Carbohydrates are touted as an essential part of our daily nutrition. While they do give us energy we will reexamine the sources and types of carbohydrates that our body needs especially when compromised with an inflammatory bowel disease or other types of digestive diseases.
Carbs are a very misunderstood and tricky area. Most people have one classification when, in reality, there are really three different types - complex, simple, and processed.
Overall, eat vegetables as your carbohydrate choice and limit grains (even whole grains can cause trouble). When you do eat whole grains, only have them in moderation, and only at dinner.
If you start the day with carbohydrates, you are most likely to crave them throughout the day, and then you will eat more and it is downhill from there. Absolutely stay away from white breads, most cereals, muffins, cookies, candies, crackers, pastas, white rice, and most baked goods.
There is another dark side to processed carbohydrates that is not talked about much - the connection to weight gain, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, heart disease, digestive diseases, and cancer.
The following is the cycle of how excess carbohydrate consumption effects health, weight, and energy:
carbohydrate consumption > increased blood sugar > increased insulin secretion > increased body fat storage > low blood sugar > low energy and mood swings > carbohydrate cravings > more carbohydrate consumption and the cycle starts over.
What vegetables should I eat to get good carbs? Glad you asked here is a list of some.
High Carb Vegetables (12-21% carbs)
Cekleriac, Chickpeas, Cooked Corn, Sprouted Grains, Horesradish, Jerus Artichokes, Kidney Beans, Lima Beans, Lentils, Parsnips, Peas, Popcorn, Potatoes, Sprouted Seeds, Sunflower Seeds.
Mid Carb Vegetables (7-9% carbs)
Acorn Squash, Artichokes, Avocado, Beets, Brussel Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Carrots, Jicama, Leeks, Onion, Pumpkin, Rutabagas, Turnips, Winter Squashes.
Low Carb Vegetables (6% or less carbs)
Bell Peppers, Bok Choy Stems, Chives, Eggplant, Green Beans, Green Onions, Okra, Olives, Pickles, Pimento, Rhubarb, Sweet Potatoes, Tomatoes, Water Chestnuts.
Lowest Carb Vegetables (3% or less carbs)
Asparagus, Bamboo Shoots, Bean Sprouts, Beet Greens, Bok Choy Greens, Croccoli, Cabbages, Cauliflower, Celery, Chards, Chicory, Collard Greens, Cucumber, Endive, Escarole, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuces, Mushrooms, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Radishes, Raw Cob Corn, Salad Greens, Sauerkraut, Spinach, String Beans, Summer Squashes, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Yellow Squash, Zuchini Squash.
And if you aren't familiar with some of these veggies, Google/Bing them, and find new ways to eat and prepare them. Once again (aff) Nourishing Traditions is a great helper in creatively eating healthy foods.
Back to the bad stuff...
Wheats and Grains
Let's talk specifically about our old friend, grains. As I said above try to limit grains as part of your daily nutrition. But why? Continue on...
There has been a tremendous amount of debate regarding grains. Whole unprocessed grains can be rich sources of vitamins and minerals, with soil depletion and special strains of grains that modern agriculture has developed its quite likely there are quite limited nutrients remaining.
The predominantly used grains in this country are genetically engineered and have five times the gluten content and only 1/3 of the protein content of the original wheat from which they come from. This high gluten content is likely to blame for many people's allergic reactions and intolerance.
When scholars have studied disease patterns and decline of various civilizations, many of the degenerative diseases developed when cultivation of grains became a major part of their diets. Chemicals naturally found in certain grains, lack of the appropriate enzymes to digest, and the carbohydrate content of grains make them a source of trouble for many people (including me).
And to top it off we don't prepare our grains correctly either. Cereal is almost always processed at high temperatures killing many of the nutrients and making them difficult to digest. In addition, bread is best when prepared through sourdough or sprouted means (more to come on these later). These processes begin to pre-digest for us along with increasing nutritional levels.
My Current Plan For Carbohydrates
I am currently limiting grains severely and getting the energy needed from other sources such as sweet potatoes, yams, potatoes, walnuts, pecans, and other vegetables. Although I eat unprocessed rye, soaked rolled oats, and brown rice on occasion to give me variety even those are quite limited.
The result for me has been less gas, better digestion, and I have to say: more energy. I would encourage you to at least try it for 2 weeks and see if you don't feel the same. Limiting grains may not cure any disease but it will certainly put less pressure on the gut for that healing to occur.
Previous to being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease my entire life I went reaching for grains if I was hungry without a thought for most vegetables of any kind. I would suspect that is true for most people. I found a new level of health when I reversed the order and I think that you will too.
The information in these basics of eating posts come from many resources, knowledgeable individuals, and much experience. Much of the principles in these posts are based upon the findings of the Weston A. Price Foundation and application of it in my life. A simple resource to learn about the is (aff) Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. If applied correctly and consistently these principles will work incredibly well for you no matter the type of digestive disease faced.
Photo by: jronaldlee