Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Want You To Carb-Load

I was staring in disbelief at my friend. Usually, when people ask me a question about how I eat, it's "Where do you get your protein?" But I had just been asked, "Where do you get your carbs?"

Granted, I had been sharing about my destructive eating habits of the past, noting that "carb-loading" was a particular weakness of mine. What I meant was that I would overeat simple carbohydrates - mostly baked goods made with flour and sugar...and hidden extracted fats. In the name of health, I created homemade graham crackers and wheat thins. In bursts of creativity, I invented cold cereals that could be made from my very own kitchen. I indulged in plenty of quick-rise whole wheat bread. I even made low-fat cookies, substituting honey for white sugar. The entire time I felt like I was Queen of Health.

I thought eating more complex carbohydrates meant substituting sweet potatoes for Russets and swapping brown rice for white rice. The epiphany came when I exchanged vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes for grains on the food pyramid. It was all about COLOR! So now, I carb-load on foods such as broccoli and collards!

How can that be? I answer with a question: What is fresh produce? Is it protein, carbohydrate, or fat? Most people have a hard time believing that there's much protein in a banana, and carrots certainly aren't fat, so that leaves just one alternative. Carbs. Complex carbs. Carbs loaded with fiber AND micronutrients: vitamins, minerals and health-insuring phytochemicals.

Actually, the truth is that fruits, vegetables and legumes contain a combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate. But it is an accurate generalization to say that all these whole foods except leafy greens are mostly carbohydrate. (The leafy greens are in reality nearly half protein.)

So go ahead and carb-load. Fill your plate completely...and have seconds. Don't stop eating those carbs. Our muscles and our brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. You can eat as many raw vegetables as you like and never feel guilty.

To your health and happiness,

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