To Sugar or to not Sugar?

Carbohydrates and sugars are the culprits of an unhealthy diet.  Traditionally we have been led to believe that our main concern is in the fats, while they secretly loaded up our boxes of foods and grocery stores with tons of bad carbs (sugars) and chemicals.  While people have been trained to read a food label well, all of these confusing names and long ingredients are just too much to decipher while you’re in the store, possibly trying to get as much food as you can, while your toddler is screaming in the cart for some other ultra sugared out box of whoever the latest character is.  So we quickly review just the food label and move on.

Now fats are an issue, but not all fats.  Healthy fats found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, nut butters, whole grain-fed dairy have a good place in a healthy diet. It’s obvious that the high fats in fried foods, snacks, vegetable oil, margarine are unhealthy. Cutting back on unhealthy carbs and sugars is the way to go if you want to get healthier, lose weight, and reduce your risk of future health problems.

Where do you find healthy carbs? That’s a good question. I often say when it comes to health and fitness, “It’s not rocket science”….but in my quest for more information on this topic, I’m beginning to think that it is.  Actually, I’m beginning to think that finding good food has become increasingly difficult. I have been developing a theory that manufactures have conspired to hook us onto high carb/high sugar foods and charge us more money for them! It should not be that difficult to find a whole wheat carb item with a short ingredient list for a reasonable price.

That is all you are looking for.   piece of bread                         

  • Whole wheat or whole grain is the first ingredient (or oats, quinoa, barley),
  • Short ingredient list, and as a bonus look for products with dietary fiber – this helps your body digest and use sugar more efficiently
  •   Do not pick up a product that has the whole grain stamp or is labeled multi-grain, without checking the ingredients list.
  • Be mindful that many products labeled fat free, sugar free, multi-grain still contain refined grains and added sugars.
  • Check out SELF article “What’s  The Difference Between Whole Grain and Whole Wheat?”

What has happened to our food that it has become this difficult to purchase a piece of whole wheat bread?

To sugar or not to sugar your diet has been increasingly on the trend with a variety of diet styles.  It comes down to what is healthy for YOU.  Obviously eating a lot of foods with white and refined breads, high numbers of carbohydrates and added sugars are not good.  The problem is two fold, it becomes very detrimental to your health causing high numbers of people with Type II Diabetes.  Second, we have a society of people addicted to sugar.  Yes sugar is addictive just like any other drug you think of as addictive.  Main reason that I don’t recommend for anyone to jump straight into a low carb or carbless diet, you basically have to wean yourself.  You have to transition your body for a new type of energy.  lump-sugar-548647_960_720

Many people will fare well to transition their carbs over to healthy carbs and lower their added sugar intake.  How?

  • Stop drinking all sugary drinks, except for an occasional glass of alcohol.
  • Aim for low to moderate amount of carbohydrates in ratio to calories consumed
  • Make a list of how and when you will cut out sugary foods
  • No white or refined grains
  • Remember to cut down on products like milk, coffee sweeteners, and fruit juice that have added sugars

How many carbs are good for you will also depend on the amount and type of exercise you’re doing.

  • People that are spending a good amount of energy on exercise and using strength based (anaerobic) tend to need higher carbs, especially around the time of the workout to sustain the necessary energy.
  • Likewise, if you are performing mostly aerobic exercise or not exercising much at all, you will want to stay on a low carb plan.

Transition first, keep it simple, and take it slow!

Why is it important to consider cutting sugars? Diabetes and related health conditions.  If you or someone you know is showing any signs of pre-diabetes, please choose to transition to a low carb/no sugar diet.  The long-term affects are devastating.

In an effort to learn more about the role of sugar, I picked up this book “Sugar Crush” by Dr. Richard Jacoby and Raquel Baldelomar. Sugar Crush I was quickly intrigued by what these physicians have to say on the issue.  Not just because I was gathering useful information to share with you, but because it described me.

