Key #5: Eat Healthy Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (or “carbs”) have gotten a very bad rap lately. Let’s try to clear up the confusion. Just like fats, there are good and bad carbohydrates. In general, complex carbohydrates high in fibre can be quite healthful, while simple carbs can be problematic.

Healthy carbohydrates include quinoa, whole grains, vegetables (such as sweet potato), fruits (especially berries), beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Simple carbohydrates are often found in refined and processed foods like breakfast cereals, white bread, sugars and syrups.

The challenge is that sugars are addictive and involve the same dopamine receptors in the brain that cause us to experience pleasure. These are the same centres that are activated by cocaine, nicotine and alcohol! Think about that the next time you have a sugar craving!

When we get hungry or stressed, our bodies crave food that will provide us with the quickest supply of fuel: simple sugar and starches. It is no accident that we rarely hear people say they “could really go for a chicken breast right now.” It’s the starchy food (bagels, crackers, cookies, chocolate, muffins, etc.) that make us drool when hungry. Over-consumption of starches and simple sugars turn to fat in our bodies, in order to be used as fuel at a later date. Our bellies empty sooner with starchy food, letting the craving cycle perpetuate. Setting up our morning with starchy sweets leads to a cascade of bad behaviour for the rest of the day. Worse yet, these eating habits set the stage for exhaustion at the worst times. You may recall this point when trying to hide that yawn in your afternoon class.

There are 3 things that slow down the digestion of sugar: fat, fibre and protein. This means, if we want to have balanced blood sugar, we need to slow down our digestion by making sure each meal has all of these elements.

Today's POWER-UP: Add healthy carbohydrate sources to your nutrition plan

Choose oatmeal with almond butter rather than cereal for breakfast.

Choose plain full fat yogurt with berries instead of the sweetened low fat variety.

Choose spaghetti squash with tuna pesto sauce instead of white pasta with tomato sauce.