The weekend is here. We wait all week long thinking it will never come around, then just when we think we can’t handle one more work request, homework assignment, or water cooler small talk topic…the weekend comes and saves us like an angel coming down from heaven scooping us up into complete bliss.
For most, the weekend is a time for rest, relaxation, and FOOD. I don’t know about you, but the weekends are the hardest time for me to be mindful of my Insulin Resistance. Whether is out to a restaurant, at a bar, or at a friend’s house it seems that there is more temptation than we typically experience during the week. Everyone else is having a “cheat” meal, so why can’t we? I know I have fallen into that mentality many, many times.
It is easy to know what you should and shouldn’t eat for a low carb diet, but it is certainly a lot harder when you are staring right at those chicken tenders and fries that are being offered to you by that friend we all have that never seems to look overweight…no matter what they eat.
I am certainly not a doctor and I know that everyone’s body handles foods very differently. I am however a woman with Insulin Resistance that knows my body handles food very uniquely and that when I must cut carbs, I can still enjoy certain foods that my friends on low calorie diets cannot.
My amazing Endocrinologist has put me on a limit of 110g of carbs a day…that includes ALL carbs, even veggies. These doctor’s orders don’t care that it’s the weekend, so here are some of my favorite indulgences over the weekend. By no means do these replace the taste of a baked potato, chicken tenders, rice pilaf, and virtually everything at Del Taco…but they do help when I know all those previously mentioned carbs and I have to breakup.
1. Cheese. Cheese. Cheese.
This has honestly been my go to snack and something that has really gotten me through a low carb lifestyle because MOST CHEESES HAVE NO CARBS. That’s right none. When it comes to counting carbs, this is one of those amazing foods that are so satisfying and leave your daily carb count preserved for other foods.
My personal snack favorites are the lowfat Mozarella cheese sticks – they are easy to grab on the go (honestly, they are my breakfast most days) and pretty fun to eat. I am more of a salty fan over sweet, so all kinds of cheese really are my favorite thing.
This is also one of those foods I was limited to on past low calorie diets, so it almost feels like I am cheating my otherwise good diet behavior. Of course, be mindful of saturated fat…but remember for Insulin Resistance, it is about limiting carbs and not calories.
Cheese contains a host of nutrients like calcium, protein, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin B12. For more info on health benefits of cheese, check out this article: http://www.healthyeating.org/Milk-Dairy/Nutrients-in-Milk-Cheese-Yogurt/Nutrients-in-Cheese.aspx
2. Caesar or wedge salads
In a lot of situations, full fat dressings have less carbs than fat free dressings. To me, a crispy salad drenched in dressing like blue cheese, ranch, or Caesar is surprisingly satisfying. The other good news about these is they are always easy to find on menus, especially bars. The croutons that often come with these are my little treat…you will find as you embrace low carb your stomach will start hurting when you eat carbs, so small amounts of croutons like these really hit the spot in just the right amount.
The fats in most salad dressings are typically vegetable oils, so-called “good fats” that help lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Having some fat in the salad dressing helps you make the most of the nutrients in the salad greens and other veggies. Carotenoids like lutein, lycopene, beta carotene and zeaxanthin require a little fat for absorption. These fat-soluble compounds are not only fun to say, but are also associated with reduced risk of heart disease, macular degeneration and even some cancers.And while the calories may be lower in many low-fat dressings, the missing fat is usually replaced with added sugars and starches, fake flavors and color enhancers.
Translation = get yourself some delicious salad dressing, add something tasty like shrimp, and you will be enjoying a lower carb treat.
Nitrate-free bacon has healthy fat, the perfect amount of protein and minimal carbs. I am not a huge pork eater, so my personal favorite is turkey bacon. Bacon really is something most people love and can help spice up those brunches with friends.Bacon also has some great health benefits! Several university and medical center studies have shown that including bacon as a regular, moderate part of one’s diet naturally works to lower the body’s blood pressure and blood sugar levels, helping to prevent and/or alleviate the effects of diabetes, as well as heart disease, stroke and heart attack. You can read more here: http://bacontoday.com/top-10-reasons-bacon-is-actually-healthy-for-you/
4. Sweet potato fries
Let’s be honest…fries are so awesome. Since french fries from white potatoes are one of my biggest tempters to get back together with carbs, I thought it was worth mentioning why exactly white potatoes really are like poison for someone with Insulin Resistance or PCOS. Potatoes are fat free, but they are also starchy carbohydrates with little protein.
According to Harvard, the carbs in potatoes are the kind that the body digests rapidly and have a high glycemic load. That is, they cause blood sugar and insulin to surge and then dip. This effect can make people feel hungry again soon after eating, which may lead to overeating. The rapid rise in blood sugar can also lead to increased insulin production. Jarzabkowski said, “The last thing I’d recommend to a diabetic is a potato.” Well my friends, I am struggling to find a way to argue with Harvard.
That being said, I know I am a human that can crave fries. When those moments strike, I find that several places now offer sweet potato fries. Of course, I do not love them as much as white potato fries, but a lot of places make sweet potato fries pretty tasty.
There are also some great health benefits of sweet potato fries! One health benefit of sweet potato french fries is the fries’ fiber content. Dietary fiber improves your cardiovascular health, helping prevent high cholesterol that increases your risk of heart disease. It also helps stabilize your blood sugar after a meal, preventing a blood sugar spike that leaves you hungry again shortly after eating.Check out more on sweet potato fries here: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-sweet-potato-french-fries-2837.html
5. Dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate can be possible on a low carb diet! I should just drop the mic now.When it comes to chocolate, darker is usually healthier. Choose dark chocolate made from at least 70% cocoa solids or a low sugar white chocolate.How to choose your chocolate? Carefully check the wrapper and choose dark chocolate that hasn’t come in contact with any gluten-containing grains. Select chocolate produced organically by people working under fair conditions. Choose low carb chocolate by checking the nutrition information on the label for “net carbs.” And then…chocolate time.
6. Vodka soda with lime
Here is another great thing to enjoy on the weekend with NO CARBS. That’s right…none. There are of course many reasons why you should not over indulge in alcohol (including drunk dialing carbs), so be careful! When you are ready to enjoy a beverage, it is great to know that this is (like many other hard alcohols mixed with soda) your best bet. On days I am feeling extra sassy, I will do a splash of cranberry juice to spice it up. Just be careful when you order this…I have noticed most bartenders are pretty heavy handed with their cranberry pours.
My other go to beverage is red wine. Cabernet is one of the lower carb wines typically coming in at about 5g of carbs per glass. This can definitely add up, but I will admit I do really love a great glass of wine.
Here is a great article on alcohol on a low carb diet: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/alcbev.htm
Here are some other great ideas for low carb beverages:
Here are some of the awesome resources that helped inform this article:
What are some of your favorite low carb weekend treats? Share them in the comments!