Let me start with a disclaimer that I am not a nutritionist or dietician, though I can boast a Food Technology GCSE (grade A).
I don’t think there is anything wrong with carbs themselves - after all, we need the nutrients and fibre we get from fruit and veg, which are carbs. In my view, what people tend to rely on too much are grains and starches - big portions of pasta, potatoes, rice, bread. These are low in nutritious value, can cause bloating, and generally have little to offer except filling you up, especially if you go for the white varieties.
There are three general rules I have come up with to ensure I’m getting a balanced diet and not relying on grains and starches:
1. I noticed around 5 years ago that I was eating wheat in almost every meal, e.g. toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta/pizza/pastry etc for dinner. Since then I’ve ensured that my breakfast and lunch are normally mostly if not entirely wheat free. For instance, for breakfast I might have bran cereal, oatmeal/porridge, or fruit with yoghurt. For lunch I’ll often have a soup and veggie sticks with hummus, or rye/rice crackers with cottage cheese. I don’t blog most of these everyday meals as it would get very boring and repetitive!
2. I never limit my vegetable intake; if I’m hungry, I’ll add more veggies to my meal to make it more filling. A general piece of advice I’ve read is to try to make half your dinner plate vegetables - I don’t live by it as a rule, but I try to keep it in mind, limiting my protein and grain/starch/carb portions to a quarter of the dish and balancing them out with salad or veggies.
3. I weigh out my portions of grains/starches, or use other tricks to control my portions. I used to just pour out half a bag of pasta then force as much of it down as I could because it tasted good! Now I weigh around 110-125g per serving. For rice, millet or quinoa I use a half cup measure (US) per serving, for cous cous a quarter cup. For potatoes, I mostly use potato waffles which are easy to limit to 2 per portion, though of course these are processed and not very nutritious. Instead of using normal bread or rolls I tend to use Warburtons sandwich thins, which being smaller help me limit the portion by only having one.
It’s funny how so many people think being vegetarian automatically means eating healthily. I put on a LOT of weight one year when I lived in the US, living off fries and pizza due to the limited veggie options in restaurants. I quickly lost it when I came home, because I cook for myself so much, rarely eating deep fried food (only in restaurants), and limiting cheese at home to cottage cheese and low fat cream cheese.
Think about what your regular meals are, and what small changes you can make to them, whether it be weighing out a healthy portion, subbing in lighter ingredients, cooking with less oil/fat, or swapping in more vegetables and pulses to replace some of the grains/starches.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!