Carbohydrates – these are foods that become sugars in the body.
Carbohydrates require insulin from the pancreas to make the sugars available to the body. Large amounts of carbohydrates work the pancreas very hard (this can lead to weight gain and eventually Type 2 Diabetes). The insulin that is left over in the body after you have eaten some carbohydrates will send a chemical message to the brain that it needs more carbohydrates.
The more carbohydrates you eat, the more insulin is produced and the more cravings for carbohydrates you will have. If you eat less carbohydrate, you will have less cravings and less feelings of hunger, making it much easier to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Carbohydrates are: bread, pasta, rice, potato, anything with sugar in it. This includes biscuits (sweet or dry), muesli bars, rice crackers and fruit juice.
Fruit and vegetables are considered carbohydrates but the sugars in these foods are not readily available to the digestive system, so we generally exclude them from carbohydrate considerations.
Carbohydrates are often the foods that people eat to excess and are often the foods that provide us more energy than we need.
Protein – these are animal products.
Protein is essential for providing the building blocks for tissue repair and growth in the body.
Protein is broken down slowly in the digestive system, so when you eat protein you feel fuller for longer.
Protein is: fish, red meat, chicken, eggs, dairy products, nuts. Some vegetable proteins are: chickpeas, lentils, nuts and tofu. Vegetable proteins must be eaten in combination to be useful to the body.
Fat – saturated, unsaturated and transfats
Fat is the most dense energy provider and will often make you feel full quickly as it is broken down slowly in the gut.
Saturated fats are usually found in animal products and junk food, unsaturated fats are usually plant oils and fish oils.
Saturated fats from full cream dairy products and fresh meat such as beef and lamb are not considered unhealthy when eaten in moderation.
Diets that are high in plant and fish oils actually lower the risk of many cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Good plant oils/fats include: avocados, fish, olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts & seeds.
Transfats are formed artificially when certain vegetable oils are treated with hydrogen to improve their flavour, texture and shelf life. These are highly inflammatory to the cardiovascular system and can be extremely detrimental to your health. These forms of fats should be strictly avoided. Transfats are commonly found in: Cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and breads such as hamburger buns, some stick margarine and vegetable shortening, pre-mixed cake mixes, pancake mixes, and chocolate drink mixes, fried foods, including donuts, French fries, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells, snack foods, including chips, candy, and packaged or microwave popcorn and frozen dinners.