white carbs

January 4, 2010

I know with a title like that you are expecting a masterpiece really, a complex tirade bordering on manifesto, containing both opinion and fact, insanely well-researched but perhaps a little preachy….but honestly I think there are plenty of those out there. We all know how bad white carbs are for us, how good they taste, and how bad they are (I’m putting that point here twice for emphasis!) Making the switch as I did from vegan to veg to low carb was difficult emotionally; one thing that made it possible, despite the near immediate symptom minimization, was tons of patient research on my part. Reading blogs, books, articles, etc. about high fat/low carb made it really clear that it was not only going to help me manage my symptoms, but it would probably extend my lifespan and really improve my health!

Sadly, however, there was something differentiating me from all those super hardcore low carbers; something even more obvious than my tepid taste for meat – it was my desire to beat the SIBO and whatever else is ailing me so that I can once again return to eating carbs. I know. Its disgusting. High fat/low carb has done wonders for my health. My cholesterol has gone down from the 180’s (as a vegan) to 169. Go figure! My HDL continues to soar upwards and is currently at 85.  I could never lose weight as a vegetarian; but eating low carb I was able to lose over 30 lbs. I maintained my loss too, until this summer when I began to come down with symptoms of something I suspect I’ve been fighting off all my life – overt hypothyroidism (more on this later.)

So this is my dirty little secret. I dream about carbs. I wish for carbs. I desire carbs. Not just any carbs; white carbs.  Fluffy rolls, steaming baked potatoes, discs of sticky white rice.  And it is in the interest of full disclosure that I tell you this before I talk about the retraction I need to make.

A few posts back I wrote:

First of all, when you have SIBO, fiber becomes fairly indigestible. If you can easily digest fiber, I’ve got news for you – you probably don’t have SIBO. Secondly, most sugars aren’t digestible either, so if you have no sugar, and you have no fiber, all you’re left with is starch. And guess what? While Dr. Pimentel says you can eat all the potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread that you want, (and I hope for your sake he’s right) you may be like me, and those foods may bother you about as much as low GI carbs do.

Well, I noted earlier this year that I am really a social scientist, not a scientist, and readily admitted that sometimes I would be wrong about things. Who would have thought I would be wrong about something I could easily go to my bookshelf and confirm? But I suppose that is the nature of brain fog.  I am lucky that a  really astute poster in my Yahoo group recently pointed out to me the error of this last statement, the one about the starches, and I’m so glad that he did!  In A New IBS Solution, Dr. Pimentel does not actually say “Hey you can have all the white carbs that you want.”  He does allow potatoes, pasta, rice and breads, but his very specific dietary guidelines are actually self-limiting when it comes to these foods;  not only is all food restricted (to a certain degree) by allowing the patient only three meals per day, but portion sizes for these foods are explicitly listed; they are kept on the small side and the patient is allowed one per meal.

Personally I find it difficult to keep portion sizes small when eating white carbs, particularly starches. I don’t think that would get me any votes for “Most Unique.” I don’t want to speak for the original poster, and I especially don’t want to take his great theory and get all the credit for it. Maybe I’ll ask him to guest blog sometime soon. If a person actually notices symptom improvement with small portions of these foods that one doesn’t see when eating zero carb, then the question is this: given that one could actually control their portions….and this is the most important given…is it better or worse to eat these foods? A small side of rice with our brisket? Our boneless, skinless chicken breast between two slices of…white bread?

What do you think? Can you control your carb portions? I haven’t really ever tried. I usually just eat white carbs when I’m “cheating.” I’ve been thinking about a life without anymore “cheating.” I realize its not easy but maybe its worth it. Or maybe its a good resolution for the New Year to control my portion sizes (starches only – no gluten) Or maybe I don’t need white carbs at all. I’m just not sure which life is better – one with mastery over my surroundings or one where all temptation is ultimately removed.



  1. What CAN you eat then? I have SIBO and your descriptions of bothersome foods & symptoms sound EXACTLY like mine. I’ve been struggling with this low carb or no carb diet crap. Everything has starches in it. Lots of my favorites foods i can no longer eat because they’re carbs. So the question “what’s your favorite food?” is a difficult one for me. I automatically think “??my favorite food..before or after the SIBO?”

  2. I relate to your condition and blog to the T,

    I started my own blog to document all that i learnt. it is called siboibs.org.

    Did you do any elemental diets?

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