It seems to me that our present society has an obsession with the reduction in the number of carbohydrates we eat. Since the creation of the Atkins diet and the finding that sugary foods make up the largest portion of people’s calorie intake it has become very popular to blame carbohydrates for the weight problems of our population. However we certainly cannot think that carbohydrates are evil since they are one of the most important food groups available within most countries’ diets. Countries like Italy have very large carbohydrate intakes and yet the percentage of obese people is nowhere near the current percentage within the US. So what is so different between cultures and what is the way in which the diet has to be changed to eliminate this problem ?

I am actually not a nutritionist or a medical doctor but I am a chemist and this gives me a lot of knowledge about the actual character and metabolism of the food we eat. What is so different in the US when compared with other countries ? Are carbohydrates to blame ? I think that the answer is actually that the problem is not within the food groups being consumed but with the actual amounts and proportions. More people are getting used to eat more simple carbohydrates – in the forms of refined sugars – and fats while they are drastically reducing the consumption of fruits and vegetables. If you couple this with a great decrease in the amount of exercise then you get a health time bomb. People are eating food which has much more calories per gram, they are consuming less “energy light” foods and they are exercising far less.

If you want to move into a healthier eating arena then the answer is not to cut your intake of any food group but to eat everything in moderation and eat much more of the food groups which are less energy dense. It is not about not ever eating a doughnut again in your life and it is not about avoiding burgers forever, it is about balancing your food intake to achieve a healthier life style. If your currently eating habits are 80% junk food, then you need to introduce changes to eat junk food but make other food groups also predominant. For example one meal junk food, two balanced home cooked meals a day could make a strong difference if you are currently eating a lot of unhealthy food.

It is absolutely not a matter of making absurd and meaningless restrictions you will not be able to keep. It is about slowly introducing balance within a diet to accomodate all the food groups your body needs instead of just stuffing yourself with energy dense foods which are not very nutritional and should not make up a very large percentage of your diet.

So is the problem that carbohydrates are bad for you ? No, the problem is merely that everything needs to be taken in moderation and we tend to eat much more from food groups which should not consitute such a high percentage of our diet. If you want to be healthy, then the first step is to find balance. This will be hard to do and you should start with very small changes like those I introduced in my article called “five simple ways to become healthier”. In the end you will see that a balanced diet will lead to a more balanced life style and a better life for you and your family.