Carbohydrates: A Love/Hate Relationship

A common theme that has been plaguing America is our love/hate relationship with carbohydrates. We treat them like a disease, avoiding them at all cost, yet we yearn for them and even dream about eating carbohydrates. Let’s say we put a stop to the madness!

Carbohydrates are NOT bad! Carbohydrates provide our bodies with energy, help control our blood glucose and insulin metabolism; promote fermentation and elimination in our gut, which aides in normal digestion and growth of friendly bacteria. Our problem is not carbohydrates, it is the amount we eat and the type we choose. The typical American diet consists of large amounts of refined grains such as sugary beverages, white bread, baked items (cookies, cakes, pizza dough), and many snack foods. Studies have found that these particular types of carbohydrates are linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain. Diets high in minimally processed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes are linked with a lower risk due to an increased amount of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein.

Putting it all together. Carbohydrates are not the enemy as long as we choose wisely. Instead of grabbing a bag of potato chips, go for a baked potato topped with low fat cottage cheese or an apple with peanut butter. Work on including more fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack and make half of your grain servings whole grain (100% whole wheat bread, pasta or tortillas, brown rice, quinoa.) When making your plate, only a fourth of the plate should contain a starch and half should include fruits and vegetables, while the other fourth is filled with lean protein. Watch out for added sugar in things like cereal, yogurt, and oatmeal; sugar sweetened beverages, canned fruit, and juice.

Bottom line; don’t be fooled by all of the fad diets claiming carbohydrates are bad and should be eliminated. Feed yourself appropriately, which includes healthy carbohydrates and your body will thank you for it.