I absolutely love watching food documentaries. I know, I’m a total nerd, I accept that, but I do. I find them both fascinating and an easy way to digest a LOT of information about a topic.

Food Inc. delves deeply into the food industry and all of the truly abhorrent things that are put into our “food.” And to be honest, made me question whether or not I ever wanted to eat again!

King Corn brought to life the truly asinine amounts of this commodity crop that are grown every year and highlights all the food products where corn can be found.

Ingredients was a wonderful look at how it’s possible to eat a balanced and healthy whole foods diet that brings seasonal foods to the forefront to both save money and gain a larger variety of nutrients into your daily diet.

Sugar Coated was an eye opening look at the Sugar Industry and it’s proliferation into nutrition politics and how dietary recommendations have been skewed as a result.

Fed Up, Super Size Me and The Weight Of The Nation focus on our growing Obesity Epidemic and delve into its many contributing factors…Big Food being the biggest one.

Forks Over Knives, What The Health and Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead promote a whole foods plant based diet as optimal for most people. There’s definitely some science there, but I will always believe that you can be healthy and eat meat too.

A Place At The Table digs into hunger in America and food scarcity in low income communities.  Food deserts are real, and it’s truly sad how many Americans don’t have access to quality food

Over Fed and Under Nourished follows the personal story of an adolescent boy as he works to regaining his health. This kid’s story was amazing!

Food Matters, Hungry For Change and In Defense of Food are probably my favorites… well…. I really do love them all, BUT I was watching In Defense of Food again this past Sunday and it got me thinking.

First of all, In Defense of Food is a magnificent documentary in which Michael Pollan delves deep into our country’s thoughts and ideology around food and peels back the layers of the food industry like few others have. One theme prevailed from this second watching for me…There always seems to be a headline in the news about what the best and worst things are nutritionally. We are obsessed with food! But more importantly than that, we’re obsessed with either demonizing or sensationalizing food and its constituent parts.

In the 50’s Vitamins were all the rage. In the 60’s fat became the enemy. In the 90’s… Carbs joined fat as public enemy #1. Well crap! If both fat AND carbs are horrible for you, what the heck are you supposed to eat?! It doesn’t seem hard to understand why everyone is so confused, does it????

For close to the last 30 years society has feared carbs as if they were a 1st class ticket to hell… and disease. Why is that though? Where is the legitimate, scientific evidence that shows those facts to be true? If carbs are bad why have fruits and vegetables been in existence since the beginning of time? If carbs are bad for you how did we even get to the year 2018 when the majority of dietary staples have been bread and grains since before Medieval times.

Well, let’s look at the facts about Carbs…

  • Carbs are our body’s most efficient source of energy. I say efficient because carbohydrate metabolizes and is available for use by the body more quickly than dietary fats.
  • The brain’s primary source of energy is carbohydrate. Without adequate carb intake, brain function with become slowed and foggy.
  • Carbs are also the preferred energy source for your muscles… so walking, lifting weights, playing sports, wrestling with your kids all requires carbs to make happen.

So, if we know that carbs are the preferred energy source for the body and that both brain and muscle function require carbohydrate to produce action, why of why are carbs so feared by so many people????

Well, it all comes back to some of those things I learned by watching food documentaries. The media LOVES to demonize and sensationalize. A new study will come out with evidence that a particular nutrient or other dietary protocol might have efficacy or might be a contributing factor to a disease or condition and the media will swoop it up and plaster is everywhere possible!

Remember the coconut oil controversy of 2017!? Remember when eggs were horrible for you? Oh wait, now they’re good for you! The carbs are good, no wait! Carbs are bad controversy has been raging for years now.

The facts are that carbs aren’t bad for you… the wrong carbs are.

A vegetable, fruit, pasta, rice, grain or bean will never be bad for you…. But cakes, pies, sugar laden cereal, soda, candy, breakfast pastries and other highly processed, refined carbs are if they’re over consumed.

On one side we now have real food and on the other side we have fake food. And this leads people onto a slippery slope… do you now sensationalize real food and demonize fake food? Well, that’s Orthorexia, and if you didn’t catch last week’s YouTube Coach’s Corner on that topic go check it out.

History has shown us that demonizing nutrients does more harm than good. What happened in the 60’s when fat became the devil??? Companies had to find a way to flavor their foods since the main source of flavor, fat, had to be removed… enter SUGAR! Sugar makes everything taste great and guess what!?!? It makes you crave more sugar! Awesome for the Sugar Industry, but what did we as a society gain from this campaign against fat? We got Type II Diabetes, we got a massive increase in obesity rates which also brought with it increases in Cancer and other chronic, preventable diseases.

Carbs are not the devil, they are a required nutrient that provides the body with energy to function properly. Your intake of carbs should be at a level appropriate to your daily total energy expenditure, type of training (if any) and lifestyle/ stress level. For most individuals, 150 grams of carbohydrate per day should be an absolute minimum consumption level, however there are outliers to everything.

Within that appropriate level, seek to find a healthy balance of healthy, whole foods sources of carbohydrates and those more “fun” carb options like the ones you’ll be enjoying next Thursday for Thanksgiving. It’s always about the balance!

Happy Wednesday!

Dana