Are You Suffering from Carb Bias

by Ryan Andrews

Diagnosis bias is a phenomenon that arises once a classification is made about someone or something.  When we form this classification, we essentially have blinders on to anything else that doesn’t fit.  This single classification helps us filter information and often reflects our entire perception of something.  

For example, if someone is diagnosed with depression, we tend to always see them as “the person with depression.”  If four months later they’re complaining about pneumonia symptoms, we still blame the depression.

Diagnosing carbs
If I’m talking about low carb diets, it’s either 2001, or I’m still trying to reverse the damage done by fad diet books.  

Here’s a test.  Read the following:

What do you think of?  Be honest.  Common responses include: “fattening,” “bad,” “addictive.”  

Demonizing foods that are dense in carbohydrates has become the norm.  It’s part of TV shows, comedy routines, the media, and even health experts.  Have we developed “carb bias?”

Blame it on the carbs
When chatting with clients, many will immediately blame carbs for any health or physique related problem they’re experiencing.  But are “carbs” really to blame?  Let’s take a step back here.

Think about whole foods that are dense sources of carbs:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yams
  • Brown rice
  • Sprouted grain bread
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Bananas
  • Melon
  • Pears

These foods are quite difficult to over consume when eaten on their own, dilute in calories (don’t forget: What are your 4 pounds made up of?), satiety inducing, and provide a variety of nutrients.  Been on any brown rice or pear benders lately?  That’s what I thought…  

Come to think of it, it’s usually not the carb food itself causing problems; it’s the carb food acting as a vehicle for another processed pseudo-food addition.

It’s the sweet potatoes – WITH brown sugar and butter
It’s the brown rice – WITH chicken stock and margarine
It’s the sprouted grain bread – WITH deli meat and cheese
It’s the corn – WITH crunch berries in Captain Crunch
It’s the oats – WITH chocolate chips, sugar and oil in cookies
It’s the fruit – WITH cream cheese dip

When the carb dense food is presented on its own, it’s difficult to overeat.

Corn vs. Corn?



When we classify carbs as fattening, we’ve greatly narrowed our perceptions and focus on that single revelation.  Once we establish this carb bias – we become committed to it.  We have a carb phobia and it can be incredibly hard to for us to see alternative explanations.

I work with guys who won’t touch a slice of toast – but don’t hesitate to crush steak, cheese and eggs all day long.  Newsflash – you can get fat from eating too much protein.    

I’ll never forget the 300+ pound women who looked me in the eye and claimed bananas were making her fat.  Meanwhile, her dinner the previous night consisted of a bloomin onion and a 14 ounce steak from Outback.  Repeat after me: “Blinders.”

The banana isn’t making you fat, this is

It doesn’t do us any good to focus on carbs when the problem almost certainly lies elsewhere.  Are we overly fat because of bananas, a side of brown rice, or sprouted grain toast?  Doubtful.  

We’re probably over-fat because of:  

…too much food
…weekend food benders after a week of restrictive dieting
…booze at night
…no physical activity/recreation
…handfuls of snacks while standing over the sink
…extra pieces of candy from the office candy dish
…finishing the kids leftovers – after we already ate
…the “protein smoothie” that makes Dairy Queen nervous
…eating when not hungry
…numbing emotions with food

For more:  This Meal Plan Could Make You Fat

So, make sure to take off the blinders.  

While it’s possible to overeat carb dense foods (or any food), it’s usually not the unprocessed carb dense foods found in their whole form.  It’s the processed stuff.  

  • And what can we do if we’ve developed a particular food bias?
  • Remain flexible
  • Keep an open mind
  • Use nutrition triage
  • Learn from your history
  • Examine things from a different perspective
  • Get a professionals opinion
  • Don’t invest too much on initial diagnoses


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