We are constantly bombarded with conflicting nutrition messages: “Eat only foods that are fat-free or low-fat,” “Consume high fat food and lots of protein,” “Avoid all carbohydrates,” “Everyone should follow a Paleo or Keto diet,” etc. Let’s step away from the fad diet band wagon for a moment and just look at why I put so much emphasis on consuming all nutrients in moderation.
Foods containing carbohydrates are broken down to glucose in your body, which is a key nutrient. Examples of a few carbohydrate-rich sources are foods containing sugar like desserts or candy, bread, rice, grains, lentils, potatoes, pasta, juice, fruit and some vegetables.
Carbohydrates are an important energy source for your body, which you likely are aware of already. Not only are they important to provide energy for your body but they also provide fuel for your brain to function. Glucose is the only nutrient that can cross into your brain to be used as fuel to allow you to concentrate and think clearly.
What is often not talked about is how important carbohydrates are to produce the messengers in your brain, specifically serotonin, which is responsible for functions such as making you feel happy and relaxed, as well as helping you sleep, regulate your blood pressure properly, have pain sensitivity and control your mood.
Ask yourself if you have put carbohydrates into a “bad food” category? If so, do you find you restrict them and then overeat carbohydrates, which can often lead to a feeling of being out of control? Your brain knows you will feel better, think more clearly, and sleep better if you eat carbohydrates, therefore if you avoid them, your brain will keep reminding you to eat them until it often becomes an overwhelming need to over consume them (often in the form of snack foods, like chips, crackers, pastries, candy, or dessert). This tendency of using food as if it were a drug to help you feel better, may impact your weight which then reiterates your belief that carbohydrates are “bad.”
Have you ever been on a very low carb diet? Most people describe they get incredibly irritable and can’t think clearly when they follow a low carbohydrate diet. This is because their carbohydrate intake is so low that they have no fuel for their brain to function properly nor can they make serotonin effectively.
What if you practice getting away from the thought that “carbohydrates are bad” and instead focus on telling yourself carbohydrates are essential to consume throughout the day to help you decrease binges, think more clearly, and provide you with a stable weight. Practice getting away from labeling food as good and bad and instead work on incorporating everything in moderation.