Going low-carb alone
Reducing carbohydrate can be an effective way to manage blood glucose levels, and many of my patients have already adopted the dietary change with exceptional results. My clinical protocol for transitioning my clients to a low-carbohydrate diet is both scientific and practical. Not only do I crunch the nutrient numbers, ensuring patients hit their micronutrient and energy needs, but I also support them to incorporate lasting dietary changes into their daily lives. Many of my adult patients ask me: ‘How do I do low-carb when my whole family eats carbs?' My advice is simple: don't overthink it - just get going. Remember, only you have the power to make changes to your health. Even though it would be great to have everyone in your household on board, what you put into your body is your call, and others' choices shouldn't influence that. As the only person who eats low-carb in my family, here are my hot tips on how I make meals everyone can enjoy while I stick to my own health and nutrition goals 1. Advocate for yourself, but be as accepting as you want others to be We don’t all have the same needs or beliefs when it comes to food and health, and that’s ok! Avoid making food a problem zone at home. Educate your loved ones about the benefits of low-carb for your diabetes management and the way you feel. It's reasonable to expect them to be accepting of your choices and to support you, but not necessarily to do low-carb themselves. 2. Plan your meals Meal planning can really help you manage your needs while still keeping up with the family’s usual eating habits. My trick is to write a weekly meal plan with recipes that are easy to adapt. Rather than choosing recipes where carbs are the main event and integrated into the whole meal (such as fried rice, or a carbonara pasta), try recipes that have separate and standalone ingredients, such as a protein, vegetable and carb component. This way the carbs can feature on your family members' plates, and be left off yours. For example, lamb steaks with green beans and pesto is naturally low-carb; adding some roasted sweet potato pieces will easily satisfy the rest of the gang without too much extra work. 3. Stock up on low-carb essentials Stock your pantry with low-carb pasta and noodles for spaghetti and stir-fry nights. Purchase a spiralizer and food processor so you can make your own zucchini noodles and cauliflower rice. Fill up the freezer with frozen veggies and the fridge with delicious dips and condiments, so if a steak and mash night catches you off guard, you can pair your meat with a pile of steamed veggies with butter or pesto instead. Don’t let your partner’s 8pm chocolate fix throw you off. Keep a stash of low-carb chocolate, nuts, frozen berries and cheeses on hand so you too have something tasty to snack on when the need arises. 4. Divide and conquer Double your dinner recipe so you have enough for lunch the following day, and then pack your lunchbox before you serve up your evening meal. Put your lunch container in the fridge, safe from the temptation of a second helping, and you have a guaranteed low-carb lunch for the following day. My colleague takes this one step further - on Sundays, she makes an extra-large vegetable dish, such as stir-fried veg, cauliflower cheese, or barbequed zucchini, eggplant and red peppers, and cooks up a roast chicken or a brisket in the slow cooker. She then packs containers with meat and veggies and voila - easy low-carb meals are sorted for most of the week! 5. Fend for yourself If the head chef in your house won't come to the party, or you feel concerned about eating out at someone's house who doesn't understand your needs, it's ok to fend for yourself now and then. Having a quick reheatable meal pre-prepared in the fridge or freezer is great for nights when there aren't any options but carbs, and being able to whip up something fast and basic like a cheese and spinach omelette is a good skill to perfect. I love potluck dinners where everyone brings a dish because I know that I'll be able to cater to my needs with whatever I bring. Many people have dietary needs and preferences these days: vegans and vegetarians, people who eat halal and kosher foods, and people who need to be gluten-free, dairy-free, or nut-free. Remember, you're not the only person navigating mealtimes with food needs in mind, and it's ok to ask what's on the menu and whether you can bring something - your hosts will love you for it! Food choices influence every aspect of our health, and they can also impact family dynamics and relationships. Family mealtimes can be positive and enjoyable experiences for everyone at the table, even though we each have individual needs, preferences and beliefs. Ideally, we could all share from the same plate, but this doesn't always serve us. When you take ownership of your choices, you take charge of your health.