July 17, 2013

“But I don’t eat any sugar!”

We wish we had a dollar for everyone who said this. Let’s investigate sugar from various points of view so you can make better informed decisions.

Sugar is Valueless

When we’re shopping we like to get a good deal. Instead of thinking about getting the best financial deal, we should be thinking about getting the best nutritional deal. When it comes to foods and drinks, the best deals are those that provide loads of nutrients (vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients) per kilojoule. Sugar is a bad deal as it is all kilojoules and no nutrients. It rates a 0/10 on value. Virtually all fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and eggs score 10/10 as they have loads of nutrients per kilojoule.

Sugar is Used to Influence Your Choices

Although you may not add sugar to your meals, cooking or drinks, don’t be surprised if many of the foods and drinks you buy are actually high in sugar. Manufacturers know that adding sugar increases the likelihood of repeat purchases. Fast food restaurants know that if they sell you a soft drink (or juice) you won’t eat less fast food, as drinking sweet drinks does not decrease your appetite. You don’t eat less. Any kilojoules from the drink adds to those in the meal.

Sugar in Food Versus Sugar in Your Blood

Even if you don’t eat sugar, your dietary choices may lead to a high sugar load in your blood. The carbohydrate content of all foods and drinks are broken down into glucose. The blood is limited to how much glucose it can hold (2-3 teaspoons in total), so your body has some mechanisms to dispose of or store any excess glucose.

In some people these mechanism eventually fall apart and they suffer I.R. (insulin resistance). Increased fat around the tummy is a warning sign of I.R. The next stage of breakdown is diabetes. If your waistline is over 80 cm (men 94 cm) then you have an increased health risk.

Low Fat = High Sugar (Yielding)

Many manufacturers try to appeal to consumers by having low-fat, fat-free, lite or 99% fat-free choices. But when you take naturally-occuring fats out of a food or recipe, the carbohydrate (sugar yield) typically goes up. If you eat identical kilojoules of regular yoghurt versus low-fat yoghurt, the low-fat yoghurt will have a greater blood glucose yield.

Some sugar-free foods are so high in their carbohydrate content that the elevating effect on blood glucose is the same as if the food contained sugar. Some even release glucose into the blood stream faster than table sugar. Bread (white, brown or multigrain) has a higher GI (Glycaemic Index) than table sugar!

Diet Drinks & Artificial Sweeteners – Sugar Free But Not So Good For Your Weight

Recent studies have looked at whether people who consume diet soft drinks weigh less or lose weight better than people who do not. Diet drinks are worse on both counts. Many studies show that diet drinks stimulate a false hunger 30 to 90 minutes after their consumption. One explanation might be that because artificial sweeteners taste so similar to sugar, your body thinks it is getting a sugar load when it isn’t. Its sugar-handling mechanisms swing into gear and the result is low blood sugar which then stimulates appetite.

“But I Like Something Sweet Now and Then”

Loads of arguments stem from this like: “Just a little can’t hurt.” “What about moderation?” “Denial is wrong.” But people should ask themselves “How’s that working for you?”

St Augustine said “I find total abstinence far easier than perfect moderation.” Some people are simply better off taking all SWEET out of their diet and out of their homes. Their objective is to retrain their taste buds which typically takes a few weeks.

At the same time as stopping eating sugar, if you let go of the fear of eating fat then you discover that you’ll be able to eat foods that you thought you’d never be able to eat. Looking back you’ll realise that in having so much sweet, you were actually denying yourself foods and meals that are both delicious and great nutritional deals.

Sugar and Your Health

Watch this video for a very good summary. It’s less than 5 minutes.


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