I started eating more carbs, here's what happened

I can’t believe I am writing this post! Three years ago - no way. The funny thing is, when an area of our life isn’t serving us, it can be very hard to see it. But, hindsight is 20/20. For those who didn’t read my fit chick journey story I encourage you to start there for a bit more background on my journey.

Cutting out carbs is popular right now, but the truth is it doesn’t work for a lot of people, and may even have consequences. I recognize that every body is different. I hope that my personal share today encourages you to re-evaluate what you’re doing, and why, and do some self-exploration on what feels good and works for you.

What is low carb?

The truth: it is hard to know. In the research, studies define low carb at varying levels. Typically a diet that is being used to go into ketosis is called ‘very low carb’ but the amount of carbs will vary and each body will react differently. In general, many associate low carb with removing grain and starchy foods as well as fruit. This leaves non-starchy vegetables as the main source of (their minimal) carbs. I wrote a post on if a low-carb high-fat is worth the hype and you can find that post here for more.

My story

During my journey I was intentionally eating as few carbohydrates as I could manage. It was much lower than what would be typical for the average person and certainly extremely low for my level of physical activity. I ate minimal grains, no gluten, and gluten-free products were allowed in only a limited amount. I didn’t eat oats, or rice, and measured out my potatoes and other starchy vegetables (which in some phases of my journey were only allowed on lifting days). My main sources of carbs were sweet potatoes and fruit. I really believed grains were not good for us. But, as I was healing my relationship with exercise I also moved in with my SO. I quickly realized feeding two (and feeding a man) was no easy feat, not to mention expensive. I was relaxing about exercise, and decided it might be time to relax about food. I started adding rice, gluten free bread, and before I knew it I was eating gluten again, cooking pasta, and eating english muffins. It is hard to see you have food fear when you’re in it. I realized there were foods I loved as a child that I hadn’t eaten in years. Adding them back helped me see I had been scared of them and helped me realize there was nothing to fear. Adding more carbs into my life has improved my quality of life. Here is list of what happened when I stopped avoiding most carbs and switched to a more balanced, hearty diet (including a protein, fat, carb, and vegetable at each meal).

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what happened when I started eating more carbs

  1. Digestion improved. I have struggled with constipation for as long as I can remember. Stress management and the introduction of grains has helped me drastically in a way gluten-free life never did. While I know my body doesn't handle a lot of gluten well, I have learned my boundaries and still eat other grains daily.

  2. Cravings decreased. That night snack that I needed daily and had to fight with myself to avoid is no longer. I occasionally eat something at night if my stomach is growling or I feel like honoring taste hunger for a bit of ice cream, but I no longer suffer from the desperate need for a snack every night.

  3. I don’t crave chocolate. Seriously. I used to not be able to live without chocolate available for dessert or bedtime snack, now I can’t remember the last time I bought a chocolate bar.

  4. Meal satisfaction went way up. Way. Up. I eat, it satisfies, I’m not hankering for something else or left feeling full yet empty.

  5. Less eating events during the day. I am satisfied. My snacks are heartier when grains are involved, so the snack I eat actually holds me to the next meal.

  6. More exploration with plant-based meals since I don’t fear incorporating grains or starches.

  7. Less food anxiety. I know what does and doesn’t make my stomach feel good. I can make a decision about what to eat without worrying about the carb count and instead just focus on what feels best for me.

  8. Easier to eat out. See above.

  9. I still eat veggies. Imagine that. I started eating more carbs, but I didn't stop eating fruits and veggies. The muffin I might get on a Sunday doesn't stop me from eating a salad for lunch.

  10. My period is regular. Ladies - please take note. I struggled with menstrual irregularities for YEARS since coming off of birth control 8 years ago. For the last year I have had a regular cycle. Balanced hormones are about more than just your period, they impact mood, appetite, skin. This matters.

  11. I have fewer hypoglycemic episodes. I would suffer intense shaking, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, and fatigue almost weekly, now it is once in a blue moon. Those are symptoms of low blood sugar. Did you know that eating inadequate carbs actually can lead to insulin resistance?! This means that the fewer carbs you eat, the less adept your body is at handling carbs when you do choose to indulge.

