Fast and Slow Carbs

Gluten-Free Lentil and Tomato Stew with Poached Egg and Greens

If you ask anyone in my family, they will tell you that I love white food — as in rice and potatoes (and, back in the day, bread). I was, to put it mildly, a carb addict. And my waistline proved it. Even after I went gluten free, my love of carbs remained. In fact, I became even more defiant about my carb-loving stance!

As we all known, most gluten-free specialty products are filled with highly processed flours and sugars. And I have seen the light. Not only do I think these foods are a waste of money (spend judiciously, I beg you), but they are often a waste of nutrition. Yes, they’re a source of calories, but not much else.

Carbohydrates are essential to the human diet. The carbs we ingest become the energy our bodies access to get through the day. Cutting them out is a bad thing, in my opinion. Changing how I consume them made all the difference because eliminating some of my favorite foods really wasn’t an option.

I mean, I’m already gluten free! I may not be able to eat a sandwich, but I can certainly enjoy a baked potato on occasion.

These days, I let myself eat a small amount of rice, and I focus my carb intake more in the worlds of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and dairy. I call these slow carbs. They provide the energy I need to get through the day without the empty calories of highly processed carbs.

(Please note that while dairy isn’t a huge source of carbohydrates, depending on the product, those carbs can add up. Generally, full-fat dairy foods are lower in carbs than low- or non-fat dairy products.)

I’ve found this slow carb approach to be incredibly helpful when it came to actual weight loss, and it certainly is the key to keeping the weight off. It also fits nicely with my belief that the best way to manage a gluten-free diet is to eat real (or clean) foods. And, frankly, it’s a more budget-friendly approach. Those special gluten-free foods can be pricey.

Carbohydrates are not the enemy their press makes them out to be. But, particularly if you eat gluten-free specialty foods, certain types of carbs can have a negative impact on your health — particularly if your goal is to lose weight.

Oh, and don’t get me started on fats! We need fat in our diet. I often worry that decades of treating fat in foods as the enemy has made us all scared to consume the stuff. While I don’t advocate eating cupfuls of straight fat, don’t be afraid of it.

How do you manage your carb intake?

Bonus: Here is a great article about carb substitutions ideas (slow for fast).

Tip of the Week

If weight loss is your goal, eat your veggies first! They can fill you up in a satisfying way that reduces your need to eat lots of carby foods. My trick is to start with the veggies, then move to proteins, and, finally, the carbs. I find I eat even less of them than I planned.

Gluten-Free Meal of the Week

Okay, now we get back to that lentil and tomato stew I mentioned a few weeks ago. I treat this dish as a main vegetarian course instead of a side dish. The lentils give the dish a lot of heft without adding heaviness. Wilted greens add some lovely color, and, yes, I will absolutely put an egg on this!

Or maybe a side of crispy tofu. The oven-baked tofu triangles can be topped with the stew or dipped into a tahini-based sauce.

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