I got this question at work the other day (we’re a fairly healthy-minded bunch):
What are complex carbs vs simple carbs?
This question seems complex, but the answer is quite simple. Simple carbs and complex carbs end up in the same place of the nutrition facts label, but they are most certainly different.
Are all carbs bad?
Clearly not all carbohydrates are bad. We need carbs to live – glucose (what carbs break down to in your body) is what your body uses for energy. That’s why when you eat a candy bar you get hyper for a little while – your body just got a big dose of easy-to-use energy because the carbs were partially processed before they got to your stomach. Simple carbs and complex carbs both turn into sugar in the body; the process just happens faster for simple carbs.
This post is going to be an explanation of what has worked for me. I’m pretty sensitive to sugar (read: too many sweet treats = too many pimples). In addition to my skin sensitivity to sugar, I also seem to have either a mental or physical reaction to eating it – once I start it’s hard to stop! If I have a McD’s cone as a snack (they’re cheap and yum) I also want one for dessert that night, for a snack the next day, and forever more. So I try to avoid sugar to avoid sugar cravings and bad acne. When it comes down to complex versus simple carbohydrates, complex is what I choose, especially complex carbs from veggies.
Which carbs are bad for us?
Most scientists agree that the faster carbs (simple, or white carbs; meaning they convert to sugar quickly) are the worst type of carbohydrate. This is mainly because they spike blood sugar, which has a number of negative long-term effects including a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. These carbs include (and thus I try* to avoid…):
- Processed carbs like white bread, white flour, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (also regular corn syrup)*
- Processed carbs like candy, cookies, most baked goods*
- Fake sweeteners (not technically carbs because they have no calories – but they give me a stomachache, a headache, and it’s probably not good to eat frankenfood chemicals)
I love muffins!
*I still eat these things, but in moderation when I want them. Artisan bread with smooth creamy butter? On occasion, yes please!
Which carbs are good in moderation?
There is definitely a middle ground when it comes to complex versus simple carbs, and that middle ground is whole grain-y things (for me). They’re not the easiest foods to digest (see IBS), but they certainly are delicious. These guys include:
- Unprocessed grains like rice (white or brown).* (I grew up hating rice but now I LOVE it. I usually have it several times a week. It’s especially good with a big of ghee, aka clarified butter.)
- Oatmeal (steel cut, regular, whatever – preferably not instant).
- Winter squash (these are my favorite foods, but it’s easy to get a stomachache if you eat too much of them; squash also has lots of beta-carotene – but beware the orange glow).
I love having rice with veggies, like in bi-bim-bap (pictured above – veggies, egg, beef over rice). In fact, I just like mixing foods together in general. Mix-it-up bowls are possibly the greatest invention ever.
Which carbs are good for us?
Most vegetable carbohydrates are good for our bodies. Some of my favorite carbs are…
- Root veggies like carrots, parsnips, winter squash (kabocha, acorn, spaghetti, butternut, etc…)
- Non-root veggies like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, peppers, yadda yadda yadda… Veggies are a diet staple.
- Fruits (but not too much). Fruit makes me break out as well in large (more than 1 a day) quantities. Some lower-sugar fruits that I really like are: papaya, blueberries, berries in general, cranberry juice (without sugar) and spritzer, lime/lemon juice and spritzer, melons (cantaloupe, honeydew).
Do you eat a lot of carbs? Do you avoid any? Which are your favorites?
When it comes down to complex carbs vs simple carbs, it’s probably better to choose the complex ones. But remember to include healthy fats (including saturated fat – it’s good for the brain) and protein. Out of the simple carbs, sugar is probably the worst. At least that is what works for me!
Happy New Year to all.
I will be back to normal posting soon. In the meantime, here is an overview of wonderful things that have happened this past year…
I wanted to learn a new language (didn’t do this), go to Hawaii (yes!), I cultivated patience, I ate more fried rice, ate less meat, I didn’t drink more Kombucha, I did drink less diet soda (overall), and I ended the year on a yoga streak (though I’m not sure I did much yoga throughout the whole year).
This was a month-long challenge to do 3+ classes a week of intenSati at one of New York’s poshest gyms. I had fun, and learned a lot.
And also about drinking tea (yum) and eating kabocha.
The great fat experiment went well overall. I learned a lot about what my body needs. One thing to note is that it needs (a lot of) animal fats, so I will try to include more this year.
This was for stress and hormone stuff. Unfortunately at the time I wasn’t ready to commit to everything that I needed to do for acupuncture to work properly, so I quit after two sessions. I may give this another shot sometime though.
