Thank you to the very lovely Polly of msmugs.com for my gift of this fabulous mug. Indeed, carbs are not the answer, certainly if they are highly refined and processed, but let’s not make an enemy of all carbs. The carbohydrate food group is huge. It includes all vegetables, fruit and grains as well as sugars. There are carbs in nuts and seeds, there are carbs in beans and lentils, there’s lots of carbs in milk. In fact, the only foods that contain very little to zero carbs are meat, fish, eggs, pure fats and oils and some forms of dairy foods such a mature cheeses and butter.
So the big conundrum is about how many carbs should we be eating and which forms of carbs are best. I am really opposed to using apps for counting food grams of any kind as this inevitably makes choosing what to eat an intellectual process rather than an instinctive, intuitive one. We need to think less and feel more about what to eat and when. Everyone has different needs based on many factors, not least activity levels, muscle-mass, gut bacteria and to a certain extent, genes.
The simple answer is to eat carbohydrate-based foods as they appear in nature, or as close to as possible; eat then in conjunction with a balance of other natural foods that contain protein and fat – think eggs, meat fish, cheese, and if they are foods that contained high levels of concentrated carbs, such as potatoes, grains (wheat, rice, corn, oats etc.) or something that contains sugars, keep them to a minimum.
Many of you know that I choose to avoid GPS foods (Grains, Potatoes and Sugars/Sweet Tasting Foods), as these are all high carbohydrate foods that convert very rapidly in to the blood stream as glucose (sugar). This can be a problem if your body doesn’t manage blood glucose levels well. The reality is that the majority of adults in the UK, indeed around the world, struggle to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the blood. We should be averaging around 1 teaspoon of glucose in the full 5 litres of our blood. This level will go up after foods, but the less it goes up and the more quickly it returns to base-line, the better for our health. To have chronically high blood glucose levels is so very bad for the brain and the body. It is something we all need to be aiming to avoid if we are to age well. Therefore, reducing or avoiding GPS foods serves that purpose.
Chronically high blood glucose levels can not only result in type 2 diabetes, it can cause fatty liver, fatty pancreas, general body fat increase, inflammation throughout the body, plaque accumulation in the brain, hardening of arteries and so many more life limiting illnesses, so it really is prudent, even if you have no apparent symptoms of ill health, to eat fewer of the foods that cause blood glucose to rapidly rise – the GPS foods.
If you are feeling tired, low, upset, bored, happy or all of the above, it can be so tempting to indulge in a doughnut or have a few biscuits with a cuppa because of the momentary pleasure a high carb food can bring. But refined grains, sweet foods, even potatoes very rapidly become sugar in the blood, triggering all sorts of reactions that can lead to wanting more to eat, to energy crashes, to insane sugar cravings and over the long term, serious health issues.
So no, Carbs Are Not The Answer however quick, convenient, cheap, available or desirable they may be. The longer you go without, the easier it is to continue to go without. Try 14 days of nothing sweet or starchy, not even fruit or artificial sweeteners (they are evil), stay off bread, crackers, pastries and biscuits; avoid processed foods as they will almost always contain some degree of grain flour, potatoes and / or sweetening agents, and notice how quickly you start to appreciate the joy of more subtly flavoured, natural foods. Use natural seasonings, herbs and spices to add nutrients and intertest and explore the joy of great quality natural fats and oils like butter, extra virgin olive oil, black seed oil, avocado and coconut to bring texture, flavor, unctuousness and ultimately satisfaction to your meals rather than going for a quick sugar hit. The long-term benefits are endless energy, clarity of mind, reduction in body fat and now more food monster moments…so why would you?