Guess What? Carbs are NOT the Devil!

by Nicole on February 13, 2012

Helloooo Monday!

I’m coming off of a weekend where I really enjoyed some food. (okay, not really any different than any other day…I know.) We went to Eataly on Saturday for the second time. It really made me crave Italy, I have to say. Danny and I were plotting all different ways to return and came back to the same phrase every time…we must go back. It’s just not in the cards for us now.

Anyway, as I was standing in the middle of bustling Eataly eating a fresh, warm, crispy caprese panino I was thinking about carbs. Sure, those carbs are not the ones I usually eat.

I don’t even know the last time I ate white bread, I always go for whole wheat. But as I was there, living, taking advantage of the fresh amazing sandwich, I was thinking about how we are such extremists in this day and age.  Either we’re on the enjoying, indulging and dare I say, over eating carbs (white bread, white pasta, white rice) or we are on the “no carb” bandwagon and avoiding every “carb” in site.

(Clearly I don’t mean every single person in the world…if you  have achieved “carb balance” then I applaud you!)

So where am I going with all of this?

As a huge carb lover, I *have* reduced the amount of refined carbs I eat in the past 5 years. I *DO* avoid all things WHITE (white flour, white pasta, white rice) 99.9% of the time (except for situations like Eataly…or Italy). I *DO* embrace whole grains like brown rice, spelt, buckwheat, millet, oats & quinoa. I personally feel, I have (mostly) achieved carb balance.

What do you do get there?

You too, do not have to run from carbs. First of all what the heck are carbs?

Carbohydrates, are sugars and starches, which provide energy for humans and animals, and cellulose which make up many plant structures. There are two types of carbohydrates, simple, or mono-saccharides and complex, or polysaccharides. (source)

We need to eat whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains & nuts. These foods all contain carbs, which have sugar, but they are whole foods, which are processed differently in the body.

Natural foods, like fruit, have naturally occurring simple sugars. They don’t give us that sugar rush because they have fiber in them to slow down digestion. It limits the amount of sugar that goes into our cells.

Carbs in whole foods like vegetables and whole grains are complex. Complex carbs are composed of long chains of sugars, which are bound within their fiber.  Our body’s process sugar by breaking the chains and releasing fibers into our bloodstream. The process of digesting complex cards is slow and the sugars are absorbed into our bloodstream at a steady rate for many hours, which provides long lasting energy, over a spike and crash of simple carbs.

Now that you had a little science lesson on what carbs actually are, I hope you can make your own educated decisions on how you should be eating them.

My suggestions:

  • Crowd out the white, processed simple carbs with whole grain, complex carbs. Instead of choosing white rice, make short or long grain brown rice. Don’t like the taste? First try doing 50% brown rice, or 1 slice whole wheat, 1 slice white with sandwiches. Try new grains like quinoa, millet, buckwheat, spelt berries, etc.
  • Google or search blogs for fun recipes using grains like quinoa casserole or millet.
  • Replace your sugary cereal with adelicious oatmeal recipe.
  • Choose fruit with some nut butter over a 100 calorie pack.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight, I hope I’ve convinced you, you actually NEED good carbs/whole grains! Add in a serving of a whole grain and bring them back into your life!

Now go get cha’ whole grains!

What is your favorite whole grains? Did you ever run from carbs? 

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ericka @ The Sweet Life February 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

Thanks for this post, Nicole. It drives me crazy when people do fad diets or even just say they don’t want to eat carbs. There is such a misunderstanding when it comes to this subject. Anyway, good post!
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Miz February 13, 2012 at 7:47 am


This is a big reason why I didn’t share on my blog I was gluten free for a long time either.

Its worked for me (18 yrs) but none of this is one size fits all.

Uh except the lessening of the processed white;-)
IMO we all can use that!
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Pamela Hernandez February 13, 2012 at 7:47 am

I love carbs too, I’ve just made the choice to love the ones that love me back. Oats every day! It’s also really easy to make my own spelt bread vs the store bought stuff. Nice post!


Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 13, 2012 at 8:03 am

the 50/50 tip is great! that’s what I use to slowly ease the hubby and i into 100% whole wheat stuff and to slowly add more and more things like spinach and plain greek yogurt to our smoothies!
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Tara Burner February 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

YES!!!! totally pinned this!
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Michele @ nycrunningmama February 13, 2012 at 9:19 am

I think the 50/50 is a great time for people trying to make changes to their diet. Sometimes going cold turkey can be a bit overwhelming. Being raised in an Italian family, carbs are part of my daily life – however, like you, I have tried to create carb balance…it’s good to know that a treat like eating at Eately every now and then happens to healthy people like you too =)
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Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) February 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

I LOVE my carbs, but I do chose them wisely. I’m a fruit and veggie lover so I do load up on those. I also have gotten into so many other grains too that super fiber and protein to balance things out. Great post Nicole!
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Jess February 13, 2012 at 9:55 am

YES!!! I<3 carbs — and I totally was one of those people that felt into the "carbs are bad" trap at one point in my life, years ago. And it was just so silly to me once I really got to thinking about it – carbs serve such a good purpose in our fueling needs, why am I trying to avoid them entirely?? Plus, it made me so cranky to avoid them so I gave that up right quick. Now? I'm right with you on the wholesome, hearty carbs – oatmeal is right at the top of that list, as is fruit with a nut butter vs. a 100 cal pack that I'll burn in 32 seconds and be starving again before I know it. Excellent post!
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Meredith @ DareYouTo February 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

Good job clearing this up! I, too, try to eat whole grains 99% of the time, but do occasionally eat ‘white’ products while on vacation or out at restaurants. The truth is, though, that whole grains are delicious, too! I absolutely looove quinoa (just blogged about it, actually; good timing!), and I think that whole-grain breads taste better and more flavorful than white varieties. Just my opinion.

Thanks for providing some of the science and tips for making the transition.
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StoriesAndSweetPotatoes February 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Great post. Carbs are energy. People forget that even if we aren’t working out our bodies need energy to perform all it’s necessary functions. If you stick with real food, not the heavily processed stuff, you’ll end up with good carbs. People tend to go overboard restricting carbs, in my opinion, and take in far less than they actually require. Variety is the spice of life and some days we will have more carbs, some less and our body knows what to do with it!
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Samantha @ Health, Happiness and Skinny Jeans February 13, 2012 at 1:18 pm

I did 2 weeks of low-carb recently and relaized a few things:

Low carb makes my boobs smaller but nothing else, at least not in the short term FAIL!!!

Low-carb leaves me snacking on higher calories items like handfuls of nuts when all I want is a damn 80 calorie, fibre filled apple FAIL!!

Low-carb makes eating out and visiting friends/loved ones really difficult. That said, clean eating also tough when I visit my relatives so I guess thats a wash.

Either way carbs are back meaning, fruit and whole grains in modertaion. Like you I also avoid sugar, white rice, pasta and flour whenever possible
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emily (a nutritionist eats) February 13, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I also focus on whole-grain carbs, but sometimes there are times when white flour is a must! :) My favorites are sprouted bread and tortillas.
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Tina @ Best Body Fitness February 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I have done the low carb thing, carb cycling, and all sorts of carb battles. I have found that my body works so much better with a good amount of carbs in my diet. I have to have them or my body suffers. Like you said, though, it’s about choosing the quality ones!
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Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Love this! I love carbs so much haha. But I have definitely found a balance with them and it feels good :)
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Lindsay February 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm

love my quinoa, millet, buckwheat,, and other GF carbs. No need to hide them. Great info nicole! keep these posts coming!
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Parita @ myinnershakti February 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm

Back in the day, I went with an all or nothing approach when it came to carbs. I was so afraid of consuming the white stuff that I switched over just like that. Now, I look at it with more of a balanced view. At home, I still don’t cook with the white stuff, but when I’m out and there are no other options, I take the opportunity to really enjoy the bread or pasta I order…just like you and your sandwich!!


Pure2raw twins February 13, 2012 at 9:42 pm

love quinoa!!
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Dana February 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

I am a Carbaholic! LOL I may not have achieved carb balance, but I do a pretty good job of limiting my white carbs most of the time. Thanks for this post!
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Jennifer Goodale February 14, 2012 at 6:36 am

Hi, my name is Jennifer and I’m addicted to carbs! But thanks to your very informative post, hopefully I can start making some good changes! Love the 50/50 idea!
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