Carbs - they do a body good!
Yes, you heard it from the dietitian's mouth - you CAN eat carbs! More often than not I hear from my clients that they are trying to stay away from carbs because they think they are "bad," but I'm here to tell you that this is just not true. In fact, our bodies have evolved to run on carbohydrates so we actually need them to power everything we do - from muscle movement to making new cells.
Diet culture has done a good job of demonizing carbohydrates - promising us that we will lose weight by eating smaller and smaller quantities until they have all but been replaced by some extreme diet of only protein and fat. For anyone who has already tried this you are probably familiar with the fatigue, brain fog and sugar cravings that have followed (going "keto" sounds fun, huh?). This is because by restricting our intake of sugar (that's ultimately what carbohydrates are), we are not properly fueling our bodies with the main source of energy they need.
(I should note here that for some health conditions such as obesity or diabetes, some carb restriction can be beneficial - but should be done so under the supervision and support of medical professionals).
So why is it that we are led to believe that we need to skip the bread, pasta and potatoes?
It turns out that too much of a good thing, can turn into a bad situation. The average person should be getting 45-65% of their daily calories from carbohydrates (this varies by individual activity levels, health conditions and metabolic needs). Eat more carbs than your body needs and it will store them in the form of fat. Excess fat gain can contribute to many undesirable health conditions: heart disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes to name a few. So how to we moderate our carb intake to prevent this from happening?
It's important to remember that not all carbs are created equal. Food items rich in refined sugars (such as cookies, cakes, white bread, etc.) contain a large amount of carbohydrates that digest very quickly. Eating more of these will contribute much faster to fat gain, especially if you don't lead a very active lifestyle. Healthy carbohydrate choices include: whole fruit, whole starchy vegetables such as potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat products (bread/pasta), whole grains and low fat dairy (yes, dairy products have natural sugars in them, which classifies them as carbs!) These carbohydrates take longer for the body to break down into usable fuel and they are packed with many other beneficial vitamins and minerals.
So the moral of this starchy story is: eat the carbs, in moderation, and make smart choices. Balance that bowl of noodles with some crisp veggies and satisfying protein, or serve that warm crunchy bread on the side of a hearty soup. Because a world without carbs is not a world you (or I) want to live in!