That is the question. Isn’t it.
We all know that the human body needs carbs for energy. The tricky part is to choose complex carbs over simple carbs. So, whole grain, fresh fruits and veggies, those are part of what is considered “good carbs” since they take longer to convert to sugar (=energy) in the body than something like a refined product made with white flour, white sugar, and is otherwise heavily processed.
Choosing whole foods that are complex carbs isn’t that difficult if you shop right. The hardest part for me was to overcome the cravings for starchy, sweet foods. Particularly when the fatigue hit. And living in a cold climate hasn’t helped either. There is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of pasta with melted cheese on top when you’re freezing your butt off. Or a nice cup of tea or three, along with a yummy cookie, or a slice of cake. Or two.
And don’t get me started on the chocolate.
Then one day I realized that although my clothes still fit, I don’t feel so healthy. I feel heavy and uncomfortable. And while feeling tired and bored and fed up with the weather, all of which has contributed to a more sedative lifestyle than I would prefer, the last thing I wanted to do was go on a diet.
You know, a traditional diet. Or a fad diet.
Oh no. I can’t do that. Frankly, I need my indulgences, at least for a little while longer.
But I can do something about the amount of carbs I’ve been ingesting, whole grain and all. I realized that I don’t need to have so many carbs in the form of bread, pasta or related product. Instead, I could reach for something other than carbs.
Like fennel. I LOVE fennel. It’s so sweet and crunchy, I can eat the entire bulb by myself. (My 3yo loves it too, and the toddler enjoys sucking on it). So, instead of buying a fennel here and there, I’ve been buying them in twos and threes, ignoring the fact that cheap this is not…
And you know what? Although the first day of less carbs was hard, and the cravings were distracting, I managed to do just fine by the following few days. The body really does adjust.
Next, out came the navy beans which I made into a little salad, dressed with a bit of mustard and white wine vinegar, and stuffed into a whole wheat tortilla roll (they’re so thin, yet still a complex carb) and voila. Craving subsided.
Out came the quinoa, mixed up into a lovely cucumber-and-dill salad, sprinkled with lemon juice and olive oil, and voila. I felt satisfied and full(er). Quinoa has the added bonus of being a high protein food, which, as we all know, is a good thing. The high protein part, I mean.
I could also make stuff with lentils. Or squash. I got all kinds of food ideas here and here…
We still eat pasta. The kids particularly like it, so I make it for them. These days, access to whole wheat pasta has become norm, and you can always reduce portions too. Like last night: we had whole wheat fresh linguine, mixed with home made tomato sauce (full of onion, leeks and garlic), and on the side I heaped a large pile of rapini tossed and lightly steamed with olive oil, more garlic, and a squeeze of lemon. Yum.
But then, I get a moment of weakness. There is chocolate in the house, and Ben wanted to bake something, and before you know it, the carbs are back. And I’m off the wagon again.
But I will perservere. Because I know I can, and because I know that cheating once in a while is not the end of the world.
And besides, I made the lemon poppy seed cake with 1/2 whole wheat flour…and didn’t make the sugary coating to pour over it….and only had one slice of it yesterday (ok, two, but they were SMALL slices).
Happy less-carb eating!