Wouldn’t it be pleasant if we could take a day or two to slow down and spend some quality time in our kitchens, preparing delicious whole foods from scratch? Sure would. For many of us that is not an option.
Recently I spent some time with a lovely woman who is fixin (as we say in NC) to embark on a LCHF way of eating. She’s very well educated and clearly sees the benefits to health that result when the carbs and low-quality foods are cut from the diet. She’s well motivated to take care of herself. She has realistic expectations for weight loss. However, she is also crazy busy right now with educational and professional pursuits that take a great deal of time. Sometimes she is up all night long just to get done all the things on her list. These circumstances could apply to lots of us, so what to do?
First and foremost is to keep one’s sanity. Do not try to take on an entirely new way of cooking right now. Do not allow guilt to come in because you’re not spending hours every weekend preparing and packaging meals to sustain you for a week. Don’t cook at all if you don’t want to make time for it or if you don’t enjoy it. Be you, without the carbs.
Thus, tips on being nice to yourself while keeping carbs low:
- Two words: rotisserie chicken! Available at nearly every grocery in America, delicious, low-carb, versatile. Eat it as-is for a quick supper after work. Strip the meat off the bones and use for sandwiches, chicken salad, soup, omelets, etc.
- Buy some sliced deli meat and assemble as so: 1 slice of meat, lay a slice of cheese on top, roll it up tight like a cigar, dip in ranch dressing and call it a main dish or a snack
- Buy a bag of frozen veg to steam (broccoli, cauliflower, whatever) that does not have sauce. Microwave it the first night to steam, then keep it in the fridge for portions a few nights of the week.
- Make smart, low-carb drive-thru choices: Salad with grilled chicken, hold the croutons or candied nuts, ranch or bleu cheese dressing. Burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, mustard…no bun + side salad with ranch dressing. Hardee’s LC breakfast bowl (not always on the menu board so ask for it by name). Order two sausage/egg muffins and then toss the muffins and reassemble with egg, sausages, egg and eat like a sandwich. Grilled chicken sandwich with bacon and cheese, no bun + side salad with ranch. Water is available everywhere, as are coffee and unsweetened tea.
- Eat out in low-carb friendly restaurants: A steakhouse is your best option since you can get any salad (skip croutons) with cheese, tomato, onion, etc., along with a fat-based dressing. Order whatever steak/chicken/pork entree you want – no sauces. Skip the potato and ask for extra steamed or sauteed veg and request extra butter (real butter, not “butter oil”) on the side so you can drench your veg. Ask your server not to bring the basket of bread to the table. Water, coffee, tea, liquor (no sugary mixers or fruit juice).
- Snacks in your bag or desk: Jerky, pepperoni slices, nuts (beware the quantity since some of us have no self-control with nuts), Moon Cheese (find it on Amazon or Netrition.com), whatever fits your plan that helps you forget the vending machine exists.
- Depending on what carb level you are “allowing” yourself: LC tortilla or Flat-Out Wrap used to make quesadilla (really, this is more assembly than cooking) or sandwich wrap with those deli meats or rotisserie chicken you bought at the store.
- Staples for the fridge: LC/Low sugar ketchup, mayo, mustard, any pickle not made with sugar, salsa, heavy cream, water, cheese. And more cheese. And plenty of real butter. At my house we have an entire fridge drawer dedicated to cheese. And another to chocolate.
- No-fuss LC day might look like this:
- Coffee with cream at home/on the way to work or school
- Breakfast from the drive-thru: 2 sausage/egg muffins, ditch the muffins and eat the eggs/sausage sandwich style or with a fork/knife
- Snack you brought from home and tucked in work fridge: Cheese/pepperoni slices + pickle spear
- Lunch from sandwich shop: Salad greens, all the sandwich fixins you would usually order plopped on top of the salad, skip the bread, add fat-based dressing (ranch, bleu cheese, Caesar, Italian…)
- Supper of rotisserie chicken warmed up in the microwave along with some of veg you steamed out of the freezer case at the grocery
- Snack of pork rinds or SF Jello cup or sugar free dark chocolate
Do you. You don’t have to follow some recipe book or blog site. You don’t have to make all your food from scratch. Your meat does not have to be 100% grain fed and organic. Your eggs don’t have to be free-range. You don’t have to avoid every preservative and coloring in the world. Start where you are and get the carbs out. There will be time to get fancy later, if you want to. And if you never want to, that’s okay too.