If there is one thing that you can focus on for your family’s nutrition, it would be to make a conscious effort to examine the balance in the diet they are presently eating. Most likely, that diet is overflowing with previously unidentified carbohydrates from lower nutritional value foods.
Carbohydrates are an important part of your diet, but they have their place. The body uses the consumed carbohydrates as energy. The sugars and starches from carbohydrates are broken down during digestion and form glucose which enters the bloodstream. Insulin allows the glucose to be used as energy for the body to use.
If there is excess glucose, the body stores it in cells, the liver, and as fat. When excess carbs are consumed regularly, the body cannot keep up and health problems have a greater chance of surfacing. Regularly eating a diet too high in carbohydrates is a leading cause of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. This can lead to an elevated risk for high triglycerides and heart disease as well.
How Much Is Too Much?
It is important to know how much carbohydrates your family is consuming every day and the impact it has on their health. Much of the overconsumption of carbohydrates has to do with lack of portion control. A good way to control food portions is by simply using your hand. You should limit your serving of rice or pasta to the size of the front of your clenched fist, or ½ cup. The size of your meat serving should be the size of your palm or the front of a playing card. The top portion of your index finger is the right size for a serving of butter. To round it out, fill the rest of your plate with healthy vegetables and have fruit for a snack.
Too many carbs also have to do with the food choices made on a daily basis. The recommended daily amount of carbohydrates for adults is approximately 300 grams per day. When you consider that one large order of fries has about 66 carbs, and one serving of pizza crust averages 30 grams of carbs before any toppings are placed on it, you can see the importance of healthy food choices.
Make Good Choices
A switch to a more plant based diet can bring about great changes, especially because you will be eating a lower level of carbohydrates. Instead of putting the emphasis on refined flours and sugars that overload us with carbohydrates, food from plants gives us good carbohydrates that our bodies can truly benefit from and use. Whole grains and vegetables that provide dietary fiber with carbohydrates are a good balanced choice. You want sources of good carbs that are dense in nutrients like the ones on this list. Your body will thank you for the extra vitamins and minerals it is getting.
Examples for Optimizing your Meal
Many times you can find a more nutritious and lower carb ingredient to pump up the nutritional power of the meal while saving on carbohydrates. For example, a one cup serving of cooked spaghetti noodles is 40 grams. In contrast, one medium zucchini is six carbs. For a lower carb Italian meal try running zucchini noodles through a spiralizer and make your own low carb noodles. You could even combine a little of the pasta spaghetti into the final product for some variety.
A potato has 37 grams of carbohydrates of carbs, while one cup chopped cauliflower has 5. Make mashed potatoes with one third to one half pureed cauliflower and benefit from the vitamins and minerals in each vegetable while lowering your carbohydrate load. This is also a technique to get a picky child to eat cauliflower.
Even condiment makers are getting into the healthy trend of using plant based properties to provide the function in recipes that traditional animal based ingredients would provide. One example is the Just Mayo condiment from Hampton Creek. Available in three flavors as well as an original version, Just Mayo forgoes the traditional mayonnaise with eggs and makes theirs with plant based ingredients only. This saves you on cholesterol while you are having a whole grain sandwich or an omega-3 rich tuna salad.
In the end, it is all about balance. Limit your intake of drinks and desserts that are full of refined sugar but have very low or no nutrition. Making wise choices with carbohydrates will optimize your health for the rest of your life.