Dealing with Temptation
The truth is that temptation lurks everywhere unless you deny yourself a social and working life and the attendant pleasures of eating out. The best way to overcome temptation is not with willpower, which is often in short supply, but with our brainpower, a potentially unlimited resource. Imagine that you’re doing great, losing weight, feeling better than ever, thrilled with yourself, hearing compliments from friends and acquaintances-and then it happens! Despite all your good intentions, you’re mightily tempted by the food you’re not supposed to have. What to do? I’ll tell you this: You’d better have a strategy ready!
Finding Substitutes for Favorite Foods
One of the best don’t-fall-off-the-program techniques is to eat foods that substitute for a highly desired food. If you lust after any of the above, or for blintzes, lasagna, Yorkshire pudding, or even chocolate truffles, ice cream, cheesecake, or strawberry shortcake, the answer lies in using the ingenious substitutes for these foods I’ve provided in the recipe section or through our website at www.atkinscenter.com. Learn to use them. They can be just as part of your menu planning as grilled chicken and tossed salad. (Remember: Not all these recipes and products are suitable for the Induction phase.)
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Backing into a Carb Count
But, first, let me explain a few things. Almost everything displayed on the Nutrition Facts panel is based on specific laboratory procedures called assays, regulated by the FDA. The quantity of fat, protein, ash, and water can all be directly and exactly assayed. (Water and ash need not be listed on nutrition panels.) Carbohydrates, however, are the exception. Instead, the amount of carbohydrate is arrived at only after the other four components are directly computed: In other words, what is not fat, protein, ash, or water is called carbohydrate.
All Carbs Are Not Created Equal
To complicate matters further, carbohydrates comprise several sub-groups, which include dietary fiber, sugar, sugar, sugar alcohol, and “other” carbohydrates-a kitchen-sink grouping of gums, lignin’s, organic acids, and flavonoids. (These individual items can be assayed.) The FDA requires that a nutrition label include the total carbohydrates. The amount of dietary fiber and sugar must also be listed. However, the law does not require that other carbohydrate subcategories appear. Some manufacturers voluntarily include sugar, alcohol, and “other carbohydrates.”
Not all types of carbohydrates behave the same way in your body. For example, when your body digests table sugar, it immediately becomes blood sugar. So sugar and most other carbohydrate are what we call “digestible carbohydrates” Other carbs, such as sugar alcohols, have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. Still, other carbs, such as dietary fiber, pass through your body without affecting your blood sugar level. To date, the FDA has yet to focus on these critical biochemical differences and treats all carbohydrates alike.
The impact on Blood Sugar
When you look at a food label, you do not see a number for the carbs that have an impact on your blood-sugar level, or what I call “the carbs that count when you do Atkins,” Fortunately, you don’t have to be a food scientist or math whiz to figure it out. To calculate the carbohydrates that “count,’ subtract the number of grams of dietary fiber from the total number of carbohydrate grams. That’s right. A little simple subtraction and you’ve got the number. This number is conservative because most labels don’t give you the additional info you would need to further remove, such as the amount of sugar alcohol grams contained in the product.
What Is a Serving?
Now, there is another rather sneaky aspect of nutrition labels. When you were still drinking such things in the old days, you may have purchased a twenty-ounce bottle of flavored ice tea sweetened with corn syrup. That’s one serving. Wrong! Look carefully at the Nutrition Facts panel, and you will see that a single serving is calculated not as the twenty ounces in the bottle but as eight ounces. You are expected to share that bottle with another friend and a half! That means all those calculations about carbohydrate content, sugar content, and calories are for only eight ounces, not the whole bottle.
If none of the airline options available is acceptable, bring your food with you. But make sure that you have enough. Plan ahead. Don’t allow for even the slim chance that you might be hungry enough to turn to the carbohydrates on board. It will be ironic if your ironclad willpower evaporates in the one place universally considered to provide the worst possible food. See “On the Move” below for more on the challenges you may encounter while traveling.