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 much a part of your menuplanning as grilled chicken and tossed salad. (Remember: Not all these recipes and products are suitable for the Induction phase.)

Understand that controlled carb cheesecake is not the same as cheesecake made with sugar, and that controlled carb pizza is not the same as pizza made with wheat flour. Conventional, foods can contain ten times more carbohydrates than those made with sucralose, soy flour or other controlled carb ingredients. Interestingly, calorie-restricted foods may legally be called low calorie if the calorie level is reduced by thirty-three percent, but acceptable controlled carbohydrate alternatives typically contain a mere ten percent of the carbohydrate of the standard fare. So although there is enough carbohydrate in a portion of regular pizza or ice cream to send your fat mobilizers and ketones to a screeching halt, controlled carb substitutes can be safely used-in moderation. But eat five slices of controlled carb pizza or a whole pint of ice cream sweetened with sucralose and you're right back to your excessive behavior.

Formed in response to needs voiced by thousands of Atkins followers, there is a variety of controlled carb food products available, including energy bars, breakfast bars, bake mixes, shake mixes, ready-to-drink shakes, ice cream, bread, bagels and even a chocolate bar. All products have negligible amounts of carbohydrate, and several come in a variety of flavors. Companies like mine have numerous other products in development, and each may provide a controlled carb alternative for your taste preferences.

Although many other commercial products may also be acceptable, I do want to caution you that all controlled and low-carbohydrate foods are not created equal. Thanks to the immense success of Atkins, other companies are producing products to serve the growing population of controlled carb followers. A word to the wise: Be sure products that claim to be low in carbs really are. Also make sure they do not contain aspartame. What can you do to protect yourself? Read labels carefully (see "How to Read a Food Label" on pages 241-245). If a product seems too good to be true, it probably is. When you try a new food product, test how you react to it before eating a full portion. If you find it sparks new cravings or disagrees with you in any way, your safest option is to eat no more.

There is also a food that contains so little carbohydrate that it can raise your count only 5 or 10 grams: crisp breads. My personal eating pleasure improved considerably when I found something flat and crunchy upon which to pile my cream cheese or guacamole or to serve as finger-size appetizers at parties. These toasted rye or wheat-bran delicacies, based on a popular Scandinavian concept, are mostly carbohydrate, so unlimited use of them would interfere with continued weight loss. But, because they are baked so thin and provide so much crisp surface area per carbohydrate gram, they are quite an ingenious way to spend your carbohydrate allowance. There are many brands and each has a different carbohydrate content per crisp, ranging from 3 to 6 grams, some of which is fiber. Fiber is good for keeping you regular; moreover, it does not impact your blood sugar, and you can deduct it from the total carb count to get what I call "the carbs that count when you do Atkins." This means that if a wheat crisp contains a total of 6 grams of carbohydrates and 3 of those grams are listed as fiber, the impact on your blood-sugar mechanism is the equivalent of just 3 grams of carbs. But again, when the desire for something crunchy surfaces, have one or two, then put the box away!

I have a point worth stressing: Every food I suggest could be off limits for those of you who demonstrate intolerance to one of its ingredients, and wheat and rye are two of those foods that turn up rather frequently as problems. Also, some fiber breads contain sugar. (Stay away from them, even if the fiber content is high.)

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