I recently read this article about what athletes should eat in lieu of pasta and 5 yummy healthy things were listed. They provided antioxidants, essential oils, fiber and many other things. The thing they couldn't do is give athletes valuable energy that you need when you train for several hours each day. In this day and age where many people want to be fit and look young, many train hard and need to fuel their bodies to sustain energy and avoid turning their bodies against themselves. I know what I'm talking about as I have witnessed what can happen when you lose weight from all the training and feel like there is no amount of food to remedy that. Your blood sugar drops, general crankiness sets in and you are tired a lot. And if this continues for a long time, the body starts attacking itself. Some of the results are not necessarily visible immediately. It starts with less energy so the risk of injuries goes up, i.e. you are tired you become sloppy, you fall. Longer term issues can mean conditions such as osteoporosis, especially in women, which "only" becomes a problem when you're older.
So why is it that we condemn pasta (and rice and potatoes) so much? Do we fear weight gain? Or has the wellness industry put a stigma on them?
For some sports under close supervision of doctors, athletes carb-load. The shorter chain sugars are consumed to increase performance and give muscles essential energy during a half day or day of intense work. All energy bars, gels and drinks are essentially made from the same thing but somehow when we glue those to our handlebars it's less bad than eating a bowl of steaming (whole wheat?) pasta. A lot of Asian countries live on rice and in many African countries big portions of meals consist of maize (e.g. South African pap and Kenyan ugali) and people are for the most part slim.
I've told many people the very strict meal plan I used to be on before major events and it's no fun eating the same thing every day for approximately 10 days but boy was I happy that aside from healthy salads and lean protein there was a good pasta dish at the end of the day that ensured I would wake up refreshed. I am a no fun when I'm hungry, all the above mentioned symptoms kick in.
Where am I going with this? Back to YOU! Us as individuals.
With a gazillion options in what to eat and drink we have become less intuitive about what we need and enjoy. A healthy body will regulate the amounts of food too. There's a balance between full and hungry and the occasional indulgence is no big deal. So, listen to your body (the gut feeling- no pun intended) to be healthier, more frugal or if you eat more one day, balance it out with exercise the next day.
And in all of this remember that being a fit, healthy person is a state in which YOU lead a fulfilled enjoyable life. It should not be a chore.
I dare you to try it. Now go have a piece of chocolate.