Carbs, like bread, pasta and rice, have been a source of dietary confusion for me since I was old enough to worry about things like weight and diets. In my 20s, I practically lived on carbs and didn’t worry much about it because I was more focused on calorie intake than the specific foods I was eating. Most of the carbs I ate back then I would consider unhealthy now. White bagels, white bread, pasta, pizza, white rice, etc.
In my late 20s and early 30s I avoided carbs altogether. The Atkins diet was popular and I believed the hype that cutting carbs was the easiest way to stay slim. (Of course, this is when I thought avoiding excess weight meant I would automatically be healthy.) I tried not to eat breads and pasta at all, but I almost always failed. I craved “carbs” all the time and never seemed full when I wasn’t eating them. Today, I’m thankful to know the difference between a “good carb” and a “not so good carb”.
People have been living on carbs or grains since the earliest civilizations. They’re loaded with vital nutrients like iron, dietary fiber, vitamin E and B-complexes, and essential enzymes. They’re also a great source of energy because the body absorbs them slowly.
If you’ve been avoiding carbs or grains but feel hungry, deprived or sluggish, it might be time to experiment with adding grains or “good carbs” back into your diet. Below are some high quality grains (also known as carbs) that will fill you up, nourish your body and give you a great boost of energy for a sustained period of time. Experiment with adding a variety of these into your diet and see how you feel. You may be surprised at just how well your body feels on carbs.
- brown rice
- wild rice
Other Healthy Grains:
- rye berries
- wheat berries
Carbs to Avoid: Those made from white flour (the nutrious part of the wheat berry has been removed so it’s just empty calories that spike your blood sugar).
Grains are a great tool for the busy family and most grains or “good carbs” are actually very healthy. They keep for up to a week in the fridge once cooked so you can prepare them in bulk and use them to throw together quick, healthy meals all week long. 1 cup of dry grains will make enough for 2-4 people. Toss in veggies, chicken, beans, goat cheese, a sprinkle of your favorite spices or a little tamari (soy sauce). You have a delicious, nutritious meal in minutes.
What’s your take on carbs? Have you embraced them or do you avoid them? Have you tried any of the grains listed above?
Here’s an easy quinoa recipe to get you started.