Bread1People are constantly asking me questions about carbs. “Do you eat carbs?”

“I bet you don’t eat bread. Do you?”

“Do you eat pasta?”

I’ve got five harrrrrd truths for you people who are struggling with the carb situation. Hopefully this’ll help.

1) I do not live a low-carb diet. When you talk about carbohydrates, you’re talking about fruit. You’re talking about vegetables. The key sources of our vitamins and minerals. You need those. And, yes, you’re talking about breads, pastas, biscuits, cupcakes, cookies… the whole nine yards. When most people talk about living “low-carb,” they’re often referring to cutting refined carbs, most commonly understood as “things made with flour.” I do, however, cut those things.

2) Why? Because, when you start counting calories and start understanding where your calorie totals for your day are going haywire, you wind up realizing that most of those calories? Come straight from refined carbohydrates. Refined carbs are, more often than not, an unnecessary caloric black hole. That big giant roll of bread on your lunch sandwich? Probably could’ve swapped that out for a salad – don’t most sandwich toppings often wind up sounding like delicious salads, anyway? – or could’ve been rolled in a nice strong leaf. That big giant bowl of cereal? Yeah, one serving size might say “80 calories,” but you didn’t realize that that “one serving size” is for “one half cup of cereal” and that you actually ate four servings this morning. That massive serving of rice in your kung pao chicken you ate? If it was over a cup of it, it was well over 300 calories that you didn’t need… because you could’ve easily tossed some steamed broccoli in there with that, instead, and been much more satiated with less calories and more food.

Wonder bread ingredients3) Quality matters, and can determine the difference between a filling carb and a not-so-filling one. And, while it’s ideal for one to seek out organic, local, sustainable, hand-crafted goods… that’s not what I’m talking about, here. A quality bread is little more than flour, yeast, salt, water and some oil. That’s it. Not… um… all this stuff, here. Quality flour, believe it or not, has protein in it. Oil, pure fat, helps fill you up. Yeast has a sweet flavor that it can yield to dough. A quality piece of bread is awesome. It can be filling. And, if it isn’t filling for you, then you shouldn’t be eating it.

4) If a carb isn’t filling in an adequate portion size – and only you can determine what’s “adequate” for you and your needs – then guess what? It’s time to let that high-carb food go. A good pasta will fill you up long before you could fall asleep from eating it, but if you’re not getting that good quality pasta, it’s okay to turn down the lessor quality. A good cupcake… you might not even get to finish it. Don’t scarf down a bunch of cheap ones looking for the same feeling. You won’t get it. A bowl of store-bought cereal? People are going through two-to-three boxes a week. It’s never going to fill you up, and you’re overdoing it on the calorie totals because you’re so busy trying to eat to get “full.” Let that go. Not happening. Find another option.

5) Refined carbs are the reason why, when most people tell me they “had a craving” for something… I usually give them the side-eye-of-eternity. If you’re craving nails (like, hammering nails) or cornstarch, then I’m willing to believe it’s a nutritional deficiency. Cravings for cookies, cupcakes, ice cream (the store-brands have so much sugar in them that yes, I’m counting them too), chips and goodness knows whatever else are not cravings. They’re emotional eating… harmful reactions to stressors in or lives. Refined carbs just happen to be the most common vessel for emotional eating, and if you find yourself taking in refined carbs in obscene amounts, then consider scaling back. As in, no longer buying products that make you feel like you can’t only “eat just one.”

I’ve even got a bonus one for you: if you’re a runner, you often don’t worry about this. You need every darn calorie you can get your mouth around!

Who’s got carb questions for me? Let’s hear ’em!