Lately, it seems like the low carb, no carb, keto, no grains, gluten-free diets are EVERYWHERE. They seriously blow up every social media platform I’m on. It’s in your face constantly these days and all I can think is “Of course this is what people think the answer is when it’s all the see day in and day out! How are they supposed to believe there is any other way?”
I’m here to tell you there is another way. It’s not as extreme or drastic, and neither are the results. But trust me when I say, no result you can get is worth the damage that avoiding carbs can do to your body and your mind. Everyone needs carbohydrates. They are the only source of fuel our brains can use, aside from ketones. (Does that word look familiar? It should, it’s one of those words I mentioned earlier that are seen EVERYWHERE!) Ketones are naturally in our body. But when our body makes too many of these (what happens when we don’t eat carbs), we go into acidosis. This basically means our body becomes too acidic. It’s a toxic, dangerous, and unappealing state to be in. It can cause bad breath, a hairy film on our body, depression, fatigue, brain fogginess, coma, and even death. Yikes!
Why I Don’t Feel Guilty When Eating a Carb
If you’re one of the many many people who have fallen into the lure of the no carb or low carb diet, I know the idea of eating carbs is giving you anxiety. Our society has drilled it into our heads so hard and for so long that the idea of eating carbs feels like a sin at this point. (Don’t even get me started on that, I could go on and on so I’ll save it for another post!) Personally, low carbs has never been something I could stick to. I even tried the 21-day Fix containers once. I couldn’t stick to it because even that was absurdly low for me. The thing is, the amount of carbs everyone needs is individual. But we all do need carbs. That is not a question. It is not an opinion. That is fact. I don’t feel guilty when I eat carbs because I know I need them. They keep my blood sugar stable, they keep my mood boosted and level, they give me energy, and they keep me satisfied.
The “Right” Way To Get Your Carb Intake
The “right” way to keep carbs isn’t a crazy complicated formula. The “right” way is to just listen to your body. It takes practice, but eventually, you can feel when you need more or less carbs, and what types you need in each moment. For example, when Gordon was only about 3-4 months old, he started going through his major sleep regression. He was transitioning from newborn sleep to adult sleep cycles. Prior to this, I was feeling energized each day after eating 1 slice of whole grain toast for my carb with an egg for my protein, a healthy fat like avocado or peanut butter, and a small serving of fruit for breakfast. But when I started having some seriously rough nights, I could feel that I needed more energy, so I increased my carb intake. I had 2 slices of whole grain toast, fruit, eggs, and healthy fat, and it worked for me during that time.
Where to Start
So how do you know where to start? It depends on where you are currently. I would never tell a client who is not eating carbs to suddenly eat 3 servings of carbs at every meal and snack. Work it in slowly. Try to choose whole grains, fruits, and starchy veggies when you can (without stressing over it if you can’t btw). You may feel guilty. It’s ok. Don’t feel guilty for feeling guilty. Just acknowledge the guilt, remind yourself that food does not have a moral compass and that this particular food will provide lots of energy for you, and then move on.
Tips for Re-Introducing Carbs for a Diet-Free Lifestyle
- Meal plan. For those of you who are used to following and sticking to diets, the idea of not having something to follow can make you feel anxious. On the other hand, making a plan that includes the things that you never normally included, can also help alleviate some guilt and anxiety because it’s part of your “plan” now. Need help getting started with meal planning? I can help! Click here to ask about meal planning services.
- Start with the carbs that cause the least anxiety. You don’t want to rush into this! Start with where you’re comfortable and then slowly break out of your comfort zone.
- Practice mindfulness and stress relieving techniques. Try a gratitude journal, breathing exercises, brief meditations, or yoga. Doing these things help to keep things in perspective for you. Allows you to see that there are other things in your life that are important- not just your weight. Allows you to keep from obsessing about your diet. And it will also help you manage stress and anxiety. Win, win, win!!