lifestyle.

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. But this is true for many (if not most) people, especially as we age.

Consider that 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, or 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.

For example, some people are more likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetes. If you have insulin resistance (the precursor to diabetes), you may have blood glucose that is unstable, causing you to feel shaky. As a result, it is best to avoid high-carb foods because they increase your blood sugar and make insulin resistance worse.

When you choose a low-carb diet for better health, the positive side is that 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 at least 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 also use cauliflower to make pizza crust. Instead of potato fries, try making carrot fries.

There are endless ways to use vegetables with a variety of health benefits.

Learn Simple Cooking Techniques

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

Some people choose to dine out more often when they start a low-carb diet. But if you're constantly eating out, 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.

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.

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.

Watch Your Language

This may be the most important tip of all. Be careful about the words you use to describe your food choices. In short, banish the terms "cheating" and "falling off the wagon."

When low-carb becomes just the way you eat, any high-carb food that you choose to eat from time to time is still acceptable in a healthy low-carb lifestyle.

For example, most of the time, you will eat delicious low-carb foods, choosing vegetables instead of pasta, baking with nut flours and flax seed meal, and focusing on protein and vegetables at every meal, whether at home or out.

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. Or if you go out for a special meal and there's creme brulee on the menu, you can indulge.

These choices don't mean that you fell "off the wagon" or are "cheating." There has to be room for flexibility in any diet and food is an important part of life.

Of course, it's 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. But it needn't be a struggle—you now know the eating pattern that works best for you. Just get back on track after those inevitable bumps in the road!

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