  12. I spend less money on groceries. Even a brown rice pasta is cheap and quicker to make compared to trying to fill up on only non-starchy vegetables.

  13. I'm less preoccupied with food. My body is happy and satisfied. 

  14. I didn’t gain weight. Do you need to hear that? I DIDN’T GAIN WEIGHT. I workout at a lower intensity and still didn't gain weight. Did you know the stress of under eating, and exercising more than is good for your body causes persistent inflammation in your body and prevents weight loss and may even promote weight gain?


What this means for you

Consider the breakdown of your meals. There should be a source of protein, a source of fat, a starchy carb and a vegetable at every meal. Snacks should be hearty enough to serve as a nice bridge between meals. I have found my groove which includes plenty of carbs through the day and typically a veggie, meat, and fat focused dinner. Find the balance that fits your needs.

It begs repeating, I am promoting a balanced diet. I don’t suggest you go eat cereal, pasta, and pizza for your meals everyday. Include a variety of foods to find the most satisfaction. The more satisfaction you get from your food the less you will have cravings because your body will feel good about what it is fed (see my chocolate and night snack craving mentions above). Your body is smart, if it doesn’t get what it needs, it will ask for it later. If adding more carbs seems intimidating, try starting with breakfast since you need the most fuel early in the day.

Disclaimer: If you have allergies or must avoid certain foods for a medical condition or to function at your best, then keep doing what is best for you. We are all unique. If you are currently in a fight with yourself and food and desperate to keep your carb intake low, I encourage you to think twice and consider what is the worst that would happen if you loosened your grip.

 

meal prep for beginners

Hello, friends. This post is for my brother, and anyone else who is new to meal prep, planning, and maybe even cooking. Today’s post is really taking it back to basics. If you already do a decent amount of cooking but need some guidance then check out my meal planning post here.

For my less seasoned friends... whether you enjoy cooking or not, the reality is sometimes you need to suck it up and just do it. Cooking food at home means better health, more energy, life skills, maybe impressing a partner, and more money in your pocket at the end of the week. You need to figure out why you’re getting started so you can build this habit. Trust me, being able to feed yourself is an important habit. The why is what helps you do the tasks even when you don’t really want to.

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getting started

Okay, so you’ve decided you either want or need to get a bit savvy in the kitchen. First, you need to make sure you have the proper kitchen tools. Find cooking tools for fairly cheap at Target, Walmart, and Amazon. These are the basic items I recommend:

  • Baking sheets. If you only have one, bigger is better.

  • 9x13 baking dish. Glass or ceramic; if it comes with a lid that is even better.

  • One frying pan

  • One high sided skillet with a lid.

  • Stove spatulas, at least 2.

  • Tongs. Choose something with rubber so you can use it on hot items.

  • Large spoon for stirring on the stove

  • 2 cutting boards. You need one for meat and one for vegetables, getting 2 colors can help.

  • 1 good large knife and 1 paring knife.

  • 1 large mixing bowl

  • One pot

  • Cooking thermometer. This will help you get the hang of cooking meat.

  • Aluminum foil. For lining baking sheets.

  • Cleaning spray like 409 for cleaning the counters/disinfecting counters after handling raw meat.

You will also need staple items including salt and pepper, butter, and olive oil. You can expand your spices and kitchen tools as you go. Check out my post here on freezer staples to help you start stocking your kitchen, and my meal planning tips for some inspiration.

make a plan

Now it’s time to cook. If you don’t have much experience cooking for yourself or cooking a variety of things, dont worry. Google is your friend! You can easily find recipes for EVERYTHING online and there are plenty of Youtube videos on how to cut, wash, prepare any and all foods. Plus, don’t underestimate the value of any cooking savvy friends you have.

I recommend making a list of your week and writing down your plans for each meal. Writing out what meals you will need to provide yourself and what meals will be eaten out can help you decide how much food you need for the week. You will need to grocery shop at least once a week to help hold yourself accountable. You can keep leftovers for 3-5 days, so make a lot of whatever you choose to cook. Sure, It can get boring to eat the same thing three days in a row, but it's worth it when you don't need to cook every night. Not every meal is amazing, and that is okay.

meal ideas

My brother requested some ideas for easy meals. Here are some ideas that require minimal prep and should help you mix and match foods. Remember, each meal should include a starchy carb (grains like pasta or rice or a starchy veg like potatoes), a vegetable, a protein, and a source of fat. I hope these start to give you some inspiration. 

