By Monica Wilcox
Excuse me, are you going to eat your dinner roll?
This was the running topic of dinner conversation during my college years. Not, “Have you studied up on Pavlov’s theory?” or “How wild was that frat party last night?” or “Are you seriously dating that hot cowboy?” My top concern was how many rolls I could mooch off my table mates in a 20-minute sitting. Fortunately for my cravings (unfortunately for my blood sugar) I lived in a sorority with 90 women; that’s A LOT of rolls. A good night’s take for me was around seven rolls.
Hello, my name is Monica and I’m a carboholic! Hot-buttered-bakery-fresh-donut-diva-there’s-not-a-bread-I-don’t-love CARBOHOLIC. Like, could someone please ban me to a life of bread and water!!!
When my weight starts to climb and my jeans start to feel like sausage skin, I know exactly where the blame lies. There were times in my life where 80% of my calories were carbohydrates: toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, and tortellini with garlic bread for dinner. Oh the Glory!
It Takes a Carby to Know a Carby
Yeah, I know a thing or two about the life of a carboholic. And I can spot another carby from the end of my baguette.
- Carbies choose restaurants based on the quality of their bread basket or tortilla chips; we eat the main dish to clear our palate. Olive Garden anyone!!
- Carbies consider a spiritual pilgrimage to be an Italian pizzeria tour.
- Carbies don’t mind sleeping in the Krispy Kreme drive-thru as they wait for the staff to arrive.
- Carbies have no problem ordering a baguette as a side to their sandwich.
- Carbies quietly hoard the bread basket; praying no one will eat the last warm cornbread muffin as they stuff down a sourdough roll. Pass the honey please!
- Carbies are secretly tipping the maitre d’ to stash an extra bread basket in their to-go-box.
- Carbies know the exact time the local bakery pulls the fresh loaves from their ovens (those would be the people standing at the glass counter at 5 am; cow pajamas, moose slippers and all).
- Carbies would never insult the Italian population by consuming pasta or pizza without cheesy bread.
- Carbies strive to complete the world Subway tour, visiting all 35,307 stores.
- Carbies have a “stash” hidden from their housemates.
Oh, How Convenient It Is
Our society’s move away from fats toward carbohydrates was NOT a positive step to my overall health. It’s shocking how easy it is to get my carb fix on. Look around a mall and tell me how many raw vegetable places you see. How many lean protein fast food joints do you frequent? And, when I do make an effort to keep simple sugars out of our home, my kids are more than happy to pick up the slack. Walnuts are not a Halloween staple. Birthday parties are never held at Souper! Salads! Kids aren’t selling tubs of flavored squash for their soccer team fundraiser. Go ahead, just try to eliminate carbs from your diet and you’ll quickly learn how intrinsic they’ve become.
The truth is the more carbs I eat, the more I want. The truth is that they make me feel like a rock star. . . for about 30 minutes. Then the crash comes and I’m craving Ruffles on rye. The truth is my body thrives on a diet of veggies and protein.
And the research continues to show how damaging sugar is to our bodies. It ages us, lowers our immune system, feeds cancer and puts us on the fast track to diabetes. My OB was just educating me this week about my lifelong high cholesterol (yeah, that’s me). Come to find out it isn’t the eggs that are triggering it but…you got it, simple sugars. Like, maybe seven bread rolls at dinner? So that’s why my cholesterol numbers improve when I choose an omelet over a scone.
Breaking the Addiction
It’s not easy (addictions never are) but here are a few tips I’ve learned in my continuing recovery:
- Go Cold Turkey – If you want to discover how dependent you are on carbohydrates, try removing ALL of them from your diet for two weeks. I find the first three days are the hardest. No matter how much I eat during those two weeks, I end up feeling hungry – that’s my body wanting a quick energy fix. This should be long enough to break your carb dependency. After that you can begin to return to healthy carbs: fruit, whole wheat breads and pasta but remember to keep it in balance.
- Plan Ahead – Cinnamon rolls are convenient, veggie baskets are not. So plan and buy your meals and snacks at the beginning of each week. Have plenty of options to take with you on the go: cheese sticks, nuts, blueberries, snap peas, small tomatoes.
- Choose Wisely – Know where you are getting carbohydrates in your diet. Even vitamins can have carbs in them. If you just have to have something sweet, choose one that also includes healthy calories. One of my favorites is dark chocolate covered blueberries. A handful and I’m good to go.
Are you a carboholic? Is it affecting your health and mood? How do you keep your diet in balance? What’s your favorite, easy, “non-carb” snack?