So I’m re-reading The Clot Thickens by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick (fabulous book!) and felt compelled to share a huge health boosting tip with you that doesn’t get enough attention in mainstream media: the connection between refined carbs on your mood, weight, heart disease (yes, refined carbs play a much greater role on your heart health than natural fats do) and overall disease risk.
Today I want to focus on the benefits of eating quality carbs and supporting you to choose quality carbs…when you choose quality carbs then you naturally reduce your intake of refined carbs and sugar.
Refined or simple carbs are refined grain and sugars which are stripped of their nutrients, fiber, and bran. They digest rapidly causing blood sugar levels to increase abruptly. Aside from causing an unhealthy spike in blood sugar levels, they also cause mood swings, energy fluctuations, and fat build-up around the waistline. Examples of refined carbs are white flour and products made from it–bread, pasta, pizza dough, pastries; flour tortillas; bagels; many cold breakfast cereals; many snack foods including chips and crackers; white rice; many food bars are loaded with refined grains and sweeteners; sodas; candy; most desserts.
What makes the abrupt increase in blood sugar unhealthy is that it triggers a surge of the hormone insulin to bring the sugar level down in your blood–because high blood sugar is toxic! This surge of insulin makes you feel hungry soon after a meal and often leads to craving more sugary carbs. When this pattern continues over time, it leads to overeating, gaining weight, and developing insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes.
Frequently eating refined carbs is also linked to conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity, and mood disorders.
Unrefined or minimally refined carbs, on the other hand, impact our bodies and brains differently. They are complex, unrefined carbs which means they are digested slowly so that they cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels instead of the abrupt increase when you eat refined carbs. Usually, they are also high in nutrients and fiber–things that are essential to prevent serious diseases, help with weight loss, and improve energy levels. Now I will say that it is still possible to overeat unrefined carbs! This is absolutely true for myself. I find carbs tasty but very unsatisfying to my appetite. When I eat them, I just want to eat more of them; I find myself wanting to snack throughout the day; and my body fat is higher than when I choose veggies, fruits, and small portions of legumes/beans for my carbs. I know many people who are similar–they didn’t realize it until they started paying attention and experimenting, but once they did, it was quite the helpful discovery!
- Legumes which include kidney beans, peas, peanuts and lentils
- Nuts such as cashews and chestnuts (nuts are also good sources of fats and sometimes protein)
- Unrefined whole grains such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereal, oatmeal, and whole wheat (I generally discourage eating gluten-containing grains–wheat, rye, barley– whether they are refined or not due to the intrinsic inflammatory effect (increases intestinal permeability, gluten binds to CXCR3 receptors in the gut in every human, not just those with gluten sensitivity or intolerance).
Tips on How to Cut down on Refined Carbs and Sugar
Knowing is one thing and doing is quite another! Everyone “knows” that they should avoid refined carbs and sugar…but many of you still struggle to follow through with making healthier choices. What reasons (aka excuses) do you personally use to justify eating foods/drinks that are refined or sugary? The first step in creating change is noticing what is going on with yourself emotionally and how food is often used as a temporary method for calming feelings of stress, overwhelm, frustration, etc. or to create a temporary feeling of pleasure or reward.
Reducing your intake of these harmful foods/drinks takes a combination of choosing different and healthier foods most of the time and finding actual solutions to help manage your emotional state.
Mindful breathing, going outside, listening or playing music, moving your body, journaling, talking with someone who listens to you, acupuncture, bodywork, therapy or coaching are several examples of upgraded methods for managing difficult feelings rather than unhealthy coping mechanisms.
And while it may be unrealistic to ban refined carbs from your diet 100% of the time, it is totally possible to cut down on them. Try these tips:
1. Check labels – This may be your very first step: safeguarding your pantry. Nothing can come to your kitchen and dining table unless you allow it. So make sure to choose unrefined and low-sugar products when you shop. Also, be aware that some manufacturers tend to hide sugar on their labels (look things up if you aren’t sure what it is…or let that be a clue to skip it).
2. Be mindful when eating out – Most dressings, gravy, and sauces are loaded with sugar, so you may ask them to be served on the side (or ask for the ingredients).
3. Prepare home-cooked meals – Preparing your own meals means that you have control over what to put on your food, ensuring that you (and your family) eat fresh and wholesome meals.
4. Avoid sugary drinks – Even if it’s a “diet” version, it’s still loaded with processed ingredients. So try switching any sugary drink such as soda with natural fruit juice, vegetable juice, water with a slice of citrus or cucumber, herbal tea, unsweetened coffee or tea, etc.
5. Redo recipes – Yes, you can. There are recipes that still taste great even with less or no sugar. I’ve got many of them on my website!
6. Avoid processed foods – Pick whole, real foods.
7. Gradually reduce sugar in your diet – Reduce sugar in your diet a little at a time to help your taste buds adjust. Use a natural sweetener that is health building or neutral instead (monk fruit, stevia, allulose, xylitol, erythritol).
Though it may not feel easy, focus on your why–your energy and actions will follow what you focus on. If you focus on how hard something is or how unfair it is or how everyone else can eat whatever they want so why can’t you…well, it’s going to feel even harder! Focus on the massive benefits you’ll create and why those are important–when you get side tracked, come back to your why. Healthier habits will happen when you focus on what you want and that you deserve to experience the great results of a healthier diet and lifestyle! You will create a healthier body, great energy, stable mood, healthier waistline, and reduce risk factors!
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!