Nutritional advice: Five ways with carbs

These days it’s all too common to hear people say they’re “cutting carbs” or going on a low-carb diet.

We seem to have forgotten that no nutrient alone – be that fat, carbs or protein – can elevate our health nor fatten our waistline.  

I’m all for cutting back on added sugar and highly processed carbs, but carbs generally are an important part of a healthy diet.

Let’s take a look at five simple ways to eat carbs for optimal health.

Smart Swap, Low GI

To keep energy systems firing all day, opt for minimally processed carbs that are also low GI (slow release). Top choices include wholegrain breads and cereals, legumes (beans and lentils), wholegrains (oats, barley, quinoa and long grain rice), fruit, dairy and starchy veg such as sweet potato, corn and low GI potatoes.

Portion Distortion

For portion control, use the Plate Model: one quarter carb-rich foods, one quarter protein-rich foods and half colourful plant foods. 

Space Them Out

During digestion, carbohydrates break down to blood glucose to supply the body with energy, so skimping at one meal and gorging the next will push blood glucose levels through high peaks and low troughs, which can wreak havoc on energy levels and vitality. 

Carbs + Protein

Protein rich foods are incredibly filling. You only need to compare how easy it is to overeat fluffy white bread with a hefty steak to see what I mean.  To stay fuller for longer and avoid the temptation to overeat carbs, your best bet is to include a source of protein with each meal.  This could be as simple as adding a poached egg to your toast, adding some cold meat to a sandwich or mince meat to a tomato based pasta sauce.


Jam-packed with filling fibre, non-starchy veg (all except potato and corn) are the perfect low-energy choice to bulk out meals. They should crowd out more energy dense foods such as rice and pasta.

Jenelle Croatto is an accredited practising dietitian