How to Change Your and Your Family’s Diet with Low Carb Foods

 

I could lie and say I have always been familiar with low carb foods, but I can’t.

Spicy low carb chickenIn fact, not only did I use to be completely oblivious to foods low in carbs, I had NO idea what the implications of eating too many carbohydrates, or even not enough, could be.

Spicy fried chicken is great to use together with the low carb tortillas

Most of my life I have been overweight, but some years ago I realised that I had to do something serious about it. I had to loose weight, and I did, but it surely wasn’t easy to begin with.

Today I am proof that it can be done, and I plan to use my expertise and experience to help other people like me, who believe they will achieve their perfect weight. I offer the best of both worlds, experience of living through a change in diet and lifestyle, as well as the expertise that comes from this experience and lots and lots of research and trying..




My name is Cindy, I may be on the wrong side of 30 but I am a happy wife and mother. As I said before, I have never been slim, in fact I have never been more than a few kilos within my appropriate weight range my entire life.

This has led to me trying some weird and wonderful diets over the years, with the cabbage diet leaving the most vivid of memories even if if it didn’t actually shift the pounds. Since having my children, Benjamin is eight and Clarissa is three, I managed to weigh more than I ever had done in the past. Lacking motivation, I pushed my weight problems out of my mind and concentrated on raising a family and working part-time as a bank clerk.
However, the decision to lose weight was soon taken out of my hands, following a visit to my doctor where I discovered that if I didn’t lose weight, I faced serious health problems and even premature death. My family, as with most people, are my life and the thought of leaving my children without a mother purely because I was overweight scared me.

So I decided to educate myself, not only on healthy living but also on where I was going wrong with my current diet so I could make positive and permanent changes. I wanted to not only learn about healthy eating habits, I wanted to ensure I became an expert in them!

Learning about Low Carb Foods:

Low carb foods were not dominant in my old diet at all, in fact without even realising I seemed to have gravitated to a diet rich in carbohydrates. Couple this with a distinct lack of exercise and it wasn’t difficult to see why I had piled on the weight, in a relatively short space of time too.

I made a decision there and then that this time I WOULD lose the weight and keep it off too.

While I had some worries about how a completely new eating plan would fit in with my home life and work schedule, I decided that by becoming an expert in foods low in carbs, I would be able to weave my new healthier way of living into my private and work life, without people seeing a join. My first port of call was my husband, Jerry – whose support I knew I would need if I was to pull off this staggering change in lifestyle. I explained to him what I had already learned and that low carb foods including;

• Preservative free pork, lamb and beef – preferably in cuts or ground.
• Turkey and chicken, without the skin
• Fish, such as sole and salmon
• Parmesam and cheddar cheese
• Yogurts
• Olive and canola oil
• Selection of fresh fruits and vegetables

were all going to become a regular part of the “Simpson Family’s New Healthy Eating Plan” :-).  As the chef of the family I knew that making these changes would be all down to me and while I stood to benefit, I knew I was also helping my husband’s and children’s health in the long run too.

My website is a culmination of several years of studying healthy eating including understanding low carb foods, choosing the right recipes and experience in fitting my new lifestyle into my family life.

What Exactly is a Carbohydrate?

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy eating plan. Not only does carbohydrates aid healthy organ function, they are also essential fuel for an individual’s body before physical activity. In fact, around 50% of an adult’s daily calorie intake needs to be made up of carbohydrate. This means that while carbohydrates are important, there are such things as good and bad carbohydrates. On the good carbohydrate list is;

• Whole grains – as unprocessed as possible
• Beans and certain vegetables – these help deliver vitamins to a person’s body, as well as essential fiber and minerals
• Whole fruit – this is a much more healthier option than juice


Bad carbohydrates
, and what my old diet seemed to mainly consist of, include;

• Potatoes – brown rice and pasta are a much better option
• Anything with sweeteners, most commonly soft drinks and candy
• Low fat snacks, such as chips and crackers often contain a lot of carbs to ensure tastiness
• Pizza – the actual carbohydrate count depends on a variety of things

However, it wasn’t always bad news, as certain foods I had written off as being bad were actually low carb foods, for example, eating chocolate is much better than eating candy.

