I don't offer up the “I don't eat animal-anything” nugget unless asked. The way you eat is your business and the way I eat is mine. With that being said, I LOVE talking about the plant based lifestyle so don't be afraid to ask;) However, once revealed that I don't feast on anything that comes from an animal, I get a lot of questions. The very first one I almost always get is “Where do you get your protein?”. I addressed that question in the last post. Now, I'm going to jump on another common one: “Do you eat bread?”. I think this one stems from the low-carb and gluten-free crazes. Short answer: yes, I eat bread. The end. Thanks for reading.
Just kidding. You didn't think I would leave you without giving you all the good science-y stuff, did you? First, let's start by addressing the low-carb craze. It can be a little complicated, but here is the simplified form: Carbohydrates are what our bodies use for energy, including brain function. Carbohydrates are necessary for proper bodily function. As we eat carbohydrate rich foods our body converts them to glucose and moves them to our cells with the help of insulin. Excess is stored in the liver, muscles, and other cells or stored as fat. Still with me? So, we need carbohydrates. Why, then, do so many people lose weight when eating low carb? When our bodies do not have carbohydrates either from the food we are eating or from our storage (we only have about 24 hours worth in our liver and muscles) it pulls energy from the fat, i.e. burns fat, which means we lose weight. Hmmm that sounds good, right? Not so fast...eating low carb can be helpful if done right; however, it is mostly done wrong. Most people participating in a low carb diet eat a lot of protein (we already discussed how this can be bad) and a lot of fat, also bad. We could all benefit from cutting out carbohydrate rich foods like white bread and pasta, processed foods, sugary drinks, cereals, etc. But we should all be eating more of these carbohydrate rich foods: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, peas, lentils). When we cut out carbs, we cut out fiber. Fiber is the #1 thing all Americans need more of!! Fiber-deficiency is the #1 cause of inflammation in the body and inflammation is a major cause of disease! In addition, there is evidence that a low-carb diet (one high in protein and fat) impairs arterial function, which means clogging our arteries leading to heart disease.
Let's now address this gluten-free demon. I eliminated gluten from my diet for about 6 months (crazy hard) just to see the effects. There weren't any. I did not lose any weight. I mostly felt the same before and after; I had a little easier time in the bathroom after eating gluten again (sorry for the TMI). Only about 1% of the population has celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine where the sufferer has to completely avoid gluten. There is also a condition known as gluten intolerance or sensitivity where the individual also avoids gluten. With the gluten-free industry reaching billions of dollars, millions of people are drawn to these products as they are being marketed as a health food. The fact is there is no evidence that avoiding gluten is beneficial to your health for anyone other than those with a diagnosed intolerance, sensitivity, or celiac disease. In fact, you could be doing your body harm by avoiding gluten. Eliminating gluten from your diet means removing a very important food group, whole grains. Whole grains have been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases. From nutritionfacts.org “Gluten, itself, may also boost immune function. After less than a week on added gluten protein, subjects experienced significantly increased natural killer cell activity, which could be expected to improve our body’s ability to fight cancer and viral infections. Another studyfound that high gluten bread improved triglyceride levels better than regular gluten bread.” Not only does the research indicate that going gluten-free doesn’t fix the gut or cool inflammation, but that it alters your gut flora and allows bad bacteria to grow in your gut. We need gluten to maintain the community of good bacteria in our guts.
To sum it up...yes, I eat bread and pasta and carbs. It is rare that I eat white, processed bread...it might be a crunchy french bread with pasta or if we are eating out I might have a veggie sub or something of that kind. I eat lots of good carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains like quinoa, brown rice and pasta, oats, etc. Again, stop worrying about calories, carbs, protein and think about filling your plate with A LOT of plant food!!
Peace, Love, Plants