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Nutrition Series Part 1: The Role of Carbohydrates in Recovery


Ever since we were kids, we’ve been bombarded with the idea that “carbs are evil” and “fats are forbidden”. But the reality is, is that we need a variety of each food group in order to live our lives to the fullest. Particularly in eating disorder recovery, our bodies have been through so much and it’s time we start to treat our bodies the way they deserve to be treated. Read up on the importance of each major food group, and how it can be beneficial to eating disorder recovery.



Carbs

Ah, yes. The most dreaded but also arguably *the* most important food group of them all. We’ve been taught to fear carbs, without any factual evidence suggesting why; which goes to show further that this fear is instilled in us by corporations because of the promise of profit and money.


Benefits and the Importance of Carbs:
  • The breakdown of carbohydrates produces Glucose, which is the brain’s primary source of energy to fuel your body’s cells, tissues, and organs.

  • Fiber and complex carbs aid in our digestive health; the microbes in your microbiome, a large collection of microbial organisms that live in your gut, support immune and digestive health. Fiber is like food for the bacteria in your gut and promotes their growth. Fiber can also help with regular bowel movements (reduced constipation), lower cholesterol, and lower blood sugar.

  • Carbohydrates play a key role in the production of serotonin, which boosts and regulates your mood, and makes you feel happier and more connected to people and your surroundings.

  • Carbohydrates regulate blood sugar.


What Happens If You Don’t Get Enough Carbohydrates?
  • When your body doesn’t get adequate carbohydrates, it looks for another energy source; your body will break down the protein in your muscles to use as energy

  • Glucose is needed desperately for the brain to function; unlike other muscles, it cannot easily use other fuel sources for energy like fat or protein. So if you don’t get enough glucose (through eating carbs), your brain will be unable to function optimally.

  • Without the serotonin you get from carbohydrates, you will likely be irritable, moody, and depressed.

  • Without your blood sugar being regulated, your blood sugar can drop too low and cause fatigue, exhaustion, and further irritability.

  • Inadequate carb consumption can increase your cortisol levels, responsible for your stress levels.


Ideas for healthy, complex, nutritious carbohydrates:
  • Fruit

  • Whole grain bread

  • Pasta

  • Quinoa, rice, lentils

  • Whole wheat pasta

  • Oatmeal

  • Starchy vegetables (i.e., sweet potato, butternut squash, beets)

  • Beans (i.e., kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans)


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