Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love deeply, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.

Saturday, March 9, 2013



I've done some research for us.  Seriously, I wonder whether I am the best person to help, but I'll do everything I can. 

Here's what I have found so far:
Not all starches are bad (we know that) but some are.  If you want to eat bread, or pasta, or tortillas or whatever, it has to be WHOLE GRAIN.

"I recommend eating whole grains because they're a great source of important nutrients, including protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and, especially, carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index (GI), a ranking of carbohydrate foods on the basis of how they affect blood sugar (glucose). This is important for many people because eating a lot of foods that are high on the glycemic index will produce spikes in blood sugar that can lead over time to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, elevated blood fats, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Grains in their natural form have a low glycemic index, while processed carbohydrates, including those made with flour or puffed grains, have a high GI. The reason is that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside whole grains or grains cracked into large pieces, slowing down the conversion of starch to sugar.

True whole grains include wild rice, barley, quinoa, millet and wheat berries. You can be pretty sure you're eating a natural grain with a low GI ranking if you have to chew it or can see grains or pieces of grains in food products. The more your jaw has to work, the better. But when grains are pulverized into flour, whether whole or not, their surface area expands dramatically, providing a huge, starchy surface area on which the enzymes can work. Consequently, the conversion to sugar happens very quickly."
Dr. Andrew Weil M.D.

He says at the end that he recommends cutting all foods made with FLOUR and consuming foods made in their natural state.

So this is why cutting out the breads, pasta's etc... is essential for losing weight ... ESPECIALLY for avoiding diabetes. 

If you are going to eat grain foods, pick the ones that are the most nutritious. Choose whole grains. Whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber. Reading labels is essential for this food group to make sure you are making the best choices. Every time you choose to eat a starchy food, make it count! Leave the processed white flour-based products, especially the ones with added sugar, on the shelves or use them only for special occasion treats.

So, here's the question:
What exactly IS "whole grain" verses "enriched whole grain"?  Because my WHEAT bread says "Enriched" and it LOOKS like wheat bread?!

A whole grain is the entire grain—which includes the bran, germ and endosperm (starchy part). The most popular grain in the US is wheat so that will be our example. To make 100% whole wheat flour, the entire wheat grain is ground up. "Refined" flours like white and enriched wheat flour include only part of the grain – the starchy part, and are not whole grain. They are missing many of the nutrients found in whole wheat flour. Examples of whole grain wheat products include 100% whole wheat bread, pasta, tortilla, and crackers.

"We have all seen it, 100% whole wheat bread that sits next to the white bread. It looks like white bread, but it says enriched. Enriched with what? Well, let me back up a little. When wheat is harvested the whole grain is taken to the refinery. REFINERY, did you see that! The wheat is heated to a point when the germ and the bran fall off. What is left is the starch, the white part, the not good for you part. The part that has a long shelf life and is bug resistant. Do you know why it is bug resistant? Bugs CANNOT sustain life in it. They will die if they only eat this refined grain. So why on earth, with the abundance of good life sustaining food do we eat white flour, which is the starch of the wheat grain ground up. Honestly do I need to answer that? Take a look around and you will see obesity on the rise, and now not only are adults overweight, but kids, little kids are getting more and more fat. Why? We are feeding ourselves all kinds of unhealthy food. Some do it because it is cheaper, some because of taste, and some just because they don't know any better.
So now that I explained what white bread is made of, let me continue to answer the question of "what exactly is enriched"? After the refinery takes the grains apart and makes white flour, which has no nutrition, they add some vitamins, some minerals, and some fiber, but not even a gram worth. The white bread is enriched with some of the very things they just worked so hard to take out. However, they do not add in as much of the grain they take away, otherwise it would be whole grain. Just enough to add some flavor and calories to it.

What is whole grain? It is the WHOLE grain used in the process of making bread, cereal and the building blocks of many other foods. For it to be truly healthy whole grain needs to be listed on your bread, cereal or other food in the number 1 or number 2 position on the ingredients list. No, whole wheat flour which is followed by (enriched white flour, niacin, and iron) is not healthy, it is a way of making people believe that they are getting a whole grain bread. They are not lying, it is whole wheat flour, but not whole grain. It did come from the wheat plant and it is all wheat, but not all grain. Whole is just another word like all. If you look a little farther down on the list you will see molasses, why molasses you ask? It colors the bread to make it look brown. Yup, white flour plus vitamins and minerals still does not bring the bran back into the bread. Bran is what helps to give the natural brown color to bread. So, they again, add something to it, to try and make it look like something it is not."
While there are a lot of options when it comes to starchy veggies, I personally avoid what I can.  The options for starchy veggies is very short in comparison to the list of non-starchy. 
Here's the list for starchy:
  • Parsnip
  • Plantain
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Acorn squash
  • Butternut squash
  • Green Peas
  • Corn
  • Amaranth or Chinese spinach
  • Artichoke
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Asparagus
  • Baby corn
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Beans (green, wax, Italian)
  • Bean sprouts
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (green, bok choy, Chinese)
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chayote
  • Coleslaw (packaged, no dressing)
  • Cucumber
  • Daikon
  • Eggplant
  • Greens (collard, kale, mustard, turnip)
  • Hearts of palm
  • Jicama
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Pea pods
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Salad greens (chicory, endive, escarole, lettuce, romaine, spinach, arugula, radicchio, watercress)
  • Sprouts
  • Squash (cushaw, summer, crookneck, spaghetti, zucchini)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Swiss chard
  • Tomato
  • Turnips
  • Water chestnuts
  • Yard-long beans