This post was written as a response to anyone who doubts that vegetarians (or even vegans) can get enough protein on an animal-free diet. I don’t know the answer to this – I know that I need animal protein, but maybe not everyone does. My opinion on protein has changed (for the better) since I wrote the post. I’m now more into a high-fat, moderate-protein, and low-carb lifestyle.
Including macrobiotic meals and fast food. I try not to limit myself too much.
Bobby and I went to NJ for the weekend and helped my dad build a trail. Lots of fun – hoping to do more things like that this year.
I came up with a plan for my IBS – my IBS Management Plan. I didn’t stick to it as much as I would have liked. This year one of my resolutions is to get it under control as much as possible! Recent changes in my eating (eating more fats, fewer grains, more protein) have helped a lot.
Which meant more time to blog, more time to take a class (linguistics), and more time for my favorites like papaya salad and fresh cherries.
Which later on led to…
And then, oh yeah…
We were married in a Quaker meeting house and the reception was in my parents’ (beautiful) side yard. Here is my other wedding recap. (Guest posts listed there – had lots of good ones!)
We had two glorious weeks on the beaches of Maui. Oh how I want to go back.
Had to have a kabocha scone for dessert on my birthday.
(Didn’t get very far.)
It died down pretty fast
Finally revealed it.
(She got into her first choice! Not Brown, which is where we went that weekend.)
We took a weekend trip down to DC – so fun. Love the short haircut!
Said thank yous. And good byes, for a while.
I think I am back now, though! So stay tuned. In the meantime, check out this adorable card that I just ordered from Shutterfly.
And again… happy new year!
I want to preface this by saying my skin is not perfect, but it is getting there! I’ve struggled with skin issues since I was about 18. Oddly enough, I had great skin in high school:
(Do you know who you are, people with cropped arms? I know at least one of you is reading…)
But in college it began to deteriorate. I don’t have a single picture that illustrates how bad my skin was at its worst because I deleted them all! I just couldn’t make skin glow. You can see a bit of acne here, even after a round of photoshopping, wedding day makeup, and strict use of the AcneFree skincare line leading up to the big day (this is from July of this year at my wedding):
I could never figure it out, and all the medications from my dermatologist did not work. I have tried a bunch of different ones – the only one I didn’t try was Accutane (my mom wouldn’t let me, thank goodness). I have also gotten facials (I’ve done them monthly, semi-monthly, or as little as once or twice a year) but they haven’t had any lasting results.
How to Get Glowing Skin
BUT – This is my skin now (not the best picture, but the lighting shows that my skin really is clear; photo courtesy of Coco) – definitely making progress towards glowing:
Finally, about 2 weeks ago (the day of the eat like a kid post) I got a facial from this lady. (More of my recommendations from that week here.) She actually explained to me how my skin works! Which was fantastic. For me to listen to someone and do what they say, I have to understand completely what is going on. (This is why I hate when doctors don’t explain anything!) I will break what she said down into one major issue: blackheads v. whiteheads (there are also enflamed red things, but those are just more advanced black- or white-heads).
- Blackheads: these are clogged (open) pores. They’re also called open comedones. They’re filled with sebum and dead skin, and the reason they are black is because they’re exposed to the air and they have oxidized.
- Whiteheads: these are not pores! They are (closed) follicles. They’re also called closed comedones. They’re filled with sebum and dead skin, but they are completely under the skin. So no oxidizing, which is why they stay white.
You can extract blackheads yourself, but don’t try to extract the whiteheads. Some people might say you can get them out with a hypodermic needle, but I wouldn’t trust anyone but a facialist to do that for me! Unfortunately, until 2 weeks ago, I thought that whiteheads *did* have an opening and that it was possible to get them out by squeezing. Bad idea! Don’t do it! Leave them alone. You should probably leave the blackheads alone too, because in general, my new rule of thumb is:
Don’t Touch Your Skin
Just don’t touch it. If you try to “help” speed up the process of getting rid of pimples (blackheads, whiteheads, or those mean and nasty red guys), you will undoubtedly spread germs and bacteria from your hands and from the pimples all over your face. Just don’t touch them. Please. They will heal on their own and you just have to trust that your skin knows how to fix itself. I know it’s hard to trust your skin, because it seems like it doesn’t know what it’s doing, but I’m going to hazard a guess and say that you probably touch your skin often (even if you don’t realize it) – which is not helping matters.
