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Understanding the science of carbohydrates Print

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Every monday at 4:15pm on QR77 Radio join me and Angela Kokott host of Calgary Today with our segment “You are what you eat” to get the goods on healthy eating.  If you missed my segments I will be archiving these audio discussions on my blog here.

Episode 7: Understanding carbohydrates

Listen to Episode 7 here:  Understanding carbohydrates

  • There is still plenty of confusion around carbohydrates
  • Where do we get carbs?  Grains/starches, veggies, fruits, sweets, milk/yogurt
  • Why do we need carbs?  Our muscles need carbs for “gasoline” but more importantly our brain runs EXCLUSIVELY on carbs.
  • Consider this….  After a long, stressful day what are you craving?   You may be looking for comfort foods such as chocolate, bread, pasta, baked good or potato chips because your brain knows when you eat them the boost mood and elevate serotonin the brain chemical that increases mood.
  • Without carbs how do you feel?  You need carbs for brain satisfaction.  Without it you might feel tired, unsatisfied and over the long term depleted, anxious, depressed, have difficulty concentrating and become obsessive about food.
  • How many grams of carb does your brain need per day?  As a start, your brain/central nervous system requires about 100 grams of carbohydrate per day regardless of your age, gender, activity level.  This is the amount in a few slices of bread, a cup of rice and a few pieces of fruit.  In addition to this you require more carbs for physical activity.  The more active you are the more carbs you need.  Nutrition research suggests 45-55% of total calories should come from carbohydrate.
  • What about low carb diets for weight loss?  Be aware that 1 g carb stores 3 g water on the body therefore if following a low carb diet you will lose water weight.  The only way to lose true weight is through a caloric deficit in general by eating less of either carbs, protein OR fat calories in general.  If you follow a low carb diet but just swap the reduced carbohydrate calories for protein and fat calories, you won’t lose true weight, just fluid weight.
  • Portion sizes are important While some people eat too many sweets and starchy foods and need to watch portion sizes, carbohydrate is an essential nutrient that should not be avoided.
  • Can’t I just get my carbs from fruits and veggies and skip grains?  While some people believe they can achieve good health without grains/starchy foods, you may be able to achieve enough carbohydrate from eating fruits and veggies but be aware that the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are different in foods which is why Health Canada and health organizations worldwide recommend consuming grains – ideally at least half or more as whole grains.  Also much of the reason we eat is for enjoyment which for most people likely includes grains.

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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
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Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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