The options are considerably higher.  Starchy veggies are higher in carbs and are counted as a "Whole Grain" because of it.  If you are trying to monitor your carbs, it's better to avoid the starch.

In our blood stream, starch turns to sugar, LOTS of sugar.  So if you eat a food that is high in starch, it is high in sugar, even if it is a veggie, like a potato.  As we explored in my post called "Math" we discovered how sugar raises the glucose, the glucose causes the release of insulin, insulin feeds our cells, when the cells are full the excess energy is stored in fat.

By consuming high starch foods, like breads, pastas etc... you might as well be eating a spoonful of sugar out of the sugar bowl.


Here is the low-down... I hate math.  I'm not a fan of numbers.  I LOVE words, all words.  But I've discovered that this lifestyle changing thing requires a knowledge of numbers, like the number of calories we eat everyday and the number of carbohydrates that are in the foods we are consuming.  NUMBERS.  But, thankfully, the numbers have words that have meanings which make the numbers more tolerable.  So, let's define the words that matter:

First lets re-define a "Calorie":  A calorie is one unit of energy.  Everything we eat has energy contained in it, and a calorie is one unit of that energy.  The reason we count calories is so that we know how many units of energy not only that we NEED, but that we eat and also that we burn.  The energy we're counting is the energy in the carbohydrates, proteins and fats etc... that eating.  (For a more detailed definition, you can check out my other post on Calories).

So, the body needs energy. Carbs are an ideal source of energy for the body. This is because they can be converted more readily into glucose (the form of sugar that's transported and used by the body) than proteins or fats can.

Even so, a diet too high in carbs can upset the balance of your body's blood sugar level, resulting in fluctuations in energy and mood which leave you feeling irritated and tired.

It is better to balance your intake of carbohydrates with protein, a little fat and fiber.

There are two types of carbohydrate: complex and simple.

Complex carbs are often referred to as starch or starchy foods. They are found both in natural foods and also refined in processed foods.

Complex carbs as natural starch come in the form of:
  • bananas
  • barley
  • beans
  • brown rice
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • nuts
  • oats
  • parsnips
  • potatoes
  • root vegetables
  • sweet corn
  • whole grain cereals
  • whole grain breads
  • whole grain cereals
  • whole grain flour
  • whole grain pasta
  • yams
Complex carbohydrates as refined starches are found in:
  • biscuits, pastries and cakes
  • pizzas
  • sugary processed breakfast cereals
  • white bread
  • white flour
  • white pasta
  • white rice
 Simple Carbohydrates are also known as Sugars.  They exist in natural or refined form.  Natural sugars are found in fruits and vegetables.

Refined sugars are found in:
  • biscuits, cakes and pastries
  • chocolate
  • honey and jams
  • jellies
  • brown and white cane sugar
  • pizzas
  • prepared foods and sauces
  • soft drinks
  • sweets and snack bars. 

Alright, so let's review.  Carbs ARE good, but only COMPLEX carbs. Simple carbs burn fast and are what are basically called "empty calories".  An empty calorie is defined as a source that has little to no nutritional value.  Cake has no nutritional value.

Let's define, Glucose and why it is important. Glucose is a simple sugar that provides the body with its primary source of energy. This type of sugar comes from digesting carbs into a chemical that the body can easily convert to energy. When glucose levels in the bloodstream aren't properly regulated, a person can develop a serious condition, such as diabetes.

From Carbohydrates:

People get most of their glucose from digesting the sugar and starch in carbohydrates. The body's digestive system, using bile and enzymes, breaks down the starch and sugar in these foods into glucose. This functional form of energy then gets absorbed through the small intestine into the bloodstream. It is then carried throughout the body, providing energy for the person to perform all types of activities, such as simple movements, demanding physical exercises or even thinking.

Glycemic Index:

Foods can be rated according to the index, which indicates how quickly the carbohydrates are broken down by the body and the glucose is released into the bloodstream. White bread and most breakfast cereals have a high glycemic index, which means that the carbohydrates are broken down and the body's blood-sugar levels raised more quickly. Most fruits, vegetables and nuts have low glycemic indexes. Whole-wheat products and some types of potatoes have glycemic indexes in the middle.

