Carbs are often considered the enemy, but as it all depends on making the right, nutritious choices. Here are 5 tips to have your carbs, the smart way!

We hear it all the time: carbs are ‘bad’ and need to be restricted from a healthy diet. Here are 5 reasons why it’s all about the quality, and not the quantity.


Carbs are a constant topic of nutrition conversations, but for all the wrong reasons. What most people tend to forget is that carbs are not evil when you eat them sensibly.  If weight gain is of concern, that comes if you eat too much in the way of carbs, or any other food for that matter.  

The key to eating carbs is to choose smart carbs. The kind that actually have nutritious value like fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals.  I’m talking about whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables and dairy.  Added sugars and refined carbs like white bread, white pasta, sodas, pastries and cookies are the types to consider limiting. Here are 5 easy ways to start eating smart carbs:

1. Swap out white pasta with whole wheat pasta.

Whole wheat pasta tastes great and contains the “F” word that many dietitians love so much…..FIBER! Women need at least 25 grams per day while men need 38 grams.  

Remember, you don’t need to give up pasta. you can opt for a more ‘fiberful’ option.  Don’t forget to make AT LEAST 1/2 of all your daily grains from whole grains.

2. Eat fruit instead of drinking fruit juice.

Not only does fruit have a ton of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that work synergistically together, fruit also has fiber.  Juice is severely lacking in fiber department, and the fiber from an orange will give you some sense of fullness while a glass of orange juice probably won’t.  1-1/2 to 2 cups of fruit per day is the recommended daily amount by the USDA.  So, if you’re thirsty, grab some water.  If you want a smarter carb, munch on a piece of fruit.

3. Satisfy those salty cravings.

Did you know that popcorn is a whole grain? Instead of going for chips, go for popcorn! Most microwave popcorns have a lot of unnecessary ingredients, so opt instead for bagged popcorn with a minimal ingredients list.  Popcorn, salt, oil and some flavoring such as herbs or garlic should be the only ones listed.  

It’s also super easy to make your own popcorn!   Add 1/2 cup of kernels to a brown paper lunch bag and fold the top of the bag over tightly. Cook in microwave for about 2 minutes. Add salt and seasonings to popcorn such as garlic powder, parmesan cheese, chili powder, smoked paprika or herbs.  Drizzle a little bit of butter or sprinkle truffle salt on your popcorn for a touch of decadence.  

4. Not all yogurts are created equal.

Plain milk and yogurt have natural sugars called lactose, and that’s absolutely fine.  Just be mindful of the sugar that may be added to yogurt to make it extra sweet.

Next time you go to the supermarket, pick up a few different brands of yogurt and compare the sugar amounts. You may be pretty shocked that most have artificial sweeteners, additives, fillers and gelatin.  

Instead, consider buying plain greek yogurt and add fruit.  If you need more sweetness, mix with a touch of honey.  Greek yogurt has protein, B vitamins, calcium and probiotics that’s creamy and delicious.  Mix with peanut butter  or almond butter for a filling afternoon snack!

5. Sweet potatoes…Just eat them.

Sweet potatoes are good for you because they are packed full of beta carotene, vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and anti-inflammatory antioxidants.   There are endless ways to prepare them: bake, steam, microwave, roast, mash, puree…just to name a few.

At 27 grams of carbs for 1 medium sweet potato, they are also a great way to fuel before your next workout.

Adapted from the original article.

Lindsey Pine, MS, RDN, CSSD, CLT is a Los Angeles-based dietitian, specializing in food sensitivities and culinary creations.  Whether she’s working with students at University of Southern California or in her private practice, Lindsey helps others find the healthy foods that they love so help sustain their long-term success. To find your tastiest balance in life, connect with Lindsey at Tasty Balance Nutrition.