Carbohydrates have a bad rap.
Refined carbohydrates such as corn syrup, sugars, and white flour may deserve their bad reputation. Mmmmm… cupcakes, donuts, French bread, chocolate chip cookies, french fries! Our bodies are hardwired to crave sweets but there are ways to lessen our desires for these unhealthy treats.
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a meal with a high glycemic load may lead to more hunger and greater cravings for more carbs later in the day. Glycemic load is a complicated indicator of how quickly a food is converted to blood sugar in the body. If a food is low on the glycemic index, it typically raises blood glucose levels moderately and if it is high on the glycemic index, it can cause a sharp increase in blood sugar triggering the body to secrete insulin by the pancreas. The cycle of eating and craving high carbohydrate foods is self-perpetuating and can lead to weight gain and inability to resist cravings.
In addition, foods high in simple carbohydrates most likely do not add vitamin and minerals to your diet and may deplete your body of its nutrients by using nutrient stores to metabolize the foods.
The good news is, there are many healthy sources of carbohydrates which are delicious and nutrient rich. The majority of vegetables are mostly carbohydrates but are lower on the glycemic index than refined carbohydrates. Many grains can be eaten as a whole grain and are a healthy source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber when eaten in moderate amounts. Determining a food’s glycemic index is a detailed and complicated procedure and it’s difficult to find a concise table to include here for your reference. Instead of publishing a long table, I’ll offer six tips for keeping your carb cravings in check:
- Eat more whole nutrient dense foods. When you do eat packaged or processed food, read labels and watch for hidden sources of sugar.
- When you eat grains, eat whole grain foods. Treat white flour as if it were a dessert, to be eaten only upon occasion and in small amounts.
- Add more vegetables to your diet. You will be pleasantly surprised at how easy to prepare and delicious they are. And they’ll add to your body’s nutrient “bank account.” Check out my last blog post eating your greens for more.
- When you eat fruits, eat the whole fruit as opposed to consuming a juice.
- When you prepare dinner, make enough to have leftovers so you won’t need to reach for snack foods, which are often processed and contain sugars.
- Avoid all artificial sweeteners which may trick your body into craving more sweets.
Here is my favorite method of preparing yams:
Yams Sans Marshmallows
Peel yams and cut into even-sized coins and place in a bowl. Cut red onions or add whole cloves of garlic to the bowl and add enough olive oil, ghee, or coconut oil to lightly coat the vegetables. (I found tiny pearl onions at the farmers market… yum.) Place on a baking sheet in thin layer and bake at 375 degrees until yams begin to brown, about 35 to 45 minutes.
Kara Kara Soup
This recipe is inspired by teacher Karen Frishman’s favorite lunch.
1/2 lb ground pork
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp finely grated peeled ginger
1 tsp peppercorns, crushed
3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin seeds chopped
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 c low sodium chicken broth
4 (or more) cups mustard greens, bok, choy, baby kale or spinach
4 scallions, sliced
2 Tbsp reduced- sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
2 cups cooked brown rice
Mix pork, garlic, ginger, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and cumin in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add pork mixture; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
Add broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until flavors meld, 8–10 minutes. Add greens, scallions, soy sauce, and fish sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until greens are tender, 5–8 minutes; season with salt and black pepper.
Meanwhile, cook brown rice according to package directions or used frozen prepared brown rice.
Divide rice among bowls and ladle soup over.
To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce or Bragg’s aminos. Don’t have fish sauce? Add a little more salt. Vegetarian? Use veggie broth and substitute mushrooms for the pork.
Melanie Petri began searching for a practical application for her life-long love of science as a biology major at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. She began studying to become a Registered Dietitian upon learning that dietetics was a perfect marriage of science and cooking arts and studied exercise physiology as a secondary interest . Continuing her studies, she received a Master’s Degree in nutrition.
Later in life she found her second love, Pilates, and was teacher certified at the Pilates Center in Boulder, Colorado. She has taught in Hermosa Beach for over ten years and continues training at Vintage Pilates in Los Angeles.