Written by Gayle Fone from The Family Resource Centre
What are good carbs and what are bad carbs? Well there’s no such thing as either really, it’s just a question of creating a balance but here’s the lowdown on carbs or carbohydrates as they are really known.
Carbs as we shall call them (it’s easier than typing carbohydrates all the time!) can be split roughly into two groups, the slow release type that give you energy over a long period and the quick fix release that give you a sudden burst of energy then leave you feeling tired again pretty soon and looking for more of the same.
The slow release type are better for you for obvious reasons, they keep your energy levels up and sustaining them. These are found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains these are grains which have not been refined in any way such as brown rice, wholemeal flour, anything referring to’whole foods’ means they are as they were when they were harvested, nothing added, nothing taken away.
The quick release type which give the up s and downs can be found in refined sugars, flours and grains ie anything largely with the word ‘white’ in front of it such as white sugar, white flour and white rice.
Ask any diabetic about these, they know because their blood sugar levels are affected more adversely if they ingest the quick release carbs.
Why should we be bothered? Well it’s the old story of what these foods can do to your body, for example slow release carbs contain lots of fibre, which is important to the body’s function because it regulates the blood sugar levels thus decreasing the chances of getting type 2 diabetes, and also reduces your cholesterol levels reducing the chances of heart disease. Fibre also makes you feel ‘full’ when you have eaten, thus reducing the chances of obesity and the perils attached to this.
Quick release carbs contain significantly less fibre, and also actually reduce fibre already ingested through other foods in the body.
So here we go – time to talk about substitutions and here is your first crack at it. When we talk about changing our regular diet, by the way. we say do it gradually, your body has been used to regular intakes of quick release carbs in the form of white sugar and bread and probably other things such a caffeine, msg and the like. Do it gradually, substitute one item only for a couple of weeks before trying another one, let your body get used to the changes and it will accept more readily the gradual increase and you will not get fed up with doing without all the ‘goodies’!
Why not then next week reduce a few quick release carbs by buying wholemeal bread instead of white and unrefined cane sugar (not brown it’s only died white sugar, usually with caramel). Most supermarkets stock both of these but make sure it says wholemeal on the bread and unrefined on the sugar.
Don’t forget the labelling on the packaging, you will see on the table on the back of packets the Carbohydrates percentage and then underneath it ‘of which sugars are’ then that percentage. This is the quick release stuff that you want to cut down on. Oh and by the way look at this on the wholemeal bread packaging because they have a tendency to add unrefined sugar to it which means you are no better off than you were having the white stuff.
Minefield isn’t it? Hopefully this blog will provide you with some idea of how to negotiate this minefield and come out the other side feeling and looking better than before.