Do you mind your macros [too much]?

Macros, hm? A topic that is constantly present in my life yet not. Not in that I don’t care about my macro split in the least yet present still because macro talk is an everyday given in the media and on all social media platforms, particularly blogs and Instagram.

The other day, I saw a girl, no, woman state her insecurity about eating at work. Knowing her colleagues might comment on her choices [plenty of grain-based meals aka ‘carbs’] like they had in the past. So for fear of comments this grown-up woman and mum of a little one went through her work day not eating a single bite until she got home in the afternoon. Luckily, in her post she was opening up about these struggles and making the resolution to start bringing food to work again – a small success . What is making me very sad, though, is knowing she’s no exception.

Just a short time browsing blogs, not only WIAW posts, is enough to spy a lot of macronutrient-embracing language or ‘excuses’ for cosuming ‘too much’ of a particular macros..

“I love carbs!”

“Give me alllll the carbs!” vs. “Give me allll the fats!”

and on the guilty side

“Wow, I ate a lot of carbs today. Not enough protein in there.”

“Carbs on carbs on carbs – at least I had some vegetables on the side!”

*Protein never seems to require any further explanations because it’s the one ‘good guy’ everyone seems to agree on. Which is funny as it’s the one macronutrient that – when consumed in excess – may potentially lead to kidney diseases of some individuals so it’s not  a one-fits-all recommendation.

Onto the first category: Macro-embracing so: what’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing in general and I want to stress that I am not judging you or anybody who’s using this language. What I’m curious about is the reasoning behind these statements. Why do we feel the need to enthusiastically show our fondness of certain macronutrients? What I assume is that we – collectively as a generation; our grandparents sure didn’t count macros  – want to shout from the rooftops how unafraid of the ‘big bad’ carbs/fat we are. In some cases there’s what seems to be an added justification  [“eating all the carbs because: leg day!”].  Actually a sad fact. We should not be afraid because for heaven’s sake it’s all just food. Carbohydrates. Fats. Protein. Food. We do not need to earn food or explain our choices to anybody. Period.

Yes, by now the example is way overused but: look at the way children eat. Have you ever seen a toddler call for ‘more protein, hold the bread, please!”? Carefully shove aside the rice on his plate, eating only vegetables and protein? We’re not much different from toddlers when it comes to food. Grown-up, yes. Yet our minds have been manipulated by food companies, magazines and the likes to return to an almost infant-like state. Absorbing information that more confuses than empowers us or strengthens our intuitive knowledge of what’s good for us. The more often we’re told protein was key for saturation and carbs made us sluggish, the more likely we are to accept these statements as truths; no matter if they actually are for us personally.

A car isn’t proud to tout the fact it’s slurping up allll the gas. We know the fact of the latter being its prime [or in the machine’s case: only] source of fuel much like ours/our brain’s are carbohydrates [side note: yes, I’ve heard of the keto diet but don’t agree with its idea of ‘forcing’ our organism to use fat as its main fuel]. No need to explain, much less defend a natural inclination to eat these wonderful nutrients and plenty of them.

Nut butter drizzle

The average healthy person should give a flying fudge* about macronutrient amounts. Especially since no day is different – and no, this is not related to whatever kind of workout we do or don’t do – needs for certain macros vary. Trying to preplan and manage macros is a waste of time and revelry against our bodies’ intuitive wisdom.  Whether you are keen on carbs, fancying fat or partial to protein: it doesn’t change my view or opinion of you in the very least. In fact, an inclination to eat more of one macronutrient might very well be genetically predisposed. Trying to modify our genetic preferences a) doesn’t work, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves and b) ultimately leaves us constantly feeling unsatisifed. Athletes altering their macro intake for perfomance are an entirely different topic that would justify a post on its own so I didn’t include it here.

Quark_protein

I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about food. Please, I’m a blogger after all, too. But I wish we would change the way we talk about food. Not seeing it as its macronutrients but: Colours. Visual appeal. Taste! We as a society are [mostly] in the lucky situation – different from our grandparents’ generation or the populations of other countries – to see food as far more than fuel [aka: macros or energy]. We eat for taste, pleasure, fun and all these require no explanation, no defenses. Just appreciation for good food.

*purty expression borrowed from a British friend of mine

Happiness-inducing today: A client bringing in a little food gift for me specifically in addition to cake for the whole team [which has become a regular whenever she visits]. It wasn’t so much about the food but the thoughtfulness and unexpected appreciation.

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It might not surprise you when I say I could have gone on and on about the topic. Yet this post is long enough as is already and I only spontaneously decided to join Amanda’s Thursday thinking party so I’ll hand the mic over to you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments! If you have talked about macros in similar ways as mentoned here: was there a reason? I might be wrong with my assumptions on the ‘why’ and would happily find out people’s reasons.

