Carbs are complicated. They’re super important, since they give us energy and are essential for normal brain function. But not all carbs are created equal, and the ones that aren’t as good for us—the simple carbs in white pasta, rice, bread, etc.—are particularly crave-able and it’s easy to eat too many. While drastically cutting carbs might not be a good idea, eating slightly fewer of those simple carbs (and replacing them with vegetables) could lead to a healthier overall diet.
(A quick but important note here: If you have a history of disordered eating, you should consult your doctor before starting a new eating plan, and that includes trying to cut calories or carbs.)
“Foods like rice, pasta and pizza are typically enjoyed in white varieties. They’re high in calories and low in fiber, so they break down into sugar quickly in our bodies,” Amy Shapiro, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. of Real Nutrition NYC tells SELF. And while sugar is our main energy source, “we don’t need much energy at night, to sit on the couch or go to sleep.” That makes dinner a good time to cut out unnecessary carbs. But dinner is often the only meal we have time to really cook and savor, so the idea of eating plain green salad and a slab of protein every night is, well…kind of a drag. Finding creative ways to turn low-carb vegetables into substitutes for high-carb foods like pasta, bread, and rice can be delicious and fun. “With these swaps, you won’t feel like you’re missing out, and you’ll get so many more nutrients,” says Shapiro. Also, you’ll be less full, which means better sleep, better digestion, and less bloat in the morning.” Reason enough to break out the spiralizer, for sure.