  1. 2 chicken sausage (or nitrate free hot dogs) + Pasta of choice (whole grain or plant based preferred) + broccoli (steam in the bag frozen veg of your choice) + olive oil and parm cheese

  2. Grilled cheese with ham + roasted brussel sprouts or sautéed zucchini

  3. Tuna salad sandwich with lettuce + piece of fruit

  4. Roasted chicken or fish + brown rice (try boil in the bag or minute cups) + sauteed spinach with plenty of olive oil

  5. Pulled pork or chicken with BBQ sauce + roasted potatoes (fresh or frozen) + green beans

  6. Salsa chicken (bake chicken with salsa) + rice + beans (rinse and drain can) + corn + cheese

  7. Quesadilla + salad

  8. Rotisserie chicken (already cooked sold in deli section at the grocery store) + frozen veg with butter + sweet potato (roast several at a time!)

  9. Pasta with marinara sauce, cooked ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano, with spinach cooked in

  10. Breakfast for dinner: Omelet with veggies and a side of shredded hashbrowns (get them frozen)

Do you have other meal prep or planning questions? Interest in a sample shopping list? Let me know, I'm here to help!

 

healthy taco hacks

This month has flown by. July is my favorite month (hello, birthday) so it's a bit sad to see it go. I had a lot of new opportunities come up in July, spent time with family, and even got away for a weekend. While life was more hectic than I anticipated, it led to some good realizations and motivated me to make some changes and ask for what I want in different areas of my life (are you asking for what you want?). I will be sharing more updates about this on Instagram in the weeks to come so follow me there if you don’t already.

Last week I had the honor of hanging out with the beautiful ladies of BMORE Lifestyle to share my healthy taco hacks. Who doesn't love tacos? For those who missed it live, I am recapping my healthy hacks in today's post.

Tacos can be healthy and actually make your life easier through the wonderful world of meal prep and batch cooking. You can make traditional tacos, taco bowls, taco salads, and even taco style breakfast. By cooking a large batch of meat, veggies, and grains (like rice) ahead of time, you can mix and match to create meals for several days. Heat and eat is my favorite way to live! I will be sharing more on meal prep next month but you can find my first post about it here

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Tomorrow is taco Tuesday. Enjoy it in all its glory and feel good knowing you're feeding yourself well using one or all of the healthy taco hacks below!

  1. Cook or wilt greens into your protein of choice (eggs, pork, shredded chicken, etc).

  2. Make your own taco seasoning! You can so easily mix it up using spices already in your house, consult the google machine for a variety of choices. This will eliminate  added sugar and other weird thickening agents that are often added.

  3. Include a fat, or several! Sour cream, cheese, avocado, guacamole, olive oil, or avocado oil are my favorite top taco friendly choices.

  4. Color is key! Fresh or cooked veggies are a great way to add color. Creating a taco salad with tomato, avocado, cheese, corn, beans, and meat is a great way to do this!

  5. Quality! For my meat eaters, thinking about quality of meat is important. For traditional ground beef taco meat I opt for 1lb conveniontal beef and 1lb grass fed beef. This keeps it budget friendly while creating a healthier fat profile.

  6. Try a lettuce wrap. Replace your tortilla with bibb lettuce!

  7. Whole grains first. While white rice is often used in our house, I jump at the chance to create a quinoa bowl. Try other whole grains like brown rice, farro, or barley for a different taco bowl base

  8. Increase the fiber. Beans are a great addition to your taco creation! I opt for black beans or pinto beans. Just pick up a can, drain and rinse them, and you have a super easy fiber and protein addition!

  9. Veggie tacos can be a great, easy meal. Consider it an extension of meatless Monday.

  10. Get creative! The more variety in your diet the better. Try a fish taco, or add some fruit into the mix for a sweet element. 

What are you waiting for? Tomorrow is Taco Tuesday! Grab some ingredients and get cooking! Share which taco hack you'll be trying and tag me on social @f00dcourt using the hashtag #realfoodcourtRD