Crusty bread. Tender pasta. Soft cinnamon rolls. They are hard to avoid and have made a big impact on our food culture; yet cutting out these culinary favorites is a growing trend as people are starting to question the necessity for carbohydrates in their diet, claiming they add weight or decrease energy.
Carbs have become the latest nutritional villain, replacing saturated fat. Despite growing awareness of the need to cut the carbs, breaking ties with muffins, breads and crackers is difficult for many people, and an effort to curb the carbs may leave you craving carbs more than ever!
Currently, the most debated topic in the world of nutrition is carbs. We hear about good carbs versus bad carbs; processed carbs versus whole grains. Others say glutinous grains are the problem and non-glutinous grains like quinoa, millet, and rice are safe.
Some take it further saying that whole grains need to be soaked and sprouted before consumption. There are success stories from Paleo eaters, and then equal success from avid whole grain vegetarian eaters. However, one thing that is universally agreed upon is that the processed carbs need to go!
Humans love sweet things and we live in a society that requires on demand energy. As a result, sugar, caffeine, and processed carbs have become the go-to, providing this short-term energy to help us temporarily focus. Over time, however, these short term remedies eventually exhaust our natural energy supplies, leaving us craving more to get the boost. It is a hard to break the addiction cycle, and that is why cutting out carbs is not as easy as it looks.
Knowing the difference between a “good” and a “bad” carb will determine your success or failure in the carb curbing mission. Processed carbs are products made from grains and flours that are stripped of the fiber, germ and bran present in whole grains. What this does is make cakes, muffins, breads, and cookies more shelf-stable, easy to chew, and easier to digest.
However, easier-to-digest foods often lead to sudden blood sugar spikes, mood swings, and crazy cravings. Processed foods do not serve our bodies in any way beyond the taste buds (and yes, they can taste really good!). They also contribute to inflammation, which is the underlying cause of most chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Everyone will benefit from removing processed foods from their diet, whether the objective is to lose weight, manage autoimmune issues, or feel more energetic.
The current trend suggests replacing these processed carbs with more meat. However, while this diet change may work well for some in the short term by providing more fat and protein to fuel cells and balance blood sugar levels, in the long term, consuming more meat is not the answer. In fact, an excess of meat can also lead to inflammation and sugar or carb cravings, leading you back to square one.
However, where there is a will, there is a way. With these five tips, you can curb your carb cravings and increase your energy, while enjoying food to the fullest!
1. Make your plate colorful: Tell the brown and beige to move on over, and replace that space on your plate with colorful foods like leafy greens, vibrant sweet potatoes and bright red peppers. A constant craving for processed carbs can signify nutritional deficiencies, and be a warning call from your cells. By incorporating more whole foods [fruit, vegetables, whole grains (for some), nuts, seeds] into your diet, you provide the vitamins and minerals needed to fuel your cells. You can do this by making sure you have a colorful vegetable at every meal (add spinach to your eggs, salad at lunch, and a vegetable at dinner).
2. Use fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth: Unfortunately, fruit has fallen victim to the no-carb trend, when in fact fruit is one of the most important components of a healthy diet. In its whole form, fruit provides fiber, antioxidants and nutrients that fuel the body and brain. It is also the perfect pick-me-up snack or the ideal thing to reach for if you are craving sugar. Fruit is transportable and easy to keep around the house or at the office so it is there when you need it. Leave a bowl in the kitchen or on your desk to make it visible and available.
3. Don’t be afraid of fat: Fat has been vilified for decades, but science is now redeeming fat and putting it back on our plate – in the healthy way. Good fat from avocados, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and pastured or grass-fed meats can help stabilize blood sugar levels, provide long lasting energy, and keep you satiated longer, thereby reducing cravings. Fat is also essential for hormone health, and hormones gone crazy can also cause insane cravings.
4. Drink enough water: Often we crave food when we are indeed thirsty. When the craving to munch arises, drink a glass of water, and then wait twenty minutes. More times than not, the craving will subside. If you are a caffeine drinker, adequate water is especially important as caffeine dehydrates the body. If you find water boring, liven it up with fresh citrus slices, cucumbers, or herbal teas.
5. Examine your emotions: To curb a craving you know is not related to blood sugar or an imbalance of nutrients, start to look at your emotions. Write down your craving and why you think you have this craving. Are you bored? Are you missing something in your life? Are you overwhelmed? Often we eat for reasons we are not aware of, and once this is brought into awareness, we can find other ways to deal with the emotion.
Once you figure out the what, when and why, then you can work to answer your body’s call, and make the right choice. Those chocolate chip cookies may look appealing, but they are not going to give you the energy you need to conquer the 3 p.m. slump. Instead, choose a piece of fruit and some nuts. For lunch, while a burger and fries smell amazing, it will probably contribute to a desk sleeping coma a few hours later. Opt for a grilled chicken salad or a grain bowl with salmon to sustain you longer and give you more stable energy.
You are the expert on your body. Carb or no carb, grain or no grains, you have to first find out what triggers your cravings, and what best fuels your body. However, one thing is fact; when you leave the processed foods at the door and replace them with quality, whole foods, you will start to feel better.
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.