This is one of our favorite (and best-known) articles ever – and with so many new people doing the Whole30 in August, we felt like it deserved another day in the spotlight. Enjoy!
In a conversation with a consulting client, we were talking about simple meal combinations. We outlined a few examples – smoked salmon, avocado, and honeydew melon; a grilled chicken breast with ghee-topped butternut squash; or, if in a pinch, a few hard-boiled eggs and a banana.
Our client responded with the following: “A banana?! Are you freakin’ kidding me? I haven’t had a a banana in a year and a half. I’m, like, over the moon with the prospect of eating a banana. I could weep, seriously. It feels like I’m doing something naughty even considering a banana. How messed up is that?”
Um, that is very messed up.
And it reminded us of Melissa’s now-infamous Carrot Confrontation. She was participating in a discussion on a message board when someone asked what she eats in a typical day. She replied with a list of things she had eaten that morning – chicken, radishes, eggs, spinach, olives… and carrots. She mentioned she had eaten almost an entire bag of baby carrots. At which point, another poster responded, “You should be careful about eating so many carrots. Carrots are pretty high in sugar.”
This response makes us wish we had more middle fingers.
Because the day you tell us that CARROTS AREN’T THAT GOOD FOR YOU is the day we sit down and have a long chat. Which brings us to the following rant – get off the Carrot Train to Crazytown and think about it for just a brief moment. We’ll start you off.
They’re CARROTS, people.
We could get all science-y here, and talk about glycemic index versus glycemic load. We could talk about how the all natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables are nothing like the mutated, processed sugar-like substances found in soda, Starbucks Frappuccinos and “healthy” whole bran muffins. We could also talk about how the sugar in carrots comes bundled with an amazing assortment of valuable phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.
But we’re not going to get all science-y here, because we’re trying to prove a point. Amidst the ridiculous volume of nutritional information floating around out there, the confusing statistics like ORAC values and potential renal acid load, all of the books and diet plans and recommendations and suggestions, it’s easy to lose the beta-carotene forest through the trees. So we’re going to recommend one simple thing.
Take a step back and use your head.
In the big picture, carrots are not “high in sugar.” Are they higher in sugar than, say, spinach? Sure. Should you eat five bags a day, or mindlessly munch your way through a bag while watching TV? Probably not. We wouldn’t recommend you eat five bags of anything a day, or mindlessly munch on anything, ever. But if you feel like something sweet, w will applaud you for your healthy choice if you grab a carrot. If you want something crunchy to gnaw on while stuck in a work meeting, we’re more than okay if you plow through an entire bag of carrots. If you don’t like vegetables at all, but can somehow manage to choke down a serving of carrots… we’re thrilled, because one vegetable is better than no vegetables.
We understand the fact that, when both choices are good, one might be more good. And we do caution against using “sugary” real food like fruit as a substitute for real sugar if you’re having cravings. But unless eating carrots are going to tempt you into a box of Krispy Kremes, we are not worried about your intake.
And we seriously doubt any proposed “carrots as a “gateway vegetable” theory.
So let’s not be too quick to jump on the Carrot Train to Crazytown. Take a step back and think about your food choices from a rational perspective. Eating mostly high-quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats? You’re doing better than 99% of the general population. Want to take it further? Try to balance your fruits and vegetables on a bigger scale. Eat plenty of color, get plenty of variety, and fill every plate with leafy greens. But, like, you want a banana? Eat one. Want some beets, or a sweet potato, or some carrots? Have them. Because in the whole scheme of things, fruits and vegetables are still, as far as we know, good for you.
Except for corn, of course.