End Diet Confusion and Make Your Own Damn Rules is a series created to help you break up with diet culture. Gain clarity on what nutrients make up our food and what their role in nutrition is. You already know the diet industry has created a lot of fear and confusion around the foods we eat. By getting transparent on exactly what makes up our food I hope we can stop confusion in its tracks together.
Last week we talked about the real facts on the different types of fat. This week I want to dive into the infamous nemesis of so many diets: carbs. By the end of this post, you should finally have the answer to the age-old question: “Is butter a carb?” Okay, all kidding aside; my aim is to reveal the role carbs play in nutrition and why our bodies do in fact need them.
Making a Case for Carbs
There are two main types of carbohydrates, or carbs for short, you need to know: simple and complex. Unlike with fats, labels do not always state which type of carbs make up their product. But don’t worry. Once you learn the difference between these two types you’ll know how to determine what’s what on your own.
Simple carbs can be found in refined foods. But what is a refined food anyways? Refined foods are heavily processed and/or altered from their natural state. Through this process, they lose some or most of their nutrients and fiber content. Despite losing these important components, they still keep the same amount of calories. The end product? A food with poor nutritional value.
Quick Tip: A food has simple carbs if the ingredient list includes:
Complex carbs are found in unrefined foods. These are foods that have not been altered or heavily processed. Complex carbohydrates can be further broken down into two groups: starch and fiber. Both help to keep you full for longer. They also help slow down the flow of sugar to the bloodstream. Which is why fruit, a complex carb, is healthier than a candy bar!
Quick Tip: A food has complex carbs if the ingredients list includes:
Okay, so we know what carbohydrates are but why do we even need them? Well, carbs are the body’s main source of energy. They also help everything flow nicely through your digestion system. Handy hint: you want this!
Complex carbs give your body both the nutrients and fiber it needs to run smoothly. When you feed your body foods that set it up for success it can handle those that are best kept in moderation. Simple carbs we’re looking at you.
And remember: while some foods are more nutritious they don’t make you a good or bad person. The food you eat does not speak anything of your character. Whether they are usually labeled “good” or “bad”, they do not determine whether you are a “good” or “bad” person. A healthy, balanced diet leaves room for complex AND simple carbs.
Now I know breaking down these old thought patterns takes time. Practice kindness throughout the process instead of bullying yourself each time you fumble. Cruelty does not beget kindness. By extending more kindness towards yourself you can open new paths to happiness. Ones you couldn’t even imagine, or obtain, on a crash diet.
What do you think of the series so far? Comment below with any burning questions or lightbulb moments you’ve had!