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Part-time Foodie: Are All Carbs Sugar?



Perhaps you’re one of those magnificent beings who actually knows what carbohydrates consist of, and how and when to eat them. I am not. I’m sitting with one tab open to write and one tab open to google things. I know the basics, but not the deeper facts. Same song, second verse. If it sounds hypocritical that I’m just googling this now, bear with me. I’ve known for a long time that bread and pasta are major offenders,* and so I’ve stayed away from them for ages (minus the occasional necessary bowl of Mac’n’Cheese. Ya feel?)

To be fair, one of the most understandable books I’ve read about healthy eating/living is Paleo Girl by Leslie Klenke, and she talks a lot about what we should eat, and letting anything else gradually fade from our diets. (However, please see the books I recommend for this post if you want further information. I suggest reading them together for a more balanced view of sugars.)


Carbohydrates consist of sugar molecules. In one sense, they are all sugar. However, carbs also break down into three categories: fiber, starch, and sugar.* So… not all carbs are sugar? Both are true. For our purposes, let’s say that all carbs are processed in our bodies like sugar molecules, but unnatural sugars are processed slightly differently, and are therefore less healthy.

Eve Schaub explains this better than anyone else I know. The molecular structure of sugar is half fructose and half glucose. Glucose is good for you - healthy sugar. Fuel. Fructose is bad for you (in large quantities.) It is not used by the body, but does contribute to raised blood sugar, sometimes diabetes, and a host of other heart conditions.*

I don’t have time or space here to break down all the places where you’ll find sugar (good and bad), but I can give you a general guideline.

Good sugar: comes in natural foods. Fruits, some veggies, some grains.*

Bad sugar: anything that’s added. Watch labels for cane sugar, maltodextrin, any type of sugar that’s not naturally in the food.

I also want to reiterate one more point I’ve made before. I’ve mostly talked about how bad sugars are. Ok, but that doesn’t mean there’s no healthy way to eat them! One of the important things to remember is that if and when you do eat a meal focused around sugar and protein, try to avoid fats. Eating two sources of fuel will mean that one gets used and one gets stored - not our goal!

Finally - the recipes!

My favorite carb meals? Oh, easy.

Mac’n’Cheese:

I get organic boxes, or make it at home. (Try to find a box that doesn’t have sugar listed as one of the ingredients.) To add protein, add some chicken on the side!

1 chicken breast

Olive oil

Seasonings as desired (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic, sage)

Defrost your chicken breast in hot water, or a microwave. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a pan, rub the chicken on both sides with whatever seasonings you prefer. Place the chicken in the pan, cover, and saute until cooked! To change it up a bit, you can shred or cube the chicken for a new texture. 

Smoothies: 

1 cup liquid base (milk, almond milk, water)

1 serving protein powder

1 handful-ish greens

1 cup frozen fruit

Begin with the liquid, add in the protein and greens, and put the fruit in last so that the greens and powder get well blended.

Change the flavor! Skip the greens, add some cocoa powder, use a frozen banana as your fruit, and you have a chocolate fruit shake! Use sweeter ingredients such as bananas and spinach, or make it a bit tangy with berries and kale! Options are endless.


And finally - next week I’ll be taking a break from food lessons to share some food experience, along with a surprise! Stay tuned, and happy eating.


Book list: Year of No Sugar, Eve Schaub; Paleo Girl, Leslie Klenke; Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.

*Grains research: Your Paleo Code by Chris Kresser. Grains are good for you but the phytates in cereal grains stop your body from actually absorbing the good things - so you’re mostly getting the sugars.

*Carbohydrate content: http://www.mynetdiary.com/carbs-in-weight-loss.html

*Eve Schaub, Year of No Sugar


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