As popular diets go, low-carb may be trendy, but it’s certainly not new—and we’re pretty sure it’s here for the long haul. Ever since the 1960s, when cardiologist Robert Atkins first developed the Atkins Diet, low-carb has been in vogue for weight loss. Since then, other plans have offered the low-carb format under various names, including South Beach, Dukan, Paleo, and the latest iteration to blow up in popularity: the macronutrient-bending ketogenic diet. A 2020 survey revealed just how prevalent low-carb diets really are; a significant chunk of Americans—7%—claimed to follow one in the last year.
Cutting back on carbs can be tough, though, and not just because you miss pizza and bagels! Since catered and restaurant meals are often quite high-carb, dining away from home is especially tricky for folks on this eating plan. Still, just because you’re ordering lunch or breakfast from a café or sandwich shop doesn’t mean you (or your staff) can’t adhere to a chosen diet. When you’re on deck to order office catering, help co-workers stick to their dietary guns by getting smart about which foods pack the carbs—and which don’t. Here’s how.
Look at nutrition info online
Isn’t the internet great? It’s easier now than ever to discover restaurant nutrition facts online, including calorie counts, allergens, and—yes—grams of carbs. If you’re ordering from a chain, it’s likely you can find their menu’s nutrition info on their website—so don’t forget to do a little homework there. An online menu may also have a low-carb section or icon that designates individual low-carb items.
Not sure how low to go in terms of carb count? The FDA has no statement on what “counts” as a low-carb menu item, but many sources say a low-carb diet is anything under 100 to 150 grams of carbs. With that in mind, try to select meals with under 50 grams.
Get smart about substitutions
Despite their bad reputation, carbohydrates are actually found in a number of healthy foods. However, to help dieters steer clear of high-carb options, you may need to get savvy about where carbs lurk, even in nutritious meals. Once you’ve identified high-carb foods, you can almost always make a lower-carb substitution. Try the following swaps to slash carbs when ordering catering: