(Good) Carbs are not the Enemy


As a teen, my passion was to become a ballet dancer. A gruelling training regime alongside a demand for “that dancer’s physique” saw my body begging for nutrition, yearning for energy. It was certainly not sustained and my mind was chaotically consumed with uncertain and negative thoughts about food.

Years later I entered a career in fashion, yet another industry driven by body image, further fueling my cynical relationship with food. It became a perilous and unsustainable one.

Ten years ago, my beautiful Mum and Dad got their angel wings. Grief is as heart aching as it is humbling, and it brings with it a darkness that makes us take cherish our precious time here. It is often in certain darkness that we begin to truly see ourselves.

What I have taken from this is an enlightened respect and appreciation for the body that we have and how we can better nurture and appreciate her and all that she does for us.

In my late 20s, this enlightenment motivated a career and lifestyle change which lead me back to university, later earning Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics. My heart-led mission is now helping others achieve an ongoing healthy and sustainable relationship with food that is the premise of a fulfilling and well-rounded lifestyle.

Irrespective of health concerns, a healthy approach to nutrition cannot be healthy without first having a positive food relationship. It is a harmony of education and intuition, one that is balanced (and not always clean), one that has room for your favorite foods, even they are a “feared” food. One that sets aside food guilt and allows you to eat foods that make you feel good all the time, no matter what that food may be.

This general approach to nutrition I nurture in my practice can be an effortless transition for some. For many is takes time and plenty of self-reflection. However, once they are “there” there’s no looking back.

A healthy approach to nutrition cannot be healthy without first having a positive food relationship… one that is balanced (and not always clean), one that has room for your favorite foods

One feared food group I commonly see are carbohydrates, and not even the processed kind. I am witness to fear of the fibre rich wholegrains and nutrient dense vegetables and fruit.

Carbohydrates are not the devil. When eaten the right way they are our primary source of energy for brain and muscle function and are integral for hormone balance. Furthermore, complex carbohydrates are primary to feed and seed healthy gut real-estate. For this reason, you should know that with 90 percent of serotonin made in your gut, when there is an imbalance of bad microbiome, so too is a low production of this soothing and uplifting hormone.

To sustain energy and support weight management, it is best to eat carbohydrates that allow the body to absorb glucose in a slow and sustainable way. This is just one reason why complex carbohydrates are essential with every meal, and the simple/processed variety are a treat. Your refined carbohydrate of choice may be lower in ‘calories’, however it will peak and trough your blood glucose, leaving you feeling constantly starving yet contribute to steady weight gain, low mood and depleted energy. This being one example of when a calorie is not just a calorie.

Fibre keeps our digestion flowing, balances blood sugar, lowers cholesterol and helps clear excess/synthetic hormones, toxins and fats.

Foods from the earth both provide and support the growth of beneficial bacteria and builds short chain fatty acids which are potent anti-inflammatory compounds. Fibre also provides your gut with prebiotic’s which feed your probiotics. Prebiotics are a food first approach, meaning your nutritional approach is essential, even if you are supplementing with a probiotic.

You should aim for 30-40g of fibre a day through wholegrains, pulses, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, fruits, nuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and psyllium husks. This looks something like: one tablespoon of chia seeds, one cup of mixed wholegrains, one cup of pulses, four cups of mixed salad and/or vegetables spread over the day.

Vegetables are a rich source of folate, fibre, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium (among so much more), all while providing a wide of phytonutrients that are the cornerstone of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory power. Eating a varied and colourful array daily is mother nature’s multivitamin.

Greens with every meal. Greens are high in nutrients and fibre and lower in starchy carbohydrates, meaning they will keep you fuller for longer.

Starchy vegetables, such as potato, corn, carrots and sweet potato allow a rise in blood sugar causing a release of insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to utilise calories from food as sustainable energy to last the day. Furthermore, resistant starch feeds short chain fatty acids which keep our gut barrier in-tact, reduce inflammation, satisfy and control appetite.

There is absolutely no reason to exclude starchy fruits from your diet. As you have read, starch should not be feared when eaten the right way. This is another example of when a calorie is not just a calorie. 2 serves of fruit per day will provide you with the nutrients and energy your body needs. A processed “low carb” energy bar will not.

Gluten is a “sometimes” food; a protein (gliadin) found in grains which commonly make up products such as bread, cereal, cakes, biscuits, pasta, crackers and cakes. Gluten is also hidden in gravies, packet soups, sausages, sauces and marinades.

Even without a known gluten intolerance, frequent consumption of gluten can be problematic over time. This glue-like protein has the ability to stick to the walls of the intestine, sending inflammatory markers to your gut, compromising intestinal wall integrity. When this damage occurs, particles of gluten, essential nutrients and bad bacteria escape, compromising the gut, immune system and overall wellbeing.

Eating seasonal is best for nutritional content and dollar value. Buying local-grown produce will also hold a higher nutritional value, as well as support local farmers and community. Many small farmers can’t afford the expensive organic certification yet are just as passionate about their produce as they are the environment and our precious ecosystem. www.livnutritious.com.au or
follow Liv on Instagram @livnutritious.

Liv’s recipe for Spiced Rhubarb Breakfast Crumble is available on her website. “Did you know that buckwheat, despite its name, is not actually wheat, and is thus gluten free?” she says. “Due to its high mineral and antioxidant content, this nutty tasting grain is a worthy inclusion into your pantry essentials. I’ll be honest: it doesn’t always taste amazing but it truly does here, I assure you.”



Olivia (Liv) Crumpton has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics, with a clinic on Sydney’s northern beaches. Her approach with clients is bespoke according to their individual circumstances and needs, and based first and foremost on judgment-free understanding. She takes a scientific and holistic approach that harnesses the combined power of nutrition, smart eating strategies and exercise, working with clients to create the changes they desire and build a healthy relationship with food to guide them to wellness.