If you’ve talked to my husband at all about diet, you know that he recommends you cut carbs. Of course, our bodies need carbohydrates. Every food from plants contains carbohydrates, but not all carbs act the same way in our bodies. Those that release sugar quickly into our bloodstream, raising insulin levels, are the ones we need to limit in our diet. Read my husband’s article on weight loss to better understand why. Sugars, refined flours, white rice and potatoes are the carbs we need to cut back on. Getting in the habit of replacing those kinds of carbs with nutrient rich food choices is great for our health! Here are seven ways to cut carbs in your day:
Most American breakfast foods are crammed with carbs. Grocery stores have entire aisles devoted to breakfast foods–cereals, toast, donuts, bagels, Poptarts, breakfast bars, pancakes and waffles–all of their main ingredients simple carbohydrates. Organic pastured eggs, on the other hand, are a marvelous source of protein with virtually no carbs. (Caged, grain-fed, factory chickens produce eggs that are an entirely different food that can be pro-inflammatory.) They don’t take long to prepare, and paired with a good complex carbohydrate like a piece of fruit or veggie, make a perfect day starter. One of my favorite breakfasts is eggs with a simple salad–a couple handfuls of baby greens topped with cilantro, green onions and sprinkled with lime juice. A grab-n-go version could be a couple hard boiled eggs and an apple!
Sidestep the sandwich
Burgers, subs, sandwiches and bagels–so much bread at lunchtime! Go for a salad, lettuce wrap or broth-based soup instead. Get that burger protein style (wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun) and have some baby carrots as a side instead of ordering fries. For kids’ lunches, meat, cheese, cut veggies and fruits can all be fun finger foods, and just as easy or easier than making a sandwich. If you must have that sandwich, use sprouted whole grain bread instead of the processed white or wheat bread.
What do pretzels, goldfish, crackers, granola bars, and fruit snacks have in common? Yup, big time carbs. These kinds of snacks may hit the spot for the moment, but soon you’re hungry for more. Cut carbs in snack foods by choosing fresh fruits, veggies and dip, plain yogurt with your own add-ins, or nuts and seeds, instead of carb-loaded packaged snack foods. A simple snack my kids like is apple slices with organic peanut butter to dip them in. Almond and cashew butters are yummy too!
Need a mid-morning or afternoon boost? Instead of reaching for that energy drink, soda or caramel macchiato, how about a refreshing peach or raspberry tea? Peppermint or vanilla, blueberry or mango, cinnamon or passion fruit, so many to choose from! You can drink it hot or cold, with green or black for a bit of caffeine, or herbal for health benefits. Try some iced matcha (pictured) for an energy lift plus a mega dose of anti-oxidants and nutrients. Avoid commercial sweeteners and additives in bottled teas, and if you need to sweeten, a few drops of stevia will do the trick!
Decline the dinner roll
Rolls, breads and crackers are often added to dinners as a side, but they provide few nutrients and a whole lot of unnecessary carbs. Eat another helping of veggies instead!
Substitute the side
Rice-a-Roni and packaged potato dishes used to make a regular appearance on our dinner table alongside a meat and veggie. Those kinds of sides are high in carbs and low in nutrients and dietary fiber. They also contain added sugars, not to mention chemical additives. There are many yummy veggie side dishes. Some of our favorites are roasted broccoli and cauliflower, steamed carrots with dill, baked or steamed butternut squash, and grilled zucchini. Salads and sauteed greens are regulars on our table now too!
Pasta pinch hit
Who doesn’t love spaghetti with meat sauce? When I found out I was extremely sensitive to gluten, I looked for an alternative pasta I could eat and found quinoa spaghetti–weird huh? It’s actually pretty good and is higher in fiber and nutrients than regular pasta. However, it’s expensive. An even better pasta pinch-hitter that our whole family loves is spaghetti squash. I am amazed at how much even my little kids like it. Much more cost effective too. I can buy organic spaghetti squash for $1.29/lb. That’s comparable to the price of a box of spaghetti noodles!
Cutting carbs in our diets can cut our risks of many serious illnesses, as well as make us feel full longer, keep us more trim, and give us more energy throughout the day. What are some of your favorite ways to cut carbs?