If you visit a nutritionist, one of the things they’ll ask you to do is restrict your carbohydrate intake. Why is that? Are carbs bad? Well, they are not entirely bad. You need them, but not too much of them. First of all, although carbs is an immediate source of energy (glucose) for the body, when you consume carbs, the glucose or the sugar level in your blood increases. This is not good, especially if you have Diabetes. Secondly, they don’t allow fats in your body to be burned. When you consume carbs moderately, you trigger the fat-burning function of your body. Thirdly, when you over-consume carbs, the excess, unused carbs are stored in your body as fat for later use.
So, now we know that we need to eat carbs, but in moderation. But, most Indians find themselves in a dilemma when they’re told to cut down on carbs. Majority of our staple foods and traditional diets are heavy on carbs. That’s why we thought you could use some help in limiting your carbs intake.
- Know your meal
It is very important to know the carbohydrate content in the food items you regularly eat. This knowledge will help you analyse and choose foods items you eat wisely. For example—roti, naan, phulka, puri, paratha, bread, rice, all-purpose flour, potatoes, lentils—all contain high level of carbs.
- Find healthy replacements
We know you cannot entirely do away with rotis or rice. Therefore, go for their healthy replacements such as whole grain rotis instead of those made from refined grains or all-purpose flour, and switch to brown rice. Whole grains have fibre in them which is good for digestion and blood sugar. When you consume carbs with their fibre content intact, the digestion is slowed which means glucose gets released into the blood stream in a controlled, regulated fashion. This avoids sudden blood sugar spikes. Also, fibres help you stay full for longer time.
- Change your portion sizes
Generally, carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice/bread occupy maximum space on our plate whereas salads and veggies are placed on the sides in smaller quantities. It’s time to turn the table and increase the portion size of veggies and salads while reducing that of carbs.
- Watch your snacks
Do not satisfy your random hunger pangs with biscuits or cookies or sandwich, all of which have carbs. Instead, have a hand full of dry fruits such as almonds, walnuts and pistachios. Or grab a fruit.
- Drink lots of water, and some more
Thirst can often be confused as hunger, you should have a healthy intake of water—roughly eight glasses (or 2 litres) a day, to prevent you from consuming unhealthy carbs, and also to keep you hydrated.
- Eliminate sugar from your diet
Be mindful about sugar—how much do you consume everyday and how often? Cut down on your sugar intake wherever possible. For example, have a raw fruit instead of fruit juice, reduce the sugar in tea to 1/3rd of its current amount, avoid frequent chocolate and dessert treats and so on.
- Use technology to track your carbs intake
There are various apps online such as Fitday, sparkpeople, MyFitnessPal and Cron-o-meter to help you keep track on your carbs intake and normalise it accordingly.
We hope these suggestions will help you make informed and smarter choices when it comes to your carbohydrate consumption.