I work hard to watch what I eat. I have for almost as long as I remember, though I haven’t always succeeded at it. Now think about that… as long as I can remember. That’s because for the vast majority of my life, I’ve been overweight…. and I’m not alone.
According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and the pyramid most of us learned about in elementary school, it was. After all, it said that we needed something like 6-11 servings of whole grains every day, right? We were just following the guidelines… but should we have been? Do we really need that many carbohydrates in our daily life?
As I’ve been working on my health, I’ve slowly started to pare down my carbohydrate consumption. I now generally eat a low-carb diet, and I’ve noticed a difference in my energy levels. Now, I still eat them… but in a more limited capacity. While I may have eaten carbs three meals a day as a kid, I now only have a large carbohydrate for one meal of the day, and it’s made a huge difference – I can feel the difference in my body when I fill up on protein rather than carbs. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them though, so I’ve developed a few tips along the way:
- Utilize hacks. I love using spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute. No, it doesn’t taste like pasta, but it does taste good! I also know people that eat zucchini as noodles, make bananas and eggs into pancakes, and use similar tips and tricks. It’s a great way to feel like you’re eating carbs, and maintain a low-carb lifestyle.
- Have protein for breakfast. When I make an effort to have a good amount of protein for breakfast, it makes the whole day easier. I’m fuller for longer, and it satiates me so I’m not looking for carbs in the morning.
- Have a hearty salad with protein for lunch. This is KEY for me. One of the things you do usually get from carbs is fiber… but you can get that from leafy greens too! I love making this spinach salad and adding a big bunch of cooked chicken, hard boiled eggs, or tuna to the top – it’s really satisfying and I don’t miss the sandwich at all!
- Have fruits and veggies for snacks. This is one I continually work on, because I love sweet snacks like cookies and bars. I try to make sure I reach for something like an apple when I want a sweet, because if I’m not hungry enough for an apple? I’m probably not hungry.
- Limit carbs to one meal per day. This is something I really strive for and it definitely helps. If I have pancakes for breakfast, I’ll generally skip the carbs for lunch and dinner. If I know I’m having rice or pasta for dinner, I tend to not eat carbs for breakfast and lunch. I’m not perfect at it by any means, but it does help when I’m mindful of this.
Now that I’ve shared my tips, I’d love to hear yours, and I want to tell you about a petition I think is so important. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines are being reviewed right now, and it’s so important for our futures, and the future of our children, that quality science is used to determine them. These guidelines aren’t just something we learn in school – it’s a guide for families on how to manage portions and learn how to fuel their bodies. We need to be sure that we are creating a healthier country, and this is just one way to get that going. Obesity rates have doubled int he last 30 years. More Americans are suffering from weight related health issues than ever, and it’s so important to get it in check. Make sure you sign the petition here!