I spent last weekend in San Francisco at a food blogger festival, where I ate and drank my little heart out! On my trip, some of my blogger friends and I joked that, on our indulgent weekend, no carb was left behind. Of course, we thought this little saying was pretty funny, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that though the Atkins rage ended years ago, carbs still get a bad rap—even among my healthy, foodie friends.
Before finding my Feel Great Weight, I tried all kinds of low-carb diets—most notably the Atkins Diet. I would load my grocery cart with meat, cheese, and eggs, and avoid oatmeal and brightly colored fruits like the plague. In the month that I devoted myself to Atkins, I ate eggs every day for breakfast. I even ate an entire block of cheese more than once. And the whole time I felt cranky and lethargic—I was not pleasant to be around! Of course, I questioned how healthy this diet could really be, but the pounds soon came off and motivated me to stick with it.
Like with most restrictive diets, I eventually caved in and binged on carbs—the unhealthy kind, like doughnuts, ginormous Dunkin' Donuts muffins, and tortilla chips. That didn't make me feel much better either, but it did make me realize that I need carbs—the good kind—in order to function. So I vowed to incorporate healthy carbs back into my diet, and as soon as I did, my mood and energy levels improved almost instantly.
The key was finally figuring out the right kind of carbs to eat. Sure, I knew that a candy bar provided a different type of carb than steamed broccoli, but how did my morning bagel fit into that equation? If the bag said whole wheat, could I consider it a good carb? I was definitely carb confused.
It took me a while to banish Atkins- and South Beach–inspired rules from my mind. I don't like to categorize foods as "good" and "bad," but it's no secret that complex carbs benefit me more than simple ones. Good carbs satisfy me and bad carbs—like those doughnuts (my favorite) or a bag of pretzels—do nothing for my hunger. If I choose whole grains, beans, and fibrous fruits and veggies, I feel satisfied for much longer and I don't feel that blood-sugar crash, which inevitably leaves me hungry. Filling up on complex carbohydrates provides my body with a ton of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients too. Plus I'm more fun to be around. And what fun is fitting into your post-Atkins jeans if you're too cranky and tired to go out and flaunt it?
What are your favorite healthy carbohydrates?