Of all the food groups, this is the one most of us struggle with the most. We have a hard time not eating too many carbs.
We know some carbs are better for us than others, but sometimes we aren’t sure which are ok and what to stay away from.
Carbs are certainly the one area of eating I get asked about the most. That’s because carbs are not only often the most easily-accessible foods, they are also the hardest to resist.
Carbohydrates are starches, fiber, and sugar. Basically all fruits and vegetables are carbs, as are grains and sugars. There are a whole lot of foods that fall into that category.
While I hate to label any foods as “good” or “bad,” there are certainly carbs which are more beneficial for us from a health and nutrition standpoint.
Any carbs that are higher in fiber and lower in sugar are going to be your best choices. This would be all vegetables, as well as starches like sweet potatoes, plain whole grain rice, whole oats, quinoa, and so on.
Carbs which are low in fiber but high in sugar are the ones you want to stay away from. Most processed, “white” sugar containing foods like donuts, bagels, cookies, cake, muffins, hamburger buns, etc. fall into this category.
These foods are calorie-dense but not very filling. They leave you wanting more. Usually more carbs!
For sure, even donuts have their place in a balanced diet every now and then. Ice cream is a carb, too, and a little ice cream isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as you’re not eating it daily.
But what we want to remember is those foods are treats and should be enjoyed sparingly.
You still need carbs in your diet, and many carbs are a very important part of a healthy diet. Try to load up on vegetables, eat a couple of servings of fruit a day, and enjoy starches like rice and oats, as minimally processed as possible.
A good rule of thumb is if you can tell where it came from and it looks like something that grew from the ground or on a tree, it is probably a good option.
If it is in a package, was made in a factory and doesn’t resemble something your great-grandma would recognize, that’s probably not your best choice.
When it comes to carbs, rather than good or bad, think smart. What’s a wise choice for your health and fitness, a bagel or a bowl of old-fashioned oats with strawberries?
Hopefully you can now easily know the answer.