Carbohydrates are an essential component to a balanced diet and are an important component in the Mediterranean Diet. Carbs are our primary fuel source and contain several vitamins and minerals that would be difficult to get without them in our diet. Carbs are usually looked down on and are considered “bad” because people think they make them gain weight. The carbs that may cause weight gain are typically processed carbs, baked goods, fried carbs, or candy because they are high in calories and low in nutrients. Your body may not feel completely satisfied with these foods because they are low in essential nutrients. This may cause you to overeat in your body’s attempt to get the nutrients that it needs.
When thinking about carbs, it is important to think “good carbs, no not carbs”. The Mediterranean diet is packed full of good carbs from fruits and whole grains.
Here are a few ways more fruit can be incorporated into your diet:
Use fruit in place of a high calorie dessert (fruit salad or caramelized bananas without added sugar)
Pair fruit with low fat cheese or nuts for a snack
Add fruit to a sandwich (ex: thin apple slices on a turkey and cheese sandwich)
Add fruit on top of yogurt or oatmeal
Grill fruit for a side dish
Remember to make half of your grains whole. For bread, pasta, cereal, and crackers, make sure that “whole wheat flour” or “whole grain wheat” are listed as the first ingredient. If you see “wheat flour” or “enriched wheat flour” the food is not a great source of whole grains.
Here are some tips on how to eat more whole grains:
Make brown rice, quinoa, or farro instead of white rice
Use whole wheat bread for your morning toast or on your sandwich
Make pasta dishes using whole wheat noodles
Snack on lightly salted popcorn
Make oatmeal for breakfast in the morning
Eat whole grain cereals for breakfast
Snack on whole wheat crackers