One of the most interesting things about watching the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge craze overtake the Minneapolis area is to observe people’s relationship with food – particularly with carbs (side note – if you haven’t checked out my eBook yet, please register to the right, download it and flip to Chapter 3, which talks more in depthly about relationships with food).
It surprises me that many high-functioning people AND athletes:
- a) do not take in enough carbs
- b) take in the wrong types of carbs
- c) eat carbs at the wrong times
- d) are uneducated and uninformed on what carbs actually do in the first place.
Based on what I’ve seen, I got the crazy idea to compose a letter (much like one would compose a letter to a boyfriend or girlfriend in a dysfunctional relationship) outlining why carbs are important. There will certainly be more to come on this topic in the future, but for now enjoy this brief post of literary creativity…
I need you back in my life. Where have you gone? How did our relationship ever get so bad?
I blamed you when I gained weight…but it’s not your fault. You’re only 4 calories per gram. I don’t know why I thought your friend, fat, at 9 calories per gram was a better alternative. What ever made me think that bacon and sausage patties would be a better alternative than whole grain oatmeal and sweet potatoes? I should have known better.
I also blamed you for making me feel like crap…but I’m not seeing you for who you really are. I’m only remembering the times I binged on sugar, which taxed my pancreas, put me at risk for heart disease, caused my insulin levels to spike and plummet, and put me in a glycemic tizzy.
I want to apologize for continually choosing protein over you. Yes, protein is great because it helps my muscles repair and rebuild but it doesn’t pick me up and give me the energy that you do. And no matter how many eggs and cans of albacore tuna I eat, I still feel unsatisfied. Then at some point I binge on sugar and blame you for a situation that was entirely unnecessary if I just wouldn’t have avoided you like the plague in the first place. It’s a vicious cycle I know all too well.
Carbs, I know we’re capable of great things. I’ve opened my eyes to the whole grain, high fiber and gluten free goodness that is you. You will keep me mentally sharp, keep my insulin levels stable, and keep my energy consistent. I thought depriving myself of you would make me feel better, when in fact, it causes me to be a lethargic mess. I can’t work, I can’t exercise and I can’t train because I feel lightheaded when I stand up and I live in a half-dizzy state of fog from low blood sugar levels.
The fact is, I need you. I’m an athlete who enjoys competing and I need you to fuel my performance. I know that you’re responsible for almost ALL of my energy during exercise and I cannot perform to my fullest potential without you. Even when I compete in events longer than 2 hours, you’re still responsible for 90% of my energy. How can I live without you?
Now, I know that we have disagreements and not everything about you is good. Sometimes you’re filled with sugar, artificial ingredients and you fool me with “whole wheat” as the first ingredient on your label (when I really should be looking for “whole grain”). I know that you can be packaged in a pretty, seemingly-healthy box and be nothing more than processed crap loaded with white flour and high fructose corn syrup. But I’m mature enough to understand the difference now. I see you differently.
Going forward, Carbs, I promise you this:
I will include you in every meal. And although fruits are good because they’re an all-natural source of sugar, they’re a bit too simple to have exclusively. I need to harness your complexity and slower digestion rate. I’m going to look to you for sweet potatoes, wild rice, quinoa, couscous, barley, oatmeal and steel cut oats. I will have you in a portion the size of my clenched fist, and I know that this will allow me to meet my dietary fiber requirements, feel fuller and be less tempted to binge on your sugar-filled counterpart…especially in the evening when you’ve often gotten the best of me.
By making this promise I KNOW that I will look better, feel better and perform better.
Please Carbs, give me one more chance.