I learned that in order to exact an immediate change in my diet, I would have to figure out how to introduce low carb foods into my family’s menu, without upsetting everyone too much. The last thing I wanted to do was make my family feel like they were on an enforced diet too.

Finding the Perfect Balance




While eating low carb foods is important, it is also crucial for a person to find the perfect balance between protein, fat and carbohydrates. This ensures an individual gets enough calories to get them through the day. However, choosing foods low in carbs ensures a person can manage their weight more effectively – as their carb intake is purely for body fuel, and not for weight gain. Any extra carbohydrates are stored by the body for later use, usually in a person’s liver but also in fat pockets around the body. However, if you’re anything like I used to be and you eat a high-carb diet accompanied by little exercise, the carbohydrates remain unused and therefore add to weight gain.

The University of Maryland Medical Center explains in simple terms;
Healthy Carbs – Also known by experts as slow-acting or complex carbohydrates, this type of carb will raise a person’s blood sugar level slowly and prevents them from feeling hungry for longer.

Unhealthy Carbs – These are known as fast-acting or simple carbohydrates and they also increase a person’s blood sugar levels, only at a much faster rate than healthy carbs. This means the effects are short-lived, causing a person to become hungry much quicker.

Effectively, unhealthy carbs, such as cake, cookies and fries, will not fill you up adequately.


Low carb foods, such as lentils, beans and wholegrain bread
, fill you up and prevent you from snacking on more food as they keep hunger at bay for longer.

When I first started looking into low carb foods and how they could help change my diet, I understood very little and was, admittedly, blinded by science. However, my motivation to learn, coupled with my determination to make positive change and several years of research mean I can now confidently call myself an expert in low carb foods and healthy living in general.

The Winds of Change

Introducing low carb foods into my life and my home was actually relatively easy at first. I replaced all the high-in-fat, full-of-preservatives cereal with wholegrain cereal. I also made sure there was plenty of fruit available, especially bananas. I also replaced the family supply of pasta, flour and breads with wholegrain and wholemeal versions. These versions still pack a flavor punch but are really low in carbs. When I felt like a candy fix, my Achilles heel I have to say, I would reach for a banana or pear. My daughter, who has always been the fussiest eater in the house, was less than impressed with the wholemeal bread but adapted to all the other changes well. I decided white bread would be okay for her, although I still encouraged her to keep trying the wholemeal alternative.

While these changes may seem insignificant, they would make a huge difference to my family’s diet. Myself, I needed to make bigger, more permanent changes to ensure I achieved the long lasting results I wanted. This meant swapping foods, trying completely new foods and turning my hand to some new recipes like this one:

Pork Tenderloin with Spinach and Lentils.

Serves 4

1 pork tenderloin
Fresh thyme or dry
500 g mixed lentils
Store bought salsa, suger free
500 g frozen spinach
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 table spoon of vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

The pork tenderloin is cut carefully in the length direction on the side to create a large flat piece of meat. The meat is spread with salt and pepper and fresh herbs, and the meat is rolled back to original shape and tied with string. Grilled or heated in the oven for approximately 45 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.

The frozen spinach is slowly heated in the oil with the garlic without burning. The lentils are cooked in salted water for 6-8 minutes.

Served with salsa.

