If your meals usually include a slice of bread or a bowl of pasta, the thought of adopting a low carb diet may not be something you're interested in.
But a North Bay pharmacist says adopting that diet can not only help you lose weight, but could improve your overall health.
Erin Pitkethly, a pharmacist who specializes in the management of medical conditions and weight loss with a low carb approach, recently opened Robinsong Health Low Carb Clinic in North Bay.
She says she once thought following a low carb diet was not healthy. But she changed her mind after researching the topic.
"I was seeing people with diabetes getting worse and worse, people getting their legs amputated, people having to go onto dialysis, and I knew there was a better way," she said.
"The more I read about it, the more I saw a real divide between what I knew was possible for people and their health and what I was seeing in practice."
Pitkethly trained with family physician Dr. Evelyne Bordua-Roy in Quebec and says she's the first pharmacist in Canada with low carb training. At her clinic, patients follow a low carb diet while being monitored by a health professional. Any medication the patient may be on is monitored as well.
As diabetes rates in northern Ontario are 20 per cent higher than the rest of the province, Pitkethly says managing these medical conditions with a low carb approach could be beneficial in the region.
"That's a very high disease burden," she said.
"It's really an expensive disease to treat long term, because of the eventual complications. And unfortunately, the medications we have ... delay the complications ... they don't prevent them."
It's not recommended to go low carb to try and control a medical condition, without working with your doctor or health care professional. However, if you do decide to try low carb, Pitkethly offers these tips.
- Start by eliminating all sugary drinks, including diet pop, juice and athletic drinks like Gatorade. Also cut down on sugar in tea and coffee and aim to drink more water.
- Try to cut back on snacks and aim for three meals a day.
- If you are taking medications, especially those for blood pressure or blood sugars, you will need to work with a health care provider to properly manage these.
"But when you stop and think about it, many carbs like bread, wraps and pasta are actually just a container or base for more flavourful food that goes in or on it," she said.
"They just don't add much flavour. So you can have the delicious pasta sauce on something low carb instead, or you can put whatever was going to go in your sandwich on a bed of lettuce and you will still get all the wonderful flavours that would have been in the sandwich."