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Carbs Schmarbs... what's the big deal anyway?
HEALTH, May 2007, by Dr. Jay
what’s the big deal anyway?
You’ve heard about it for a while now. Low carbs, no carbs, count your carbs. Simply defined: carbohydrates are sugars. As you know, there are good carbs and there are bad carbs, also known as complex or simple.
Our bodies do need sugars for various reasons, but it’s important to know that the kind it needs are the complex ones. These are the ones that are natural. Of course, too much of anything is not good, even if it’s natural. Try eating eight bowls of salad and see how you feel!
BALANCE IS KEY!
You are going to have cravings... chips, cookies, candy. You know, the “cool” snacks. Just be good to your body and make sure that those foods comprise only a small portion of your daily diet.
So how can you tell which are the good carbs and which are the bad ones? Here’s a way to make an educated guess: the closer they are to their natural state, the healthier they are for you.
Take fruit for instance. An apple is 100% natural, straight from the earth, nothing done to it except maybe a rinse. What about cherries in a homemade pie? Less natural because sugar has been added and they have been heated. How about the strawberry jelly you would find in a pastry? I’d say it’s pretty much void of nutritional value. It’s been mashed, cooked, and processed and very likely coloured dies and other unnatural ingredients have been added.
Catch my drift?
There is something called the Glycemic Index. It ranks carbohydrates based on their immediate effect on blood sugar levels. The carbs that break down quickly have high glycemic indexes (not so good). The carbs that break down slowly have low glycemic indexes. That means that they release sugars into the blood gradually. Slow is good. Fast makes you spike and then crash.
Okay, so how do you know what’s going on with your blood sugar levels when you eat? You can feel it. If you get really tired after a big meal, if you get hyper and then tired, or if you have sweet cravings a short time afterwards, that is an indication of your blood sugars reacting to your food. Good choices are things like whole grain bread vs. white bread; oatmeal vs. most dried cereals; fruit vs. candy; and fruit juices vs. fruit drinks.
Remember balance? Carbo-hydrates should be combined in every meal with two other things. They are: protein and fats. Fats? No, not fats! Yes. Good fats. Like olive oil and the kind of fats we get from meats and fish. They are very important for our brains ...and other things, but we’ll talk about that in another issue.
Try to get the majority of your carbs from vegetables, then fruits and whole grains. Have a salad or veggie sticks three or more times a day. Eat them with a protein like nuts, meat, fish or eggs. And put olive oil on your salads.
Don’t be too worried about the numbers... as in counting calories and carbs on the sides of boxes. Go ahead and enjoy the foods that tempt you, but in moderation.
Take care of your health. You only have one body, so treat it like your most valuable possession!
~ Dr. Jay