A question from one of our Healthy Moms was how to eat less carbs, because once she starts – she can’t stop! I totally understand what she means.
I’m going to share a little of what I’ve learned on how to get out of the carb trap. But first, lets explore what a carb is! Then lets determine what makes a carb a “good” carb or a “bad” carb.
When most people here the word “carbs or carbohydrates” they picture bread and pasta. But carbohydrates are also contained in fruit, veggies, legumes and grains.
Simply put, carbs are large molecules made out of smaller glucose or sugar molecules. That is why on the Nutrition Facts on our packaged foods you’ll see Sugar content under Carbohydrates.
Some carbs break down into sugar fast, and other carbs take a while to break down into sugar. It depends on how big the molecule is.
Another part of the carb story is fiber. The amount of fiber in a food determines how fast a carb breaks down into its sugar molecules and how fast we absorb the sugar. The more fiber, the slower it will break down and the slower we absorb it.
The Good and the Bad Carbs
The carbs we want to reduce or eliminate in our diet is the bad carbs or refined carbs. These carbs are from refined white flour and high fructose corn syrup. You’ll find those in chips, soft white bread, muffins, doughnuts and pasta.
These refined carbs break down into sugar super fast. What this does, is shoots up our blood sugar, which sets us on a sugar high. We might feel more energy, but it is only temporary energy and then we are set up for the inevitable blood sugar crash, where we feel sleepy and sluggish. This also sets us up for craving more carbs, and a wacky blood sugar is going to negatively affect our hormones.
So – eating refined carbs is not helpful for our bodies at all!
The good Carbs are those that come in the form of fruit, veggies, legumes or grains. These carbs, even though they also break down in sugar don’t break down super fast because the sugar molecule is bigger and because of the extra fiber.
The fiber found in foods is fantastic for us because not only does it slow down the absorption of sugar, but the fiber helps us to feel more full, it adds fiber to our colon to make things move like they should
When you are eating fruits, veggies, legumes and grains you also are getting the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and all the other good stuff contained in the fruit or veggie.
So why is it SO hard sometimes to make those good choices and go for the healthy apple vs the bag of chips???
I’m not a doctor – but here are my thoughts and experiences on why it is hard to choose the good stuff…
I read that sugar is even more addictive than cocaine! So not only is the high carb food turning into sugar after we eat it, we also add sugar to recipe and then we may add sugar on top of it!! Yikes! We are turning into sugar addicts.
The high intake of sugar makes our blood sugar spike, which leads to that dip, which leads to more cravings. We unknowing put ourselves on a blood sugar roller coaster.
Chips have been created to make us want MORE! Who has not found themselves digging into a bag of chips for just a handful and then you find you can’t stop eating them. Companies that produce these chips have done a TON of study on us and chips and what we like to eat. They have researched how crispy a chip should be so that we get a great crunch without it being too crunchy or too soft. It is called “mouth feel”.
The other reason why we crave and over indulge with those refined carbs is because the yeast in our bodies thrive on it! And if we have yeast overgrowth in our bodies – which over 80% of the population does – then those cravings we are having are not us having those cravings – it is the yeast!!! And I can attest to that 100%! When you reduce the yeast – you reduce your cravings!!!
So between the chip companies being very successful at making chips that we can not eat just one…. the blood sugar roller coaster….. the sugar addiction and the cravings from yeast overgrowth – it creates a stituation where it is very hard to get out of the carb trap.
Now that you know what causes the carb trap – I hope it helps you understand how you can start to get out of it.
Here are some tips:
- Don’t even go near a bag of chips or sweets when you are hungry. Instead grab an apple, pear, carrot or celery. You’ll get that crunch, it will help stop you from getting the blood sugar spike, and will fill you up until your real nutritious meal is ready for you.When you have chips or something sweet – always pair it with a good fat or lots of fiber.
- Chips – only have them with salsa or hummus or guacamole
- Sweets – have them only after a hearty meal with protein to slow down the absorption of sugar. It will be easier to have just one portion because you’ll be full.
- Bread – pair them with good fats or protein to slow down the absorption of sugar. Think of the Italians, dipping bread in olive oil or put real butter on your bread or enjoy it with cheese.
Also have WHOLE GRAIN bread, not soft white bread. Whole great takes more time to break down because of the extra fiber.
- Pasta – be a good Italian and cook your pasta al dente, which is on the harder side. Your body has more work to do to break down that pasta then when it is cooked soft. Have it with protein and fat, meat balls and cheese!
My daughter loves goldfish crackers and cereal too. I follow the same rules with my daughter that I follow.
When it comes to your kids, look at what snacks you are giving them. I’m always surprised when I see kids at school eating candy bars or fruit chews as their snack, those things are nothing but sugar!
Goldfish and crackers snacks are treats she enjoys, but she eats the carrots or fennel first and then she can have a handful of goldfish.
My girl loves cereal too, but she either needs to add a hearty protein to the cereal or have a protein first. If I make a protein smoothie for breakfast that is what she adds to her cereal instead of almond milk. She also might use plain yogurt instead of almond milk and then add some fruit and a little honey or maple syrup. Sometime she will choose to have a protein before a bowl of cereal. So then she will have an egg or avocado first and then she can have her cereal (which of course is low sugar and dye free!).
I went over what carbs are, what makes a carb a good guy or a bad guy and how they affect our bodies. I also shared a few tips on how I control my carb intake for myself and my little one.
I hope these Healthy Tips help you on your wellness journey too!
If you use a tip, I’d love to hear how it supported you. If you have any questions – please ask away!