PASADENA --Bloating, weight gain, brain fog and fatigue are unpleasant side effects of eating the wrong foods.
"We're eating too many carbohydrates and too many sugars. That causes spikes and drops in your blood sugar," said nutrition expert James La Valle, author of "Cracking the Metabolic Code."
La Valle says when blood sugar takes a dive, most look for a fast fix, a move that causes a vicious cycle.
"Our brain center that controls hunger also controls thirst. For a lot of people, they think they're hungry, but in fact they may be needing to drink water," said La Valle.
Staying hydrated helps hunger pangs.
Beyond that: food cues are everywhere.
"Remember Pavlov's dog? You see enough pictures of food, you salivate. You say 'Yeah I want that,'" La Valle said.
That means it takes a bit of work to make smarter choices.
It's important to note that not all carbohydrates are created equal. Cookies, cakes and fruit juice are the sugary fuel that leave you hungry and wanting more. What you're looking for is slow-burning, complex carbohydrates.
Along with good fat and protein sources, the type and amount of carbohydrates can make a big difference in mood and waistline.
He suggests including carbs with resistant starch, such as a slightly unripe banana, cooked then cooled potatoes, slightly undercooked brown rice and beans and legumes.
All contain a fiber that helps keep gut bacteria healthy and resists digestion, therefore saving you calories as they pass through your system.
La Valle also recommends being an avid label reader. You should aim for about 15 grams of carbohydrates per meal or snack.
Then combine. Eat carbs with fat and protein for more satisfaction and less blood sugar spikes.
Here are some examples created from Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena: chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts and a handful of baked French fries or shrimp with brown rice and veggies, all in the proper portion.
Whether it's weight loss or health you're after, these small change can make your day and your diet.