Reasons Not To Diet In 2019 - #7: Carbo-phobia is real
Crash diets will start to make you worry about stupid stuff…like how many carbs are in kale, celery, and gum.
I'm a recovering carbo-phobe. I lived, breathed, and annoyingly proselytized the low-carb lifestyle. And I was wrong. Carbs are not the devil.
I became a classic case of over-education through skewed and biased information: knowing just enough to be dangerous. I unquestioningly accepted and dogmatically employed all that I learned from the books, podcasts, and articles that favored a low-carb lifestyle. I shunned anyone who would dare say that apples, bananas, and potatoes could be healthy.
Sure I learned a few interesting things about myself living low-carb — namely that restricting carbs caused me to have massive binges on carbs at a later date — and I certainly taught myself to eat a lot more fibrous vegetables to fill the massive hunger void that was left when I eliminated things like oatmeal and beans…but mostly I just taught myself to be very fearful of carbs. ALL carbs. It got to the point where I refused to chew gum or eat any kind of fruit. And on some days when I felt my carb count was too high, I wouldn’t even eat vegetables! What nonsense!
Carbs are the bad guy of the moment…but let’s not forget that not that long ago fat was the demon. Maybe by next year we’ll all be on the no-protein diet.
Bottom line: Extreme diets cause ridiculous fears and consequent irrational behaviors. Is an apple, a stick of gum, or that extra carrot really what caused you to gain weight? If you are fearful of carbs – or any other food/food group – to the point of irrational fear, it’s time to reevaluate the diet. Fearing food or giving it more power than it deserves is not healthy behavior. Food is for nourishment and enjoyment.
What you should do instead…
Anti-Diet Wisdom: No matter what food group the current diet dogma demonizes, you should take it all with a grain of salt…if your diet allows salt. Human history shows us that most humans have survived for millennia on some mix of carbs, protein, and fat…and not a single group of humans in the history of our species has tried to eliminate any one macronutrient in favor of the others.
In one respect, the low-carb diets did get one big thing right: carbs — specifically the processed variety like crackers, cereals, cookies, and other cheap junk foods — make up far too much of the Western diet. Nearly 60% of the average American’s diet is some sort of processed, packaged, convenience carb that our ancestors wouldn’t recognize as food.
Still, low-carb diets end up being fad diets that fail us because they’re too strict and border on the ridiculous. Yes, we need to reduce our reliance on processed junk carbs. But bananas and beans and apples and pineapple shouldn’t fall into the category of “bad” food simply because they happen to be higher in sugar and carbs. Let’s not nitpick here….higher-carb foods like fruit, beans, oatmeal, and potatoes would be far better than what the average American is eating every day! Baby steps!
So rather than making yourself nuts by trying to eliminate all carbs — nuts have carbs, by the way — stop reading carb grams on nutrition labels and start reading the ingredients list. If the ingredient list on any food is longer than your to-do list, or if you can’t pronounce most of the words, this should be enough to make you put it back on the shelf…because it’s not real FOOD, regardless of the carb count.
Beyond starting to eat more foods that come directly from nature, you can begin to narrow down what foods are best for your body by listening to your body when you eat them. If you eat a potato and it makes you feel bloated and sleepy, perhaps potatoes aren’t the best food for you. If you eat yogurt and fruit for breakfast and you feel satisfied and energized, that’s a pretty good sign that yogurt and fruit work well for your body. I know this isn’t as easy as following someone’s cookie-cutter plan, but it’s the only way you’ll ever create a truly custom “diet” for yourself.
Blog Author: Kelly Bailey, IIN certified holistic nutrition coach, and NPTI certified personal trainer
Learn more about the author here.