Carbs get a really bad reputation, they are definitely the red headed step child of nutrition or perhaps worse, the last picked on the team. Everyone feels carbs are evil and the reason for weight gain. Part of this IS true..carbs can be addicting. I mean who ever just eats one Dorito or Lays potato chip?? NO ONE. But it is important to distinguish between good and bad carbohydrates. REFINED carbs like the ones found in chips, pretzels, french fries..pretty much all the stuff that tastes amazing, sends signals to the brain where you produce dopamine. Dopamine is a receptor and a hormone that triggers the brain’s pleasure and reward center. When you stimulate this receptor over and over again you will become ADDICTED. Whether it is alcohol, drugs or food, it is all the same biologic reward.
Refined carbs can also reduce your body’s ability to make insulin which increases your risk for diabetes and often cause central obesity which is fat in the omental layers of the abdomen. This increases the risk for cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Okay, now that I’ve scared you here comes the good news. You DO NOT have to eliminate carbs from your diet. Yes..I said do NOT go carbohydrate free. Why? Because that is not sustainable. You will eventually binge on the carbs and revert back into your addiction. Some people feel the only way they can go carb-free is to go cold turkey, but unfortunately, most will not succeed.
Here is a 5 Step Program to help you Kick your Carb Addiction, but still ENJOY YOUR LIFE!
Step 1: Clean out your Pantry-throw away or donate everything that you KNOW is not healthy. Chips, cookies, white bread, anything from the processed food aisle and get it out of your sight. Out of sight out of mind…not really. You just cannot grab for it when you are bored or starving, so get it out of the house.
Step 2: The first week you try to cut down on refined carbs you may experience a withdrawal, not the tremors, sweating heroin withdrawal but you will feel tired and maybe even get headaches. To combat this fill up on healthy fats like nuts, oils, avocado, salmon and flaxseed. Try to keep your sugar intake under 10 grams as well. You can also find healthy options in Snacks to pack to stay on track and 5 Tips to Picking a Protein Bar.
Step 3: Find fiber filled carbohydrates, or more simply, turn white into brown. Look for whole grains that keep you fuller longer and stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day. Whole grains are also packed with fiber and vitamins that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. Some great examples are oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and sweet potatoes just to name a few.
Step 4: Now that you are weaned off refined carbs, start focusing on your portions. A good rule of thumb is a fist full is enough. If more than ½ cup to 1 cup, you have gone too far.
Step 5: CHEAT! Yup, once a week choose your favorite refined carb like white crust pizza and indulge. It will help keep you committed and actually help you metabolize faster. Now, do not go crazy or if you think cheating once a week will send you into a downward spiral, then I would say avoid it.
Your body needs fiber filled carbs and you should never restrict yourself beyond what you can handle. This is just one of the principles in the nutrition program 2B mindset which gives you the tools to eat healthy regardless of the type of eater you are and the situation. Enjoy your life and be healthy? What more could you ask for!!