Carbs really not so bad

I love food. I’m definitely not ashamed to admit it. It’s practically impossible for me to resist Mexican or Italian food, and I’m all about the chocolate.

However, that doesn’t mean I eat poorly or have a terrible diet because I occasionally indulge myself. Over the years, I’ve discovered some interesting things about certain foods that surprised me and caused me to feel less guilty for consuming them.

I’ve come to discover there are physical advantages for our body by eating these foods — not to mention satisfaction in eating them.

Common myths and widespread false claims will have us believe any and all carbs will make you fat. Eating chocolate is practically a sin.

The idea is if we want to look like the people on magazine covers, then we need to cut out carbohydrates. We are told we aren’t skinny or fit enough, and eating these foods will never help you get there.

I’d like to call their bluff.

Chocolate is my first rebuttal. Dark chocolate is far healthier than milk chocolate, and it tastes better.

It’s also pretty good for you physically.

Cocoa beans have something called flavonoids in them that function as antioxidants. They fight off free radicals caused by aging, to help prevent heart disease.

Flavonoids also help your blood vessels maintain elasticity and conduct blood flow to the brain to boost intelligence and memory. I can always use more of that.

Dark chocolate also has proven to be more filling than milk chocolate, and it lessens cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods. I’ve found if you put some in a trail mix with dried berries and assorted nuts, it’s pretty healthy, pretty filling and pretty darn delicious.

The mental benefits of chocolate are great, too. Supposedly it helps to regulate hormone levels and stimulate endorphin production, which will help control stress levels. Note that for midterms and finals.

We also are constantly being fed the notion that chocolate is bad because of the sugar, and all carbs should be cut from our diets. In proper quantities, we need them to keep ourselves healthy.

There are many benefits to those wonderfully delicious things we call carbs. An abundance of carbs isn’t healthy, but knowing what kinds and how much to have is. After all, an abundance of any kind of food isn’t healthy — a balanced diet is the best kind of diet.

Fiber, which seems to correspond to lots of foods with carbs helps you maintain a healthy weight. The healthier sources of carbs like whole grains can help you stay full longer so you don’t eat as much.

Eating them a few hours before you work out also helps you burn more fat and gives you energy.

I have always been a fan of carbs and sweet foods. During high school, I played three sports and could eat anything, anytime and not suffer any negative effects because my metabolism was so high. Sadly, it didn’t last.

In college, I am constantly cautious of what I’m eating. It has definitely taken time to find a balance between eating whatever the hell I want versus eating only things society deems healthy.

Being nutritionally healthy is about finding a balance of all different kinds of foods. But most importantly, feel good about yourself no matter what.

I have happily discovered through experience and proper education there is no reason to eliminate delicious foods from our diet. While they should definitely be consumed in moderation and correct portions, there should never be any guilt or shame in indulging in them.

I’ve never met anyone who’s said they felt happier tasting a head of broccoli than over a square of dark chocolate. You also can’t tell me you’d enjoy life without an occasional bread stick from Olive Garden. As long as these foods aren’t being consumed at gluttonous rates, we should never feel guilty.

Indulgence in the simple pleasures puts you in an overall better mood.

There is no reason to be so strict on yourself and “not allow” yourself to eat these things. Just do it sensibly. These little indulgences are guaranteed to make us feel better.

As long as you feel good about yourself and your health, there’s no reason not to be rewarded.

Ignore the media and their so-called rules to looking like a Victoria’s Secret model. Go eat a piece of chocolate.

Mary Ochs is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].