Last week I gave a big clue if protein is good for you. That same test helps determine if you are likely to thrive on a higher-carb diet. On my free call last week, I talked about the two most important body processes that guide protein and carbohydrate needs. You can receive the free call recording here.
Whole grains like wheat, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, rice and oats became part of the human diet about 10,000 years ago. If human evolution was condensed into one year, grains are about a day old. But, they have become megastars overnight. And with all super star brands, there are knock-offs: “made with whole grains” cereal, “12-grain (and sugar)” bread, and most every carbohydrate product that comes in a box.
Those who follow the Paleo or ancestral-esque diet swear off grains. Their acidic nature and genetic tampering can wreak havoc on several modern health conditions. From Multiple Sclerosis to arthritis to type II diabetes, eliminating or dramatically reducing grains are known to improve these chronic diseases.
In the vegan world, quinoa is viewed as a precious protein source. Buckwheat and millet are known to alkaline the body and full of fiber. However, there are vegans who are paleo (using non-meat protein sources) and eliminate grains. Grains aren’t central in the vegan versus paleo debate.
I find the real grain, or carb debate, is the one in your head: “Look at those desserts! Look at that warm breadbasket. They’re so bad but I want just a little bit. (You taste a little bit). Ahhh…I have to have this…diet starts tomorrow!”
The truth is most people who want to lose weight or reverse a medical condition need to reduce grains, particularly the refined ones. I consider wheat refined given its genetical “refinement”. All health goals rely on a hormonal re-balance. Excess insulin, sugar’s life partner, upsets the body’s ecological balance. And today’s refined grains alter this ecosystem often more than traditional “bad” food. For example, whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar (and insulin) more than a Snickers bar.
While you’ve probably experienced feeling better and losing weight eating low-carb, sustaining this way of eating can feel overwhelming. Your mind immediately thinks, “It’s so hard. I love carbs. They are everywhere.”
The question isn’t “Are carbs good or bad?” but rather, how to reduce them.
But that isn’t the question you need to be asking for success
How you frame a problem determines the answer.
And carbs aren’t the problem. They are the solution.
You eat cookies at night because it’s your “treat” for making it through a hectic day. You eat a bagel for breakfast because you overslept and can easily pick it up on the way to work. With that sugary coffee drink that provides an instant lift from your exhaustion. You grab a sandwich at lunch because your schedule has been so packed with work and the kids that you haven’t had time to run to the grocery store.
Carbs are quick fixes. But much like political sound bites short change meaningful, necessary dialogue, the convenience of carbs sells you on the illusion that carbs are your candidates. Meanwhile, the real conversation you have to have with how to reorganize your life so your health is a priority gets neglected. Those challenges don’t go away. And the sooner you take control of them, the sooner they won’t be controlling you – or your food choices.
Ask yourself, “When do I crave carbs (sugar included) the most? Whatever time of day, think back to the couple of hour’s prior. There’s your clue of where to start fact-checking your lifestyle.
This is the part of my work I love the most. Helping people see how those off-track carb episodes aren’t problems. Rather they are a doorway into a lighter body and life. In my Truce with Food program, you’ll learn which of your lifestyle habits needs to change, and create an action plan to exchange carbs for caring for yourself. Today is the last day to save $100 on the program. Details are here.
So are carbs good or bad? Without a doubt yes when they are used to distract from the lifestyle habits that are eating at your soul. This is one of the few nutritional realities I know has a distinct yes or no answer.
Next week, I’ll be getting into the dark side of both of paleo and vegan diets.