10 September 2018


Last post featuring the research investigating the health impacts of our carbohydrate/protein balance attracted a huge readership. So this time, something more practical - how do we know our carbohydrate intake is OK?

Ten steps you can take to ensure you are getting the right carbohydrates and know when the amount is too much, when might it be inadequate, and what are the consequences.

Also details of Ruth's next meditation retreat in the Yarra Valley - which she will co-facilitate with the wonderful Kimberly Poppe from the 3rd to the 9th of December. What a way to round off the year!, but first

Thought for the day
Consider how common illness is, 
How tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, 
How astonishing, when the lights of health go down, 
The undiscovered countries that are then disclosed, 
What wastes and deserts of the soul a slight attack of influenza brings to view, 
What precipices and lawns sprinkled with bright flowers 
A little rise of temperature reveals, 
What ancient and obdurate oaks are uprooted in us by the act of sickness, 
How we go down in the pit of death 
And feel the waters of annihilation close above our heads 
And wake thinking to find ourselves in the presence 
Of the angels and the harpers when we have a tooth out 
And come to the surface in the dentist's arm-chair 
And confuse his "Rinse the mouth-rinse the mouth" 
With the greeting of the Deity stooping from the floor of Heaven to welcome us 
- when we think of this, 
As we are so frequently forced to think of it, 
It becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place 
With love and battle and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.
Virginia Woolf 

The consequences of a poor carbohydrate balance
In our last post, research highlighted the health benefits of a high carbohydrate, low protein diet for all aspects of health and wellbeing - the are massive. However, those who overdo carbohydrates even the good ones, often experience problems with mood, weight, energy, digestion, immunity and more.

At the other extreme, those who eat very few carbohydrates often suffer significant energy losses and many significant health issues. In reality, however, the main problem seems to be with over-consumption.

How to know what is best for you?

Where is your healthy middle ground?

As with all food questions, theory takes you so far, but the best answers are to be found when we learn how to listen to our own body and have it provide the answers directly.

How to proceed?

A good start is this carbohydrate quiz - record your number of “yes” answers…

1. Do you gain weight easily when your diet includes a lot of healthy carbohydrate such as whole grains, legumes, fresh fruit?
2. Do you feel tired or sleepy shortly after consuming carbohydrates?
3. Do you feel foggy-headed after meals?
4. Do you frequently crave sweets?
5. Do you frequently crave starchy foods?
6. Do you have a difficult time controlling how much sugar or carbohydrate you eat?
7. Does your weight fluctuate easily?
8. Do you have dramatic energy ups and downs throughout the day?
9. Do you feel light-headed or irritable when you are hungry?
10. Do you tend to gain weight in your face and around your abdomen, more so than on your hips and thighs?
11. Do you turn to sweets or carbs when you are feeling anxious, tired, or depressed?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may be eating more carbohydrates than your system can handle or process efficiently.

What to do?

1. Reduce or preferably eliminate sweet and starchy “white” 
and refined foods

If you have not done this already - many who read this will have - do so, and notice the effects.

For many, simply eliminating the “bad” carbohydrates is enough, but if you suspect problems still exist - based on the questionnaire above - here is a suggestion as to how to proceed.

2. Reduce or eliminate all grains for 7 Days
This includes whole grains and legumes, as well as high-sugar fresh fruits. The idea is that over these few days the carbohydrates leave your system fully. And be warned, you may not feel great while doing this; some even get a real detox reaction.

3. Experiment
Now play with adding the carbohydrates back into your diet - slowly. Try one carbohydrate at a time - preferably just one new carbohydrate a day - and notice any effects. Adverse ones are usually easy to spot - you get some of the problems listed above. If so, eliminate that carbohydrate source for another week, then re-test.

5. Adopt a plant-based wholefood diet 
If you are not already on it, the evidence is clear that this is ideal for most, and that it includes a healthy balance of good carbohydrates - the exact balance of which you are fine tuning.

6. Exercise regularly
We know exercise is good for just about every aspect of life, and it is particularly good at supporting good digestion and metabolic function.

Many notice when the exercise regularly their digestion and metabolism flourishes, and in times of no exercise, food problems flourish.

7. Notice the effect of life events on your tolerances - and adjust
Carbohydrate effects, as with other foods people tend to be sensitive to, can be affected significantly by things like stress, sleep, exercise, work demands, relationship events, travel and so on.

Many of us - definitely including myself - notice we can eat some things when all is good in the world, but when under pressure, those same things can wreak havoc. This is something we need to be patient with, to experiment with, observe and respond to.

8. Be prepared to act on your responses! 
Once you experiment and start to notice the impacts of various carbohydrates on your system - and the amounts you eat of them - the trick of course is to follow through.

In my experience, most people need to fall off the wagon an few times, eat the stuff they suspect does not agree with them and suffer the consequences seriously enough before the impetus is finally generated to eat more wisely. Who knows, maybe it is easier for you???

9. Be patient 
It takes time to get all this right and we need to be kind to ourselves in the process. Experimenting means learning from our observations, not getting lost in self-recrimination. With some time and perseverance it is eminently possible to find the individual balance that leaves you feel energetic, calm and craving-free.

10. Enjoy! 

Food is one of life’s pleasures
- as well as a basic necessity.

So seek out enticing recipes; it really is possible to make healthy food delicious and satisfying on all levels!


And remember



and features co-facilitating with the wonderful Kimberly Poppe, a great meditation teacher from the USA currently living and teaching in Amsterdam.

Reconnecting to Ourselves

Yarra Valley Living Centre,  Victoria

This is an opportunity to take time out and deeply re-connect with yourself through a nourishing and rejuvenating week of meditation and self-compassion practice. 
Enjoy gentle movement, delicious vegetarian food made with love, and time and space to relax in a beautiful natural environment.
Very highly recommended - this will be a wonderful, wonderful week

Details here

1 comment:

  1. What incredibly good sane advice....thankyou Ian ! I find so many of my patients are so confused about carbs it is distressing how confounded the whole subject has become. Your clarity is so refreshing.