For me this is not even a question! I LOVE carbs. If there was a word stronger than love I would use it to describe how I feel about carbs. I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Most of us have a fondness for all things bread, pasta cookies and crackers. And while carbs have gotten a bad rap over the past several years, I myself don’t think it is carbs themselves that are to blame.
For the first several decades of my life I was definitely a carb-a-holic. I wasn’t that into eating meat (was even a vegetarian at one point), ate a salad every once in a while but for the most part I loved my bread, bagels, pasta and cereal! I was one of the lucky ones that was able to eat as many carbs as I wanted and turn around and burn them right off. They gave me energy to workout and lead a very active lifestyle. Fast forward to being diagnosed with all the many food allergies I have today, and my love affair with carbs turned bitter sweet. All the foods I once enjoyed eating were off limits and the ones I was left with did not offer the same sort of energy supply that my precious wheat based options once had.
When I became unable to eat the foods I had been eating most of my life, my biggest struggle (other than seeing commercials for Pizza Hut and wanting to leap out of my chair and eat the TV) was that my energy levels plummeted. I wasn’t able to workout like I had been, wasn’t nearly as active and because of this gained some weight and generally felt blah. This is something I have struggled with for the better part of the last ten years now and it has only been in the last several months with the addition of the shakes I am using and renewed attention to the foods I am eating that things have started to turn around.
While carbs these days are linked to weight gain and a slew of other negative things, in reality carbs are a great source of energy and can be extremely beneficial to you. Humans have been eating carbohydrates since the beginning of ,well, humankind. We only recently have become a society struggling with obesity and the diseases that come along with being overweight like diabetes and heart disease. It stands to reason then that carbs may not be the culprit in what is making us unhealthy and overweight these days.
The main purpose of carbs, which can be broken down into three categories, sugar, starch and fiber, is to supply us with energy. Where people started going wrong with them was not eating them in their whole, unprocessed forms. Carbs in their natural states such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be extremely healthy! They offer a ton of nutrition, important healthy compounds and clean sources of energy that our bodies need. These carbs are usually loaded with fiber which our bodies use to keep us digesting properly and things moving along (if you catch my drift).
When carbs are refined is when things start going awry. Refined carbs or simple carbs are things such as white bread and white rice, fruit juices, soda, ice cream and our beloved pasta. A hard lesson I have had to learn on this new journey I am on, is generally speaking if a food item comes in a package you should think twice about eating it. This definitely holds true for our carbohydrate sources. In general, packaged goods that contain carbs are not the good kind of carbs to be eating. Also generally speaking, over indulging in these refined carbs can lead to weight gain and all the fun things that come along with extra pounds. They also tend to strip away the good fiber you do ingest.
Examples of good carbs are nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and whole grains. If you choose the healthy kind of carbs to eat you stand a much better chance of maintaining a healthy weight, having the energy you need to live an active lifestyle and avoiding those health risks that everyone fears developing. I know this doesn’t sounds like a ton of fun, as it is much more enjoyable to open a box of donuts and indulge as opposed to picking up an apple or peeling an orange and chowing down. Again, everything in moderation!! No one is saying don’t eat a donut every once in a while but if you are looking to get healthier, maybe lose a few pounds and improve your overall wellbeing try to minimize the processed foods and incorporate more of the whole ones into your meal plan. You will be amazed at how much your energy levels will increase, how much better you feel and how thankful your body will be!