So let's break that down.  Starchy foods are NOT bad.  Complex carbohydrates are food for you.  They are an essential part of  your diet and provide needed energy.  HOWEVER, refined starches will raise your glucose level.  Your glucose is the sugar in your blood.  When you have TOO MUCH SUGAR in your blood, your body secretes a chemical called insulin to counter the sugar.  Having too much sugar in your diet CAN cause a number of life altering, and threatening health problems.  The blood cells in your body are made up a complex system.  When you have fed your body sugar, the body naturally releases insulin.  The insulin then takes the sugar in your blood and feeds it to your cells. One of the most vital parts of your cells is called the "mitochondria". There is a large number of mitochondria found in your cells.  The mitochondria is responsible for converting sugar to energy. 

Here's the problem: When there is too much sugar, the body stops NEEDING to be fed, and that is when the body starts to STORE the sugar for use later. The way our body stores our excess "energy" is in this fabulous thing called FAT!!

Fat is NOT bad, it's helpful.  But, here's the thing about fat ... even too much of a good thing can be bad. 

Here's where the math comes into play.  Say an adult consumes 1800 calories a day and burns 1000. 800 calories were STORED.  Say an adult consumes 1800 calories and burns 2500 through exercise.  They're 700 calories short on what their body needs so one of two things will happen:  1) The body will go to the stores and say, oh we're good, we've got some to spare and uses stored energy.  2) The body starves and we find ourselves sluggish and tired because we haven't fed it enough to run. 

Here's what I always did: I wouldn't eat.  I'd eat (and note I said "eat") about 700 - 1000 calories a day.  I'd drink a thousand or so more.  My drink, Dr. Pepper, is a simple sugar so it would go IMMEDIATELY into my blood stream and raise up my glucose, my body would release insulin, my cells would get fed and report back as full and the rest off to the fat factory that is securely located anywhere between my rib cage and my knees.  So with ONE drink, ONE 44oz Dr. Pepper, I'd provide my body with enough sugar to convert to the amount of energy I would need to counter whatever energy I'd need through whatever exercise I'd do throughout the day.  Anything I ate or drank BEYOND that ONE consumption was EXTRA and got stored!! 

Note: I only ever ATE 700 - 1000 calories.  I do not eat.  I do not like food.  Food is a necessary evil in my life.  Well, with some exceptions, there is some food I'd eat until I threw up.  But in general, I could completely do without eating.  So, a lot of the time, I DID. 

When I wasn't eating, and was only consuming a Dr. Pepper I would provide my body with just enough energy to run, but nothing more.  So when I would exercise, or go for a walk, or go on a long shopping trip that involved a lot of walking, made love to my husband, or anything that burned calories beyond those I would typically burn just by the process of breathing and being alive my body would panic because I hadn't fed it.  Of course I had plenty on reserve and that's fantastic.  However, the next time I ate the body said "OH! Energy, we better hang on to a lot of this because we're not sure when the next time is we're going to get fed!" and it would store, store, store.  That is why refined sugars are considered "empty calories" they run the number up but not for anything.

If you want to consume 2500 calories, or 3000 calories a day, that's fine, as long as you plan on USING THEM at the same time.  Otherwise, your body is going to store them. 

"Skinny" women, and by skinny I am NOT referring to the runway models who's elbows jut out of their skin and their collar bones look like outside accessories, DO HAVE FAT!! Every body has fat stores, they're necessary and healthy.  The vast difference between these HEALTHY men and women (I do not like the word skinny) is that they are consuming what their body needs and nothing more.  If they work out for 2 hours a day and burn that many calories, they put that much back into their body in protein shakes, fruits veggies, small snacks of nuts.  Sometimes, you'll even find one of these healthy people who indulges on CHOCOLATE, cake, ice cream, SODA!!! *GASP*  How is that possible?!  How could they possibly enjoy life and eat cake?!!  It's because they are burning equal to what they are eating. 

Chocolate cake is not our enemy; laziness is. 

So what have we learned?  1+1=2-1=1.  If you make those numbers larger:
700 calories in healthy proteins, starches, fruits veggies
+800 calories in Soda, cake, sugar, white bread, pasta
1500 calories consumed today
-500 calories burned because I breathe and nothing more.
1000 EXTRA calories to store for later in my fat bank. 

This is why MATH is important for our health (and it's the ONLY reason).

So in summary: Carbs are good, but only CERTAIN types of carbs are good.  If you're going to consume carbohydrates, your best bet is to stick with healthy carbs, the COMPLEX carbs.  Try to stay away from the simple carbs, refined sugars, pastas, etc... that raise up your number but give you nothing in return.  Simple carbohydrates do not require the body to work on it, they do not require the body to do anything to process them.