Merken

Merken

Merken

Merken

Spill it Sunday [The Carb Edition]

The second post of the day and the long-awaited [or so he said] installment of Arman’s macronutrient-focused Spill it Sundays is here. Okay, I’ll probably have to agree with him here. Because carbs are likely the most ‘controversial’ of the three macros. And because – while I generally don’t like any claims of being a fats/ protein/ carb person – I feel the latter benefit me the most.

Spill-it-Sunday-option-2-1

1. What is your all time favourite carbohydrate based food/dish?

Given the frequency I have it with I’d have to oat bran. Always prepared stove-top, always with added nut butter. But if we’re talking about dishes that hold a special place in my heart yet don’t make an everyday appearance: Semmelknödel. You’ve heard me talk about these delicious little balls more than once before – and for a good reason.

What they can’t offer in looks they make up in their satisfying doughy taste … and now I’m getting seriously hungry so we’d better go on with the survey.

2. What is your favourite fruit?

All the fruit! Limiting myself to one favourite would be unfair. It’s easier to say which fruit I don’t like [as much]: papaya [maybe I’ve just had bad luck every time I picked one up or how can they taste like nothing?], figs and pomegranates.

Fruit – despite its high sugar content – has never been a problem for me.

3. What is your favourite grain?

If the first question didn’t answer if sufficiently: Oats. They’re incredibly versatile taking on both sweet and savoury variations like no other grain. Plus, they cook super fast which is a bonus if you’re like me and not versed enough at meal planning to think and cook your grains in advance.

Topped with popped amaranth and almond butter sauce these are reason enough to get up.

It’s hard to go a day without them for me and looking at the many blogs out there dedicated to oatmeal alone I know I’m in good company.

4. What is your favourite starchy vegetable?

For once a ‘favourite’ question that’s easy to answer: kabocha. At best from my mum’s garden and just steamed. Plain perfection with a side of almond butter.

Breakfast_kabocha

5. Which carb receives unfair flack? Which carb is most overrated?

If this wasn’t just about them already I’d say carbs overall [still] get a bad reputation. The number of magazine articles, blogs and the likes promoting low-carb diets is immense. But to limit the length of my reply here: White everything receives unfair flack. Sure, white grains aren’t as nutritious as whole grains. But making them the devil and badmouthing anybody eating them isn’t fair. I personally prefer the taste of whole grains, too, but my parents don’t [unless we’re talking bread] so if I’m with them it’s likely we’re having white rice or pasta – and that’s okay. Regarding my visits at Vapiano I didn’t mention it yet but their white pasta – back then a challenge – was actually more delicious than the whole grain one [which was unpleasantly gritty unlike the brands I’d buy if cooking pasta at home].

Vapiano Arrabiata

And sorry I’m not sorry for committing a blogger sin here but: sweet potatoes are the most overrated carb in my opinion. I tried them time and time again – only to discover I really don’t enjoy them. Not even when almond butter is involved and that says a lot. No more paying high prices and turning on the oven for these, sorry. Just give white potatoes a little more appreciation. These are the ones I grew up eating and they will forever have a special place in my heart. And I know Arman shares the fondness – he just passed the food part of the German immigration test 😉 .

6. Link up a favourite carb embracing recipe (it can be your own or another bloggers!).

Ideally, I should have a recipe for Semmelknödel up on the blog by now – note to self: post one! – but given that I haven’t we’ll go with some of my favourite legume dishes. Because they have carbs, too, right?

Chickpeas in Blueberry Chocolate Mole

Chickpeas in mole

I can’t go without featuring a recipe involving my favourite starchy vegetable so: Red Lentil Kabocha Chili.

Kabocha Lentil

7. What is YOUR perception of this macronutrient?

A picture says more than a thousand words [and unless I stop writing soon I may or may not reach that mark with this post].

I like them. I really like them. In my family we grew up eating carbs/ grains for every meal: breakfast were bowls of whole grain granola or müesli, lunches always had a side of pasta/ rice/ couscous/ potatoes/ you name it and dinner was bread. Hence why going low-carb will never work for me. The days when I’d try to limit my carb intake and counted the amount of grains in my meals and snacks were sad and exhausting to say the least. As hinted to in my introduction I’d most likely be a ‘carb person’ if I used those labels. A diet made up of mostly carbs, a good amount of fats and some protein feels just right for me.

8. What benefits do CARBS play in YOUR personal eating habits?

Similar to fats they give me satisfaction, energy and make me an all around happy camper. So let’s not hate on carbs anymore, okay? Good. Go and have a …

Happy Sunday!

Happiness inducing today: Sunshine outside again after days of rain.

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What’s your favourite carb-based dish or food?

Have you ever tried a low-carb diet and what were your experiences?