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Can We All Just Eat Carbs Again, Please?

by Ellie Balfe
21st Dec 2017

Can we all just eat carbs again, please?

As I sit to write this, there is a mug of Barry’s tea and plate of hot, buttery toast in front of me and the anticipation of its warm, soothing satisfaction is making me immensely happy. A few months ago, my eleven o’clock snack (yes, I have elevenses, don’t you?), would have been a green tea and a handful of almonds, which I had brainwashed myself into believing I liked. What I think I liked, more than the actual taste, was that I felt more virtuous via choosing these not-very-delicious morsels of denial. I felt like I was doing The Right Thing by cutting out carbs and eating clean.

Another signpost on my hopeful journey to ultimate self-awareness has been the realisation that gradually, very gradually, things such as potatoes and pasta have been creeping back on to my dinner plate in recent times.

What I’m trying to say here is, ‘carbs are back, baby’!

And I don’t think I’m alone – a poll conducted on my Instagram account (God, I love polls), told me that lots of you are feeling the same. The slippery slide to carb loading and weight gain is a clear and present danger. Granted, overall, bread sales are dwindling  and avocado sales still peaking, but I’m choosing to go the other way – back to bread.

But is it really a danger? And why are we sliding?

I can only speak for myself when I say that, I feel two distinct emotions when it comes to carbs, 1) I need and like them and 2) I’m sick of the continually cold feeling of denying myself something my body wants.
Yes, there are the seasonal factors; comfort food is the blanket we need in cold, weird weather. It is also the balm our soul needs to soothe us with from the Brexit/Trump/too-much-plastic-in-the-ocean bad vibes.
But more than that, because we all know that comfort food hits a spot nothing else does, it’s about being true to what you want. It’s a piece of self-love. It’s showing up for yourself, Goddammit! And this, my friends, is the Holy Grail of life.

We all need what we need, and it’s up to ourselves to make it happen. That can manifest in big, brave moves such as leaving jobs, taking career risks, taking a loan to see a dream come true, moving to another country – any, and all of these things are investments in oneself. As is, in a micro way, eating bread again. If you need it, do it.

I spent years on diets. I tried every, single faddish thing that came along. I did juice fasts, meal replacement shakes, high protein, plain fasts, 5:2, Atkins, The Miami Diet…
Some worked and I lost weight. And then I put it back on again. But mostly, I was miserable. And too darn focussed on myself. And you know what the stinger is? When I look back on photos of myself over the years, I see the same me as I see now, there were no radical changes. Yes, some photos present a slightly leaner version of me, but I also looked hungry. And narky.

It’s too tedious to be constantly thinking about, counting and measuring food, and as well as that, and more importantly, isn’t it a bit rubbish to be so inward looking? We don’t see the world around us, only what we’re having for lunch.
There’s a word for that. Narcissism. And that’s never a good look.

I can’t say if I’ve had a distinct epiphany on this, it has been the slippery slide to carb complacency, but I notice I am minus a mysterious thing that was haunting me for a long time. Guilt! That bastard used to sit on my shoulders and talk un-ending sh*t to me over the years, and the true miracle here is that he’s been shaken off. Because, you know what? I know how to keep my body healthy. I know that I go up a few pounds in winter and go down again in summer. I know I need to ramp up the walking and yoga when I feel sluggish and my jeans are screaming at me to loosen their top button. I know about supplements, I know about ginger and I believe strongly in pro-biotics. And I know I’ll make modifications if and when the time is right (mainly in Spring).

But for now, all bets are off; it’s sub-zero most days and I’m cooking up sticky lasagnes and Cottage pies.

I am a grown woman who has chosen not to allow Instagram to dictate to me how I feel about myself. I’m not saying it isn’t hard to look at that taut, young skin and sleekly defined muscle in the fitfam hashtag, but hey! Just don’t look! What are you gaining by observing them and their ‘perfect’ lives where they spend hours on each filtered and modified shot? Nothing, that’s what.

I don’t see myself in them, nor they in me. I am an Im-perfectionista, and I don’t care. Physical and mental health, plus a sprinkling of spiritual wealth is the goal here; the ‘gram ain’t the Grail!
Because, honestly, life is far too short to worry about carbohydrate -versus -protein ratios on our plates. We have sick parents, we have bills to pay, we have marriages and children to attend to (endlessly). In short, we have bigger fish to fry. And if we pair those fish with some perfectly crispy, sea-salted, rosemary-adorned French Fries, well so be it.

Don’t live a little; live a lot. Eat the bread.

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