*The big white four* stands for: white flour, white sugar, white potatoes and white rice. If you make no other changes in 2012 make this one! It may seem like these four ingredients are impossible to avoid but with a little practice it can become second nature. These four ingredients are responsible for spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels which causes low energy. Sugar is a type-2 diabetes culprit and cutting it out of your diet will make a huge difference in your energy levels, weight loss goals, skin and more!
The easiest shift to make is to switch out your white potatoes for yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, or even turnips. All of the substitutions can be cooked almost exactly the same as white potatoes. Making sweet potato fries instead of french fries is a great example. Yams and parsnips make great mashed potatoes. This is one of those healthy eating rules that needs almost no re-education.
Transitioning away from white rice is almost as simple as the potatoes. Whole grain brown rice is available at any store and in any price range. Just like the potato switch, brown rice can be directly substituted into any recipe or dish that calls for white rice. Most restaurants also carry brown rice so there are no excuses needed for this one when eating out!
Making the sugar switch is not quite as simple as the potato and rice but it is the most important. White sugar is everywhere in the classic North American diet. It is the cause of blood sugar spikes which cause low energy, and can eventually lead to type-2 diabetes. The good news is that you can still eat wonderfully sweet things. ("Check out “Baking Without Sugar”). The bad news is that you need to refine your sweet tooth and read labels. As a general rule of thumb it is best to avoid any product made with white sugar but if this seems overwhelming try eating only foods that have 5grams or less of sugar. If this proves difficult, begin by never eating a product that has sugar as one of the first five ingredients. Try with all your might to stay away from all fake sugar substitutions and concentrate instead on educating yourself on natural sweeteners such as maple syrup and agave nectar.
White flour is the most difficult switch to make out of the four. White flour is a North American diet staple but these refined carbohydrates are not good for you. You need whole wheat, whole grains, and fiber. Start the switch by picking a brand new sandwich bread. Look for one sweetened with honey not sugar, and made from 100% whole wheat. It will be high in fiber and have some protein. If you find the choices and ingredient lists overwhelming focus on finding bread that simple states 100% whole wheat. When you have some bread confidence you can move on the baked goods. Baking with whole wheat flour is a fabulous healthy eating change to make. Eating in restaurants and avoiding white flour can be hard but places such as Great Harvest in Nashua NH (look for a restaurant review of Great Harvest coming next week) has some great options that do not contain any white flour. Treating yourself to delicious whole wheat bakes goods will help you ease into the switch. Buckwheat flour, chickpea flour, and hemp flour can be great baking ingredients as well.
*The Big White Four idea was first presented by Brendan Brazier, author of Thrive.
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