Charlie’s Carb Choices

Charlie is faced with countless food choices every day – we are marketed to about all types of food 24/7. Advertisements, blogs, social media, even co-workers offering their opinion on the best new food out there. The recent lunchroom talk has been all about the keto diet or eating mainly fats to help with weight loss and health. Charlie has never been “a dieter,” however she’s reached a new decade in her life and would like to start focusing on health. She isn’t sold on the keto diet, which seems a bit extreme, but she is wondering if carbohydrates are actually healthy. Charlie’s heard of the “wheat belly,” aka gaining belly fat from eating too much bread, and the rule to stay away from “white grains” like pasta and rice – so how true is this? And if she is going to eat carbs, how can she make the best choices?

Five Healthy Carb Swaps
Carbohydrates are healthy and should be included in our diet. They consist of three main parts: sugars, starches, and fibre. Sugars and starches provide quick energy. Fibre, on the other hand, doesn’t directly provide energy, however, it has an important job to feed our friendly gut bacteria. The main places we find carbohydrates in our diet is grains, starchy vegetables, legumes, milk, yogurt, fruits, cookies, cakes, and soft drinks. As you’re reading this list, you can probably guess that not all carbs are created equal. As a general rule, carbohydrates that are in their natural, fibre-rich form are healthy, while those that have been stripped of their fibre are not. Carbs are one of the best sources of fibre in our diet, especially whole wheat rice, pasta, bread, beans, lentils, nuts, and the skins of fruit. Fibre helps to keep our bowels regular, and our gut bacteria happy and fed. Beans and lentils are also an excellent source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and folate. I’ve compiled a list of some healthy carb swaps, pick one and try it out this week!

Instead of…

Try!

Why?

Rice

Quinoa

Quinoa cooks in half the time of rice, and offers more fibre, is a complete plant-protein and is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

French fries

Roasted potatoes

The debate between sweet and regular potatoes has been long-standing, so here are the facts. Sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index, which means they cause a lower spike in blood sugar and offer four times your daily needs of vitamin A. Regular potatoes, on the other hand, have more potassium and protein. The key here is to make sure they’re roasted/baked instead of fried and keep the skin on for a fibre boost.

Cereal

Oatmeal

Many of the typical breakfast cereals contain a laundry list of ingredients including sugar, hydrogenated oils and refined grains. Oatmeal, especially steel cut or whole oats, can be a quick substitute which boasts a unique antioxidant known as avenanthramides and contain cholesterol-lowering soluble fibre, which can also help with weight management.

Granola bar

Whole grain or sprouted bread

Granola bars are typically high in added sugars and use mostly processed ingredients. Whole grain bread on the other hand is high in fibre and often contains great add-ins like flax, chia and seeds. For an easy on-the-go breakfast or snack, try a a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter.

Juice

A piece of fruit

Unfortunately, fruit juices may have similar metabolic effects as sugar-sweetened beverages – basically they’re pop with a few vitamins. Instead, choose a piece of fruit which is unprocessed, contains only natural sugars and are a great source of fibre.

Anyone else surprised that bread was on the list of healthy foods? Fear not Fernie. Bread IS healthy food! So, what’s the secret when you’re out choosing which carbs are the best choice? Look for the percent daily value (DV) on the nutrition label and stick with carbohydrate foods that have greater than 15% DV fibre, or 4 grams or more per servings. When in doubt, choose carbohydrate foods that you can list the ingredients of without looking at the label - think of foods like fruit, oatmeal, sweet potatoes or quinoa – there’s one ingredient in these healthy grains!

Make a swap and add one of these high fibre, unprocessed, healthy carbohydrate choices to your grocery list today.

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