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St. Petersburg woman lost 80 pounds cooking with Carbquik and eating D'Lites ice cream

In her lifelong fight to be fit, Debbie Barber, 52, has tried everything from A to Z: Atkins to Zone diets and all the body wraps, diet shakes and cabbage soups in between.

Nothing worked.

That was until last summer when she came up with a personalized approach that works for her, a hybrid of religious faith and low-calorie foods. Among them: a nightly frozen treat.

"I've lost a ton of weight eating D'Lites ice cream," she said. "It's cholesterol-free, low-carb, low-fat, low-sugar and only 50 calories a serving. It tastes great and comes in all sorts of flavors."

Might sound like a small thing to some, but finding a low-calorie alternative was important to Barber, who says it was her love of conventional ice cream, along with her appetite for bread and pasta, which helped her to balloon to 317 pounds.

That was her top weight a year ago, when she was consuming 5,000 calories a day and diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

"Basically, my doctor told me that if I didn't change my lifestyle, I was going to die — and soon," she said.

How it started

Barber, owner of Abbey Printing and Promotions, was a closet eater as a child. It was her way of coping with her father's alcoholism.

In adulthood, the pounds continued to pile on through two pregnancies and failed marriages. She is now happily married to Chris Barber.

After receiving her prognosis, Barber said she prayed daily for help.

"I asked God to remove my addiction. I just couldn't stop eating."

She began working with a weight-loss doctor who sold her prepackaged foods that cost about $90 a week. The weight started to melt from her 5-foot-5 frame but she knew the cash outlay was unsustainable. And she was growing bored with the limited food choices. She was craving ice cream and pasta.

One day last summer, her husband was getting a haircut when she ventured into the D'Lites Emporium in Disston Plaza in St. Petersburg. She ordered a cup of D'Lites chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, and discovered a new passion.

She began to try other diet-friendly products at the store such as the shirataki noodles and Walden Farms syrups, jams, pastas and sauces.

Her weight loss success continued and spawned a renewed interest in cooking, this time using Carbquik, a low-carb baking mix.

She finds recipes for pancakes, biscuits, waffles and pizza crusts at

"Finally, I can enjoy a full life without having to deny myself," she said. "God has answered my prayers and set me free from a life where food was controlling me. Now I want to help others find their way out of the food prison."

She has lost 80 pounds and wants to lose another 60. Once a size 24, she's an 18 now and aims for size 12.

"It's a journey," she said. "And God will help me find the way."

Terri Bryce Reeves can be reached at [email protected]

What works for Debbie Barber:

• Daily prayer to give her "the strength to continue my life-changing journey."

• Accountability. Her doctor regularly monitors her weight, blood pressure and blood work.

• A low-sugar, low-carb diet. She stocks her refrigerator with ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken, hard-boiled eggs and sliced fresh vegetables.

• Making veggie chips: zucchini and other vegetables sprinkled with soy sauce and herbs and baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

• Peanut butter by the spoonful to help tame cravings for sweets.

• Protein shakes and bars.

• No-calorie Splenda sugar and brown sugar substitute.

• Arizona diet tea and Ocean Spray diet juices.

• A nightly bowl of D'Lites ice cream as a reward for her effort.

Debbie Barber blogs about her weight loss experiences at



52, of St. Petersburg

Top weight: 317 pounds

Current weight: 237 pounds

Lost: 80 pounds

Goal: About 177 pounds

Quote: "It's a journey. And God will help me find the way."



If you've lost weight, shaped up, or overcome some other health obstacle you'd like to share with the readers of Personal Best, please send us your story. We need to know your name, age, hometown, what you achieved, how you did it, and how it has changed your life. "Before'' and "after'' photos are helpful, too. Please e-mail your information to Personal Best editor Charlotte Sutton: [email protected] (write Success Story in the subject line).


My daughter Lauren and I tried some of Debbie's favorite low-carb foods and generally liked them. We thought the Carbquik pancakes (with blueberries added) were quite tasty. Although I liked the biscuits (I used 2 percent milk rather than water in the recipe), my daughter gave them a thumbs-down.

We also tried the D'Lites frozen desserts in the blueberry cheesecake, yellow cake batter, white chocolate almond, peanut butter and peppermint flavors. They tasted like soft-serve ice cream, so don't expect chunky ingredients like nuts or candy to be in the mix.

Terri Bryce Reeves, Times correspondent

St. Petersburg woman lost 80 pounds cooking with Carbquik and eating D'Lites ice cream 03/26/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 25, 2010 11:46pm]
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