I know, I know… in the universe of diets and healthy eating, I may as well declare I inject myself with radioactive waste. Pasta! Carbs! Wheat! Gluten! Refined Grains! The Horror….
Yet, here I am. I eat pasta. I successfully lost weight. I successfully maintain it. I live!
How can this be?
Let me first state that I am fully aware there are people who have different dietary needs than I do myself. I know there are people with conditions that mean they cannot eat the things I eat. That is 100% No Problem. I am totally behind whatever makes you happy and healthiest.
However, I personally do not have any health reasons to avoid gluten. Side note: It is disturbing how many times I have made this statement only to have someone tell me I am mistaken. Oh really? You know my body better than I do? My experience is invalid? That does not sit well with me. Remember that part about me supporting you in whatever makes you happy and healthy? It should be a two-way street. I feel great, I sleep great, I wake up with energy, I don’t have any digestive issues, all my test numbers are perfect, and I’m happy. I am gluten tolerant. Enough said.
And yes. I have read what you have read, so you don’t have to share “Wheat Belly” or “Good Calories, Bad Calories” with me. Yes, I know that grains are what are killing us all since Paleolithic times. Yes, I know today’s wheat is not the same as the wheat of yesteryear. Yes I know about the GMOs. Yes, I know about insulin resistance and the glycemic index. Yes, I know. Oh, do I ever know. I have read far more than my fair share of health and nutrition articles and books.
In the end, I had to take it all with a grain of salt. Literally. I like salt.
If I stopped eating everything I have read people should not eat, I would just starve to death because there would be nothing left to eat. I have taken what I learned when I was still reading that stuff, and used what makes sense to me and ignored the rest. I don’t read it anymore because I got sick of the hyperbole. You know what’s going to kill us all eventually? Life. But you have to eat to live, so just do the best you can and ignore the rest.
There are things I personally do not eat. I do not eat meat. I do not eat High Fructose Corn Syrup. I do not eat Hydrogenated or Partially-Hydrogenated oils. I do not drink soda. I do not eat fast food. I do not eat Cool Ranch Doritos or Lean Cuisine. I do my very best to eat food. I read ingredient lists and make sure they are short and comprehensible. I cook almost everything I eat from scratch.
And that’s enough for me. You could stop short of where I am or you could go further. Or you could go in a totally different direction. Just look at the wide world of international cuisine. Different cultures have completely varied and distinct food traditions yet none of them have health issues we have in the US. Pasta has been a part of some of those cultures’ diets for centuries.
Here are my top reasons for including pasta in my diet 1-2 times per week:
- It is delicious. Pasta has always been one of my favorite foods. It’s right up there with artichokes, ripe tomatoes, and dark chocolate.
- It is easy. Boil water. Throw in pasta. Wait about 10 min. Drain. While it’s cooking, I can chop up some vegetables. Simple, quick, hot dinner.
- It is filling. I find pasta very satisfying. Especially mixed with some tasty veggies, it’s a meal I always enjoy that keeps me satiated.
- It is easy to control the portion. Many people have a difficult time not over-eating pasta. I can relate. It’s an easy thing to eat more of, going back to that “delicious” thing. There’s a really simple solution for this though: only cook the amount you intend to eat.
- As a vegetarian, it gives me options when eating out. Often the only non-meat dish on a menu is some sort of pasta.
Next, I’d like to talk about they type of pasta I choose to eat most often: plain old regular pasta. The kind people ate before they started worrying about gluten or even whole grains. The kind I grew up eating. I have tried all the other types, and some of them are okay, but when it comes right down to it, I just like regular pasta better. I figured out awhile ago that for me, it’s better to just have the real thing I want in a moderate portion than to have a substitute that doesn’t quite satisfy.
I’d also like to go back to my ingredient list reading. This pasta is pretty ideal to me. It’s organic. It has one ingredient. I’ve noticed that most whole grain pastas have lots of ingredients. Some of them are weird. I don’t bother researching weird ingredients anymore, I just don’t buy it. If I find a whole grain pasta with a short ingredient list, I try it. It’s usually okay, but not as good as something like this.
Of course, fresh or homemade pasta would be even better! But pasta is one of those staples I just like to have around for when I forget to shop or don’t know what to make. It’s a staple in my cabinet. I don’t let perfect be an enemy of good.
There are other noodles I am fond of. Buckwheat noodles are quite good and I like to have them with Asian type dishes. I tried some quinoa pasta I liked quite a bit. Rice noodles are good.
But nothing is ever going to replace pasta in my kitchen. It’s just one of my favorite foods.
Including your favorite foods in your diet is important. I believe in eating a healthy variety and not stressing about it too much. For healthy, active adults, it doesn’t need to be much more complicated that.