9 Tips for Low Carb in a High Carb World

Low carb eating can be a struggle, because we live in a world where we're bombarded with high-carb foods everywhere.

We all encounter times when we have no low-carb support: your workplace break room, a relative's house, a restaurant.... even in your own home.

Everywhere we go, we're faced with other people's eating habits. 

This time of year is particularly bad. Between Halloween and New Year, it's a constant barrage of high-carb foods and the common practice of Celebration = Treats. 

For these times, we must have 100% willpower because there are carbs and snacks and things that you shouldn't eat staring you in the face. 

Maybe your partner/spouse (like mine, who is an ovo-lacto-pescatarian) has his/her own special dietary restrictions. Maybe your kids eat lower carb than 90% of kids their age, but still get some items like fruit or granola at home.

  • How do you start LCHP (low-carb high protein) when your family is not going low carb with you?
  • How can you cook for a family with varied dietary needs?
  • How can you eat at a restaurant? Or go to a dinner party? 

Yes, it's a challenge, but there are tips that can help you deal with low carb in a high carb world. (Also see our Low Carb Success post for other tips and tricks.)  

  1. Discuss it with your family. Explain what you are doing to change your diet and why. Talk about dinnertime expectations and any new recipes/variations you'll be trying. Ask for their help and support during mealtimes and beyond. 
  2. Shop specifically for low-carb. You need to have things at the ready when you are tempted by non-plan foods. Take it a step further and pre-prep meals and snacks (read more here for #5). See our list of 5g carb nut/seed post here as well as what I eat in a typical day
  3. Create a safe zone, with foods you can eat. Create a space within your kitchen or office dedicated to your "safe" zone. This is a place where you put any low-carb raw ingredients, approved snacks, etc. Maybe it's a shelf in the refrigerator and/or a drawer in your desk. Wherever it is, use it and claim it for your own. 
  4. Invest in a few good low-carb cookbooks and/or scour the web. Are there recipes you can adapt for those in your home who do not eat low carb? Can you make one dish that everyone will eat, then make a carb and a meat side-dish for those who will eat it? This works well for my family, with my ovo-lacto-pescatarian husband. I make one veggie entree (sometimes containing egg and/or cheese) that we all eat, along with meat for me. My non-diabetic kids usually choose to eat a little of everything. Some low-carb recipe websites that I love are: All Day I Dream About Food, Maria Mind Body HealthDitch the Carbs, and Low Carb is Lekker
  5. Pre-Pack Your Lunches, Dinners & Snacks. If you are struggling with eating alongside those eating the standard American diet, follow this tip from body builders and fitness competitors. Pre-cook, weigh and pack your food in containers for the week. You eat meal 'X' for lunch,  meal 'Y' for dinner, with snack 'Z' at certain times of the day. It's an extremely regimented plan, but those in the fitness industry know what they are doing and are masters at food prep. You just need to invest in a variety of containers and a lightweight cooler if you are taking these meals to work or for travel. I use the eBags Crew Cooler II  in turquoise and these divided containers from Amazon.
  6. Find support. Even if your family is very supportive of the way you're eating, others might not be so keen your "restrictions." They might feel threatened that you are making a positive change in your life, while they are stagnant. Find people in your local or online community that understand what you are going through and can support you when the going gets tough. We all need a shoulder to lean on at times. Some great support resources for low-carb are the FB communities/pages: Dr. Richard K. Bernstein's Diabetes Solution AdvocatesDiabetics Transitioning to LCHF Support Group, and Type1Grit. 
  7. Advocate for your needs. Most better restaurants will have steak, salmon or seafood on the menu, along with a vegetable side. Always ask to make sure there are no additional sauces or breading included in your order. If something is delivered to your table that is not what you agreed upon, send it back. If you're at a fast food restaurant, you can often order a burger without the bun (or order a whole burger and just leave the bun), or a clean salad. Skip the high-carb salad dressing and croutons and opt for olive oil and vinegar instead. There are options, but you have to look for them. 
  8. Ask to bring something. If you are going to a friend's house for dinner, ask to bring a veggie tray with dip, or a low-carb entree option to share. Most hosts will want you to to have an option you can eat and are happy to not be responsible for finding/making an option that may or may not work for your requirements. 
  9. Maintain a sense of humor and flexibility. Remember the world is not going to adjust for your needs. You need to be able to bend and flex but not break. :) There will be many times when you have to maintain your resolve, say no, and just walk away. Other times, you might grab a quick snack of nuts or cheese that you keep with you to avoid high-carb temptations. 

Be flexible, be resilient, and remember that you too used to eat high carb. Now you know better. 

I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.
— Maya Angelou