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  • Writer's picturePaige Smathers

Why Carbs Don't Need to be So Scary

Carbohydrates get a bad rap and it makes me sad. Not only because they are DELICIOUS (hello, bread!) but because they are also incredibly important for our bodies to function. It's incredibly short-sighted and non-scientific to vilify carbohydrates in the way we have over the last few decades.

Our bodies function primarily off of carbohydrates. Yes, keto advocates will assert that our bodies can run in ketosis—which is true. However, it's not the ideal state for our bodies and brains to function. Study after scientific study has continually validated that moderation, balance and variety are the keys to healthy nutrition. NOT rigidity or cutting out entire food groups and/or macronutrients.

Starchy foods give us the immediate feeling of satisfaction. Think about how it feels to eat some bread when you're hungry—it feels immediately good to eat something starchy. The other macronutrients—protein and fat—don't give our bodies as much of that ahhhh feeling, but they help sustain fullness until the next time you eat.

I have tons of compassion for people who develop fears of foods such as bread. AND, I'm here to help you overcome that fear and recognize that all starchy carbs: bread, pasta, tortillas, rice, potatoes, etc. serve very similar purposes in the body. Essentially what I'm saying here is: the nutritional differences between bread and rice isn't different enough to warrant hesitation about eating bread at multiple meals throughout the day (unless of course you have celiac disease—in that case the difference does matter). It's really okay to eat bread with breakfast, lunch and dinner if you like!

Our bodies need carbohydrate to function in addition to other macronutrients like fat and protein. It's ideal to get carbs with every meal and snack we consume (in addition to other foods). The nutritional difference between bread and any other starchy food truly isn't enough to stress over.

And, variety is nice. From a nutrition perspective, it doesn't really matter where you get your starchy carbs from. But from a pleasure/satisfaction place, it can be nice to eat a wide variety of foods. It can get boring to eat the same old things so it can be really positive to switch up your source of starch meal to meal when you're able. But, none of this is a moral imperative.

Many people mistakenly try to avoid carbs when they're "eating healthy". [I use quotes just because there's a lot of unpacking to do about that term that is beyond the scope of this blog post.] But, when you eat a meal that doesn't have a starchy carb, you'll likely notice you find yourself at the pantry afterward looking for crackers, bread, chocolate or something along those lines. This phenomenon is an ADAPTIVE response from your body, not a sign that you "lack willpower". Eating starchy carbohydrates with meals and snacks in addition to protein, fat and non-starchy carbohydrate sources (like fruits and vegetables) will give you the highest likelihood of finding a sense of fullness and satisfaction at meals.

Of course, eating is a guessing game and never perfect. But getting out of the mindset of avoiding carbs in the name of health is a huge step in the right direction in finding peace, sustainability and positivity with your relationship with food.


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