One of the pages I follow on Instagram posts a lot of information – some useful, some intended to spark debate, and some has been disproven multiple times by science and research but is still being circulated for selfish gain.
My biggest issue with this page – which I do still follow because they post good information on movements, just less than good information on nutrition – is they lump all carbs together. This is frustrating because we know that all carbs are not created equal.
Sugars and processed foods (bleached flour, even finely-processed whole wheat flour) are simple carbs which are broken down quickly in the body. Unless you have protein or fat with those carbs, you end up with an insulin spike in your body. Without the protein or fat, that insulin starts causing mischief in the body as it looks for more food to break down.
On the other hand, you have complex carbs, that is, carbs which take longer for your body to break down. They keep the insulin busy which is better for your body for a few reasons, not the least of which is weight gain around the waist; heart disease; cancer, strokes, diabetes. . .just to name a few. Great examples of complex carbs are vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, radishes!
This is where Quality over Quantity comes into play.
Say, for example, your doctor gave you the goal of eating 1,800 calories a day. You use something like My Fitness Pal (a tracker I truly despise, but that is a whole other article) to track what you eat. Per MFP, you hit your 1,800 calories for the day, but it’s almost time for bed and you’re still hungry. You look back over your food log and see: biscuits and gravy for breakfast, apple slices for your morning snack, foot-long sub with a side of chips for lunch, celery and peanut butter for your afternoon snack, and a hearty chicken pot-pie for supper. You think you’ve ate pretty good all day, so, since you’re still hungry, you have a bit of popcorn as a snack before bed. You’re hitting that 1,800 caloric mark every day. You’re exercising. But you’re not losing any weight. You actually suspect you’re gaining weight – not in a good way – because you’re clothes are fitting tighter around the waist. Your doctor wants to put you on half a dozen different medications because your bloodwork is still alarming. Why?
Those biscuits are probably made with the overly-processed, bleached flour. Gravy typically has that same flour in it. Fruit is a complex carb, but it has so much sugar – even natural sugar – that you still have an insulin spike when you eat apples. White cheddar cheese goes great with apples. That foot-long sub, even filled with the fresh-daily ingredients is still a loaf of bread in one sitting! That bread is, again, likely made of the overly-processed flour. The celery with peanut butter is a good snack, but check the peanut butter. Is it purely peanuts? Or does it have the refined sugar added to it? How much flour is in the chicken pot pie? Popcorn, while good, is still a carb. Eating that before bed is setting insulin loose in your body overnight.
What about a day that looks like this: a cheese and bacon omelette for breakfast, celery and peanut butter (no additives) for morning snack, a taco bowl with quinoa instead of rice for lunch, baked avocado for an afternoon snack, chicken pot pie with einkorn flour crust, and baked apple slices with cinnamon with white cheddar as a snack an hour or so before bed.
You might go over or under those 1,800 calories, but your doctor is happy with your bloodwork. You’re happy with how your clothes fit AND with how energetic and alert and confident you feel!
Carbs are not the enemy. Fat is not the enemy. Protein is not the enemy (though honestly, I’ve never heard of anyone trying to eliminate protein from their diet).
Instead of eliminating from your diet something that your body needs – carbs, fats, and proteins – substitute poor quality ingredients (refined/heavily processed, unnatural ingredients) with better ingredients – veggies, meats, even fruits!
When should you eliminate something from your diet? When it will kill you. Literally. Like an ingredient you’re allergic to.
If you’ve done an elimination trial to see if you’re overly sensitive to something (gluten, dairy, a specific ingredient like potatoes) and realize that you can live and actually feel better without garlic, fine. Cut garlic from your diet. Substitute for garlic with chives or another herb. Note: being sensitive to something doesn’t necessarily mean you’re allergic to it or that it will kill you!
Yes, Einkorn Flour is considered processed. It does come from a grain which means to get from grain to flour, it has to be milled which counts as processing. However! It is still better than the usual bleached, all purpose flour you find in most kitchens because Einkorn is an Ancient Grain – Ancient as in BC. It hasn’t mutated – specifically the gluten – the way grains for the common flours has changed, leading to poor gut health among other problems.