UNITED STATES—With the New Year still in full swing, we’ve chatted about the importance of getting on a healthy track when it comes to food. We’ve chatted about fruits; we’ve talked about veggies, now the conversations shifts to the one category where I suffer a great weakness: carbs. When it comes to carbs they’re vital to the body because they help kick-start your day and help push you in the direction of building energy. However, consuming carbohydrates without actually utilizing them can hurt the body because they can become sugar.

I’ll be the first to admit it, I love bread! I know it’s not a good thing, but bread makes so many dishes taste that much better. This includes soup, sandwiches, pasta and so much more. Now one thing I absolutely agree with is the fact that you should refrain from eating white bread. White bread is a no go people, so aim for a healthier bread if possible; one that is whole wheat and has whole grains. If you are one who loves to indulge in a great sandwich (yes, I’m one of those too), try utilizing a whole wheat pita bread or a flatbread. Why? It’s a bit lighter, and still gives you the best of both worlds, the only difference is instead of having two pieces of bread covering everything, you have a Carb that allows you to stuff the items or wrap them up.

Pasta, pasta, pasta, it is something that many of us include in our daily meals. However, pasta is one of those carbs that Americans are consuming too much of. I love Italian food and if I’m making anything with chicken I like to include pasta in the mix. However, I’ve learned in recent years that what one would think is an adequate amount of pasta in a meal is not even close to what we should actually be consuming. You’re really only supposed to have a handful of pasta with your meal. Yeah, I’ve been overdoing it for years, consuming like 4-5 handfuls of pasta with a meal.

If pasta is something you enjoy, try a healthier approach by utilizing whole wheat pasta, or even those various pastas that now implement a veggie approach to the starchy food item so many of us love. Like pasta, the same sentiment is echoed for rice. If you’re going to indulge in rice, stay away from white and focus your attention on brown rice. I will admit I don’t love brown rice as it doesn’t have that taste that white rice has. In addition, it takes a bit longer to cook, however, the health benefits of eating brown rice over white rice is something your body will thank you for in the long run.

Look I’m not going to sit here and tell you NOT to eat carbs that’s like beating a dead horse. I will inform you there are alternatives to the traditional carbohydrates so many of us eat. While you might think the taste is completely different, you’ll be surprised that it’s not that different at all. The only caveat is that you are eating much healthier with these alternatives than you ever expected.

Written By Kelsey Thomas