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Why is it that carbohydrates have developed such a bad name? It seems that ever since the hype of the Atkins Diet, carbs have been looked down upon, feared, and completely avoided.
Well, I’m here to set the record straight!
Carbs are not bad, they're essential to your health and wellbeing!
Humans have been consuming carbohydrates for thousands of years, but the obesity epidemic didn’t start until recently. What matters most is the type of carbs you consume.
I blame the negative reputation of carbs on the fact that most carbohydrates found in grocery stores are highly refined and processed. These are the foods that come in a box, bag or can, and they are essentially empty calories, offering zero nutritional benefit.
Foods like white pasta, white rice, white bread, many cereals, crackers and cookies all contain refined carbs. These refined foods have been highly processed and stripped of all the good vitamins, minerals and fiber.
Therefore, they are digested quickly, provide short, fast energy, and leave you feeling hungry again an hour later. You then end up eating more and more, yet your body is unsatisfied. Your body is literally left starving for the nutrients it needs.
So what carbs should we eat? This is the exciting part because there are so many good options! Here are just a few:
1. Whole Grains
They key is to buy 100% whole grains. For example, whole grain brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and oats are all fabulous options.
Whole grains are just that--whole grains, nothing else. They contain the bran, the fiber and all of the great vitamins and minerals. This in turn, will fill you up, provide stable energy, and leave you full for a longer period of time.
Your body will get the nutrients it needs, and you won’t be reaching for another bag of chips 30 minutes later. Be sure to read the ingredient list and make sure it begins with whole grains.
A great way to purchase whole grains is in the bulk isle of your health food store. You can buy the quantity you want, and it’s typically less expensive.
All vegetables contain some level of carbohydrates. We all know that dark, leafy greens are super nutritious, but even some higher carb veggies like sweet potatoes and squash offer a ton of nutritional benefit.
My one recommendation is to make sure it is a low-glycemic vegetable. This means it won’t spike your blood sugar.
Most veggies are low-glycemic, however items like baked potatoes are very high-glycemic. A healthier alternative would be a sweet potato or butternut squash.
Opt for vegetables with a lot of color such as dark, leafy greens, tomatoes, red peppers, and brocoli. These vegetables are loaded with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Whole, fresh fruit contains so many wonderful, beneficial nutrients. While fruit does contain natural sugar, it also contains fiber that aids in digestion, helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and helps you feel full longer.
Some fruits are higher glycemic than others meaning they tend to spike your blood sugar more and may not be ideal for people with pre-diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Great, low-glycemic fruit options are apples, berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries), and pears.
The more fruits, veggies, and whole grains in your diet, the better.
You'll feed your body the nutrients it needs and eliminate the processed foods that lead to chronic disease.
If this is new information to you, experiment with new foods and see what you like. Try cooking your next dinner with whole grain brown rice instead of white rice.
Give quinoa a try in place of white pasta. Add in some veggies like spinach, zucchini, asparagus, and eggplant. Add some fresh berries to a protein shake for breakfast.
Experiment and have fun with it. Before long you won’t be missing your Wonder Break and Lucky Charms!