Are you a real carb-lover? Do you crave carbs and find it difficult to imagine a diet without them? No fear. While there are diet trends that suggest cutting carbs out completely can help you slim down it may be a case of cutting down and finding some healthy alternatives instead. What you want to achieve is a sustainable eating plan that is still giving your body the energy it needs; and carbs, for all the bad press, are recommended to make up 45-60% of our fuel intake!
Before you drastically cut down on carbs, give them the credit they deserve. They actually help in the digestive process by providing the necessary nutrients for the friendly bacteria in our guts. They also protect the protein in our muscles, ensuring that the body takes energy from carbs first rather than draining the muscles, which could put a strain on organs such as the heart.
Think about cutting bad carbs
Carbohydrates cover so many foods so what might help in achieving a healthier diet is to think of some carbs as ‘good’ carbs, such as vegetables and others as ‘bad’ carbs such as bread and pastries. These refined carbohydrates break down into glucose quickly, causing your blood sugar to spike and then inevitable plummet. It is a diet rich in these sugar-rich carbs that you might want to change.
We are a nation of sandwich lovers and bread with main courses is par for the course in many households. Think about all the dishes you eat and just how many of them are bread based, from the burger bun from the grill to the toasted panini you grab from the cafe during the day. There are a growing number of people who are put off bread because they are gluten intolerant but even if you are not it still might be worth cutting back on your loaf intake. Try lettuce wraps instead which can work great with so many healthy fillings. Large mushrooms and grilled eggplant make a nice alternative to a bun for your patty too!
If you are a real rice eater then switching to brown rice can lower your carb intake, You could try quinoa, a South American seed, as an alternative, which has around 15% less carbs than brown rice. However, if you want to cut out rice altogether then you could try riced cauliflower instead. Often rice is a great way to soak up sauces so try a rich and green vegetable such as steamed spinach to provide that substantial contrast.
Pasta is a no-no on a carb cutting diet but if you love Italian food then a great alternative is strips of zucchini. Firstly you need to cut the zucchini into thin spaghetti strips or long and flat tagliatelle style and then steam. The zucchini has the floppiness of pasta without breaking apart and goes really well with healthy Italian-flavored pasta sauces. Make sure you prepare a low-carb garlic bread to go with it too!
Another great option is spaghetti squash. Cutting one of these in half, and boiling in water then dragging a fork down the inside of the squash will create spaghetti-like ribbons that go great with tomato sauce or any other sauce you put on pasta.
One of the best ways to get your potato fix but cut down on carbs is with sweet potatoes. You can mash them and cut them into fries to bake in the oven and even use them as pie topping. Cauliflower, which is discounted by so many people, as being watery and bland, can also be transformed into a creamy mash as well. If you add in some extra ingredients you can really spice up the flavor too. Instead of fries at the side what about some chunky ratatouille?
Alcohol and sugary drink alternatives
It is amazing how many people believe they don’t have a carb-rich diet but then drink more than the recommended dose with sugary drinks. Stick to water and herb teas and cut out sodas. You could make your own iced tea or your own lemonade that is a far healthier. Make a big jug and keep it in the fridge or make some no-carb ice pops which really quench the thirst.
Processed food alternatives
To be honest you really don’t need an alternative to any processed foods. The simple rule here is to cut them out. Once you start eating more healthily you might find that your cravings for cakes, candy and the suchlike start to diminish anyway.
Eating in the right way is about understanding diet and what your body needs. Learn about nutrition with us.