what’s the deal with carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates (carbs) seem to be one of the current dietary evils.

The thing is, our bodies need carbs to function well.

Many foods fall under the “carbs” umbrella.  We know that breads, pastas, cereals are there.  What about fruit?  Many veggies?  Juice?

Instead of cutting carbs out of your diet, cut out as many refined carbs as possible.  Eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking juice.  Eat steel-cut oats instead of instant.  Basically, eat them when they are as close to “fresh from the ground” as possible.  If it’s wrapped in plastic or foil and has an expiration date on it, it’s probably refined.

When you do wander into the realm of processed foods, stick to those made from whole grains and whole wheat flour.  Stay away from white flour and sugar.  (I recommend staying away from sweeteners, too, especially HFCS, but that’s another post for another day.)

Here’s the catch about “whole wheat”: labels are misleading.  Look for labels that say “100% whole wheat” — then you’re getting what you’re looking for.  But “made from whole grains” or “whole wheat” or “made from whole wheat” are only partially whole wheat.  What’s the rest?  White flour.

Next time you’re in the grocery store, take a few minutes to compare labels on breads.  (I pick breads because I think they’re the easiest, but try it on anything that has a few wheat varieties.)  Look at the first three or four ingredients for all of the breads that include “whole wheat” on the front, whether in the title or in the advertising.

Ingredients labels list ingredients in descending order of content, so the first ingredient is the most prominent.  Any bread that I’ve looked at that does not say “100% whole wheat” has “enriched bleached wheat flour” (or something similar) as the main ingredient.  That’s white flour.

I’ve taken a tangent into whole wheats and labels.  I’ll go more into labels another day as well.

Whole grains have more fiber and are more filling than their stripped-down counterparts.  Besides the dietary benefits (fiber is good for you! white flour isn’t!), this means you can eat less of them and feel just as full.  It also means you won’t get hungry as quickly.  So if you eat less to feel full and you don’t get hungry so often, ultimately you consume fewer calories which helps to lose or maintain weight.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Good point abt hfcs, tho’ it took me a minute ti figure out what that acronym meant. Great point too abt whole wheat vs white. We switched a while ago and now, white bread tastes like paper. Ick.

    • I’m going to post about HFCS sometime soon, as well as about artificial sweeteners.

      Good for you for switching from white to wheat! I’ve heard people complain that whole wheat bread is too grainy, but just about all changes take some adapting, and then – like you said – what you used to do doesn’t feel/taste as good any more.

  2. Thansk for this, and especially for the reminder that we need to keep carbs in our lives, just in a healthy way. I have trouble achieving that balance. I tend to have an all or nothing approach to diet, which I know is unhealty but is the only way I know how. Moderation is so hard!

    • Moderation is a pain! But if you take it in steps, one piece at a time, it becomes a habit and is much less difficult. Takes time and patience (and a bit of will power), but it’s worth it!

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