Hi! Dahlia the Dietitian here.
Let’s talk about carbs. Contrary to diet culture, carbs are good. In fact, carbs are great! Carbohydrates are our body’s preferred energy source. We digest them fast in order to make energy to do activities like walking, running, playing, even breathing.
Many food groups fall under the carbohydrate umbrella – fruits, starchy vegetables, water-dense vegetables, grains, breads, dairy products, cakes/cookies, and candy. Of course, among these different food groups, there are two categories: “choose more often” and “choose less often.” Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and breads, and low-fat dairy would be “choose more often” foods whereas processed grains and breads, cakes/cookies, and candy would fall under the “choose less often” category.
As I previously mentioned, our body loves carbohydrates and digests them fast for energy. When we eat a bowl of rice for example, our body digests it, breaks it up into sugar, and then converts it to energy. Meanwhile, our blood sugar levels rise. If rice is the only thing we have eaten, a couple hours later our blood sugar suddenly drops. Drastic drops in blood sugar can leave us feeling symptoms of sluggishness, fatigue, moody, even irritable.
So, how can we make simple changes in our carbohydrate choices so that our blood sugar remains stable so we have sustained energy and mood levels?!
Follow my three tips below!
- Carbohydrates – When it comes to carbs, a simple way to ensure your blood sugar levels remain stable is to choose carbs with fiber. Fiber is the roughage found in plants. As humans, we cannot digest fiber (comes out in poop!) so it’s digested slower which subsequently slows the digestion of the sugar. Therefore, fiber helps improve our blood sugar balance! Carbs with fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and breads.
- Protein – Protein is digested at a much slower rate compared to carbohydrates. When we pair foods that are digested fast (carbs) with foods that are digested slower (protein), the end result is blood sugar balance. Healthy proteins in a balanced diet include lean poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and nut butters, Greek yogurt, and beans/legumes. An example of pairing a carb with a protein would be an apple with two tablespoons of peanut butter.
- Fat – Similar to protein, fat is also digested slower. Pairing fats with carbs will also stabilize blood sugar levels. Healthy fats include avocado, hummus, tahini, nuts and nut butters, seeds, olive and avocado oil, and olives. Once of my favorite snacks is carrots (carbs) dipped in hummus!
Until next time!