YES I Want the Bun! (Why Carbs Aren’t Your Enemy)

Yes I Want The Bun! Why Carbs Aren't Your EnemyHappy (belated) Fourth of July, folks! There’s no need to feel guilty over your decision to elect to eat the bun on your burger this weekend. Here’s why.

A backyard barbeque is as Americana as folk music, and the icon that represents the barbeque best is none other than the burger.

On a recent road trip, my partner and I stopped at a local joint that is known for their burger. People talk about it. People travel for it. So we had to try it.

The server came over and took my order and after I finished he politely asked, “You want the bun with that, right?” I sort of looked at him funny and replied, “Yes, please” and not giving it much more thought, went on with things.

About a week later I was sitting in the grass at a friend’s house; it was my first barbeque of the season. In typical barbeque fashion, they supplied the burgers and everyone brought salads. As I sat, watching the kids swimming in the pool, my friend yelled to me from behind the grill “June, you want a bun with your burger?”

I thought ‘What the heck? Again with this nonsense?’ He could tell by the way my face shifted that he had asked the wrong question, so he immediately tried backpedaling “I don’t know, aren’t the buns fattening? You’re the dietitian!”

Related Article: Is Bread Really Fattening?

And then, all at once it occurred to me: dieting in America is changing our food culture.

Oh boy, I thought. As a dietitian that believes in – and encourages – the non-diet approach to eating for a healthy weight, I’ve seen the harm that diets can do to individuals… but I’ve never looked at diets’ impact on food culture before.

Could it be that dieting, like a backyard barbeque, has become an American pastime? And why is it that the poor hamburger bun continues to be pushed around and victimized?

Here’s a best-kept secret: carbohydrates are better than good; they’re essential.

That means we need them and we need them frequently. Our brains use carbohydrates to think and our muscles use them to move.

In fact, contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are what muscles want after we use them. That’s what refuels them. And when we don’t replenish our stores (say by cutting them out while dieting, for example), our bodies begin to produce hormones in order for us to seek them out.

Related Article: Calming Food Cravings

Because carbs are essential, our bodies will do what it takes to let us know that it needs them. Couple the physiological response with the psychological effects of watching our friends enjoy their burgers the old fashioned way as we deprive ourselves of the bun to comply with our low-carb diet.

It’s not the best setup for success.

So rather than taking the restrictive approach this summer, have the bun with your burger.

Don’t let diets menace the threads that weave our food culture and don’t let them deprive you from eating what you want.

Our food choices are driven by who we are and where we come from. They are driven by our culture.

Enjoy the rest of your barbeques this summer!


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