Written by Puff Staff

Friday, 08 October 2010

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Know your carbs


Carbohydrates, or carbs, seem to get a bad rap. While there are some carbohydrates that are less than good for you, there are others that are a necessary part of your diet. Unhealthy carbs cause your body to have spikes in energy and blood sugar. These come from foods that have been essentially stripped of important nutritional elements like nutrients, bran, and fiber. Examples of unhealthy carbs include foods like white rice, refined sugar, and white flour. Healthy carbs, on the other hand stabilize insulin and blood sugar levels. The body digests them slowly and this allows you to feel full for longer periods of time. Examples of healthy carbs include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.

Speaking of whole grains, this is one category of foods that you should not ignore. Whole grains help the body against diabetes, some types of cancer, and coronary heart disease. Examples are whole wheat, brown rice, and barley. If you are unsure if a product is really whole grain, look for phrases such as 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain. Although very appetizing, you should do your best to avoid eating cereals, breads, and pastas that are not whole grain and are classified as refined grains.

Foods to limit and avoid

Now that you know what to include in your diet, it's time to discuss things to avoid. One plus about transitioning to a healthier diet is that as you gradually incorporate new, nutritious foods into your routine, they will take the place of many of your previous indulgences. Although cutting out certain foods will be quite tough at the beginning, you will feel and look better from new diet choices. As that happens, comfort foods will not be missed as much.

Sugar has adverse short term effects. It causes your energy levels to go on a roller coaster, which can affect mood and also cause headaches. It can also lead to long term negative consequences in the form of diabetes, osteoporosis, and arthritis. While you do not have to completely kick sweets out of your diet, you should consume them in moderation. Treat them as an occasional reward, and not a daily staple. Processed foods made with white sugar will affect blood sugar and drain energy. Sodas and other drinks loaded with sugar are also something to avoid.

Salt is another item that should be consumed in moderation. Frozen TV dinners, canned soups, fast food, and restaurant meals are notorious for having loads of salt. The same goes for snacks like potato chips and salted nuts. Aim for a daily limit of 2,300mg of sodium. That might not be attainable at first, but slowly cut out salty foods and you will be able to get closer to that goal.

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