Pork-Tenderloin-with-Spinach-and-Lentils

 

Learning from my past mistakes……

Most people can relate to failing at dieting, it is most certainly easier said than done. I had tried, and failed, at a least a dozen or more diets – most of them “fad” diets like the horrendous cabbage diet, which left me feeling bloated and generally unwell.
My previous dieting attempts had all started in a similar vein, with gusto and enthusiasm but all ended in pretty much the same way – with me feeling miserable and with little noticeable weight loss. I have read all the diet books, watched all the diet DVDs and revised as much as I can from Internet sources, so now I am knowledgeable I am more aware of the basic mistakes I was making –

Lifestyle change – Weight loss has to be part of a change in lifestyle, a complete rethink about how you view food and how it figures in your life. You need to re-educate yourself on the basics and learn about what food is best for you. A diet should not be temporary but instead a complete change in lifestyle. This prevents old bad habits returning and ensuring your efforts are fruitless.

• Low Carb Foods – When I used to think of diet food, I would think of lettuce, salads, jacket potatoes and pasta.

This is a classic example of not understanding what food offers the most for my body, without causing weight gain.
Potatoes and pasta are both a rich source of carbohydrate, which is fine if you are able to burn off the carbs you are eating. However, if you are not using the calories you eat, it doesn’t matter how little you eat, your body will still store fat if you are eating a diet high in carbohydrates.

• Exercise – Exercise has always been a dirty word to me.

I am far from lazy, I do lots of running around after the kids and looking after the home and my husband.
However, when it came to “official” exercise, I did pretty much anything to avoid it.

Much of how I felt was down to embarrassment, I felt far too big to go jogging and I most certainly wouldn’t be seen dead in a swimming costume – so I tended to avoid exercise all together.
However, a successful diet plan includes a regular exercise routine, even if it is short and relatively light.
I started by purchasing myself an exercise bike, which I rode for around 30 minutes a day before gradually building up pace and time.
Once I had lost a little weight and felt confident, I went to local swimming baths for a short swim, around 20 minutes and some time in the sauna. My exercise routine now includes salsa classes and zhumba, which is a great way to meet people as well as stay fit.

I realise how difficult it is to lose weight, how hard it is to understand what you can, and can’t eat.
I also know how difficult it is for a person, who is overweight and lacking in confidence, can find introducing exercise, low carb foods and a rash of other changes in their life, difficult.  As I said, I am proof that it can be done, and I want to use my expertise and experience to help other people like me, who believe they will achieve their perfect weight.

Fitting in with the Family…..




As with any change in life, people are most likely to be successful if they have the support of their family and friends.

I had already secured the support of my husband, my next challenge was to ensure I could get Benjamin and Clarissa, my kids on side too.
They hadn’t noticed the subtle changes I had already made to the family menu but I knew if I wanted low carb foods to become a permanent part of my eating plan, I would have to think of a way we could all eat together as a family.

The idea of eating separately each evening did nothing for my motivation.

The thing I was most worried about, should have been the thing I was most looking forward to embracing – kicking out foods with high levels of sweeteners, additives and preservatives.

Why Sweeteners, Additives and Preservatives are bad for you..

Most people when they do a grocery shop don’t even bother to check the labels.
This means they will have no idea what constitutes low carb foods, preservatives or additives.
Sweeteners, additives and preservatives are used in a variety of foods, in a variety of ways to provide color, texture and enhanced flavor to mention a few. However, according to the Harvard School of Medicine, additives, preservatives and sweeteners have all been linked to allergies and even behavioral problems such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Certain additives, especially those used to prolong the life of certain foods such as processed meat, are full of fat.
When eaten, the body stores this fat for future use, in much the same way as high and low carb foods.
However, the fat content in this type of food can be so immense, it takes up a good portion of a person’s calorie allowance for a day.

If you eat more calories in a day than you burn off, the fat stored in your body will remain and you will gain weight. Therefore, even a meal prepared with good intentions, such as a ham salad, can actually do more harm than good if the ham is processed and contains additives.

Preservatives and sweeteners are commonly found in foods my kids love, such as candy, soft drinks, and child-focused foods such as spaghetti O’s and hot dogs. Obviously, the kids were not on the diet with me but I felt introducing low carb foods into their diet could only have benefits. I decided, rather than sit them down and talk to them about and face almost certain resistance, I would simply make a few tasty dishes and try to win them over with my cooking rather than my reasoning. So, my quest was on to find a dish that would help my low carb foods diet and still appeal to my children’s taste buds.

