If you are just starting out and switching to a lower carb way of eating, this awesome graphic showing easy low carb hacks needs to be printed out and stuck on your fridge or pantry door.
If you are new here, you need to read this post then take a look at the low carb starter kit to see what needs to be in your fridge and pantry to have the best possible success. I’m sure you will have some great suggestions and your own low carb hacks. I would love you to add them at the end of the post.
LOW CARB HACKS – MEALS
- Soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, flavoured milks – The choice is simple. Never have these again. They are incredibly high in sugars, flavourings and preservatives. They add very little nutrition, cause tooth decay, increase appetite and are part of the obesity and T2 diabetes epidemic. They are unnecessary to our diet and a complete waste of money. Go for water, maybe flavoured with a slice of lemon, orange, mint and cinnamon, or drink full fat milk (in limited quantities). If these changes are too hard, start by diluting the orange juice with water each time until your children (or you) gets used to the taste. It will then be an easier transition to stop having them altogether. Fruit juice and flavoured milks, contain just as much sugar as a coke. If you really want the taste of juice, have a glass of water then a piece of fruit which will contain the all the fibre, vitamins and minerals of whole fruit.
Burgers and Fries – Most burger retailers these days will allow you to ask for a bunless/breadless burger. They will either wrap the burger and the fillings in lettuce leaves, or compensate by giving you extra salad in the box. Don’t choose fries anymore, swap them for a salad with an oily dressing instead. We rarely go to McDonalds, but if we did, I would choose a small burger (kids) meal, a diet coke or water, and swap the fries with a garden salad. I then open the burger and put the meat patty, sauces and cheese on top of the salad. Voila, the regular meal would have been 870 kCal, 133g carbs, my new meal is only 204kCal and 4g carbs!!!!! It just takes a bit of thinking, and it’s cheaper to buy a kids meal. When making burgers at home, use lettuce leaves, mushrooms or capsicum as a bun substitute. Or just have them with a side salad like my lamb and mint burger.
- Bread/sandwiches/wraps – this is the hardest swap to get your head around because we are so used to the convenience of putting a filling between 2 pieces of bread, or in a wrap. Lunch can be salads packed with protein and good fats (for example, chicken and avocado, caesar salad, bacon, sun-dried tomato, cheese, olives), and leftovers are KING! Make extra portions for dinner, and save them for lunch. Choose meals which will also be great for lunch for the next few days, such as chicken tenderloins and bacon, and roast meat, Grain Free KFC, Paleo Scotch eggs, mini quiche, cream cheese stuffed meatballs, mini meatloaf….This really is the fastest way to have lunch prepared for a few days, and cheaper. Use lettuce leaves as a wrap, egg wraps, or even start by buying the thinnest bread you can find to cut down on the amount you eat. Take a look at what my children eat in their lunch boxes to give you some ideas. There is 2 weeks of their lunch boxes. Click here for all the lunch recipe archives.
- Snack foods – as your appetite changes, and you lose the cravings, your need for snack foods will lessen. Packaged snack foods such as pretzels, corn chips, microwave popcorn, are incredibly high in carbs, sugar, trans fats and preservatives. Start snacking on cheese cubes, pepperoni slices, olives, and my favourite, slices of cucumber instead of crackers then load them up with your favourite toppings like cheese, pate, sundried tomato.
- Ice Cream – make some great low carb cheesecakes, no bake lemon cheesecakes, chocolate swirl baked cheesecake, or lime cheesecake.
- Processed Meats – Eat only real meat that is cooked fresh. Eat cold roast meat. Only buy sausages which are more than 80% meat and have no wheat fillers. Buy the best bacon you can find, with the least amount of preservatives and sugar/honey. Eat leftovers, and make extra portions for each meal. Bake chicken drumsticks when you have the oven on.
- Pasta – make vegetable pasta with carrots or zucchini using a spiralizer or a julienne cutter. Cut your carbs and double your nutrients by eating more vegetables this way. Win, win.
- Sweets & Confectionery – Stop these because they are nothing but concentrated sugar with ZERO nutrition. Even if they say they are made with real fruit juice, they are just made with natural sugar, not processed sugar – it’s still sugar. It takes a while to develop the taste, but slowly introduce dark chocolate. Each time you buy it, buy a higher cacao %. Each square will have less sugar, more cacao, and taste slightly bitter which will encourage you to eat less and savour each square (ever noticed and entire block of chocolate can just magically disappear?). High sugar chocolate is so easy to overeat, then you crave more when your blood sugar crashes. Stop the sugar roller coaster. Eat chopped up nuts and dark chocolate instead of nutty M&M’s.
