(BPT) - Heading into the new year, you may be thinking about ways to work on your health and wellness. A new year is an ideal opportunity to consider positive lifestyle changes, and what you choose to eat is a big part of that. The good news is, you can focus on nutritional goals while still enjoying the food you eat.
"Think about important nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, like protein, healthy fat and fiber, when choosing what to eat," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S. "Focusing on foods with those nutrients, while reducing carbs, can help you stay on track toward your goals."
Here are Kirkpatrick's tips to help you limit carbs.
1. Utilize net carbs to your advantage
The great thing about tracking net carbs is that it helps you get the most bang for your nutritional buck, as an essential component of a net carb calculation is to deduct fiber. In the low carb world, fiber is found in nuts, seeds and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli or cauliflower). Fiber is not digestible, which is why you deduct it from the total carbs. Adding more of these foods into your daily routine means you're getting fewer digestible carbs and more healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
2. Add indulgences to stay on track
It's much easier to stick with healthier lifestyle changes if you include foods you truly enjoy that also provide nutritional content.
"I advise my patients to indulge but indulge smart," adds Kirkpatrick.
One great choice is Quest Frosted Cookies, which comes in two flavors: Quest Birthday Cake Frosted Cookies and Quest Chocolate Cake Frosted Cookies. These soft, bite-sized cookies are enrobed in either a birthday cake or chocolaty coating that satisfies your sweet tooth with less than 1 gram of sugar, 5 grams of protein and 1 gram net carbs per serving* — so you can enjoy these delicious treats and stay on track with your nutritional goals.
*See individual product for nutrition information, including calories, total fat and saturated fat content.
3. Understand how soon you'll see benefits
“When you limit carbs, the results can be seen fairly quickly,” says Kirkpatrick. “That’s because the process of limiting carbs (at least in the beginning) leads to a reduction in water weight. Before the real weight starts coming off, you can start seeing the benefits. Sometimes, just feeling lighter will keep you motivated to continue in the beginning.”
Additionally, limiting carbs means reducing processed foods and sugar. Multiple studies have found these eliminations to be beneficial to mental health. So, limiting carbs can help you with your physical health as well as your happiness factor!
4. Swap dips and sides
Most dips and sides can be made low carb and reinforce your healthy habits. For example, you can make spinach-and-artichoke dip (a source of antioxidants) with almond flour (or no flour at all), snack on an apple with no-added-sugar peanut or almond butter, or dip low carb chips into a healthy fat source like guacamole. These options give you way more nutrient density than the potato chips or pretzels you might be tempted to grab. They also help you feel fuller, longer.
Here are other lower carb dip ingredients to try:
- Mayonnaise. This versatile condiment has zero carbohydrates. You can create plenty of dips combining mayo with mustard and/or sour cream.
- Mustard. Add zing to your dips with mustard, as it contains zero net carbs. Some mustards will have added sugar or honey, so be sure to check labels.
- Sour cream. While you may think full-fat sour cream is not the best choice, it actually contains fewer carbs than the low-fat version — and a lot fewer carbs than non-fat sour cream. It also adds flavor to any recipe and combines well with a variety of herbs and spices.
Meeting your health and wellness goals for 2022 will be easier if you center your goals on nutrition as well as enjoyment of foods you eat that also help give you what your body needs.