Maybe you took a look at my Naturally Vegan Foods Cheat Sheet and thought, "Hey, there's a lot of carbs here. I'm not supposed to eat rice, potatoes, beans, fruit, bread or pasta because of my high blood sugar," or, "All these carbs are going to make me gain weight."
All carbs are not created equal
Many of the carbs on my list are largely "unrefined carbohydrates" or those that most resemble a whole food, how it grows in nature, like the foods in the chart below from the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. Think: whole grains (like oats), fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and seeds.
These whole food, unrefined carbohydrates offer all of the fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and essential fatty acids your body needs while providing no cholesterol, explains Brenda Davis, R.D., in her book, "Becoming Vegan." She says they take up more room on your plate and in your stomach, too.
Why your doctor told you to limit your carbs
Now, to the point of why you may have been told to reduce or count carbs: Most people eat a lot of highly processed carbs (junk food, fast food and lots of bread, pasta and sweets made with highly refined white flour) along with butter, cheese, eggs, milk and meat at every meal with very little whole foods such as grains, beans, fruit and vegetables. So, doctors, and even the American Diabetic Association, make the mistaken blanket statement to limit or count all carbs, which is simply the source of the glucose that your cells need for energy. Because the animal protein is ingrained in our eating habits and is the main source of calories and fat - and the only source of cholesterol - in most people's diets, you can struggle to lose that extra weight even when counting and limiting carbs.
How fat and cholesterol actually cause the high blood sugar levels
When it comes to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, research has found it's that build up of fat around your middle (whether you are slim or overweight) which is actually causing your cells to ignore the insulin released by your pancreas so cells can't use up the glucose you eat for energy. This leads directly to your high blood sugar levels and other symptoms. That's why they generally say you can measure your diabetes risk by the size of your waist: Over 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women signifies a very high risk of diabetes, all by itself.
What doctors want is for you to lose weight and lower your cholesterol which both lead to better glucose control. By simply exercising and changing your diet, which research found works even faster and better than any medication they can prescribe, you can get your blood sugar levels under control quicker than you think. And, your doctor is right about avoiding highly processed (refined) carbohydrates, and that goes for overweight vegans, too. Junk food, fast food, oils, store-bought baked goods and sweets and bread and pasta made with highly refined white flour all have nearly zero nutritional value and a lot of calories and fat.
Eat lots of whole food carbs
The beauty of a whole food vegan diet is
once you cut out the animal products
- along with all their fat, cholesterol and calories - healthy whole food carbs and even your favorite starchy or sweet carbohydrates like corn, pasta, fruit, bread, potatoes, beans and oats
are fair game in your diet again.
Pair these great carbs at every meal with as many of the non-starchy vegetables and greens you like such as lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli and cauliflower because that is the real energy source your body is screaming for.
Keep it simple: When you are struggling with your weight or a condition like diabetes, simply stick to more whole food carbs and kick the animal protein for good.
Research shows whole food, plant-based diets result in effortless weight loss and diabetes reversal
When unrefined "good" carbs are the core
of a whole food, vegan diet
(without any animal protein at all),
you can very quickly
- in a matter of weeks -
lose weight and reverse diabetes,
according to all the recent research
and experts on nutrition and plant-based diets.
Why? Because the increased nutrition and increased fiber fills you up and nourishes your body while naturally reducing the calories, cholesterol and fat because you are not eating meat and dairy foods. Without all the fat gumming up the cells and the insulin receptors, they can finally use up the glucose you are eating and blood sugar levels improve and normalize quickly as you continue to eat this way.
Exercising moderately, such as walking, for 30 minutes each day pumps up this powerful diabetes reversal because it uses up excess glucose and calories, no matter what your weight.
T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. in his book, "The China Study" lays out all the published
studies on the subject of weight loss and plant-based diets and concludes that people who eat a plant-based, whole-foods diet often eat less calories even though they eat a larger volume of food. This results in automatic weight loss in just a few weeks even though they are not restricting calories, counting carbs or going hungry. Is that a food-lovers dream come true or what?
In fact, studies showed most diabetic patients were able to reduce or even discontinue their diabetes medications in a matter of a few weeks by eating a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet.
Michael Greger, M.D., author of "How Not to die," also explains in this video how you can prevent prediabetes and reverse diabetes by actually eating more food as long as it is whole, plant foods.
How to find the best "whole-grain" packaged foods at the grocery store
Of course, whole foods like a sweet potato and oatmeal are easy to identify as whole foods but what about choosing higher fiber, higher-quality packaged foods such as bread and boxed cereal? I learned this nifty trick in Dr. Greger's book called the "5-to-1 Rule" for navigating labels that scream "multigrain," "stone-ground," "whole wheat" or even my personal favorite, "7-grain."
Check the ratio of carbohydrates to fiber and stick to products with a ratio of 5 or less. Simply divide the number of carbohydrate grams by the number of fiber grams listed in the nutrition facts chart on the back of the product.
Do these "whole-grain" foods pass the 5-to-1 test?
Brenda Davis keeps it simple by suggesting you look for "whole grain" foods that offer at least 2.5 grams of fiber per serving of bread or pasta and at least 5 grams of fiber per serving in a breakfast cereal. After this little experiment, I went back to the Pasta aisle and found that Barilla Whole Grain Pasta contains 6 grams of fiber, so that will be my new pasta. Another trick I like to apply to label-reading is, "the less ingredients the better" rule for choosing packaged foods. The more ingredients a food has, the more it has likely been processed.
Want to take back your health eating this way
but need a bit of help with how to do it?
Schedule a free Plant-Empowered Woman Activation Call with me to:
-CREATE a crystal clear vision for the healthy lifestyle you want free of the health conditions and limiting beliefs that are dragging you down
-UNCOVER hidden challenges sabotaging your health and weight loss efforts
-LEAVE this session with a plan...renewed, inspired and ready to reclaim your health quickly through a whole food plant-based vegan diet and lifestyle