It makes me sad to think that I was terrified of consuming carbohydrates for years. I developed such a toxic relationship with food and my body, I had almost become convinced that even looking at carbs would make me gain weight. How wrong I was about this incredible macronutrient.
As I moved away from restriction and diet culture, I began to recognise the importance of good quality carbs as a regular feature of a balanced diet that could fuel me to live my best life of health and happiness. I knew that I absolutely needed to incorporate them back into my diet and embrace them as a nourishing staple.
For anyone in the JSHealth community who may be feeling like you need to limit or restrict your carb intake, or believe you’ll gain weight eating carbs, I want to debunk some myths. I’ll explain why we all truly need to include carbs as part of a balanced, healthy diet that’s sustainable for life.
1. Carbs are an essential macronutrient for good reason
We thrive off carbohydrates, and they’re an essential food group as part of a healthy diet. Carbs are the main fuel source for your brain, and an important source for the body too. Especially when it comes to training and balanced hormones. Cardio in particular relies on stored glycogen (produced from carbs), so for anyone focused on performance, wanting to optimise brain function, and support a thriving body – do not skimp on the carbs. You can get advice from a nutritionist or health professional about how many carbohydrates you should be consuming each day depending on your individual needs and activity levels
2. All carbs are not created equal
Just because you may have felt bloated or had digestive upsets after eating carbs in the past does not mean you should ditch them from your diet. I very much advocate including high-quality carbs into all of your meals. Think quinoa, rice, beans, legumes, sweet potato, buckwheat. Gluten-free grains and starches can be much easier to digest for some people, so give those options a go if you’re struggling.
Slow-digesting carbs like sweet potato and brown rice are incredible options, as they don’t spike your blood sugar levels when you consume them, and release energy slowly, keeping you fuller for longer.
I recommend including a serve of high-quality carbs with each meal if possible
3. Fibre is key
Grains are a fantastic source of fibre and other essential nutrients. Many people on low-carb diets don’t get enough fibre. Fibre is another essential macronutrient, keeping bowel movements regular, improving hormonal balance, keeping you satiated and helping to gently removing toxins from the body. Diverse sources of fibre from different kinds of carbohydrates also support a thriving and diverse gut microbiome. Fibre really is just so important. Good-quality carbs are the main way to get fibre into your diet – so please don’t cut them out.
4. Hello B Vitamins
Carbs are an important source of B vitamins for the body. B vitamins are essential for your energy levels, sleep, liver detoxification processes, stress management, mood balance, thyroid health and general wellbeing – basically you don’t want to go without. Carbohydrate sources such as leafy greens, legumes and grains are high in B vitamins and should be included regularly as part of a healthy diet.
5. They are really delicious!
Let’s not forget the taste factor! Food is meant to be a sensory pleasure. Carbohydrates are really delicious – why would you ever want to cut them out of your diet? Denying yourself foods you love by restricting them will only lead to a complex relationship with food and potentially cause periods of binging and restricting. Instead savour each mouthful mindfully and enjoy without guilt. It may take time to develop this if you come from a history of restrictive tendencies, but keep going and I promise you that finding food freedom is worth every step on the journey.
So instead of fearing or ditching carbs, just opt for complex, high-quality carbs, with room to enjoy your favourites ones as part of a balanced lifestyle, whatever that may be. Your body, brain and soul will love you for it!