I’m not lying when I say I’ve tried every diet there is- paleo, vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, keto and all the rest. This was in my pre-RHN days when I would do anything to lose weight. Years and years ago, it was low to no fat and low to no carbs. Well, do I ever see a problem with that now!! Whenever someone tells me they’re on a diet, I cringe, not because I’m judging them, but because when they say the words “I’m on a new diet” they look so defeated, upset, and disappointed. It makes me sad how so many people are so misinformed on “diets” and also the definition of “diet”. The first definition is-
“the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”.
Which is really what it should stay at. There is now a second definition that I think has developed overtime, that is
“a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons”.
Now, there are absolutely special diets that people follow for health and medical reasons, but 9/10 times when someone says, “I’m on a diet”, what comes to mind? Restrictive eating for weight loss.
Trust me when I say I know what it feels like to just want to lose 20 pounds that you’ll do anything (except exercise) for it. Why are we so quick to rob our bodies of the nutrition we need to thrive, but won’t give it the activity it needs to keep going and get stronger?
Side note- I stopped writing this post and went out to run some errands. I stopped in at a local health food store and grabbed a smoothie bowl. A lady came in shortly after and started talking about chia seed pudding. She asked the girl working what they made it with and she said coconut milk and honey. The lady right away started saying how bad coconut milk is for you because its high in fat. I did everything in my power to bite my tongue and not say anything, which was extremely hard because she was talking right at me about how bad it is for you. She then went on about how there’s been studies on chia seeds and how they make you lose weight immediately. This is what the general public thinks. This is how powerful one article written by Joe Blow can completely convince someone something essential to your body is harmful. I had to add it in here because it aligns completely with this post. Anyways…
“But I’ve always heard and been told that carbs and fat are bad for you and make you gain weight. Why are you telling me otherwise after all these years?” I’m glad you asked! Let’s dive into why these two macronutrients are essential to our well-being. Carbs is going to be talked about in this post and fats will be a following post or else you’ll be reading 8 pages of content.
Not all carbohydrates are created equally (is anything?). There’s a big difference between eating donuts and muffins everyday or eating oats and quinoa. There are two types of carbs; simple and complex. We want to stay away from simple carbs. These metabolize super quickly and mostly turn into sugar during this process. All of this now sugar goes right into your blood stream. Your body then has to figure out how to counteract this sudden spike in blood sugar, so our pancreas is kicked into high gear to produce more insulin to remove the excess sugar from our body. This process if done repeatedly can be extremely taxing on your liver and pancreas, but it also makes you feel like you need to eat more because of the now drop in blood sugar. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s why you can probably eat twice as much white pasta over whole grain. In extreme cases, we may need a simple carb if our blood sugar becomes too low and we need to raise it quickly, but in our everyday life, we want to steer clear.
Complex carbs are usually minimally or unrefined completely and offer more fiber and/or protein than simple carbs do. They’re also going to contain more vitamins and minerals so it’s just an all-around better choice!
So, what is a simple carb and what is a complex carb? Here’s a list of some of the most commonly seen and used;
- Anything with white refined sugar (candy, cookies, brownies etc.)
- White pasta
- White bread
- Yogurt (some are super high in added sugar)
- Anything with fructose, sucrose, glucose, corn syrup
- Whole, sprouted grain pasta
- Whole, sprouted grain bread
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Beans, lentils, peas
- Butternut squash, pumpkin
Our bodies need a certain amount of each macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) to sustain our energy and to just simply live. Providing it with complex carbs is going to not only keep you full longer and keep your energy stable, but it also maintains blood sugar balance and limits the amount of times your body has to freak out and pump out insulin (which also disrupts hormone balance due to the secretion of cortisol as well, but that’s a whole other post) to manage that blood sugar spike.
With this all being said, I know the best carbs are simple carbs (hello, pizza is life) so don’t deprive yourself of your favourite foods. Enjoy them occasionally. If pizza once a week makes your soul happy, then you have that pizza once a week! (maybe just not a whole pizza...) Balance is key.