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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019

How to Hack a Low-Carb Diet

We’re nearly two weeks into 2019 and, statistically speaking, most of us have probably already broken our New Year’s weight loss resolutions. And if those new healthy eating habits aren’t gone yet, there’s a good chance they’re on the ropes and will be eliminated shortly. If this is the case for your new diet plan, don’t beat yourself up too much. Most experts will tell you that the ways we choose resolutions in the first place can set us up for failure almost instantly, and that if you want to make real, lasting changes, you have to start simple and make those changes part of your daily routine. This rings true with both exercise regimens and diet plans. One diet plan, in particular, that people often turn to is the low-carb diet, which can be tricky to navigate.

Fortunately, Blount Memorial Hospital registered dietitian Heather Pierce says there are a few “hacks” you can use to make the low-carb diet easier to adopt. “Low-carb diets can be difficult to stick with, but there are some ways to make them work for you,” she said. “One major issue with low-carb diets is finding appropriate substitutes for those carb-heavy foods people eat all the time, such as buns, crackers and rice. Buns, for instance, can be replaced with lettuce. Instead of tacos or sandwiches, try lettuce wraps. Instead of crackers, try working in crispy vegetables such as sliced cucumbers or celery,” she said.

“There are some interesting carb alternatives hiding in the frozen foods section, too,” Pierce continued. “For instance, cauliflower rice is a nice, healthy alternative to rice. It’s just small bits of cauliflower, but it works great for low-carb diets. If you’re not used to eating it, you can even work it into regular rice as a way to ease yourself into the taste. Also, in the frozen section, you’ll find packages of spiralized zucchini and carrots, which are pretty cheap and can just be thrown in the microwave and basically are ready to eat,” she explained. “These work great in place of pastas or noodles, which contain lots of carbs,” she added.

When it comes to pizza, the biggest carb source is, of course, the crust. Pierce says there’s a low-carb solution for that, too. “For pizzas, one interesting low-carb hack is to replace the traditional crust with either lavash bread or cauliflower pizza crusts. Lavash bread only has about five or six grams of carbohydrate per serving once you take out the fiber carbs, which is great. Lavash bread also can be baked and made into crackers, which really helps with snacking, particularly if you’re used to having crunchy carbs. You can find lavash bread pretty easily at Wal-Mart stores, and kids seem to really like it, too,” she said. “Cauliflower pizza crusts have been around for a while, but some of the prepackaged ones aren’t as low-carb as you might think, so it may be best to buy the ingredients and make those yourself,” she added.

Speaking of snacking, Pierce says it’s best to keep some low-carb things on-hand to keep from falling back into your old carb-heavy favorites. “Look for those easy-to-grab items such as pickles, boiled eggs, nuts, nut butters and avocados,” she said. “There’s also low-carb ice cream out there, which can help if you’re an ice cream fan and want to stay one. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, remember to keep dark chocolate around. It’s better for you than milk chocolate, but just keep your number of servings down. You also can try low-carb protein bars, but remember to read the ingredients closely and use in moderation,” she explained. “Little changes along the way can really help you adapt to any diet, especially low-carb diets,” she added.

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