Thursday, December 19, 2013

Are carbs really that bad?

A client recently asked me about no-carbohydrate and low-carbohydrate dieting and some roadblocks they were running into -- upset stomach, general tiredness, OPTIONS!, not getting enough calories, gaining weight back quickly if they went off-track for just a day or 2...but on the upside they had lost a lot of weight in a short period of time!  

Of course I understand that if something has helped you lose 25 pounds its hard to adjust and change it, but for overall health and realistic maintenance you need a healthy balance of the RIGHT KINDS of carbohydrates in your diet.  
 
Carbohydrates are fuel for your body & something we need to get through our day - stored energy - so moderation is really key.  When eliminating something completely from your diet - especially something that is not BAD - you tend to gain weight back as soon as they reintroduce it.  Overtime, it's just not sustainable to have a no carb/low carb diet without jeopardizing other areas of health (like cholesterol, fatigue, nausea, lightheadedness, etc.)
 
While cutting out the white flour, white pasta, processed sugars and white bread is definitely a must, cutting out all things carb - fruit and whole grains especially - is not recommended for any period of time - even a day or 2!   Instead, look for fibrous carbs, which take longer to digest and keep you full longer.  
 
Whole grains:  Whole wheat bread has an average of 2g fiber per slice (compared to white's 1g) - I like the really hearty stuff from Kroger or Whole Foods - it's so hearty that one slice with peanut butter and honey and keeps you full all morning.  At Kroger I love homemade 9 grain in the bakery section.  At Whole Foods I am constantly changing it up based on selection & what looks seedy and grainy but not heavy - and believe me, they have some HEAVY breads.    Whole-wheat spaghetti has 4g per cup..Fiber One cereal 14g (Raisin bram, only 6g).

Fruits and veggies:  Raspberries, pears, blackberries, apples, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, green/red/yellow peppers, artichokes, brussell sprouts...all boast 4g or more per serving (most more - like almost double!)
 
Lentils:  Think chick peas, black beans, peanuts, kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans, white beans...

If you are looking to introduce some carbs into your diet - or eliminate some -  here are a few suggestions to help

Breakfast:  pick one....
a.  Smoothie with 8 oz skim or 2% milk, ice, 1/2 banana, 5 whole or frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or plain low-fat yogurt, you can add a little honey or stevia packet to sweeten if you need.
b.  One slice hearty 9-grain Kroger bread with 2 TBSP natural peanut butter, honey, 1/2 a banana
c.  1/4 cup dry oats, 1/4 cup granola, a whole bunch of berries and 2% milk (or milk of your choice) to cover.  
 
Mid-morning snack:  LARABAR OR similar snack --- apple with peanut butter, handful of almonds or unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
 
Lunch:  Lean fish/chicken with a serving a green veggies and brown steamed rice or a small sweet potato.   Or a salad with oil & vinegar with added protein.  
**one of my favorite recipes is tuna salad stuffed peppers:  1 can tuna, some chopped up celery, some plain yogurt and a drop of mustard and black pepper to season.  I cut a pepper in half and stuff the pepper then eat it open faced.  Because I need carbs in my lift I also either eat some brown rice on the side or pack just a serving size of sweet potato chips (or these new avocado oil chips I found at Kroger to have on the side)  I pre-bag and package everything because I am so so SO bad at stopping myself when I am eating something I like. 

Mid-afternoon snack:  hummus (I buy the individual packs) and some type of veggies to dip.  Varies based on what is in my fridge.  

Dinner:  Lean beef/chicken/fish - I vary it up here.  Green veggies, raw or lightly steamed are best! Try to avoid carbs here or go tiny sweet potato, brown rice, 1 cup of whole wheat pasta.

Remember, none of this will do any good if you don't watch your serving size...healthy does not equal free-for-all or low-calorie/low-fat.  I am a big fan of pre-portioning and buying individual servings, even if the cost is a wee bit higher.
 
Also a huge fan of giving into your cravings but just being careful about it.  If you want a small piece of something sweet just have it.  If the chugging water and waiting 20 minutes doesn't help curve the craving eat just a bite and really enjoy the moment. DO NOT try to replace the craving with another food....you never will and you'll end up eating more than if you just went ahead and ate whatever it was you wanted!  

Don't deprive yourself, just be careful you don't over-indulge yourself either.

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