- Cocktails – Don’t worry, you don’t have to completely give up alcohol, but make better choices and limit the number of drinks you have. Alcohol will always be metabolised before any sugar in your body, so alcohol will slow down weight loss and fat burning. Choose spirits with low sugar mixes such as diet drinks or carbonated water. Go for red wine or dry white wine. Do not drink dessert wines, sticky wines, beers or liqueurs. Drink in moderation from a health perspective, a carb perspective and a “gives me the munchies, stops all my willpower” perspective.
LOW CARB HACKS – BAKING
- Flour – Find recipes which use ground almonds, desiccated coconut, ground linseed or coconut flour. If you want to adapt a favourite recipe, choose ones that have the smallest amount of flour, and they will generally be more successful than a recipe which is based predominantly on flour.
- Breadcrumbs – Use ground almonds or ground linseed, then add seasoning, herbs and spices to flavour.
- Margarine & Seed Oils – Margarines are vegetable oils which are hydrogenated, to turn a liquid oil into a spread. Vegetable oils are high in omega 6 fatty acids which are inflammatory. Go back to baking with butter (“I trust a cow more than a chemist”), olive oil, avocado oil and coconut oil. These are high in omega 3’s which are anti inflammatory, they contain nutrients and vitamins, instead of preservatives.
- Frosting & Icing – A great alternative is a chocolate ganache (cream and chocolate) or a cream cheese frosting. There are new products coming on the market using stevia instead of cane sugar for icing sugar (confectioners sugar).
- Sugar – the only sugar I keep in the house now are a few sugar sachets for friends who visit for a coffee. Which sugar substitute to use is such a personal choice. I use granulated stevia in all my recipes. It measures spoon for spoon, there are also liquid stevia preparations available. Find what works for you, and what taste you find acceptable. I use far less than is recommended because my taste for sugar has decreased so much. Others use honey, dried fruit, rice malt syrup or agave. I personally don’t use these because they are still digested and seen by your body as sugar. They will still raise your insulin, still make you have a sugar crash, and encourages some people to eat more, thinking they are good for them. The small amount of health benefit from say dried fruit or honey, is far outweighed by the damage sugar does to us. And please avoid agave syrup, it is 80-90% fructose, so is just a naturally occurring High Fructose Corn Syrup. But really, this is your own choice depending on your beliefs, how much weight you have to lose, how much you consume, and preference. I just tell you what I do.
LOW CARB HACKS – PANTRY & FRIDGE
- Toast & Jam – The wheat and jam are a sugar hit you can do without in the morning. Try a smoothie with coconut cream, berries, greens, nut butters, and anything else you want to experiment with.
- Rice – Try cauliflower rice. Grate the raw cauliflower in the food processor, then cook in coconut cream and add cashews and coriander. Less carbs, more nutrition. If this doesn’t appeal, eat less rice each time, and don’t go back for seconds. Eventually you won’t want to waste your carbs on rice which doesn’t offer much in the way of flavour or nutrition.
- Fruit & Flavoured Yogurt – Take a look at a fruit yogurt, or a flavoured yogurt and you will see how high they are in sugar. These banana flavoured yogurt pots have 16g (FOUR teaspoons) of sugar in each pot, yet they still receive the Heart Foundation Tick!!! Try natural yogurt, that only has milk, milk products and cultures. Add some berries for flavour, or cinnamon. Sprinkle coconut or chocolate grain free granola on top.
- Cereals – read my post on cereals and understand what is wrong with our modern food production. Grains are used for fattening livestock (when really they should be eating grass). Try scrambled eggs, leftovers, smoothies, bacon, yogurt, berries instead. Eat some protein and good fats to start you off for the day really well fed, rather than having a sugar crash at 10am then you reach for a cake or a biscuit, then you feel guilty so you skip lunch, then you crash again, reach for another biscuit to get an instant fix, then crash again while making dinner. Sounds familiar? Fill up on good fats and moderate protein. Feel fuller for longer.
- Mashed Potatoes – Try mashed cauliflower instead, just don’t tell the children what it is. Flavour it with butter, or garlic. Put some grated cheese on top too. Again, less carbs, more nutrition. My children used to gag on cauliflower, not anymore.
- Low Fat Products – start buying full fat products again. When fat is removed from products for either health claims or shelf life, it is replaced with cheaper sugar and sugar compounds. Take a look next time you are at the supermarket and compare the sugar/carbs of a low fat product with a regular product. For example, low fat cream cheese has 15% carbs, whereas cream cheese spreadable, has 4%. If you increase your fat intake but don’t continually cut the carbs, you will end up with a standard high fat high carb SAD diet (Standard American Diet).