With all the talk about “low carb” and “no carb” diets, people seem to have forgotten that there is another dietary option – the “healthy carb” way of eating.
Carbohydrates are basically starches that are converted to glucose as they are digested by your body. Typically, the starchier the food, the more carbohydrates are in it. White rice, white potatoes, and white bread, for example are loaded with carbohydrates; unfortunately these foods are also a bit deficient in the nutrition to carbohydrate ratio.
You also may have noticed a common link in the high carbohydrate foods – primarily they are white (white flour, white bread, etc.). So, enjoying good carbohydrates, in moderation, will require you to do a quick scan for the color of the foods you are about to eat (or a quick scan of the ingredient list).
Carbohydrates are not a bad thing to include in your daily diet. Carbs give us an energy boost, physically and mentally, and should not be a part of the food pyramid that is eliminated entirely from the daily meal routine.
Instead of turning your nose up at carbohydrates, choose to eat healthier carbohydrates instead.
How do you know which carbohydrates are healthy and which carbs are dietary downers?
1. Add some color to your diet.
Rather than eating bread made from white flour, reach for the loaves made from whole, or sprouted, grain. Your body will thank you for reducing the carb load, and you will still get to enjoy your sandwich. Rolls, buns, and bread are all available in whole grain varieties, or you can even make your own bread at home if you want to be extra careful with the ingredients.
Noodles are another white flour product than can be easily replaced with a variety of both homemade and store bought options. Tomato noodles, whole wheat noodles, spinach juice noodles, and even thick shreds of cabbage are great replacements to your normal noodle meal. Try different healthy noodle options and see which ones work best for you and your family!
2. Rethink your potatoes.
I will admit right now that I am a potato fanatic! Mashed, fried, baked…whatever form they are in, I will always have a special place in my heart for spuds. The trick is not to overdo it when it comes to satisfying your potato craving. Serve smaller portions of mashed potatoes by cutting down the total number of potatoes in the cooking pot; when they are gone, so is the temptation to eat more.
If you are feeling even more ambitious, try making mashed cauliflower. Simply boil the cauliflower and mash it the exact same way you would mash potatoes. Does it taste exactly like mashed spuds? No, but it is close, and it is delicious!
3. Add different varieties of fruits and veggies to the table.
The majority of fruits and vegetables contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients that make them healthy carbohydrate choices for your diet. I know that when I am looking at a beautiful array of vegetables on the dinner table, or am enjoying a bowl of grapes in the backyard, I am not thinking about what I am giving up – I am only thinking about the delicious food in front of me. Variety is the key to pulling off this dietary change. If you always have new vegetables and fruits to look forward to, you will not get bored and it will be easier to stick to your healthy carbohydrate lifestyle.
Citrus fruits, beets, turnips, carrots, green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, kiwifruit, melon…the list of healthy, delicious carbs goes on and on. Have fun with it, and get to know what you like!
4. Try adding nature’s protein powerhouse to your diet.
Beans are an excellent source of protein, a great source of fiber, and are a healthy carbohydrate choice. Plus, they are versatile, much like tofu, so you will never get tired of eating them.