Your trusted friends—foods that are rich in protein and good fats—helped you reach your goal weight. Now these same foods will be your allies when it comes to maintaining your weight loss. And just as you avoided refined carbs and junk foods in earlier phases, we caution you to do the same in Lifetime Maintenance. Remember, achieving your goal weight meant reaching a destination. Maintaining that healthy new weight is an ongoing journey. To make that diet into a lifestyle, follow this advice:
1. Continue to Rely on Protein and Fat . . .
Protein and fats quickly satiate your appetite and protein foods are fundamentally self-limiting, allowing you to stay in control. Almost everyone has eaten 30 cookies at one sitting at some time in his life, and many carb “addicts” have done it many times, but how many people have eaten 10 hard-boiled eggs at one sitting? (Nuts, (particularly salted nuts) are another story!) Plus, unlike high-carb foods, protein foods don't unleash a metabolic tidal wave in your body.
2. . . . And Whole Food Carbohydrates
You explored a variety of foundation vegetables as you moved through the first three Atkins phases. Continue to explore more vegetables, enjoy your favorite veggies and find new ways to prepare them. Likewise, continue to rely on berries, and nuts and seeds to satisfy your desire for something sweet or a crunchy treat. Your blood-glucose level doesn't rise and fall sharply when you sit down to eat a Cobb salad or have a side of asparagus or cauliflower topped with butter or olive oil. Keep experimenting with foods on the acceptable food list for Phase 1. The more varied your meals, the less likely you are to get bored and fall back on foods you’re better off avoiding.
3. Make Exceptions a Rare Event
Does this mean you can never eat another piece of Grandma's pumpkin pie or another starchy or sugary food? If you’re successfully maintaining your weight and keeping cravings under control in Lifetime Maintenance, then you may be able to occasionally indulge in a slice of pizza or a scoop of pistachio ice cream without causing noticeable aftereffects. The operative word is occasionally. If any food causes carb cravings or unreasonable hunger, back off fast.
4. Avoid Trigger Foods Altogether
There’s one category of food you should avoid at any cost—trigger foods. That describes any food that you can't stop eating. It might be peanuts, chocolate, potato chips, ice cream or something else. If you find you are always planning when you can next have that food or can’t stop with a small portion, cut it out altogether. After you've been off certain trigger foods like ice cream or pizza for a while, may notice a temporary return of some familiar and unpleasant old symptoms after eating them. That distress may cure you of these urges once and for all.
5. Continue to Enjoy Low-Carb Foods
Another alternative is to find a low-carb version of the food such as sugarless, full-fat ice cream or soy chips. Have an Atkins Advantage bar instead of a brownie; an Advantage shake instead of a commercial smoothie; an Atkins Day Break bar instead of a muffin or breakfast pastry; or an Atkins Endulge bar instead of a sugar-filled treat.
6. Never Gain More Than 5 Pounds
It’s unrealistic to assume that you’ll never stray, but be vigilant about not ever getting more than 5 pounds above your goal weight. Instead, take yourself in hand and get back on plan—fast. A firm resolution to deal with weight regain immediately will serve you well.
7. Don’t Let Travel Throw You
Whether you’re traveling by plane, train or car, travel is inherently unsettling. Suddenly you're without your familiar routines and resources. Not only are you confronted with temptations that you’d never allow in your house, you're exposed to them precisely when you're most vulnerable. (Just think about those cinnamon buns that perfume every airport.) As if such factors weren't hazardous enough, traveling in and of itself can bring on stress, which in turn may cause cravings for unhealthy foods. The key to remaining disciplined while traveling is a combination of mental and physical preparation. For more advice on how to stay in control when you’re far from home, see The Low-Carb Traveler.