End Diet Confusion and Make Your Own Damn Rules is a series here on the blog to help you gain clarity around what makes up our food and what their role in nutrition is. We know the diet industry has created a lot of fear and confusion around the foods we eat. And by helping you gain clarity on what makes up our food I hope that together we can stop that confusion in its tracks.
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, I hope that you will have a better understanding of 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 the different types of fats, nutrition labels do not state which type of carbohydrates make up their product. Not to worry, though, once you know the difference between simple and complex carbs (and by the end of this article, you will) it’s fairly easy to determine on your own.
Simple carbs can be found in refined foods. But what is a refined food anyways? Refined foods have been heavily processed and/or altered from its natural state and thus lost some or most of their nutritional value and fiber content. While these foods lose these important components, they still keep their caloric content. If the ingredients list contains white flour, white rice, or added sugar it contains simple carbohydrates. The few nutrients left after the refining process while retaining its caloric quantity makes it a food of poor nutritional value.
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. Think foods like whole grains, fruits and veggies, legumes and even dairy.
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 aid in intestinal health and waste elimination. Handy hint: you want this! Favoring complex carbs over simple ones gives you the nutritional content you need while supplying fiber to keep things running smoothly. When you feed your body foods that set it up for optimal intestinal health and elimination it can handle the foods that are best kept in moderation even better. You’ll be like a well-oiled machine, but you know like a sexy one.
And just like last week I want to emphasize that while unrefined and complex carbs are healthier than their simple, refined counterparts, this does not make them bad. Yes, some foods are nutritionally more beneficial but this does not make them morally “good” foods. The food you eat does not speak anything of your character and the same is said for those that are less nutritionally beneficial. Which foods you eat, whether they are usually labeled “good” or “bad”, do not determine whether you are a “good” or “bad” person. A healthy, balanced diet leaves room for complex and simple carbohydrates alike to be enjoyed.
Remember, breaking down these old thought patterns takes time. Take care to show yourself kindness throughout the process instead of bullying yourself each time you fumble. Cruelty does not beget kindness. The very act of practicing extending more kindness towards yourself as you make these mindset changes can open whole new avenues happiness within your life.
What do you think of the series so far? Comment below with any burning questions or lightbulb moments you’ve had!