Many diets like Atkins and South Beach say that we should eliminate carbs or eat them very sparingly to lose those excess or vanity pounds. I've done that — and it's worked. Before my wedding, before vacations to the beach, and even after having children, I've done my best to cut out carbs. And finally, in my mid-30s, I've decided: it's just not for me. I'm not going to cut carbs out of my diet again. It's just not worth it.
Yes, every time I've gone carb-less, I have lost weight — and fast. But I did have to sacrifice. By eating a lot of protein, vegetables, and dairy, my body began to feel shaky. Even in the morning after eating a healthy egg breakfast, my fingers shook without those carbohydrates fueling me. I'd have a healthy snack later — maybe some string cheese or a handful of almonds. But by lunch, my body felt lethargic. I found myself needing a nap by 2 p.m. And if I didn't get that midday snooze, then forget my evening workout. Exercise was a much more important part of my health, too.
So, I quit quitting the carbs.
And many dietitians and nutritionists agree that our bodies need them. Emily Kuberski, a clinical dietitian, says, "Healthy carbohydrates are fine — they can be good for you even. It's all about moderation and making sure that you're eating healthy grains. These grains give your body fiber and proper fuel to conquer your day."
Today, no I don't eat pizza every day (wouldn't that be nice, though?), but I do eat carbohydrates. I do my best to make sure that they come from whole grains, too, like Kuberski recommends. So, I'll eat a whole-wheat wrap full of plenty of veggies, one slice of whole-grain toast with my eggs, and whole-grain rice with my salmon. My body feels so much better. My body is fueled, and as a runner, I need that. I'd never be able to run farther than one mile without those nourishing carbs. And even better, I no longer need that midday nap and it's rare I skip a workout.
Yes, the number on the scale is a few pounds higher — I'm not going to lie. But it's just not that important to me anymore. So what if my jeans fit a little tighter? So what if my mom pooch sticks around for eternity? My kids won't miss their mother being a couple of pounds lighter. And I know they wouldn't appreciate having a mother who didn't have the energy to teach them how to properly kick the soccer ball with the inside of their feet or to race them on our homemade obstacle course. No way. I want to have the proper fuel in me to keep up with my kids — no, to beat my kids — for as long as I can. So I'm going to continue to eat those carbs, even if that stupid number on the scale is a little higher than without them.