Carbohydrates (Carbs) have gotten a pretty bad rap recently. Potatoes and wheat, in particular, have been singled out as “bad” foods. I’m here to tell you that carbs are part of a healthy diet, in moderation. Check out my May post, “To Carb or Not to Carb” for all the facts.
As promised, this month I’ll be addressing how to eat fewer carbs. But do keep in mind that not everyone needs to cut back on carbs!
Two things to keep in mind when eating carbs are quality and quantity.
Quality: I like to use the term ‘Smart Carb’ to describe foods that are as close to their natural state as possible and also add something healthy to the diet, like fiber or protein. Make sure that most of the carbs you eat have some redeeming quality. In general, quality carbs are more filling, which means you can easily eat less of them.
Quantity: Fruit juice is a quality carb and provides a concentrated source of nutrients. But not when you drink a quart of it! Truthfully fruit juice is loaded with natural sugar and that can add up to a giant rise (followed by a big drop) in blood sugar if you overindulge. So think about keeping fruit juice to a ¾ cup serving or less.
6 Ways to Trim the Carbs
- Be aware. You may think of starchy veggies like potatoes, corn and pinto beans as veggies, but they also pack the same amount of carbs as bread. Know what a serving of these carbs are—generally a third of a cup of to half a cup has the same carbs as a piece of bread. Counting the portions of carbs at a meal will help to balance them with other foods. If you are watching carbs, a good rule of thumb is to aim for two to three carb servings per meal.
- Start your meal with a raw veggie. Think grated carrots with a bit of vinaigrette, some cucumber sticks, sliced bell peppers or jicama slaw. This fills you up a bit and makes those other carb foods less appealing.
- Go thin sliced. Love bread? Buy thin sliced. My new favorite bread, finally available in West Texas, is Dave’s Killer Bread. Luckily, it now comes in thin sliced, providing only 60-70 calories, along with 3 grams of fiber and protein. Even if you go for it with 3 slices, you’ve still had right around 200 calories, which does not break your calorie or carb “bank”.
- Avoid getting overly hungry. You know what happens when you pull up to your favorite taco joint and you’re REALLY hungry? You eat a few bowls of chips—am I right? Same goes for restaurants that keep you happy with a basket of freshly baked bread. Put the kibosh on that by eating an apple on the way to the restaurant. Works every time!
- Balance your plate. Remember “My Plate”—the USDA graphic that reminds us how a healthy plate should look? Well it really is a great model to follow. If you do fill your plate with half veggies, you’ll automatically cut your carbs (unless of course those carbs are potatoes and corn!)
- Mix your carbs with veggies. Pasta is a carb that’s a challenge for many carb lovers. How to eat less? Mix it with veggies. It will still fill your plate, but will only have half the carbs of eating pasta by itself. Ditto with rice, quinoa and corn. If you like fried rice, you can do the same thing without frying it, by just adding some frozen veggies to the rice while it’s cooking.
Hopefully these tips to trim the carbs in your diet will help you have a balanced approach to eating. Bon Appetit!