I am reading this very interesting book called “The taste of sweet”. It is not written by a Doctor, Dietitian or Food Scientist – just a woman who loves sugar. I have had a few great laughs out of it. One I have to share – she was talking about why anyone would look at a sugar cane and try to eat it. She said if we were supposed to eat processed sugar – God would have made it easier to get at. Oh MY. All I can picture is a lady chewing on a huge sugar cane in desperation. Sugar is a like a drug – the more you have – the more you want. I would not say I have a sweet tooth – however after doing a bit of investigation I noticed I do eat my fair share of the sweet stuff. It is in everything – From my wine to my favourite spicy Thai sauce.
Over past few months I have been researching sugar – and I have seen that sugar can increase our risk for chronic disease similar to fat (by slightly different mechanism). A new study on the sugar in our diets found we are eating more sugar then ever. It is more common in processed foods. The study also showed that body weight went up with increases in sugar intake over 27 years. This is not a surprise – sugar is an empty calorie. One cup of this sweet white stuff has 818 calories. It provides energy with little or no nutrition and it does not make us feel full. In fact – sugar can end up making us feel hungrier.
After the last weight loss and health revolution of “low fat” it not shocking people are avoiding fat like the plague and eating sugar in higher amounts. I remember thinking fat was bad when I was in school. I was shocked when my professor said – “It is ok – you can eat it – it is actually good for you”. I now include a moderate amount of fat as part of my healthy diet. I feel no guilt when I put “full fat” dressing on my salad!
Similar to fat – sugar is not bad for us – it is the AMOUNT and after some research I am learning the TYPE of sugar we consume that is the issue. I have heard myself saying to my clients – watch the ADDED sugar… however we need to watch the natural sugar as well! Consider this – one glass of orange juice (all natural) has about 26grams of sugar and no fibre. Fibre is our friend. It slows down how quickly the sugars we eat enter our blood stream.
This is a big topic – one I am becoming very passionate about. There will be more blogs on sugar– as I learn more. For now – let’s take this information and set a few practical goals:
- Read food labels – it may surprise you where sugar is hidden (there is an added sugar (dextrose) in Pringles – yes chips that taste very salty!!) Limit foods with sugars words ending in –ose, such as glucose –fructose in the first ingredients. Also, syrup is sugar, along with honey, molasses and organic cane sugar. I usually buy foods plain (example plain oats) and sweeten with a small amount of sugar (like maple syrup).
- Eat whole foods – with minimal processing. Fresh or flash frozen fruits and vegetables, whole grain rice, pasta, breads and ancient grains. This will help you to get fibre as well.
- Eat fruit instead of drinking the juice.
- Watch sweet drinks – sweetened coffees etc. I ordered a Grande Non Fat Latte at Starbucks the other day and by accident I got a French Vanilla – the first few sips were amazingly sweet – however I had to pour it out as the second half was so sweet “the Dietitian on my shoulder” knew it was not good for me…. (I have a witness to me pouring it out!)
Remember your taste buds have a memory – so when you start to reduce your sugar – things taste pretty bland – however if you keep it up – the better your taste buds get at tasting the natural sweetness in foods.
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To my PEI friends – miss you and stay in touch!! 🙂