I am soooooo tired of the low-carb craze. Just when I think people are over it, I’ll hear someone say, “I’m off carbs this week.” SERIOUSLY?
Your body does need carbohydrates. So, my message today is that you CAN have carbs as part of a healthy diet if you follow two rules:
- Eat carbohydrates as close to their natural state as possible.
- Eat carbohydrates in moderation.
Carbohydrates that are close to their natural state are called whole grains. Some examples are brown rice, wild rice, whole wheat, buckwheat, oatmeal, quinoa, barley, and even popcorn! When buying products where the main ingredients are carbohydrates, check the nutrition label and go straight to the list of ingredients. If the first ingredient says “enriched or refined” in it, it is NOT a whole grain. Be careful because some labels try to trick you. On the front of the product, you might see WHOLE GRAIN FOOD, but just remember that it is not 100% whole grain unless they put that on the label! The ingredient list is in order of quantity in the product, from the most to the least. If the first ingredient is a whole grain, that means there are more whole grains in that product than refined grains, which is what you WANT!
If most of your calories are coming from carbohydrates, then you are NOT eating them in moderation. Did you know that this is how you should try to make your plate look at each meal?
Yeah, that’s right—only 1/4 of your plate should be filled with grains and 1/2 should be vegetables (and fruits). Sorry—potatoes and corn don’t count as vegetables! Bump those on over to the grain category cuz they’re starchy!
Here are some tips to incorporate more whole grains into your diet:
- Eat breakfasts that include high-fiber cereals, such as bran flakes, shredded wheat or oatmeal.
- Substitute whole-wheat toast or whole-grain bagels for plain bagels. Substitute low-fat, bran muffins for pastries.
- Make sandwiches using whole-grain breads, buns, or rolls. Swap out white-flour tortillas with whole-wheat or corn tortillas.
- Replace white rice with kasha, brown rice, wild rice or bulgur.
- Feature wild rice or barley in soups, stews, casseroles and salads.
- Instead of regular pasta, use a whole-grain pasta (my favorite is Barilla Plus, but there are lots of options out there now).
- Use rolled oats or crushed bran cereal in recipes instead of dry bread crumbs, or make your own whole wheat bread crumbs by pulsing dry whole wheat bread in a blender.
So remember: You don’t have to say NO to carbs, just choose the right ones and know when to say when!