Adam Miramon, M.O.M., Dipl.Ac., L.Ac., Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist

Low Carb Strategies

Having experienced forced dietary changes twice in my life, I knew the only way to be successful was to make the transition as simple and painless as possible. I created a loose set of strategies to support the transition of my dietary journey:

  • Short list low carb foods
  • Significantly reduce high carb foods
  • Allow one moderate carb meal per day and one free day per week
  • No carb or calorie counting
  • No self-shaming
  • Weekly weigh-in
  • Water, Water, and more Water.

Short list low carb foods.

This was crucial for easing the stress of shopping, meal preparation, and dining out. I created a short list of fruits, vegetables, nuts, sauces, snacks, sweeteners, alcohol, and other low carb foods. This reduced my stress around shopping and meal preparation. My largest list was that of 10 vegetables, and every other list was under 3 items. This made the list easy to remember. I used Diet Doctor to create my lists, and I began shopping the internet for low-carb recipes.

Significantly reduce high carb foods.

I reduced high carb foods like bread, grains, and alcohol. My success is linked to the fact that I sought to reduce my overall carb intake rather than completely eliminate carbs. This allowed me to have one meal per day where my carb intake was moderately higher. Typically, this was a sandwich with gluten-free bread or a portion of grains or other high carb food.

Allow one moderate carb meal per day and take a weekly “carbcation.”

Eating one moderate carb meal per day allowed me to be able to eat foods that are convenient to prepare, and it afforded me the opportunity to eat foods I enjoy. While I allowed myself the increased “carb” meal, I kept the meal moderate in comparison to my previous carb intake. As a guideline . . . and only a guideline . . . I strived for an overall daily “carb” meal of approximately 30g. Monitoring this meal became easy once I figured out the approximate carbs in certain foods – amazingly enough, grains tend to be relatively similar in carb content.

By allowing myself a “carbcation” each week, it empowered me to dine out and eat reasonably. Typically, this day was not full of carbs at every meal, but rather, my low carb breakfast, my moderate carb lunch, and my “not counting the carb” dinner. I did not feel I was missing out on good food and I was able to continue dining out once per week without having to “carb count.”

No carb or calorie counting.

I have have bad experiences with “dieting” due to calorie counting, and I have seen friends have strained relationships with food because of such strategies. For this reason, I intentionally did not add up carbs at meals. I continued to read packages, make estimates, and eat from my short list, but I refused to count. This freed me of the micromanaging of counting every . . . single . . . carb . . . in every item of food or meal. This allowed me to have a good relationship with the foods I was incorporating into my meals.

No self-shaming.

Self-shaming has a negative effect on our mental and emotional health, and it may impact our ability to make successful, lasting changes in our lives. I actively evaluated my level of self-shaming around food choices, weight, and body image. Was I successful at never self-shaming?

No. I would become frustrated when my weight would increase or plateau. I would look in the mirror and critique my body. I would shame myself around food choices or increased carb intake. All of these are counterproductive, and rather than riding the self-shaming roller coaster, I would look at my positive accomplishments – improved sleep, reduced fatigue, stable digestion, and steady, consistent weight loss.

Weekly Weigh-in.

I believe in tracking progress whenever possible, and weight management is no different. However, tracking progress in terms of weight management can become obsessive . . . I am aware of this slippery slope, so I elected to weigh myself once a week – every Friday, in the morning, upon waking, and without clothes. This way the data I collected was steady and consistent. I resisted the urge for a weigh-in more frequently or at later parts of the day . . . I was not always successful . . . BUT . . . No self-shaming.

Water, Water, and more Water!

I maintained my moderate water intake, and experienced increased thirst on certain days. Water is essential for proper hydration and flushing toxins from the body. Since I was undergoing a complete nutritional change, it was crucial to be sure I was hydrating appropriately. I began carrying my water bottle with me every day, and typically fill it at least 3 times per day. Water also helped to stave off the weird bouts of hunger that would happen at strange times during the day.

Success is in self-loving and patience with the process.

Any lifestyle change will have its physical, mental, emotional, and sometimes spiritual ups and downs. One of my keys to success is to practice radical self-care, loving all parts of myself (even my flaws), and most important patience with myself and with the process. Many of our habits did not form overnight, and we are definitely not going to unravel them as quickly as we like. Take time, care for yourself, love yourself, and most of all be patient with yourself. You are worth it.