FAQs with a Registered Dietitian: Are Carbs Bad?

(The following post is a guest submission from Ashley Skelton, who’s not only a Registered Dietitian, but a total fitness fanatic.)

When I tell someone I’m a dietitian the questions start pouring in. So I’d like to answer some of the frequently asked questions in my next few blog posts.

Question number 1: Are carbs bad?

Answer: NO! Not even in the slightest! Carbs are essential!

Here’s why: Fads come and fads go. There was the low-fat craze in the 90’s, the low-carb obsession of the last decade and, most recently, the fear of gluten and the love of juicing. I do believe that all fads come from a good place.

The low-fat diet was a way to reduce calories and cut out cholesterol-laden foods. However, it also cut out some really good foods like nuts, nut butters, avocados and olive oil.

The low-carb diet was a great way to educate the population on the importance of eliminating the white flour that was the popular choice in bread, cereals, and dessert. However, it punished fruits and some whole grains along with it. Lately gluten (which is not a carb but an actual protein found in starchy foods to produce texture and elastic-like properties) has been getting a bad rap and juicing is taking center stage. Eliminating gluten is extremely important for those with an intolerance and it has brought a lot of great options to the grocery store for those who really can’t have it in their diet, but ridding your diet of gluten when you don’t have an intolerance is a fad. And while juicing in moderation is a good way to cleanse and refuel your body with good-for-you foods, it is not a solution for sustenance over weeks.

So the question is really a much broader question in my opinion. If you ask me whether a a fad diet is good for you or if the food group that the fad cuts out is really that bad, I’ll likely say “no.” But I’ll explain myself.

There is usually a reason that a fad starts. And the important thing to remember is that moderation is your key to success in healthy eating. Please DO cut back on white flour and foods high in saturated fats. But replace your flour with whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and whole wheat. Remove fatty, red meat and incorporate lean meats and other high-protein foods into your diet like beans, lentils and fish. If you want to try removing gluten to see if you feel better, then by all means, do it. But remember that gluten isn’t evil. If you want to do a juice cleanse for a few days, make sure you research the company making your juice or invest in a good juicer. But don’t replace every meal with juice.

If you remember just one thing, remember this: There is NO such thing as a bad FOOD. There are only BAD HABITS. A cookie by itself is not bad. A steak by itself is not bad. A glass of wine is not bad by itself. It’s when we overindulge that we create unhealthy patterns. If no single food is bad, then certainly don’t eliminate entire food groups! Moderation, healthy routines and variety are the real secrets to healthy eating.

Have a nutritional question? Ask me in the comments!

2 thoughts on “FAQs with a Registered Dietitian: Are Carbs Bad?

  1. Ashley, you sound just like my mom, who’s also a RD! “Everything in moderation.” Great advice!

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