Apologies to Dr. Sues, that was terrible, but I think I’m funny and that’s all that matters. To wrap up Nutrition November, I thought we’d do a quick run down of everyone’s favorite food group, CARBS!!! Carbohydrates used to be king in these lands. Remember the food pyramid of our childhood, with that giant trapezoid at the bottom full of grainy, starchy deliciousness…well they lied to you. I know, I’m sad about it to. I spent years of my life telling myself 8 helpings of grains and potatoes a day was just fine because that poster in the lunch room told me so!
This food pyramid of our childhood was based on a few misguided studies in the 50s and 60s telling us Fat is Bad and causes heart disease, so Carbs must be good. Then we followed that up with the “Low Fat” and died pill craze of the 80s and 90s. (If you haven’t already read “The Obesity Code” get it now, it explains all of this craziness.) Anyway, for years and years we told the general public to eat their weight in carbohydrates and avoid fat at all costs. Then we increased portion sizes like crazy, (thank you Extra Value Meals) stopped working active jobs, and what did it get us??? Obesity, loads and loads of obesity.
The tides turned a little bit in mid the 2000’s, everyone remember the Atkins Diet? More recently we have seen a trend into Paleo (eating only what cave men could eat) and Keto (low carb-high fat), both of which restrict the carbohydrates you eat, most specifically the processed/simple carbohydrates. And they do work, I’ve seen people lose great amounts of weight on these diet plans. But every “Diet” will eventually fail you, because its too restrictive and because people cheat their way out of it. And the truth is humans do need some carbohydrates in our diet for good brain health, digestive health and overall balance and happiness.
So, what’s the real answer to Good Carbs vs Bad Carbs? I like to keep it really simple – “Eat Colorful Carbohydrates that come directly from nature, Avoid the white fluffy processed stuff, and eat twice as many greens as you do carbs”. One term to look for is “Complex vs. Simple Carbs” Try to cut out the most refined or “simple” carbs in your diet first. These come in the form of white sugar, white rice, white bread, potatoes, tortillas, boxed cereals, donuts, soda… you get the idea. This is hard to do ya’ll. Sugar is an addictive substance, so start small and pick one or two things to swap out for a healthier, less processed version.
My quick “Eat this, not that” List to give you some ideas.
- Oatmeal or a banana with peanut butter vs. processed box cereals
- Nuts and dried fruit vs. chips or crackers to snack on
- carrots and hummus vs. pretzels or Chex mix
- Lettuce wraps vs. potato skins as an appetizer
- Zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash vs. white pasta
- sweet potatoes or butternut squash vs. white potatoes
- No bun on the cheese burger and instead enjoy the sweet potato fries 🙂
- Black beans vs. white rice on the side of your taco salad
- cauliflower fried rice vs. traditional white rice
- Berries with heavy whipping cream vs. ice cream for dessert
- A square of dark chocolate and strawberries vs. cookies
Now before I go any further, just know that sometimes you’ve gotta eat the delicious pasta and enjoy the birthday cake. This is real life, and I live by the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time you stay on plan, eat the vegetables, avoid the sugar and drink All the water. Because 20% of the time its going to be Thanksgiving, or the Super Bowl, or your 21st birthday and you should get to enjoy those delicious carbs without guilt or shame, and just plan to get back to eating whole foods tomorrow.
Carbs are not the enemy. They are a macronutrient essential for life.
Here is an example of the carbs my grocery list to give you some inspiration!
- old fashion oats
- almond flour
- garbanzo bean pasta
- mixed nuts
- dried fruits
- sweet potatoes
- spaghetti squash
- butternut squash
- canned black beans
- canned red kidney beans
- frozen riced cauliflower
- frozen mixed veggies
- dark chocolate 🙂
As always, please ask your questions, post your comments and share this with your friends! I had fun with Nutrition November. We will be heading into a series I’m calling “Ask your Doctor December” So lets hear your questions, What topics would you like to hear more about???
The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of its author. This does not substitute for medical advice, instead seek care from with your own family doctor.