Welcome to Week 4 of the Eat the Rainbow Fruit and Veggie Challenge!
Today’s topic is carbs! The group also asked if we would round up some of the recipes shared on the Eat the Rainbow Facebook Group Page. You can find those at the bottom of this week’s info!
A friendly reminder that while this particular challenge is all about fruit and veggie intake, a nutritious meal will include more than fruits and veggies! As a reminder, here is the “plate” that I often use with clients to explain the ratio of food you are aiming for in your meals.
For more about what to include on your plate, you can view my webinar from July – Plant Based Diets for Cancer Survivors webinar. It’s info that good for everyone!
This week’s topic is carbs!
“Carbs” aka carbohydrates are a type of macronutrient along with fats and protein. Consumption of all three macronutrients (carbs, fats, and protein) is essential to maintaining good health.
However, carbohydrates are often demonized in the media, and low-carb diets (like the Atkins or Keto diets) often become trendy fads for weight loss.
Contrary to popular belief, carbs are not bad for you! Say it with me – CARBS ARE NOT BAD FOR YOU!
Cutting out carbs from your diet is often used as a quick fix for weight loss, but this strategy is not maintainable in the long run. Why? Because our bodies need carbohydrates to function and survive. In fact, carbohydrates are the main source of energy for the human body.
What are carbs?
Carbohydrates are large molecules made up of smaller units of monosaccharides, or “simple sugars”. In fact, all carbs get broken down during digestion into the simple sugars glucose, fructose, and galactose. These simple sugars are then used by our cells to make energy through a biochemical process called glycolysis.
Why are carbs good for you?
- Energy: Carbs are our body’s preferred energy source. Our brain, muscles, and other cells and organs all use monosaccharides (aka carbs) to function. Carbs give us energy! This is why low-carb diets often make you feel tired and irritable.
- Muscle mass: Carbs are the primary fuel that your muscles need to do the work that lets them grow bigger. Without carbs, your muscles may actually start to break down during exercise because your body will start to use protein from muscle for energy instead. This is why it is beneficial to eat a high-carbohydrate meal before a workout or other type of physical activity.
- Metabolism: Whole-food sources of carbs (like fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, etc.) are also rich in fiber. The fiber digests slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer. There is also a form of carb called “resistant starch” that may boost metabolism.
- Brain Function: Carbs are brain fuel! The brain alone uses about 120 grams of glucose per day. Because they are such an important source of energy for your brain, cutting carbs out of your diet could lead to impaired memory and brain function.
Food sources of carbs
Believe it or not – most healthy foods are also sources of carbohydrates! Fruits and many vegetables are mainly made up of carbohydrates as are with whole grains, beans, and legumes.
Focus on getting your carbs from whole food sources rather than from processed and refined sources (“white” bread, baked desserts, candy, soda, etc.). Carbohydrates from whole foods come along with beneficial vitamins and minerals whereas processed sources usually have little nutritional value.
For those with blood sugar problems, prediabetes, or diabetes, it is important to balance the right amount of carbs at meals. If you’re in this group, ask your doctor for a referral to a Certified Diabetes Educator who can assist with this. Also, your insurance should pay for Diabetes Self Management classes, just call them and ask where you can go!
Week 4 Challenge: Learn more about carbs!
Check out the first episode of the Cancer Dietitian podcast – in this episode Julie dives deeper into the topics of simple sugars, complex carbohydrates, why you should eat carbs, and more. She also debunks the myth that “sugar feeds cancer”. Give it a listen and share one new or interesting thing you learned on our Facebook page!
Produce Highlight of the Week: Bananas
Bananas are the perfect example of a high-carbohydrate food with amazing health benefits! They are excellent sources of potassium, making them a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. Bananas also contain resistant starch, which maintains good gut health and improves digestion.
Someone asked me last week (SORRY whomever it was, because I think I forgot to respond to the email!!) – Are bananas considered yellow or white? I say it’s white because the part you eat is white!
How to Use
Eat fresh: alone or sliced on top of oatmeal, yogurt, granola, etc. Also great frozen for smoothies and desserts. Bananas can also be used as an egg replacement in many vegan baking recipes!
Recipe of the Week!Print
Chocolate Banana Smoothie
- Yield: Serves 1-2 1x
- 1 frozen banana
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 cup spinach (fresh or frozen)
- Add all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth
-Julie & The Interns
Recipes Shared by Other Participants on the Eat the Rainbow Facebook Group Page:
- Basic baked brussels sprouts recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/67952/roasted-brussels-sprouts/
- Mediterranean Bean Salad: https://www.acedarspoon.com/mediterranean-bean-salad/
- Recipes from the University of Maine Extension office: https://extension.umaine.edu/food-health/efnep/recipe-video-series/
- Raw Broccoli Salad! https://cancerdietitian.com/2016/09/raw-broccoli-salad-recipe-chef-malena-douthit.html