Carbs Are Not the EnemyOct 12, 2022
I grew up in the 80’s, listening to the likes of Susan Powter (remember her?) talk about how an ounce of fat on the lips was surely going directly to the hips. So I, not unlike many other then-diet-obsessed, took the plunge into the high carb, low-fat world, devouring all of the fat-free or ultra-low fat items one could. Bagels, fat-free dressings, pasta, rice, crackers, you name it! How ironic that we have now completely turned against this once loved macronutrient group, and created new, highly processed forms of low-carb options!
Dieting in North America is like a pastime for us. You’d think that given this level of obsession that we’d actually be good at it. But we’re NOT. Instead of adhering to common sense advice (like focusing on whole foods; eating mindfully; stopping when you’re full) and being consistent about it, we like to find crazy fad diets! We do them for short periods of time, lose some weight, and then go back to our bad habits until the next latest-and-greatest diet comes along. (Isn’t this the definition of insanity?)
We have become so obsessed about what we eat (OMG it’s a fat; OMG it’s a carb) that we can barely even enjoy what we eat anymore. Add to the mix that we are often eating quickly and on the run, so that we can’t really even remember what we have eaten.
And, when we eat something that we actually really love (gasp) — like Grandma’s homemade chocolate cake — we barely pay attention while eating it because we feel so damned guilty about it.
Eat and enjoy Grandma's homemade chocolate cake
As we’re all aware, the latest demonized macronutrient group is for sure carbohydrates. But instead of perpetuating this, I would encourage people to just focus on making better carb choices instead of avoiding them altogether!
After all, both vegetables AND a cupcake would fall within the carbohydrate category. Hmmmm.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source of energy, are simple for the body to use, and are the preferred brain and muscle fuel. They play a role in helping to regulate the metabolism of their fellow macro-nutrients, protein and fat.
And if we’re talking about the healthier side of them — like vegetables, fruits, some grains and legumes — then carbs are also often packed full of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They’re not ALL bad!
What comes first to mind with apples? That they are a carb or that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"?
When we start cutting out entire macronutrient groups, we tend to overemphasize others, and what we really need to do is to focus on the TYPE and QUALITY of food we are eating.
We have overcomplicated nutrition, and carbs are not the devil. If it doesn’t come in a box or a bag (i.e. carrots, apples, potatoes) or it comes in a box or bag with one or two ingredients (i.e. meat, brown rice, oats, EVOO, canned salmon, quinoa) then it’s likely an excellent choice and you need not obsess about it.
Your body knows what to do with real food! What it’s not so good with, are the highly processed and refined food-stuffs that currently pass in our society as “food”.
Baked potatoes will make you feel fuller longer than a bag of chips, and you can even season potatoes with flavors that you enjoy!
Instead of worrying about “carbs” per se, you’d be much better off simply focusing on the types of carbs you’re eating. Complex, slow-releasing carbs are going to make you feel satiated for longer and you won’t be as physically capable of overeating them.
Two baked potatoes would fill you up a LOT more than an entire bag of potato chips. Three apples would fill you up a LOT more than a big glass of apple juice. And a homemade bran muffin would fill you up a LOT more than a white flour, sugary muffin you might find at your local café. Just focus on making better choices.
Choose whole foods over processed, homemade over store-bought, and when you’re going to indulge with Grandma’s chocolate cake, just enjoy the heck out of it!
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