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By Julie W.

I’ve been a dedicated low carber for nearly four years. There was a time I thought I’d NEVER see the day when not only the medical community but also the food manufactures would embrace low carb eating.

Four years ago, even living in the second largest city in the state, I still had to order Splenda online. Stores just didn’t carry it. Food with “low carb” on the label was nowhere to be found locally. I can’t count how many times I wished I could walk in a store and see the words low carb instead of low fat at every glance.

Be careful what you wish for!

The low carb craze has hit the nation. The research and studies released have turned the tides from low fat being the “thing” to do to low carb. The stores are flooded with new “low carb” products popping up every day. Manufacturers are focusing on low carb product development with a vengeance. Television and magazines are full of ads for low carb this, low carb that. Restaurants have “low carb” menus; fast food low carb choices are everywhere. Low Carb program spin offs are hitting the market with books on “the right way” to eat low carb. Rarely a day goes by, and certainly not a week where you don’t hear or read “low carb” in the press. BUT….are all these products and programs REALLY acceptable low carb options for YOU?

I have to chuckle and shake my head when I do my weekly grocery shopping. There are signs with --> arrows everywhere and the words “Atkins Friendly” pointing to the broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans … the list goes on. Then of course there are the whole sections that have emerged with nothing BUT these new so called low carb products.

The Government is preparing to “define low carb” for us in an attempt to regulate products claiming to be low carb. Think about it, that is a scary thought! The old government recommendations were 300 to 375 grams of carbs per DAY. So what will our government decide is “low carb”, half of that perhaps? OUCH!

When I first began low carbing, it was said that technically low carb was anything under 100 grams per day. For many of us, 100 grams per day will not be low carb enough for “us” either for weight reduction, maintenance or health reasons.

Once the government makes a determination there will be (and already is) sneaky little ways manufacturers can fool us into thinking their products will be viable options for our low carb programs. Many of those little slight of words were popular with low fat products also. How many of us fell for them?

You’re going to see labels that say “Reduced Carb”. I checked the label on a resent version of reduced carb pasta. This product had 31 grams of carbs per serving as compared to 41 grams for their regular brand. I saw the same results with a “juice” product with lower carb claims. Technically it is “reduced”, but not low carb for me (and I’d bet the house not for you either).

Then there are the labels that will state “lower in carbs”. Again, by checking labels this only means it’s lower than the regular brands, not low enough to eat. The key is CHECK the labels. Just because it has the word “ carb “ on the label, leading you to believe it is an acceptable choice for low carb eating, does not mean it is LOW enough in carbs to be apart of our way of eating.

Another trick of the trade will be “NET”, “USABLE”, “EFFECTIVE” or “SUGAR” carbs, the number on the label being very low.

Most of you know that “they” (who are they anyway) say low carbers can deduct fiber and sugar alcohol carbs from the total carb count of products. The theory is that they do not affect your blood sugar. Read again, they say “minimal effect on your blood sugar”. It doesn’t say a thing about having a minimal effect on your weight loss attempts.

I’ve never had a problem with people who deduct fiber. Fiber isn’t absorbed and does not need to be counted as a carbohydrate for weight loss. I personally don’t deduct fiber. It gives me leeway for the unforeseen. We don’t always have total control over food preparation in our busy lives. Not deducting fiber gives me a mindless security in keeping my carb intake within my limits for health and weight loss.

I do throw up the red flags when I see people abuse or overuse things with sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners in them. Do they REALLY affect you? Do they set off cravings for more?

Read this (low carb food for thought?): http://bestlowcarbs.com/article1082.html

Another mind game we play and have for years is overeating “because it’s low carb”. How many of us sat and ate a whole box of Snackwells because they were low fat? Again, read the labels. It may “look” good until you see the label reflects a serving and how small that serving really is. Is that realistic consumption for you?

One more time, READ THE LABELS! I’ve seen some of these “so called” low carb products have ingredients that are NOT low carb, corn syrup for example. A small serving may be low in carbs, but the impact from sugar or sugar by another name will backfire on you.

Remember, the basis for success in all the low carb plans is fresh, nutritious REAL food. Unprocessed meat, fresh veggies, and berries are real food. Variety is wonderful, and very important in life long ability to maintain this lifestyle. But when you find yourself eating more and more processed food and sacrificing real food, you’ll run into trouble. Limit yourself to occasional, not daily. Read the labels and show the manufactures you won’t settle for “the tricks”. If you don’t buy them, you leave them no choice but to supply legitimate options.

It’s all about demand, demand quality!


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