Ask a Health Coach: More of Your Carb Questions Answered
Hi folks, in today’s Ask a Health Coach, Erin is going to answer a few more questions about your carbs, from what to include in all of your macro shots to strategies for dealing with the aftermath of a carbohydrate attack. We look forward to your questions. So make sure to post them on the Marks Daily Apple Facebook group or in the comments below.
Which carbohydrates are counted when counting carbohydrates? Does this include fruits and vegetables? I understand that all grains and starches should be counted, but does this include “moderated” foods like bananas and sweet potatoes? Any advice is appreciated!
As a culture, we are obsessed with carbohydrates. We are totally in love with the demonization, review and dissection of the nuances of carbohydrates. The total carbohydrates that sugar alcohols and fiber subtract make a claim on which carbohydrates are good and which are bad. It’s really out of control and way too picky if you ask me.
I work with many clients who have symptoms of carbophobia and I swear that low carb is the answer to all of their problems. Even if you’ve successfully removed the word “diet” from your vocabulary (congratulations by the way), I find that people absolutely love having rules about what to and shouldn’t eat.
Why are we so obsessed with carbohydrates?
Ever heard of decision fatigue? It is based on the idea that when we make a large number of decisions (especially in quick succession), our ability to make additional decisions deteriorates. And since we choose more than 200 foods a day, it’s easy to see why rules take advantage.
Types of Food Choices You Might Recognize:
- Should I have breakfast or should I fast?
- How Much Creamer Can Get Me Out of Ketosis?
- Should I even drink coffee?
- What about lunch?
- How many carbohydrates does that have?
- Is wine okay?
And that doesn’t even include the choices that are made when eating out, provided we can do them more regularly. The conversations we have on our minds are overwhelming to say the least.
Why? Because our minds prefer things that don’t require much thought. And deciding what to eat – or how many carbs to have – is just one more thing to put on our to-do lists. Martin Binks, PhD and director of the Nutrition Metabolic Health Initiative at Texas Tech, says, “It’s easier to make a yes or no choice. Making binary decisions is easier and less stressful than making nuanced decisions. “” Food rules can make things easier. “The more variables there are, the harder it is for our brains to make a decision, which explains, at least in part, our obsession with food rules.
Sure, some structure and guidance will help – for example, knowing which foods are right for your body and which ones make you foggy and tired. However, it is important to learn how to be flexible and eat mindfully in order to keep emotional and physical health in check. The bottom line is, if you only eat real food and don’t waste time thinking about it, you would probably be in a much better place. When you start to love and appreciate your body for being the great organism and stop worrying about counting, weighing and tracking, life becomes pretty great.
I lost a ton of weight before and gained some back after adding carbs back into my diet and being sedentary for a while. But I’m so stuck on bread etc. I know when I’m gone for a while I can resist and not even think about it, but gosh, it’s hard to get to that point! How do I finally get off bread? Thankfully, it sounds like you don’t need a lesson on why grains can be toxic to your body. But figuring out how to finally drop them is something a lot of people struggle with, including my own health coaching clients.
Why grain is so hard to avoid
Bread, granola, crackers and cookies. They are closely involved in almost every aspect of our society. And unless you were brought up on an ancestral diet, your preferences for starchy foods were likely dictated from a young age. In fact, most infants prefer sweet tastes over bitter and sour ones, which may reflect a biological instinct to choose these foods. However, it is not just our preferences for starchy foods that keep us on the roller coaster with the bread basket. Research shows that by eating the same food as others, we feel more connected to them. So, if you are dining with your spouse and they have a few slices of garlic bread while you swirl around your fork full of zoodles, you may feel like you lack a sense of connection with them. The same goes if a friend orders dessert and you abstain.
As humans, we want to feel connected – especially since we have felt less connected since last year than ever before. But food isn’t the only way to satisfy that need (service is actually one of the best ways to feel connected to others).
4 strategies for shedding grain
Shedding grains, especially when you know you will feel better without them, is absolutely doable with the right strategies. Here are the tips I regularly share with my clients:
- Know your why. Understand your deep reasons why you don’t eat bread and other grains. This is a game changer when it comes to navigating the ups and downs of the process that will always be there.
- Make protein and fat your friend. Keeping your blood sugar stable is key to avoiding food cravings for fast-burning carbohydrates. I like starting my day with an epic protein forward meal of eggs and bacon.
- Pay attention to your triggers. If bread is so tempting that you literally can’t resist it, you don’t have it around. People who have their favorite foods “just in case” ask for an excuse to indulge themselves.
- Get support. Being part of a like-minded community like this one here at Marks Daily Apple can be a really valuable resource. You can also hire a professional health coach for practical guidance.
I usually keep my carbs under 30 grams and include one fraudulent meal a week, but last weekend my one night of pizza and beer turned into a week-long fit. I also gained about 5 pounds back from working so hard to lose. I was so motivated before and now I feel stuck. Why is it so difficult to get back to my normal routine this time?
Certain foods are designed to be very tasty. Think pizza, fries, fast food. Whenever a food contains fat, salt, and highly processed carbohydrates, the brain’s reward centers are triggered and a seizure can occur. Food scientists know exactly what they are doing when they make these foods too. They want you to keep craving, buying and consuming these foods. Frankly, a week of overdoing it isn’t going to hurt your progress in the long run. It might actually help you. Here’s why. While I’m generally not a fan of “cheat days”, consuming extra calories might just be what your body needs, especially since you’ve been so restrictive on your diet.
How to move forward after a binge
You can expect a health coach to say things like “clear out junk food” or “eat clean again at your next meal.” These are both great suggestions, but the first thing I would recommend is to have a little compassion for yourself. My job is to help my customers have a hassle-free relationship with food. One that doesn’t involve guilt, shame, and discouragement. This is why self-compassion is such an important part of the process. Everyone gets lost every now and then. You notice that your nightly glass of wine has turned into 2 or 3 glasses. Or their daily walk has turned into a weekend activity only. But self-compassion means accepting the fact that you are human and that you make mistakes every now and then. It also helps you understand that your self-worth is not a reflection of how perfect or imperfect you are right now – or what the scale says. If I were you I would drop the scales and work on acceptance.
Thoughts About Carbohydrates? Do you have any further questions? Let’s hear it.
About the author
Erin Power is the coaching and curriculum director of the Primal Health Coach Institute. She also helps her clients reestablish a loving and trusting relationship with their bodies – while restoring their metabolic health so they can lose fat and gain energy – through her own private health coaching practice, eat.simple.
If you are passionate about health and wellness and want to help people like Erin for their clients every day, you should consider becoming a certified health coach yourself. In this special information session hosted by PHCI Co-Founder Mark Sisson, you will learn the three simple steps to building a successful health coaching business in a maximum of 6 months.
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