Welcome to our new column, NewTrition, written by Lithe Instructor and trained chef, Danielle Ingerman! We're debunking common food and nutrition myths by giving you facts about sugar, fat—even comfort food—and more, so you can feel good about diggin' the foods that you love. Danielle is studying to be a Registered Dietitian at Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions. Her favorite class is Micronutrient Metabolism, and she's currently interning at CHOP and a private practice in Trenton, NJ. I'm thrilled that she's shedding some fresh and passionate "Eating Lithe" insight here on Fit.Hip.Healthy!
Is butter a carb? Ah “Mean Girls”, although generally a far departure from how ‘real people’ view carbohydrates, for here, it could not ring more true. This winter has been ROUGH, long days inside, school cancellations, boredom, comfort food comes a-calling. P-p-p-p-iiizza. C-o-o-o-kies. Make it go away! These foods make us ‘feel good’… or do they? After a 48 hour snow-day binge, I know I feel like a deflated pool float.
Diets attacking carbohydrates as the sworn enemy of the body get a lot of attention these days, and here’s why. When we’re talking about weight gain, typically our focus centers around refined simple carbohydrates- white sugar, white flour, you know, the stuff that makes foods insatiably delicious. Problem is, satiation. These products carry high glycemic index values, meaning once you eat them, they are metabolized into a surge of glucose that zaps directly into your bloodstream. Why does this matter? Well, since our bodies are the coolest machines ever, we can get rid of that crap through the mechanism of insulin, which grabs the blood glucose, and distributes it throughout the body. Unfortunately, this act in many women stimulates what’s called reactive hypoglycemia- basically our body says HEY! we don’t have enough of what we need, lets stimulate some hormones to get it back in here. Cue…hunger. Our bodies think we are starving from our low blood sugar levels, so it stimulates our hunger hormones to get us to eat more to even things out. Ipso-facto - just a few hours after eating you are exhausted and amazingly starving again, which is where the weight gain comes in.
Before you ransack your cabinets and dispose of all carb-laden items, STOP! Not all dietary carbohydrates are here to hurt us. Complex carbohydrates slow the absorption of glucose into your blood, evening out the digestion process and avoiding that blood sugar spike and hypoglycemic drop. Whole grains, legumes, and many fruits and vegetables carry low glycemic index values and often contain many nutrients used to nourish our bodies. However, although eating five apples a day won’t make you gain 5 lbs, it can stimulate more hunger, which is why an even distribution of complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein in your daily diet kicks those blood sugar spikes and curbs your appetite from face-planting into a bowl of cereal at 9 pm. What’s the best combo to stay “lithe”? Try a grain salad mixed with your favorite protein, if you’re feeling famished after an 8 am yogurt, skip it the next day for some eggs or protein and see how you feel. Starving at 3 pm? Try carrots instead of fruit. Remember, the best meals leave us feeling full AND energized. As always, all things in moderation, have fun with your food and try new things. Feel good food is all about balancing what your body loves and what you love.
Image of Lithe Instructor Danielle Ingerman wearing Lithe via Dom