For years I have had chronic migraines, and have yet to find a useful treatment. When I mean chronic, I mean most of the day every day. It never occurred to me before reading this book that it might be due to sugars. For many years now I have thought that I have pre-diabetes, but because I do well with my diet, especially for the past 4 years, I can control it.

Neuropathy, a major symptom of diabetes, is extensively discussed in the book. Which I have a basic understanding of this disorder.  I have always had problems with numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, but never enough to label as a problem. People with diabetes can develop real, unmanageable pain that eventually leads to the loss of limbs. This disorder is treatable through nerve decompression. But I never connected this disorder to headaches. We have an occipital nerve at the base of our head that can be affected just like the nerves in our hands and feet! Lightbulb! It is highly likely that neuropathy could be causing my headaches.  Think of the numbers of people that have improved headaches by cutting out artificial sweeteners. While most sweeteners have a low glycemic index, they are still affecting glucose and insulin.

So what’s the scoop? After reading this book, everything makes sense to me.

Here are the main points I took Sugar Crush:

Far too many of the processed food we eat have been deliberately manipulated by the food industry to be hyerpalatable, or at the “Bliss Point”. – Dr. Richard Jacoby, Sugar Crush

  • if you have diabetes and you do not change your diet, you are likely to live in pain and lose one or more of your limbs glycemic chart
  • High levels of glucose can alter your vitamin C levels (even if this vitamin is part of your diet) leading to reduced blood flow
  • looking at the glycemic index of foods is as much or more important as the glucose load (level of sugars in ratio to the carbohydrates)
    • Glycemic Index = how fast glucose hits your blood stream, 1-55 is Low; 56-69 is Moderate and above 70 is High
    • Glycemic Load = how fast blood sugar will rise, takes into account the amount of carbohydrates in the food

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load for 100+ Foods by Harvard Health Publications, Harvard Medical Shool

  • if the product label labels sugars, this is added sugar in addition to the carbs already there
  • many foods made “sugar free” have unhealthy amounts of substitute sugars and fats
  • DON’T AVOID HEALTHY FATS! they are extremely useful  for your body

Americans are fat. Not because they’re eating fat, but because they aren’t. – Dr. Richard Jacoby, Sugar Crush

Glycemic-Index-Chart

If you are at risk, I highly recommend you read this book.

All an all after connecting the dots, I believe I am going to throw away everything in my kitchen and start over! I am definitely going to switch to a very low carb breakfast, my first step is HOT BUTTERED COFFEE!!

Sugar addiction is the other problem. Sugar is addictive in the same form as any other drug. I’m not sure why that would be a surprise to anyone.  Personally, I have recently fallen back into this black hole since the holidays. Between activities, illness, not getting back into routines, exercise was falling off, increased depression, etc.  = sugar cravings that increased. Now my thighs and ankles are rebelling on me, it only takes a little bit of time to revert years of hard work UGH! But I can do it, YOU can do it. Don’t get addicted, you are not enjoying your life, you are giving your life up (and your money) to the sugar mafia, to pain, to illness. Just like any other addiction, take it slow and slowly transition your diet. You will need time to cope with the changes

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Okay, so that’s a lot of info…and there’s still plenty more to be said on the topic.  I realize that you want to be healthy but you want to enjoy your life too.  For many of us food is an enjoyment. And that’s okay. It’s okay to enjoy your big family meals, a donut, your favorite piece of greasy pizza, in moderation.  What you have to realize is by enjoying so much food, you are depriving yourself from enjoying other things in life. By loading your body up with sugar, you are living with pain, you are not moving as well, you are not able to enjoy physical activities, you are less likely to enjoy a full life. If the only real enjoyment you want to get out of life is food, then suppose this diet is fine. However, if you have other things on your bucket list, then you may want to highly reconsider what you’re eating. It just may help you to accomplish that bucket list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “To Sugar or to not Sugar?

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    1. I am proud to say that I have greatly reduced boxed snacks in my house since writing this post!!

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