Carbs have gotten a really bad reputation in recent years. Everywhere you turn there is a new low-carb diet promising amazing results. Although low carbohydrate diets can be helpful for weight loss, carbohydrates from natural sources are actually GOOD for you and can be helpful for long term weight management.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, low fat dairy products and beans are carbohydrate-rich foods that also contain vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals that have been shown to reduce inflammation, fight disease, improve gut health and aid in weight loss.
The other “not-so-healthy” carbs coming from sugary beverages, candy, fast food, desserts, chips, crackers and highly processed grains (think white bread/buns, white rice/pasta) are often overeaten, which can lead to weight gain. The key is to incorporate the healthier carbohydrates more often and limit the less healthy ones to 1-2 servings per week.
Simple ways to increase your intake of healthy carbs:
- Start incorporating steamed veggies in your soups, casseroles, omelets and stirfrys
- Leave fresh fruit out in a bowl on your counter tops to encourage more consumption
- Purchase a variety of whole grain items such as quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat tortillas/bread and whole grain pasta to eat in place of the refined versions (i.e. whole grain spaghetti and whole wheat wraps)
- Try using a homemade low-fat dip such as the ones below, to encourage more consumption of raw fruits and vegetables.
Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
1 32 oz tub low fat plain Greek yogurt (can use non-Greek versions)
1 packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
Splash of milk (optional to achieve desired texture)
Mix together and add a squirt of lemon juice if desired
Greek Yogurt Fruit Dip
1 32 oz tub low fat plain OR vanilla Greek yogurt (can use non-Greek versions)
¼ cup honey (or agave nectar)
¼ cup creamy peanut butter (or almond/cashew butter)
Blend ingredients using a hand mixer add more honey and peanut butter to taste if desired