Important – When you go on a diet it is important you don’t force your family to make radical changes to their diet – this can feel like punishment when they have done nothing wrong.
However, it is just as important to find low carb foods that you and your family can enjoy together, so you can still all enjoy eating together as a family.

Kid-Friendly Low Carb Foods Recipe

So, I decided to choose my kid’s favorite foods and alter what I needed to ensure the recipe used foods low in carbs. My kids love peppers and tomatoes, so I decided to try a recipe crammed full of low carb foods for my first meal. This recipe is an ideal starter dish and while it is low in carbhoydrates, it is tasty, filling and easy to prepare.

Stuffed Peppers

Four Large or Reasonably Sized Bell Peppers
1 Tin of Diced Tomatoes
1 Pound of Ground Turkey (the leaner the better and the lower in carbs it will be)
Small Handful of Mozzarella Cheese
Pinch of Oregano and Cayenne Pepper
Salt and Pepper to Taste

• You will need to gently brown the turkey mince, ensuring you drain any excess fat. Ground turkey is much healthier that beef and is one of the most versatile low carb foods you can find.

• Once browned and drained, add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes and a ¼ of a cup of water. You can also add the spices at this point and stir until the mixture is bubbling, once really hot – add the cheese and take off the heat.

• Cut the peppers in half, de-seed and stuff liberally with the ground turkey and tomato mix.

• Place in a casserole pan and cook in the oven at 350 degrees  Celsius for 15 minutes or until the peppers have reached the desired color – peppers will blacken in heat so you will need to keep your eye on them.

• Serve with a fresh salad of lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and scallions.

This easy low carb foods recipe takes around 30 minutes from preparation to serving and is a hit in my house. Not only does it more than accommodate my low carb diet, it is a tasty dish the family can enjoy with me. If, like me, you are a working parent, you can prep the stuffing in the morning before work and then quickly cook the peppers when you return home in time for dinner.

The Potential Effects of Low Carb Foods

One of the most important things about carbohydrates and in particular, low carb foods is that you do have to find the right balance to suit your body’s needs. A study conducted by the Vanderbilt University found that individuals whose diet consisted of too many low carb foods were most likely to suffer from a condition called Ketosis. This condition is actually due to carbohydrate deficiency and symptoms include nausea, tiredness and poor concentration. Because, as already mentioned, the average person needs at least 50-percent of their daily calorie intake to consist of carbohydrates, it is important you achieve this amount with your low carb foods. The other calories will come from fats, proteins and various other nutrients.

Ketosis is rare if you ensure your diet contains enough low carb foods to cover your required calorie intake. The benefits of eating low carb foods most defintely far outweigh any possible negative consequences.

My Goal…

Although I have now successfully lost the weight I needed too, I am still intent on remaining on the healthy eating track. I found it difficult at first balancing a change in diet with my family, work and social life. However, now I am an expert on low carb foods and what is best to eat, everything comes much more naturally to me. I want to share my expertise through my blog, in the hope it benefits other people, like me, who want to lose weight without it having a significant impact on other areas of their life.

The “Bell Peppers” recipe I have shared above is a firm family favorite in our house, but I have lots more to share. I also want to provide information on low carb foods that will help address issues, questions and any possible reservations people may have about introducing more food low in carbs into their diet. I will also reveal how to ensure the diet changes can blend into your family life. My plan is to share my expertise in an easy to understand and, most important, in an easy to implement fashion.

Essentially, I am in a very happy place right now, some days are more of an effort than others. I want to share this relatively simple way (when you know how) to lose weight with other people too.

Go to the top of this page Low Carb Foods.

 

 

 

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 Posted by at 4:59 pm