For many, the thought of starting a low-carb or carb-free diet is borderline torture, relinquishing all of their favorite comfort foods—like pastries, doughnuts, cookies and cakes—for what seems to be a bland life of nothing but fatty, greasy foods. Overcoming this mental hurdle is difficult; however, once you realize that all those "comfort" foods are actually the source of many health problems, deciding to go low-carb is much easier. Then the only question is: What to eat?
What Not to Eat
This will be the proverbial dagger in the heart for many, but it is nonetheless something that needs to be addressed. To make a low-carb diet succeed, you cannot fall prey to the rigors of "Frankenfoods" like "low-carb" bread, cookies, ice cream and all the other little temptations the food industry wants you to accept as healthy alternatives. The sugar alcohols in those products have a substantial effect on body chemistry, and can negate the benefits otherwise present in a low-carb diet.
Low-Carb Options: Meats
One might consider a low-carb lifestyle to be comprised of endless plates of greasy bacon washed down with cooking oils, but this is not the case. While it is true that your primary food source on a low-carb diet will be meat, this does not mean the diet itself has to be torturous.
Low-carb food options include: Meats: Chicken, beef, bison, venison, ostrich, elk, caribou and all types of fish, among others, work.
Low Carb Options: Dairy & Eggs
Dairy: Hard cheeses in moderation are your main option here. Eggs: Eat the yolks while on a low-carb diet. The extra calories from fat will do wonders for your energy levels.
Low Carb Options: Fruits & Vegetables
Vegetables: "Green" and "fibrous" are the key words here. Broccoli, lettuce and cucumber will provide vital nutrients and needed fiber without overloading on carbs. Fruits: While fruits are normally taboo on a low-carb diet, some can be included if you are below your daily limit of carbs. Think berries of all sorts: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and the like.
Low Carb options: Oils & Nuts
Oils: Healthy oils can provide much-needed fats in addition to livening up the flavor of foods. Olive, coconut, macadamia nut, flax and fish oil are all good choices. A good plan for using oils is to season salads or vegetables with oils to taste.
Nuts: Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews and even natural peanut butter can also liven up dishes.
Beyond that, stores usually sell a number of pre-mixed seasonings that are calorie-free and can spice up otherwise bland cuts of meat. While the popular conception of a low-carb diet is a slew of tasteless food being choked down by the unhappiest man on earth, the reality is that you are only limited by your imagination. Additional information and meal ideas can be found in the book "Living the Low-Carb Life" by Jonny Bowden (see References).