Nothing comes for FREE – Let’s talk Carbs.

I mentioned that when I was first diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I went shopping for SUGAR FREE foods… before my initial meeting.

Just because something is labeled “sugar-free” doesn’t suddenly mean it equates into healthy…often times, it’s quite the opposite!

Now, when I see sugar “free” (or any food with the term FREE after it for that matter)…. I question, “ok… what ELSE has been added to this food to make it sugar-free…?”  It usually means extra carbs, and sodium to name a few… and all in all, it’s often WORSE for you than a regular food!  What you need to be paying attention to on a label, are the calories, carbohydrates, fats and sugars.

carbohydrates turn into what?

Sugar.

Sugar not being processed in your body turns into what?

FAT.

Check labels to uncover all of the hidden sugars and carbs in so many foods you eat every day. You'll feel more in control of what you're putting into your body each day!

So… are we clear?  Sugar-free is NOT carb free … and it most certainly is NOT magically better for you.

A carb choice = 15 grams of carb.  If there is fiber in the food, than that subtracts carbs and gives you a lower net score for that carb total.

Eg. The granola bars I like to eat have 19 grams of carbs and 3 grams of fiber.

19 – 3 = 16 grams of net carbs…. or close enough to one carb choice.  My snacks were to be 2 carb choices.  That made it easy to have two small things – like a serving a fruit, and a cup of milk, or a serving of crackers.  While the diabetic diet isn’t something everyone “has to follow” – it was a definite help in guiding me towards boosting my metabolism and keeping my sugar levels at a stable rate throughout the day… two things that are super important to any one wanting to take good care of their body.

I’ve always eaten 100% whole wheat bread and enjoyed it.  (Okay, maybe when I was little, I longed for the yummy white cottage bread my neighbor girl had.  Now I realize it tasted like CAKE, because it was a lot like cake in the nutrition department!)

At any rate….I grew up with whole wheat bread.  I’ve enjoyed cooking and eating whole wheat pastas too… (the others white pasta options just seem like GOO to me – and they are like paste in your system!)  But I do realize this can be confusing if you’re not used to reading labels and searching for 100% whole wheat as that first ingredient in your breads and pastas.  Many products SAY “whole grain….” or “wheat”…. but they’re NOT 100% whole wheat… and they might as well just be white bread, because they contain no fiber and empty calories!  So read those labels and get a handle on what you’re putting in!

I heard the saying of “the more white bread, the quicker you’re dead.”  That makes me giggle a little, but it’s TRUE.  White bread isn’t good for you.  Skip it at all costs.

For me, the major learning curve came with S P R E A D I N G out my carbs throughout the day.  I mentioned I liked to skip meals and carb load… My body didn’t know what to expect when.  It went from SO many sugars to process… to nothing, and having to make extra insulin.   My body just couldn’t perform like that any longer.

Skipping meals, and “saving up” calories for huge meals doesn’t work – because your body still only needs so many calories at any given time.  What it doesn’t use – it stores as FAT for energy later. If you never call on that energy – it SITS there.

And sits there.

If you think of your body having a gas tank, consider that you only fill it up – for what it will burn…  and going over that, is only going to turn into stored energy (FAT!)  If you have a BIG meal… maybe wait an hour or two before having that treat or dessert.  Personally, I can’t even enjoy it when I’m stuffed.

The diabetic rules encouraged smaller amounts of carbs – throughout the day.  My “diet” looked something like this:

Breakfast – 2 carb choices (30 net grams of total carbs)

Snack – 2 carb choices (30 net grams of total carbs)

Lunch –3-4 carb choices  (45-60 net grams of total carbs)

Snack – 2 carb choices  (30 net grams of total carbs)

Dinner – 3 carb choices  (45 net grams of total carbs, smaller than lunch)

This helped me to me to learn how to ration by carbs through the day – and speed up my metabolism without over loading my body at any one time.  It wasn’t the most fun transition from “no rules” – but it was definitely worth it to help to realize how MUCH LESS my body needs (carb-wise) throughout the day.

I thought back to the restaurant food I had eaten over the years, and truly wondered just how many poor carb choices I had made…to get me to this point.  The overage of pizza, the breads… the desserts.  UGH.  I think I felt sick.  I could TOTALLY still eat these things, I just needed to get educated on which ones were the best choices, and realize my limit.

The only true “FREE” thing is God’s grace… and I’m thankful for that.

Thank you God for your forgiveness, even in my ignorance.  Help us to make better choices with our bodies, souls and spirits for your glory!

“When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ ” – Luke 5:20

Posted on June 25, 2011, in Diet, Metabolism. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks for posting Sara! I love your encouragement and support in helping me and others to make better choices in our daily food intake!

  2. Thank you Steph! Iron sharpens iron! 🙂

  3. Awesome post! Such a great reminder, so many people jump on the sugar-free or carb-free train & it just isn’t a good thing!

  4. Totally spot-on about the added junk in ‘free’ foods. Even light/lite foods have this dilemma too – for instance, peanut butter. reduced fat PB tends to have increased sodium and sugar to boot (b/c often times they use corn syrup solids to replace the consistency of the oils they’ve removed). Light and FF salad dressings are the same too.

    I completely agree that that people have to be more conscientious about reading labels, and one sure-fire way to reduce the strain this can create on the brain is to limit foods that come out of a box/can as much as possible and eat whole, unprocessed foods as often as possible. Think ww pasta al fresco (with fresh tomatoes, basil, etc) instead of ww pasta with spaghetti sauce. Or brown rice that YOU season with juices from the chicken you cooked for dinner, and salt-free spices/herbs vs. Rice a Roni. This way, you control the sodium, sugar, and preservatives (none!). Often people think this takes SO much more time, but I’m here to say that it doesn’t have to. Quinoa, a great whole grain rice or pasta alternative (and it has protein in addition to the fiber!), only takes as long as minute rice to cook, and it doesn’t take very long to throw some olive oil, garlic and herbs into it to make a nice pilaf side for some lean meat and salad.

    Great post, Sara!

  5. Great points Heather – I’ve struggled with preservatives in my youth and sauces for that matter – so that was easy to eliminate back then… I’m not a salad dressing person either – but all of those things can tack on a lot of calories quickly. I always order “on the side” when in doubt! 🙂

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