When you axe meat from your diet, you may be swapping that chicken stir-fry for a falafel pita—and paying for it on the scale. “Don’t be a French fry vegetarian! Just because it fits your criteria of being fit for a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you,” says Esther Blum, R.D., author of Cavewomen Don’t Get Fat. “Keep your carbs whole food-based. [They] should not come in a package with more than five ingredients—unless they’re herbs and spices. ” Reach for sweet potatoes, butternut squash, any winter squash, plantains, yucca, beans, or lentils versus white-flour carbs like bread, muffins, bagels, Blum says. If you want tortillas, she likes the kind made with cassava and coconut flours.
Whole-food carbs are best because they don’t provoke an insulin response in the body, like white flour, or processed carbs, Blum explains. “They don’t spike your blood sugar, they keep it stable for hours, and they’re also the richest in nutrition,” she says. “Once something has been ground and turned into a flour, and then baked, it doesn’t retain the nutrition [and] it spikes your blood sugar, which can lead to weight gain [or] make it very hard to lose weight.”