A moment with Colette Heimowitz on how to Eat Low Carb during the holidays


Whenever a holiday approaches the carb intake is bound to go up, but do not fret, Colette Heimowitz is here to help keep us on that low carb path.

You hear it wherever you go, shortly after a holiday comes to an end. Lose that holiday gain! Lose the pounds from that holiday feast! etc, etc. And it is because the carb intake goes up whenever a holiday arrives. We then spend our time, up until the next holiday, attempting to lose what we just gained. It’s a horrible, vicious, cycle. Thing is, we don’t have to be caught up in this vicious, carb cycle; we can avoid it altogether. Colette Heimowitz is here to help us do just that as we talk about how to Eat Low Carb during the holidays.

Colette Heimowitz is the vice president of nutrition and education at Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. An author who has a published a number of books on the subject of a living a low carb lifestyle, her most recent being “Atkins: Eat Right Not Less.”

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With over 25 years of experience as a nutritionist, there isn’t a better person we could have spoken to on the subject of eating low carb during the holidays then Colette Heimowitz.

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In the interview, we discuss the Atkins low carb approach itself, tips and tricks on how to avoid certain potholes when it comes to following a low carb approach, and how easy it is to change a classic dish full of carbs into a low carb delight.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Atkins: Eat Right Not Less, Colette Heimowitz

Guilty Eats: Colette, you have worked in the field of nutrition and education for some time now and have collected a wealth of experience as a nutritionist. The Atkins low carb approach is continuing to grow in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. Why do you think that is? Compared to all the other food trends out there, why has the Atkins low carb approach continued to grow whereas others, such as the juice plus craze, have fizzled out?

Colette Heimowitz: Because Atkins works and can easily progress to a sustainable lifestyle. Atkins can be adjusted to fit individual needs and this way of eating has the power to reach weight management goals as well as improve health.

Low carb is continuing to grow in popularity because people are realizing that the low- calorie approach promoted for years has its limitations.  People are returning to low carb because all other attempts have failed them and awareness about the dangers of excess sugar consumption has evolved reaching a broader audience. It also helps that there has been a steadily accumulating body of science that shows that this approach is both effective and safe.

GE: For anyone not familiar to the Atkins low carb approach. How would you describe it?

CH: Atkins offers a balance of high-fiber carbs, optimal protein, and healthy fats. We offer a customizable eating approach regardless of whether someone wants to achieve optimal health, manage or lose weight. Atkins is designed to support the body to burn fat for fuel which allows you to lose excess body fat and improve health markers. There are three different variations of Atkins – Atkins 20, Atkins 40 and Atkins 100, where people can consume either 20, 40 or 100 Net Carbs per day, depending on their carbohydrate tolerance.

Net Carbs represent the total carbohydrate content of the food minus the fiber content of foods. These options are important because one size does not fit all. One big differentiator is that with the re-introduction of certain carbohydrates, we provide some structure for people so that they are able to find an eating pattern that they can live with, and not just one that promotes yo-yo dieting.

GE: For anyone thinking of adopting the Atkins low carb approach, but are hesitant at how many changes they would need to make, what would you say to them? Is it a shock to the system with the number of changes that need to be made? Or is it much easier than what people say at first?

CH: If an individual is following a well-constructed Atkins diet,  including high fibers carbs such as lots of vegetables, optimal protein, and healthy fats and consuming adequate calories and are well hydrated,  after the body adapts to your new metabolism, which takes a few days,  it is easier than you would think, and you don’t feel that shock to your system. The first step is to determine which Atkins plan is best for you based on your carbohydrate tolerance and desired health outcomes.

If you are highly motivated to reverse a disease process, such as prediabetes or diabetes, it is best to start with Atkins 20 or Atkins 40.  Both are comparable to the keto diet, but overall Atkins allows for more flexibility as we encourage people to incorporate foods back into their meals as they approach weight loss and health goals. For those that don’t have a lot of weight to lose and no major health concerns, and just want a healthier satisfying approach to eating healthy, Atkins 100 is a perfect start, and there is absolutely no shock to the system at that level of carb intake.

A moment with Colette Heimowitz on how to Eat Low Carb during the holiday’s

GE: When it comes to shopping, trying to find the right ingredients is always a nightmare. Having to inspect all the listed ingredients, nutritional values, etc., can give anyone, a headache. Do you have any good tips to share to make the ache of shopping much easier?

CH: I recommend shopping the exterior walls of the grocery store and focusing on purchasing fresh high-fiber colorful vegetables, low glycemic fruits such as berries, nuts, poultry, fresh meats, seafood, and dairy products, it is not mind-numbing exercise and you can be assured you are on the right track. If you are buying packaged food, read the serving size on a food label.

Many packages of food contain more than one serving, but the amount shown on the label only refers to single serving size. When scanning the food label, calculate the Net Carbs in products, in order to stay on track (to calculate, simply subtract the total grams of fiber from the grams of total carbohydrates). Keep in mind, sauces (such as barbeque, pasta, and steak sauces) should not contain more than 5 grams of Net Carbs per serving.

GE: Turning our attention to Holidays, it seems they are always just around the corner and with it comes all the home comfort high carb dishes. You have wonderful tips on how to remake recipes that are traditionally high carb into low carb, but a lot of people are put off changing their recipes because of the effort required.  How easy is it to change a classic recipe into one suitable for a low carb lifestyle? Is it a lot of effort or is it much easier than what people think at first?

CH: It’s easy to turn a classic recipe into one suitable for a low carb lifestyle by swapping ingredients. Try trading in a refined carb for a low carb alternative, such as swapping out white flour for cauliflower (check out our Cauli Mac and Cheese). You can find a variety of low carb alternatives to the classic quiche on our website, with most of them not calling for any type of crust at all, to decrease the carb intake. It is easier than you think and you learn as time goes by as it becomes second nature.

GE: Condiments! Condiments and sauces are the hidden devils in my opinion. I remember a curry sauce from the supermarket I regularly used that turned out to have something like a 95% Saturated Fat level according to the nutritional label. I was stunned, I honestly couldn’t believe this tiny packet of sauce contained so much.  My point is, sauces and condiments can trip a lot of people up. How does someone trying to follow an Atkins low carb approach avoid the dreaded condiments? Do you have any recipe tips or shopping advise?

CH: Opt for sauces with 5 grams of Net Carbs or less per serving. Keep condiments such as salsa, hot sauce, mustard, low-sugar or sugar-free salad dressings, mayo,  horseradish, pesto, lemon or lime juice, and soy sauce or tamari easy to grab because they give you flavor, without the high sugar content.

GE: Do you personally have a favorite Atkins low carb dish you would recommend for a holiday

CH: Honestly, I love them all. Depends on the time of year and who my guests are. I have served Holiday dinners using only low carb recipes and my guests usually love everything.

GE: Have you got any advice for everyone with a sweet tooth? We’ve just gone past Easter, the season of chocolate, so the temptation is there.  

CH: We have several low carb Easter desserts on Atkins.com, such as the Atkins Coconut Layer Cake. To satisfy your sweet tooth, you can always have a bowl of low-glycemic berries with fresh whipped cream. What’s also really interesting, is that when people cut out sugar and carbs, they actually tend to crave sweets less. This goes hand-in-hand with low carb diets being more satiating than low-fat or low-calorie diets.

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So what did you think about what Colette Heimowitz had to say about eating low carb during the holidays? Did anything surprise you the most? Drop a comment just below sharing your thoughts.