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Question:

Do you recommend not eating carbohydrates? I have been told to limit carbs (no pastas, rice, beans or bread) from a diet plan in our local town. When I did limit these foods I did lose weight, but itís hard to stay away from these for a long length of time. — Carmelite, FL

Christine Palumbo

Answer:

 

I do not recommend that you avoid complex carbohydrates like pasta, rice, beans or bread. Although you can experience short-term weight loss, mainly due to loss of water, as soon as you start eating some carbohydrates your weight will dramatically return. These foods, especially brown rice, beans, whole wheat bread and whole-grain cereals, are critically important to good health!

The prevalence of obesity is at an all time high due primarily to increased food intake and decreased physical activity. Since changes in these two behaviors are difficult, people are on the lookout for a quick-fix weight loss scheme. In fact, any system of food prohibition, such as limiting carbohydrate intake, will reduce caloric intake and result in body weight loss. Variations in the amount of carbohydrate in the diet have not been shown to have any unique effect on weight loss. On the contrary, increased consumption of foods high in saturated fats, like bacon, steak, cheese and butter have been shown to increase blood cholesterol and risk for heart disease.

Despite the diet plan, you should make food choices with your total nutritional health in mind.  Many carbohydrate foods, like fruits, vegetables, and grains, contain important vitamins and minerals not found in other foods.  In shaping the food choices of a diet plan, you must pay attention to the adequacy of overall nutrient intake.

 

About Christine Palumbo

Christine Palumbo, MBA, RD has been a nutrition communications consultant since 1989, providing dietary counsel and analysis on various nutrition, health and weight management topics to corporate clients and news media outlets nationwide. An active member of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), the Illinois Dietetic Association, Chicago Dietetic Association for more than twenty years, she has served on a variety of boards and practice group committees within those organizations. In 1981 and 1982, Palumbo was honored by the Chicago Dietetic Association and the Illinois Dietetic Association, respectively, as the Recognized Young Dietician of the Year.

Palumbo has been featured as the expert speaker in numerous national health panels and has published many articles and pamphlets regarding nutrition and healthcare. She has been featured in national women's, health and business magazines, daily newspapers and local and national radio programs. Palumbo has also appeared on numerous local and national TV news programs, including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997 on the health benefits of drinking water.


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