Thursday, December 15, 2011

Low-carb on the Go

In my perfect life, I prepare a low-carb snack or lunch the night before I'm to go to work or spend the day running errands. I wash and slice some of my favorite fresh vegetables, and pack up several slices of organic oven-roasted turkey and Jarlsberg cheese (full-fat, of course). Perhaps I'll include a few big Spanish olives. And for a snack, I'll bring a small container of raw walnuts and a piece of Dove sugar-free dark chocolate.

But I don't have a perfect life. And I don't always prepare. Sometimes I dillydally so much in the morning (a.k.a. catching up on my favorite blogs), I barely have enough time to remember to bring my work bag or to-do list.

It's not easy to eat on the go when you're first starting a low-carb way of living. In this starchy world in which we live, high-carbohydrate and high-sugar convenience meals are everywhere. They're practically available on every street corner.

Low-carb meals aren't as easy to find. You may think if you don't prepare ahead of time, you'll have to choose between suffering hunger pangs all day or giving in to the carbs, but you don't. You have options. Lots of them.

Here are some tips to help you hunt down your favorite low-carbohydrate foods while on the go:

~ Your better local grocery stores usually have a salad bar. Make a salad using your favorite toppings. Add cheese, bacon bits, avocado, chopped egg and sunflowers seeds for added satiation. If the dressings at your salad bar don't have nutritional labels, go for blue cheese dressing or red wine vinaigrette. It's wise to taste them first for sugar; you know how that little devil likes to hide in all sorts of prepared foods. If the choices look suspect, choose olive oil and vinegar with a dash of salt and pepper.

~ Where I live, we are lucky enough to have not one, but two In 'n Out Burger restaurants, a California institution known for their tasty, fresh and high-quality burgers.

After years of being on Atkins, I finally mastered the ideal low carb way to order a burger. Ask for:

"A double- double", which is two beef patties with two slices of American cheese
"Protein® Style", no bun (yep, they trademarked it)
"mustard only", no ketchup and no full-of-sugar special sauce.
The tomato and onion options are up to you. I usually skip the tomato and go for raw onions.

If you don't have an In 'n Out where you live, try a Five Guys or another fast food burger joint in your area. Ask if they have a bun-less version of their cheeseburger.

~ Find a place that sells food to-go: pre-packaged or made-to-order. Choose a Caesar (hold the croutons), chef, Greek or Cobb salad. If you have time, take a load off and dine at your favorite restaurant. That's what my husband and I did yesterday. Here's his gorgeous Cobb salad.

~ At the deli counter, order a few slices of roast beef or turkey and a couple slices of cheese. If they carry them, order a dill pickle, a container of olives or pickled peppers. They might even have sliced bell peppers and other vegetables you can ask for as sides.

~ If you only need a quick snack to get you through until your next meal, pick up a single string cheese and a small bag of almonds or macadamia nuts at a convenience store or gas station.

~ I'm not in favor of regularly relying on low-carb bars and shakes. They are usually full of artificial ingredients and don't taste that great either. But if you are really in a pinch, buy an Atkins low-carb bar. They carry them at Target, Safeway, and Walmart.

Get to know what low-carb foods your local markets, convenience stores, big box stores, delicatessens and even your gas stations carry so you're never left with an empty stomach or tempted by a high-carb convenience meal.



Anonymous said...

Great post! Now I want a double-double for lunch, but unfortunately no In and Outs here : (

Anonymous said...

Ack, you see I gained on Atkins, and I was miserable and had no energy.
Personally, i stay sleek and workout 5 days a week with carbs in my diet, I still need to lose my belly - I lost 45lbs - but I'm trying to focus on other things now that I'm 48.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love, In 'n' Out!

High Heeled Life said...

Great alternative! xo HHL

Anonymous said...

I would be craving In n Out right now; fortunately, my husband took me to P. Terry's for lunch (local all-natural burger chain in Austin) where I ordered a double cheese burger wrapped in lettuce. Such a yummy, yummy lunch!!!

Your tips are also good for road trips. While the rest of your travel companions are grabbing chips at the convenience store, get a package of smoked almonds and a bottle of water, as well as one string cheese snack.

Adrienne said...

Amy - I had a double-double for lunch today and it was marvelous! Next time you come to California, you'll have to indulge.

Bourbon and Pearls - I wish I could keep weight off by eating carbs - my body just does better - and is slimmer - on low carb. I have heard that there is a DNA test you can have done to determine if you are someone who should eat a carb-rich diet or someone who should avoid carbs. I don't need a DNA test to tell me low carb is for me. It sounds like you are the opposite. Especially if it made you gain weight.
45 pounds! That is very impressive. Congratulations!


Thanks friend. I appreciate you stopping by and following. xo


We both had the same lunch today - how funny!

Road trips...yes! I was trying to remember why I stopped doing my low carb regimen back in '07 and suddenly realized it was during a 31 day RV trip around the western states. I gained so much weight, I could only wear my yoga pants for the last week of our vacation. I tried to get back on low carb, but my bad habits were firmly in place.

~ B. said...

Great on the go ideas! Being out and about is always the hardest time for me to stay on track with my diet! I need to remember these ideas next time!