I’ve been reading quite a bit recently since my foray into the food as medicine world, and one of themes that keeps hitting home to me is how we are all biochemically unique. Yet when many of us set out to clean up our eating, we often try to follow guidelines that may not work for us.
Take low carbohydrate diets. There’s little debate about the type of carbohydrate that’s best for most of us — the more natural, less refined, the better. But what about the amount? What many women who struggle with weight don’t always realize is that the amount of carbohydrate that makes us feel best is very individual. Carbs are almost always put in the “limit” column but is that always a wise idea?
A memory that really underscores this for me is when I was a dedicated dieter and decided to join the Sierra Club. I’d show up for fairly strenuous hikes having eaten mostly protein and low-carb veggies because that was the diet of the day (and seems to be the diet of today, too). I’d sometimes find myself feeling faint standing the parking lot before we even started walking. Do I need to point out that I didn’t feel my best during the hikes either?
I recently tweeted a quote from Liz Lipski, PhD, CCN, from her excellent book Digestive Wellness, “The first principle of wellness is paying attention to what your body is trying to tell you.” That can be difficult for those of us who are so confused from our past efforts of trying to do what everyone else tells us to do, regardless of what our body says.
In her book, Liz says that about half the people she works with “do best on a high-complex-carbohydrate, high-fiber, natural-foods diet. The other half seem to do best on a low-carbohydrate, relatively high-protein diet abundant in fruits and vegetables.”
I wanted to include a list of complex carb foods for your perusal but the link to our page listing them is down. I’ll include it as soon as our web gods get it going again. Our Plate Model for Healthy Eating link is working, and it can help you get started on finding out what’s right for you. It shows how to put a balanced meal together that will support your body’s ability to accurately tell you what it needs. The Plate Model doesn’t limit carbs as much as help you eat them in balance, and listen to your body to tell you if you need more or less.
Another good point to realize is that beans are a great source of protein as well as carbohydrate. And the carbohydrate from them is absorbed more slowly so beans are a great choice for people who are insulin resistant, as in type 2 diabetes and PCOS. So when we’re trying to balance meals but feel like we do better with more carbohydrate, beans are a great choice.
Do you feel better eating more or fewer whole carbohydrate-rich foods? Do you know?
Here’s the link to Pinch My Salt’s Three Bean Vegetarian Chili.