You can’t pass a magazine stand, flip on the TV, or walk down a grocery store aisle without being bombarded with promotions for carb and sugar restriction.
What once were simply considered certain types of food are now labeled as the cause of all our problems. Carb has become the new four-letter word and feeding your child sugar is as blasphemous as smoking while pregnant.
Well, I’m done with making sugar and carbs the bad guys.
We Were Born to Eat Carbs
Recent evidence shows that humans have been eating grains far longer than previously thought. Thus, the rhetoric promoted by the paleo community has a cloudy scientific backing.
In essence, we're born to run on carbs. Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of energy that our bodies can consume. Depending on your age, gender, activity level, body shape, and health history, 50 to 75 percent of your daily calorie intake should be coming from carbs.
Not sure which carbs you should be eating? Start here.
When sufficient carbs aren't available, the body responds by burning muscle for fuel. In turn, your metabolism slows, your ability to concentrate lessens, and you potentially enter a state of ketosis (a metabolic process that occurs when the body doesn't have enough glucose for energy. Stored fats are broken down resulting in a buildup of acids called ketones within the body).
Ketosis is the Holy Grail of those in the low-carb community. In reality, excess ketones make your breath smell, make your head ache, and make you feel nauseated. I guess if slimming down is you goal, constant nausea could help with that.
Doughnuts Aren’t the Devil
Last year on National Doughnut Day, Dr. Joel Furhman was quoted as saying, “Celebrate National Doughnut day by bringing your children to a hospital to view all the diabetics on dialysis or who have [had] leg amputations or have gone blind due to eating doughnuts.”
This is a perfect of example of diet extremism. One doughnut is not the be-all and end-all of a diet and should not be demonized in a way that creates fear and phobia in impressionable consumers.
The stress that comes with analyzing and worrying about food choices is very damaging. You’re better off letting yourself enjoy a favorite food or treat without guilt than shaming yourself for your cravings and having to deal with the repercussions of deprivation later on.
Chronic stress from food worry will lead to illnesses like heart disease and cancer. Enjoying a doughnut with your child will not.
Restricting Sugar Leads to Binges
Scarcity leads to increased demand. When we deprive ourselves of a basic macronutrient that we need for proper metabolic functioning, our cravings are sent into overdrive.
When we make those foods available again, we aren’t able to control ourselves and often go overboard. If we consume carbs and sugar moderately and don’t deprive ourselves of the simple food joys in life, we can enjoy them in a healthy way.
Fruit Shouldn't Be Feared
Previously, white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup were the "bad guys" in regards to sugar. Nowadays even fruit gets a bad rap.
Fruit is said to make you fat, to be just as unhealthy as table sugar, and to be consumed sparingly because of its high carbohydrate content.
In reality, fruit is a natural, whole food straight from the earth with nutritional benefits that are scarcely found in other foods. Fruit actually aids weight loss, keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking, and gives you an absorbable source of energy for daily activities.
If we start vilifying foods that are perfectly healthy, soon there won’t be anything "safe" left for us to eat.
Low Carb/Low Sugar Is a First World Problem
Most places around the world eat a high-carbohydrate diet. It’s only in privileged societies that we see the demonization of certain foods. While a majority of the human race deals with hunger and struggle to find their next meal, people in our nation make it a point not to eat certain things.
If you look at the Blue Zones on Earth (where the greatest numbers of centenarians are located), you’ll quickly find that their diets don't restrict any food groups and actually place an emphasis on quality carbohydrate sources.
Extremes aren't sustainable. Instead of creating a food blacklist, we as a society need to open up the conversation about what constitutes a well-balanced diet.
It's simple: Cook and eat more fresh, whole foods.
ALL FOOD can be incorporated into one's diet for optimal health and happiness. That’s right, it’s OK for food to bring you happiness. Eating is a pleasurable aspect of being human, but when all we do is label foods "good" or "bad," we lose our ability to fully enjoy what we eat. Choose life’s simple pleasures over arbitrary diet rules.
Want to read more on changing our perception of carbs and sugar? Start here:
- 6 Nutrient-Dense Carbs You Should Be Eating
- The Only 2 Rules To Follow When Eating Carbs
- I'm A Health Coach. Here's Why I Want You To Eat Dessert
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