Tips for maintaining a low carb diet

I've struggled with my weight all my life, so trust me- I know a thing or two about diets. The main thing I know about diets is that they suck and they just make you want the thing that you can't have even more. So when I talk about a low carb 'diet' I mean a low carb way of eating because this is not a temporary thing- if you do it temporarily then you will just gain weight again after you stop! There's lots of diets around but I found that eating low carb was the best way for me to maintain a healthy weight. I also need to do it for medical reasons, which is why although I've tried and failed at it a few times, I always come back to it. I recently started eating low carb again and this time I'm finding it a lot easier, so I thought I would share some tips with you!

1. It's low carb, not 'no carb'
Sometimes people tend to go overboard with the whole low carb thing- I know I did. You want to do it right so you deny yourself everything that has carbs in it. Unfortunately, that isn't sustainable unless you have ridiculous amounts of willpower and your body actually needs carbs to function, so especially if you exercise a lot, you will need to eat some carbs!

2. Learn about carbs!
I have to maintain a low carb diet for medical reason, and my mum likes to chase me up on it. Unfortunately, my mum doesn't know much about carbs (sorry mum), so she's said things like "oh I'll just make it with rice instead of potatoes so it's low carb" and "just eat lots of fruit!". Rice= carbs. Fruit=sugar= aaallll the carbs. Carbs also tend to be 'hidden' in things such as canned soups, so do some research and check the labels!

3. Make substitutions
The hardest thing for me (and the thing that made me fail many times) was giving up pasta. As a student, my diet consists mainly of pasta, pizza and beer, so having to deny myself those things was really hard. However, since I've discovered courgette pasta, my low carb diet has been going a lot better! Find out what your weakness is and find a substitution for it. If your weakness is pizza for example, try making your own cauliflower pizza base- it's actually really yummy!

4. Fill up on meat, vegetables and cheese
I've found that it's actually quite easy to replace the carb portion of your meal with something low carb. Say I was going to have some chicken and rice for dinner- the low carb option would be to just replace the rice with lots and lots of vegetables (I love frozen mixed vegetables as a quick and affordable option). I also like to eat a lot of cheese, which I know is very fatty, but if I denied myself cheese AND carbs, I would go absolutely crazy.

5. Make some exceptions
Now I'm not saying that your exception should be "it's Friday night and I can't be bothered to cook so I'm going to order myself a large pizza", but don't deny yourself food all the time. My general rule is that when I'm with friends, I can eat what I want. I don't want to be that girl at a barbecue who just eats a salad. Last time my friends and I had a barbecue, I had one hot dog and then some chicken. Don't be too strict with your diet or you (and your friends) will end up hating it, but make sensible choices. If you order a salad at the restaurant and all your friends have pasta then you're just going to get grumpy and binge later on (one of the few things I learned in my Psychology degree). Which brings me to my next point...

6. Just don't buy carb heavy things
This may sound obvious, but it has helped me so much. I used to have pasta in the house because you know, maybe I'll need a quick meal and won't have time to cook properly. That situation quickly turns into 'I can't be bothered to cook so I'll just have pasta' and then eventually 'screw it, I like pasta and I don't want to do this low carb thing anymore'. Now I just don't buy pasta anymore and guess what- I don't crave it because I don't see it. It really is that simple.

7. Find healthy snacks
I like to always have a few boiled eggs around as a snack (is it just me or does anyone else just love boiled eggs?), as well as some nuts. I've also recently discovered a lovely little edamame bean salad at Sainsbury's, which is a great snack when you want something that feels a little more like a meal. Anything to keep you away from those crisps!

8. Don't be too hard on yourself
Changing your lifestyle is hard, so every once in a while you will slip. But just because you gave in and ordered that pizza doesn't mean that you should give up and eat that tub of Ben&Jerry's too! Don't fall into the old 'I'll start again tomorrow' trap because 90% of the time you won't. It's okay to eat that pizza, don't feel guilty and enjoy it, but then get back on track immediately. Put down the ice cream spoon!

I hope you found this helpful, and if you have any tips and tricks then please do leave them in the comments! Also let me know if you want to see some recipe posts for my favourite low carb meals.

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