Why you should limit processed carbs

My weight loss journey began undoubtedly shortly after the birth of my second child. I was 38 years of age and for the first time found myself struggling to lose the weight I had put on. I did not have any trouble losing weight after my first child at the age of 36, but in a few short years, my body was starting to change; little did I know it was the start of more changes to follow!

At the time, I considered myself to be eating well and was reasonably active. Being a mum to two young boys as well as running a business did not leave much time for exercise. Meals had to be prepared fast so for me that meant a lot of processed breakfast cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta dishes in the evening.

I was getting in my recommend 6-11 servings of bread, rice and pasta with a smattering of fruit and vegetables (sandwich fillings, pasta sauces). I was following the guidelines but knew that something was wrong.

I was tired, irritable and short tempered. No matter how much sleep I had I wanted more. I was getting bigger and bigger and was denying myself any “treats” due to my ever expanding waistline.

And then I read something that changed my life forever. As we age, our tolerance for processed carbohydrates decreases. This is due to a decrease in insulin resistance leading to an impaired carbohydrate tolerance.

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Insulin sensitivity is your body’s ability to use carbs for fuel, instead of storing them as fat. So reduced insulin sensitivity means that you’re more likely to gain weight, especially in areas you never had a problem with when you were younger, aka belly fat.

One of the easiest ways to manage decreased insulin sensitivity and avoid the weight gain that comes with it is to re-evaluate your carb tolerance and adjust your meals accordingly.

  1. Not all carbs are equal

Choosing other sources of carbohydrates such as fresh fruit and vegetable assists in maintaining a healthy colon. Constipation is a common complaint as women age and the fibre content found in green leafy vegetables helps to keep constipation at bay.

  1. Fight fatigue
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Processed carbs tend to cause a spike in your blood glucose levels, which will eventually crash; leaving you feeling fatigued, tired and drained.

  1. Eat less “quick” carbs and more time on food quality.

As we grow older, our body requires fewer calories to sustain it. I now find myself eating less as I sit down to eat, thus leaving some of the meal to be used the following day. This saves time and allows for a lunch on the go the following day.

  1. Decrease stomach bloating

Highly processed, carbohydrate foods are usually packed with artificial sweeteners, which are linked to promoting bloating and stomach discomfort when eaten in excess.

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Eating more green vegetables will aid in decreasing bloating. Be prepared though if you previously followed a diet low in fibre and then significantly increase your fibre intake, you may initially experience some bloating. Once your body adjusts, however, you should experience less bloating and abdominal discomfort.

Processed carbs often contain high sources of sodium, which causes water retention, and bloating, however, potassium counterbalances sodium and has a diuretic effect. So by eating foods high in potassium such as oranges, bananas, papayas, kiwis, strawberries, spinach, rocket, and cooked beets—you can reduce bloating naturally.

You may say that you are limiting your carbs but let’s see how you fair on the “Carb Scale”?

If your breakfast involves a form of cereal (processed carbs tick), sandwich or focaccia for lunch (processed carb tick) and pasta or risotto for dinner (yes, give yourself another carb tick).

Being mindful of what you are eating and making some small changes each day will certainly help in the battle of the bulge.

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Swap your usual meals as follow: Scrambled egg on rocket, soup or salad for lunch or in the evening poached salmon with spinach and broccolini.


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