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What Can I Eat on a Low Carb Diet?

Posted Jul 19 2012 11:14pm
Low Carb Chocolate Cream Cheese Pie

One of the main goals of switching to a low-carb diet is to learn how to make healthier food choices, but let’s face it. Most of us were raised on peanut butter and jelly spread on a couple of pieces of white fluff, a glass of kool-aid and a Ding Dong. At least, that’s what lunch was like for me as a kid. So when I first came to the low-carb table at the age of 19, it was with a Big Mac in one hand and a large Dr. Pepper in the other.

When you’re 19 and overweight, the Atkins’ Diet works miraculously. Your body is brand new to the alternative metabolic pathway, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. If you’re not very insulin resistant, it works extremely fast. In fact, in the mid 70s, I had about 40 pounds to lose, and the restriction was over before I got bored with the food.

Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution was more strict than the Atkins of today, but it worked extremely well for me because you weren’t allowed to add foods back as quickly as you can today. It worked like an elimination diet works. So when I re-entered the game in January of 2007 and tried to follow Atkins 2002 by the book, I ran into some solid brick walls that I still haven’t recovered from.

Even so, the low-carb style is an extremely luxurious way to eat if you don’t have a bunch of food sensitivities. Take a look at this low-carb photo thread over at Low Carb Friends and you’ll see what I mean. Life doesn’t get any better than those 12 super-long pages of pictures and descriptions of low-carb food.

But…that isn’t the way that real people eat, is it? What about those of us who don’t have that type of knack with food?

I had a reader who is brand new to a low-carb diet send me an email this past week asking if I would mind sharing a few low-carb menus with her. At first, I was a bit caught off-guard and didn’t exactly know what to say because I’ve been on a diet maintenance break for several months trying to figure out exactly which foods I’m intolerant to.

Celiac disease and dairy sensitivity is a heck of a problem to have when you’re on a low carb diet, but intolerance to corn is an even bigger problem since a low-carb diet is saturated with it. Now, considering Dr. Atkins’ original goals, I find that truly sad, but while giving up the grain isn’t totally impossible, most low carbers are eating plenty of it. They just don’t know it.

I recently posted a series that talked a little bit about what I ate to lose most of the weight I have so far, but those foods are quite a bit lower in fat and calories than a typical low carb diet has. Because of that, I’ve spent the last couple of days attempting to recall what I used to eat when I first started Atkins 2002 after being bedridden for a year with vestibular dysfunction (vertigo and ataxia).

It’s funny how the mind works. I’ve moved far away from those days, so it was a bit difficult to remember. I realized why after flipping through the first page of the gorgeous low-carb food pictures I linked to above. It was quite painful for me actually, but I could also see why I struggle so hard today to try and make this work. Why the struggle within is leaving me feeling rather battered.

Those pictures aren’t me. They will never be me. I can’t take back the celiac disease or dairy sensitivity or corn intolerance. I can’t get rid of the Meniere’s Disease or the Sensory Processing Disorder. All of those things define who I am today. And though I could sit here and waste my days on wishing things were different for me, that isn’t really helping me meet my goals.

So with that said, here is a list of things I used to eat when I first attempted to return to a low carb lifestyle. I thought about separating the list into breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, but I quickly realized I never ate that way when following Atkins. While I did keep a running total of the carbs I ate throughout the day, I didn’t eat breakfast foods for breakfast and dinner foods for dinner.

I ate salads, leftovers and sometimes cooked up some hot wings or baked chicken for breakfast, and I ate bacon and eggs, an omelet or ham and eggs for dinner. I’ve even heard of low carbers eating a large piece of cheesecake for breakfast. What you learn quickly within a few days is that low-carb food is low-carb food. You simply eat from list that Dr. Atkins’ recommended and forget what time of the day it is. You’ll be fine.

  • bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, pork chops and eggs
  • omelets with ham, tomatoes, onions and avocado
  • grilled chicken salad or taco salad
  • baked chicken legs, thighs or breasts with seasoning salt and garlic powder
  • chicken breast baked and topped with crispy bacon, fried onions and mushrooms    
  • hardboiled eggs or deviled eggs
  • tuna mixed with onions, celery, jalapeno and mayonnaise
  • chicken salad with bacon, cheese chunks and mayonnaise
  • steamed asparagus, broccoli or green beans
  • canned or fresh green beans mixed with bacon
  • lettuce salad with fixings like a salad bar and homemade Thousand Island dressing
  • lunchmeat ham spread with cream cheese or filled with a cheese stick and rolled
  • chef salad with ham, cheese, hard boiled eggs and olives
  • cole slaw with tangerine juice, grated tangerine peel and pecans or walnuts
  • hamburger with cheese and bacon, or topped with a fried egg
  • waffles made with soy flour and topped with sugar-free syrup
  • organic black soy beans cooked up into chili
  • one-minute muffin and fried eggs
  • quesadilla, tacos or enchiladas made with low-carb tortillas
  • baked salmon with homemade sweet, lemon sauce
  • vegetable soup or chicken vegetable soup and a one-minute muffin
  • chicken strips breaded with crushed pork rinds and baked
  • fish breaded with crushed pork rinds and parmesan cheese
  • heroine wings or hot wings
  • jalapeno poppers
  • egg salad
  • cauliflower with cheese sauce
  • turkey burgers or meatballs
  • meatloaf made with egg and crushed pork rinds
  • chicken alfredo over Dreamsfield pasta or broccoli
  • cottage cheese mixed with blueberries or chopped strawberries
  • lettuce wraps: chicken, bacon and tomato
  • BBQ chicken legs or ribs
  • stir fries made with various meats and vegetables
  • chicken or beef fajita bowl
  • pork rinds with sour cream dip or salsa
  • almond thin crackers and dip or peanut butter
  • American cheese crackers with salsa
  • protein shakes and egg creams
  • sandwiches made with Atkins original rolls
  • steamed or stir-fried cabbage and onions
  • Italian sausages and eggs
  • roasted turkey or braised legs or wings in garlic and salt
  • spaghetti or other pasta made with Dreamsfield
  • macaroni salad with Dreamsfield pasta
  • Chorizo, eggs and cheese in low carb tortillas
  • chili cheese dogs
  • chicken sautéed and then tossed with garlic chili sauce
  • eggplant or Dreamsfield pasta lasagna
  • French toast made with Atkins original rolls
  • cupcakes or Bundt cake made with Atkins original rolls
  • guacamole with cheese crackers or almond thins
  • CarbSmart ice cream bars
  • mixed nuts
  • homemade jerky
  • egg breakfast cups
  • baked custard

And that’s just what I can remember off the top of my head and doesn’t include the many, many recipes I tried over those first few months or most of the ones that are in the recipe archives here. Low carb truly is a luxurious way to eat.
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