Don’t Dry Out Your Skin
Even if you have oily skin you should not try to dry it out! If you try to dry out oily skin, it will just make more oil which will make lots more of those fun whiteheads I talked about. This was another major problem I was having. I tried to dry my oily skin, which made it get whiteheads, and then I would try to get them out because I thought they had an opening. Instead, use an oil-free moisturizer 2-3 times a day. Your skin will learn that it doesn’t have to make so much oil and it will eventually start to chill out. (This may take a week or so because it was so used to over-producing.)
Things that should not go anywhere near your skin in any situation include (but are not limited to):
- glycolic acid
- salicylic acid
- benzoyl peroxide
If you dry out your skin you’re going to piss it off – and maybe it will be clear for a little while, but it will definitely not be clear forever. Drying out your skin is not getting to the root of the problem.
Have a Skincare Routine
My skincare routine now is:
- Morning: rub my face with a lemon slice then rinse with water, moisturize with oil-free moisturizer, makeup, and go
- Mid-day and / or After work: splash face with water if I’m feeling icky and pat with a paper towel
- Night: rinse with water; if I’m wearing makeup I will wash it with a plain old face soap that doesn’t have any sorts of weird chemicals
- Weekly: a basic mask
- **Never touch my face**
My Current Products:
(The only reason I have 2 moisturizers is because I thought I lost one, but then I found it. I like both of them; the Garnier feels less oily even though both are oil-free. I will buy more Garnier when I run out but probably won’t buy Mario Badescu again.)
Agnes asks, “I would love to hear your opinion on breaking-out on a very clean vegan diet. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!”
My response: This could be a variety of things. First, make sure you’re doing the things I talked about above for how to get glowing skin. Next, make sure that:
- You are getting enough fat (I say 40% of calories should come from fat, but this can be different for different people). I notice my skin is bad when I don’t eat enough butter/nut butter/avocado. (Since you’re vegan I guess you can’t have butter though.) I honestly do have better skin when I’m eating meat and animal fat, which could be because the animal protein is easily converted into the protein that our body uses to repair itself, or it could be because my body likes animal fat. That is just me though.
- You are not too stressed. This is another huge factor. Stress can also lead to touching your face which leads to breaking out. If you know you’re going to be stressed, drink extra water and try doing something every single day that relaxes you (like yoga or listening to your favorite music).
- You might have a food allergy. This is iffy. 15% of the population thinks they have a food allergy when in reality only 5% actually do. I might experiment with a gluten-free week to see if that helps things.
Mimi asks, “I used to have perfect skin. Now, I have mild acne. A facialist said it was probably my birth control. However, this one works better for me in all other areas than previous ones I’ve been on. And skin recommendations, or should I just switch?”
My response: Hm. I have been on and off the pill and I eventually opted to go off of it for a number of reasons. It probably is your birth control, but try all the things I talked about above if you really like the one you’re on! Another option for birth control is the hormone-free IUD, which I have heard great reviews of. And since it doesn’t have hormones it shouldn’t affect your skin.
Coco asks, “How to deal with stress-caused acne? I’ve been breaking out a lot lately because of work stress.”
My response: There isn’t much you can do about this aside from making sure you drink water and making sure that you do something every single day to relax. You have to take care of yourself. Stress shows up in your skin, but it’s also damaging to your health in ways that aren’t quite so visible. Drink water, don’t touch your face, moisturize, and do something like yoga or meditation daily.
Pearl asks, “I have oily skin so i can’t get away with [not washing my face often]… what did the facialist say about the scrubs?”
My response: Be wary of scrubs. Read the labels. If they have the ingredients I listed above, don’t use them. You should probably only exfoliate 1-2 times a week. If your skin is oily, try just rinsing it by rubbing your face (gently) with a slice of lemon and rinsing. You can use a plain old regular (not an acne product) soap if you really want to. If you don’t try to dry your oily skin, it’ll definitely start to realize that it doesn’t have to be so oily!
Make Skin Glow Resources:
- High on Health (she’s a raw foodist from Australia! Wicked accent)
- Stop Picking on Me! (picking / touching your face is more than just a habit – it can be due to stress or anxiety or other underlying issues, and it’s majorly hard to stop. This also goes into much more detail about how your skin is structured and what happens when you try to pop things, and how your skin works.)
- Update: Gena posted about skincare today too!
I hope this helped! If you have more questions please ask below and I will either post about them or reply to you directly.
Stay tuned – later today I have a promotion I’m going to post, and tomorrow I’ll post a great giveaway! I’d post them now but I want skincare to be the star of the show this morning
P.S. I updated my 30 Days of Yoga challenge.