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Cheat Sheet

Healthy Carb Cookbook For Dummies

From Healthy Carb Cookbook For Dummies by Jan McCracken

Start incorporating healthy carbohydrates in your recipes by understanding the different kinds of carbs and how your body uses them. Avoid some foods (including sugar alcohols) if you want to adapt a healthy-carb lifestyle and look for a few words on menus or in recipes that signify that a dish is healthy — or serve as a warning that something's bad for you. Some simple changes in your diet and lifestyle can lead to better health.

What Are Carbs?

Carbohydrates are molecules made of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. They are sometimes referred to as carbs or carbos. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy and the first energy that the body uses (though fiber is calorie free). Carbs include

  • Starches

  • Sugar

  • Fiber

'Carbohydrates are found mostly in plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Usually carbohydrates are classified as complex or simple:

  • Complex carbohydrates require digestion before the energy released can be used by the body. Eating complex carbs therefore results in steady blood sugar levels.

  • Simple carbohydrates, such as sugars, white flour, white rice, and foods containing high amounts of starches, go directly into the bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. This spike gives the body a boost of energy for short period of time. The blood sugar levels then drop, and a sense of depletion results.

Foods to Avoid when Making a Low-Carb Meal or Snack

There are so many wonderfully tasty food and snack choices available to you when you're living a healthy low-carb lifestyle that it'd take pages to list them. So, instead, while you're choosing from all the great options you can take advantage of, here are a few to avoid, because they aren't low-carb acceptable:

  • Candies

  • Cookies, cakes, pies, and doughnuts

  • Most pastas (white)

  • Processed snack foods such as chips, pretzels, and white crackers

  • Refined sugars (such as corn syrup and fructose, among others)

  • Sodas and fruit juices loaded with sugar

  • White flour and white breads

  • White rice

Ten Simple Tips for Living a Low-Carb Lifestyle

Going low-carb is as simple as changing a few eating habits. Here are ten tips that can help you in living a healthy, active, low-carbohydrate lifestyle.

  • Select foods with nutritious carbs, not empty calories (nutrient dense food).

  • Eat more foods with high fiber content, such as veggies, whole grains, and fruits.

  • Watch out for sneaky added sugars and minimize caloric artificial sweeteners.

  • Eat more fish.

  • Eat more nuts.

  • Calories do count.

  • Move your body more every day.

  • Avoid processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats.

  • Know thy fats and be selective because all fats are not bad.

  • Drink plenty of water every day.

Monitoring Sugar Alcohols while Watching Your Carb Intake

Maintaining a healthy-carb lifestyle often means reducing the amount of natural sugars (from sugar cane or sugar beets), in your diet. Sugar alcohols are commonly used in place of sugar in prepared foods. Some folks suffer gastric pain and upset, bloating, and diarrhea from them. If you suspect that you have an allergy to a sugar alcohol, the only way to know is to experiment until you isolate which one you need to avoid (or indulge in moderation).

Even if you don't have an allergy to sugar alcohols, they are heavy on carbs, so exercise moderation when you see one listed on a food label. Here are some names to be familiar with:

  • Erythritol

  • HSH (hydrogenated starch hydrolysates)

  • Isomalt

  • Maltitol and maltitol syrup

  • Mannitol

  • Sorbitol

  • Xylitol

Words to Look for When Eating Low-Carb

Here's a list of words that can spell trouble for your low-carb lifestyle whether they appear on a packaged food, in a recipe, or on a menu. Most of these words are coupled with high carb and/or sugar counts. The keyword here is beware!

  • All you can eat

  • Batter-fried

  • Breaded

  • Covered in sauce

  • Crispy

  • Decadent

  • Deep fried

  • Dipped in batter

  • Extra-large

  • Glazed

  • Jumbo

  • Loaded

  • Pan-fried

  • Smothered

  • Tempura

Here are good keywords to look for in recipes when you're looking for new dishes to prepare the low-carb healthy lifestyle way:

  • Baked

  • Braised

  • Broasted

  • Char-broiled

  • Fresh

  • Grilled

  • Herb stuffed

  • Poached

  • Roasted

  • Steamed

  • Stir-fried

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