They are the main nutrient that gives you energy. Without them, your body would not work well. They have received a bad rap in recent years, because of the low-carbohydrate diet plans.
They are the only nutrients that contain fiber, which can help you to lose weight. You need to include them in your healthy eating plan. Fiber helps to stabilize your blood sugar levels, which helps to control your hunger and food cravings. It also helps you to feel full longer because it slows down digestion. People who eat high fiber diets usually weigh less than those that do not, but more than half of adults don’t eat the recommended amount, which is 25 to 35 grams a day.
Plant foods also contain phytochemicals, that increase your health and fight disease, and are packed full of vitamins and minerals.
The problem with carbs, is that some of them contain very little nutritional value because they are refined and contain added sugar. Refining removes most of the fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Poor carb choices are, refined grains and simple sugars that contain little fiber like, white flour, white rice, crackers, candy, baked goods, and bread types made without 100% whole wheat grains. These foods rank high on the GI Index chart because they raise your blood sugar quickly. They should mostly be avoided in your healthy diet habits.
The trick is to know healthy carb choices. Healthy carbs are fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. They are real foods. They have a lower number on the Glycemic Index chart, because they do not raise your blood sugar quickly. Healthy Carbs can be divided into those that are low carbohydrate and higher carbohydrate or starches:
Low Carbohydrate Vegetables
Low Carbohydrate Vegetables: try to eat at least 4 cups/ per day. These would be zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, spaghetti squash, bean sprouts, red and green peppers, chives, eggplant, spinach, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, cabbage, artichokes, green chilies, celery, raw onions, parsley, leeks, asparagus, broccoli, snow peas, bok choy, mushrooms, garlic, Brussels sprouts, carrots, or jicama.
These are wonderful choices because they quickly fill both your plate and your stomach!
Higher Carbodydrate Foods
Higher Carbohydrate Foods (Starches): try to eat (4-8) 1/2 cup servings per day. These choices would include:
- Grains: brown rice, polenta, corn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, whole grain bread source, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat couscous, oats, tortillas....(up to 1 cup daily)
- Legumes: garbanzo, kidney, refried beans, navy beans, lentils, pears or other dried beans. (up to 1 cup daily)
- High carbohydrate vegetables: Corn, rutabaga, winter squash, sweet potatoes, yams, beets, turnips, peas, cooked onions, potatoes, parsnips and cooked pumpkin. (1 to 2 cups cooked per day)
- Fruits: apples, bananas, grapefruits, cantaloupe, nectarines, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, all berries,.....(2 to 4 servings per day)
Proper Portioning of these carbs would be to fill your plate at least half full of low carb vegetables at each meal, and to fill 1/4 of your plate full of a high carb food. The other 1/4 of your plate would be your lean protein source. This way of eating is called the half plate rule, and offers you a simple way to fill your plate, rather than counting calories.
If you eat this way, you should notice a decrease in your cravings, and that you feel better and have more energy. I believe that controlling your carbohydrate portions, and knowing which ones are healthy is one of the biggest Lifestyle Solutions you can make to maintain a healthy weight.
Most of you consider a serving of grains, the portion that you dole out. The 3 cup spaghetti portion was actually 6 servings of grain, and the Costco bagel was probably 5 servings of refined grains. Two grain portions but 11 grain servings! Wow! Many of you eat grain servings that are completely out of whack and contribute to weight gain!
The portions that are listed here are simple guidelines. I feel you will have more success by increasing the lower carbohydrate vegetables, because they are less caloric.
Go to Fiber
Go to Sugar
Return to Nutrition
Return to Nutrition Basics
Return from Carbohydrates to Healthy Diet Habits Home Page