CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY
As a teen, my passion was to become a ballet dancer. A grueling training regime alongside a demand for “that dancer's physique”: saw my body begging for nutrition, yearning for energy. My body was certainly not sustained and my mind chaotically consumed with uncertain and negative thoughts about food.
Years later I entered a career in fashion, yet another industry driven by body image, further fueling my cynical relationship with food. It became a perilous and unsustainable one.
Ten years ago, my beautiful Mum and Dad got their angel wings. Grief is as heart aching as it is humbling, and it brings with it a darkness that makes us take cherish our precious time here. It is often in certain darkness that we begin to truly see ourselves.
What I have taken from this is an enlightened respect and appreciation for the body that we have and how we can better nurture and appreciate her and all that she does for us.
In my late 20’s, this enlightenment motivated a career and lifestyle change which lead me back to university, later earning a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. My heart-led mission is now helping others achieve an ongoing healthy and sustainable relationship with food that is the premise of a fulfilling and well-rounded lifestyle.
Irrespective of health concerns, a healthy approach to nutrition cannot be healthy without first having a positive food relationship. It is a harmony of education and intuition, one that is balanced (and not always clean), one that has room for your favorite foods, even they are a ‘feared food’, one that sets aside food guilt and allows you to eat foods that make you feel good all the time, no matter what that food may be. This general approach to nutrition I nurture in my practice can be an effortless transition for some, for many it takes time and plenty of self-reflection, however, once they are ‘there’…there is no looking back.
One feared food group I commonly see are ‘carbohydrates’, and not even the processed kind…I am witness to fear of the fiber-rich whole grains, and nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit.
Carbohydrates are not the devil. When eaten the right way they are our primary source of energy for brain and muscle function and are integral for hormone balance. Furthermore, complex carbohydrates are primary to feed and seed healthy gut real-estate. For this reason, you should know that with 90% of Serotonin made in your gut, when there is an imbalance of bad microbiome, so too is low production of this soothing and uplifting hormone.
To sustain energy and support weight management, it is best to eat carbohydrates that allow the body to absorb glucose in a slow and sustainable way. This is just one reason why complex carbohydrates are essential with every meal, and the simple/processed variety is a treat. Your refined carbohydrate of choice may be lower in 'calories’, however, it will peak and trough your blood glucose, leaving you feeling constantly starving yet contribute to steady weight gain, low mood, and depleted energy. This being one example of when a calorie is not just a calorie.
Fiber keeps our digestion flowing, balances blood sugar, lowers cholesterol, and clears excess/synthetic hormones, toxins, and fats.
Foods from the earth both provide and support the growth of beneficial bacteria and builds short-chain fatty acids which are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Fiber also provides your gut with prebiotic's which feed your probiotics. Prebiotic's are a food first approach meaning your nutritional approach is essential, even if you are supplementing with a probiotic
You should aim for 30-40g of fiber a day through whole grains, pulses, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, fruits, nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and psyllium husks. This looks something like one tablespoon of chia seeds, one cup of mixed whole grains, one cup of pulses, four cups of mixed salad and/or vegetables spread over the day.
Vegetables are a rich source of folate, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium (amongst so much more), all whilst providing a wide of phytonutrients that are the cornerstone of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power. Eating a varied and colorful array daily is mother nature’s multivitamin.
Greens with every meal. Greens are high in nutrients and fiber and lower in starchy carbohydrates, meaning they will keep you fuller for longer.
Starchy vegetables, such as potato, corn, carrot, and sweet potato allow a rise in blood sugar causing a release of insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to utilize calories from food as sustainable energy to last the day. Furthermore, resistant starch feeds short-chain fatty acids which keep our gut barrier in-tact, reduce inflammation, satisfy and control appetite.
There is absolutely no reason to exclude starchy fruits from your diet. As you have read, starch should not be feared when eaten the right way. This is another example of when a calorie is not just a calorie. 2 serves of fruit per day will provide you with the nutrients and energy your body needs. A processed ‘low carb’ energy bar will not.
GLUTEN, it’s a sometimes food.
Gluten is a protein (gliadin) found in grains that commonly make up products such as bread, cereal, cakes, biscuits, pasta, crackers, and cakes. Gluten is also hidden in gravies, packet soups, sausages, sauces, and marinades.
Even without a known gluten intolerance, frequent consumption of gluten can be problematic over time. This glue-like protein has the ability to stick to the walls of the intestine, sending inflammatory markers to your gut, compromising intestinal wall integrity. When this damage occurs, particles of gluten, essential nutrients, and bad bacteria escape, compromising the gut, immune system, and overall wellbeing.
Gluten aside, wheat-based products are often heavily sprayed with pesticides, yet the confusing part is many 'gluten-free' products, are highly processed and extremely low in fiber and nutrients.
When shopping for your family go for products made from foods such as quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, or legumes. The best thing to come out of the gluten-free fad is the abundance of readily accessible, high-quality, naturally gluten-free products that have saturated the market.
QUICK NOTE ON SEASONAL AND ORGANIC
Eating seasonal is best for nutritional content and dollar value. Buying local-grown produce will also hold a higher nutritional value, as well as support local farmers and the community.
Many small farmers can’t afford the expensive organic certification yet are just as passionate about their products as they are the environment and our precious ecosystem.
You can read more about Liv via her website www.livnutritious.com.au or follow her Instagram @LivNutritous.