Carbohydrate-rich foods are not the enemy
Many people think carbs are the enemy. They are not. There is room in a person’s meal plan to include carbohydrate foods. In fact, 50 to 60 percent of the total calories in a healthy diet usually come from carbohydrate sources.
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins are the three major nutrients in our food. I like to compare these three to the major parts of a motor vehicle. Wheels, engine and a frame are essentials to anything that travels on the road.
Vitamins and minerals are the extras in our food. Just as lights, seats and a radio are extras in a car. The variety of the food and the car are determined by the vitamins, minerals and extras.
Not every food has the same vitamins and minerals but each food contains a combination of carbohydrates, fats or proteins. Not every car has the same lights, seats or radio but each vehicle contains a combination of wheels, engine and frame.
Carbohydrates have been abbreviated to “carbs.” This nickname was a necessity because not everyone wants to spell or say the long word, “carbohydrate.” Another reason that this term has been a pet name is that we are very familiar with carbohydrates, in some cases, very intimately.
Still some people consider carbs as the enemy. The Atkins diet that was popular years ago made eating carbs taboo. In fact, any more than 60 grams of carbohydrate foods in one day was considered more than enough.
In reality if 50 percent of calories come from carbohydrate choices in a healthy meal plan, and there are 4 calories per gram in carbohydrate food then 60 grams equals 240 calories. With some multiplication that is only 480 total daily calories which is totally unrealistic.
Someone with a need of approximately 1,800 calories to maintain their weight and energy level requires about 900 calories (50 percent) from carbohydrate sources. If I divide 900 by 4 this equals 225 grams of carbohydrate food, not 60.
The diets that limit carbohydrate intake to a quarter of what is recommended leave a lot to be desired. There are vitamins and minerals that predominately come from carbohydrate sources. Limiting carbohydrate foods limits the valuable vitamins and minerals. It’s like buying a stripped down vehicle and everyone knows that the more extras on a car, the nicer it is.
Carbohydrate sources are not just potatoes, bread and pastas. There are carbohydrates in fruit and milk products, too. The less refined sugar there is in a food, the more vitamins and minerals. The more fiber in a product will result in less digestible carbohydrates and often with additional vitamins and minerals, which is a healthy way to go.
For clarification, healthier carbohydrates, or good carbs, use whole grains as an ingredient such as those found in whole grain cereals, bread and pasta; beans and legumes; fruit; all root vegetables like potatoes and carrots; and milk and yogurt.
Less healthy carbohydrate foods, or bad carbs, are simple sugars eaten to an excess. The ingredient lists them as sugar, invert sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup or fruit juice concentrates. Fruit juice becomes a problem when the portions are larger that a 4 ounce or a half cup serving.
Limit processed foods and foods that are high in sugar instead of avoiding carbs altogether. To go without them is to go without valuable vitamins and minerals, the fine extras.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330–684-4776.