our everyday life

Low-Carb Menu Schedule Plan

by Billie Jo Jannen

Leading low-carb diet advocates Dr. Robert Atkins and Dr. Arthur Agatston both emphasize that weight-loss success comes through keeping your metabolism cooking along by eating frequently and wisely. That means you start as soon as you get up in the morning and make eating the last thing you do at night. Both doctors recommend a little fat, protein and fiber with every meal and advise that you eat slowly and avoid heaping your plate with piles of food at a single sitting. The point is to eat low-carb foods frequently, not to eat more than you can comfortably hold. When you shop for your family's meals, read food labels religiously. Acquaint yourself with the glycemic index and learn to calculate net carbs on the fly.

Mini-Meals

Between-meal snacks are a must to keep the fat-burning action going on. Keep a supply of protein bars in your desk drawer, but make sure that sugar is not the main ingredient for "energy." Grab a handful of almost any kind of nuts, as long as they aren't coated with sweeteners that raise their carb count. Celery stuffed with peanut butter or full-fat cream cheese makes a satisfying nibble. Many berries are allowed in later phases of low-carb diets; nosh on a handful alone or make a sinful-tasting bedtime concoction of nuts, berries and full-fat sour cream or yogurt. Package up a few cheese sticks -- full fat only, please -- for quick gratification any time of the day, or peel and halve an avocado and top it with a sprinkling of whatever pleases your palate.

Breakfast

Whether you eat at 6 a.m. or at 10 a.m., breakfast can include any type of egg dish you like. Draw on the wide range of meats and vegetables that are low in carbs and eat a different kind of omelet every day of the week. Serve yourself bacon or sausage on the side, or eat breakfast meats alone. Enjoy a slice of low-carb bread, or make an egg and sausage sandwich. For your family, make a vegetable or mushroom quiche to slice up over the course of the week. Or enjoy any number of commercial meal-replacement shakes that are high in protein and fiber and low in carbs.

Lunch

Salads are encouraged any time of the night or day on a low-carb regime. Keep a bag or bowl of mixed greens in the refrigerator all the time for an easy grab-and-go lunch or snack. Regular salad dressings are more likely to be low-carb than those labeled as "light." Bleu cheese and ranch dressings for salads and dipping vegetables are yours to enjoy. If you saved up your bread ration to have a midday sandwich, pile it high with meats, cheeses, full-fat mayo, mustard, horseradish, pickles, peppers, onions and greens. Of course, if you just had a mid-morning breakfast of bacon and eggs, you might feel more comfortable with a cup of homemade chicken soup warmed up in the office microwave or a mini-meal, followed by another mini-meal in the late afternoon.

Dinner

When you come home after a day of low-carb snacking and have sugar-free goodies on hand to tide the children over, slow down and enjoy a glass of wine or low-carb beer before dinner. Center your family menus around budget dishes like meatloaf, stuffed peppers, stuffed zucchinis, cheeseburgers -- wrapped in lettuce leaves, instead of bread -- and ratatouille-style skillet meals made with fresh or frozen vegetables. Spend more time and money for elegant feasts like roast turkey, stuffed eggplant, steak and lobster, and grilled shrimp. Vegetables are a big feature of low-carb regimes, but avoid corn, bananas and root vegetables. Desserts can be as simple as a commercial sugar-free pudding -- made with half-and-half instead of low-fat milk -- or as fancy as a cheesecake topped with semi-sweet chocolate or a low-glycemic fruit like blueberries.

About the Author

Billie Jo Jannen is a politics and lifestyle columnist in rural San Diego County and a senior copy editor for Demand Media. Her writing and editing career spans 23 years, and she specializes in border and environmental affairs. Jannen's eclectic education includes engineering and horticulture, and she represents the Rural Economic Action League in regional economic development planning.

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