Easy and Healthy Carb Swaps

So you’re craving something warm, comforting and delicious to go with the cold winter weather. Should you worry about cosying up to a bowl of carbs? Not necessarily! With the right understanding of healthy and unhealthy carbs, you can empower yourself to make the right choices and enjoy your meals worry-free! 

Like with all food choices, it’s best to approach carbs from the “whole package” perspective.  Foods come in packages--not the store-bought, plastic, cardboard kind--but packages made by Nature. 

Carbs that are unprocessed and unrefined have the right package, of starch, fibre, and a healthy nutrients. It’s this package that makes complex carbs the healthy choice with the added bonus of a low glycemic index--read our article on low and high GI foods to learn more. 

Let’s take whole grains as an example. Unrefined whole grains come with all their bits intact: a bran on the outside acts as fibre, a starchy inside for energy, and a germ in the centre which provides a wide array of nutrients. On the other hand, processed whole grains such as white rice for instance, contain only the starchy inside. In this case you’ve not only lost the nutrients, but your body will process the starch in a much less beneficial way! 

How can you apply this to your everyday carb choices? Here’s a guide to some easy carb swaps to get you started: 

Swap your white BAE roll or processed cereal for oat porridge with all the trimmings. 

Rolled oats, old fashioned oats or steel cut oats have more fibre than quick oats. Steel cut oats are the least processed as they’re simple the whole grain cut in half. They take longer to cook (or quick in a pressure cooker!) but will give your brekkie texture and creaminess. Prepare the night before and heat up in the AM if you’re in a hurry.

Swap your usual white pasta to a whole grain or whole wheat variety. 

This is a super simple one. You’ll increase your fibre and get more nutrients out of that comforting bowl of bolognese, and you won’t even notice a difference in flavour or texture. 

Swap your lunch on white toast or wrap to a whole grain or whole wheat variety. 

Food marketing can often be misleading and tricky. Don’t judge a bread by its cover--have a look at the ingredients and look for things such as “wholemeal wheat flour” versus “wheat flour” as the first ingredient.

Lots of breads can have unnecessary added sugars (aka refined carbs), so remember simple is best! Bonus points for added grains and seeds such as oats or sunflower seeds. 

Swap your side of white rice to brown rice, quinoa, or barley. 

Next time you’re ordering thai or indian food, ask for brown rice. If you’re cooking at home, try some quinoa or barley as a base for your meal. You’ll get so much more nutrition bang for your buck. 

Swap that chocolate bar for some medjool dates, nuts and a bit of dark chocolate.

This combination hits all the cravings of a usual naughty treat: crunch, caramel goodness and chocolate. But it also provides fibre, natural vitamins and antioxidants. No refined sugar here, thanks!

Choosing healthier carb options isn’t difficult and the health benefits are well worth your while!