I talk to a lot of people about Atkins, and one thing that I continue to emphasize passionately is that Atkins is not a “no carb” diet, but a “right carb” diet. In fact, I don’t even like to call Atkins a “diet”, but a way of eating that keeps you satisfied with a variety of delicious foods, and boosts your energy while helping you to control your blood sugar levels and your cravings. The reason for this is because you’re eating all the “right” carbs. Colorful vegetables, low-glycemic fruits and nuts all contain carbs, just not the ones that cause blood sugar spikes and cravings and wreak havoc with your health and wage war on your waistline.
On Atkins, you may also be able to eat smaller portions of starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and potatoes, squash and corn and whole grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice and whole-wheat bread and pasta. While you can satisfy all your nutritional needs and enjoy a wide variety of foods simply by eating the colorful vegetables, low-glycemic fruits and nuts, plus protein and satisfying fats, some folks find they can easily incorporate these starchy vegetables and whole grains as well without any problem.
But if you’ve spent years inflicting your body and blood sugar with the wrong kinds of carbs, even these wholesome starchy vegetables and grains may trigger increased cravings and blood sugar spikes, and you’re better off filling your plate with all the other good stuff. Fortunately, I do have some guidelines for helping you try to incorporate these foods without stressing your blood sugar. If you’re doing Atkins 20 and you’re in Phase 3 or Phase 4, you stick with our simple list of foods and serving sizes. On Atkins 40, you can refer to our list of other carbs—the servings sizes are based on 5 or 10 grams of Net Carbs, so you can easily mix and match to hit 40 grams of Net Carbs a day. My mantra when it comes to starchy carbs and whole grains is that a little goes a long way. Your bet is to stick with smaller portions—think of your grains and starchy vegetables as garnishes.
Here are some suggestions:
· Top a tossed salad with a little cooked wild rice, wheat berries or other whole grains, and make vegetables the focus of your grain salad.
· Combine equal portions of cooked old-fashioned or steel-cut oatmeal, oat bran or flax and chopped nuts.
· Mix a little cooked brown or wild rice or quinoa into a stir-fry featuring mushrooms, zucchini, broccoli and red bell pepper (or whatever vegetables you have on hand) and slices of leftover chicken or beef.
· Whip up a satisfying cauliflower mash with butter and cream; mash in just a few cubes of potato or sweet potato.
· Toss sliced turnip or radishes with a just half a sliced potato or sweet potato, toss with olive oil and spices and bake, for guilt-free “fries.”