By Lisa Consiglio Ryan – Guest Blogger

Certified Health and Nutrition Coach

Carbs. What a dirty, dirty word…especially for me a few years ago. I used to be an Atkins girl. In fact, I went without eating fruit for years due to the fact that they were carbs. I even did the South Beach diet and never really got to Phase II because I was so afraid that the carbs would make my butt get big.

Luckily, I am done with all those diets and have learned to enjoy carb-friendly foods. Let me be honest, though, not all carbs are created equal. Sugar and flour are typical no-nos. These refined foods cause a spike in blood sugar which results in chronic illness such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Those are the carbs to watch out for.

On the other hand, unprocessed carbs generate gentle rises in blood glucose and insulin, giving you a small but long-lasting supply of energy your muscles can use for hours. Even in my experience (after all the dieting drama), eating grains can even curb sugar cravings and help you avoid those after dinner “I need chocolate!” feeling that leaves you guilty.

So what are these carbs, these magical carbs, you ask?

Here is the list I recommend:

1. Fruit: A lot of popular diets recommend limiting fruit because it slows down weight loss. You can still continue to maintain your weight or even lose weight while eating fruit so long as you don’t pig out on it. Fructose (sugar in fruit) is bad for you because it is converted to fat in the liver not because of raising blood sugar. However, the small amounts of fructose present in whole fruit is really nothing to worry about.

2. Beans: Beans are rich in carbs, but most of it is fiber and the overall glycemic load is low. Beans are a great source of iron, protein, and folate. Don’t be afraid of these! If you tend to experience gas, rinsing and soaking your beans will help.

3. Lentils: Like beans, they are full of fiber and digest slowly. If anything, adding lentils to your diet will likely help you lose weight. Yes. Really.

4. Quinoa: This is a psuedograin. Quinoa is high in protein and fiber and has a very low glycemic index. Have you tried it yet? It is easy to cook and great for breakfast, too.

5. Brown Rice: You can add this to any meal. A small serving of brown rice can make your salads, stir fries, and other veggie dishes more filling while not forcing that big blood sugar spike you get from the bread basket.

6. WINE: Surprise! Wine and alcohol have been known to have a lot of calories. BUT your body digests alcohol calories different than sugar calories. Now there are many reasons to keep your wine portions in check, but having a few glasses of wine at dinner won’t hurt.

Enjoy these carbs, but this is not a green light to gorge yourself on grains or any food for that matter. If you eat enough of something or eat it fast, you will still end up with more sugar in your blood than your body knows what to do with. But in moderate quantities you can eat from the list above without risking your life or growing out of your favorite jeans.

What do you think about this post? Do you eat these carbs? Will you try something new (and don’t be cute, I know that the wine is probably your first choice:) Can’t wait to hear your thoughts so leave a message below.