We all know that added sugar isn’t good for you, and there’s a big movement towards avoiding or “quitting” sugar. Any added sugar, whether it is in the form of fructose, sucrose, honey, agave nectar, raw sugar (the list goes on) can cause problems if you have too much.
High intakes of sugar can cause weight gain, especially around your midsection, as well as changes in mood- hello post sugar crash- and other symptoms such as headaches, problems concentrating, or cravings.
But there’s more to this than meets the eye…
Are you making this mistake?
So you are at the grocery store, you are reading nutrition labels, and choosing foods with less sugar. Ok, this food product has a low sugar version! Perfect! Onto the next one. Oh look, your trolley is full of low/no sugar versions of everything. You’re being so healthy…but are you really?
Did you know that high GI carbs are pretty much the same as eating sugar? GI, or Glycemic Index, is a measure of how quickly the carbohydrate you eat is broken down into sugar during digestion. High GI= high rate of digestion = that sugar all getting dumped into your bloodstream at once, causing a sugar spike.
So just take a minute to absorb this. If that “no sugar” food in your pantry contains carbohydrate, that turns into sugar after it’s eaten.
But before you start trying to cut out all carbs now, just remember that sugar is actually the fuel that our body runs best on, it’s our brains preferred fuel source. We actually need some sugar, but what we want is steady blood sugar levels, which we can get by choosing the types of carbohydrate that take longer to break down. These are called low GI carbohydrates.
Which foods should I limit?
High GI foods include white bread, white rice, white noodles, white crackers, cereals like rice bubbles or corn flakes, and potato. Fruit juice or dried fruit may seem like it should be healthy, but the sugar load (even though it’s natural sugar) means you should have these only occasionally.
Which foods should I choose?
Low GI carbohydrates include grainy breads, wholegrain cereals (like oats), grainy crackers, sweet potato, corn peas, pumpkin, legumes, low fat dairy products without added sugar, whole fruit (skin on when possible), brown or basmati rice, and high fibre or wholemeal pasta.
Should I really be that worried about sugar?
Rather than excluding any one food as a solution to all problems, instead look at the balance of your diet overall. Is the majority fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or nuts, legumes, and low fat dairy (or dairy alternatives). Are you active most days in the week? Then any food, high sugar or not, can have a place in your diet in small amounts occasionally if you really enjoy it, as long as it’s not happening every day.
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