Just about any food can be part of a healthy diet if taken in recommended amounts. Sugars are the simplest form of carbohydrate – which can be natural such as lactose (milk sugar) or fructose (fruit sugar) or can be refined such as sucrose (table sugar). All Starchy and sweet foods (even fruits) raise blood sugar quickly. When eaten they are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rise in the hormone insulin which acts to clear sugar and fat from the blood and to be stored in the tissues for future use. This causes weight gain.
Studies have indicated that, today’s women consume much more sugar than their grandparents did 50 or 60 years ago. This added sugar is mostly in the form of refined, white sugar. It is high in calories and almost devoid of nutrients. This extra sugar is being added to prepared or packaged foods. A 12-ounce can of soda, for example, can contain eight teaspoons of sugar! A piece of pie can have 11 teaspoons of sugar. Chocolate cake, banana splits, and other sweet delights can contain as much as 20 to 25 teaspoons of refined sugar!
It’s not just white sugar that needs to be consumed in moderation; brown sugar, powdered sugar, honey, and syrup are all sources of refined sugar. Eating too much sugar is part of an addictive cycle. When you eat sugar, it’s quickly digested and burned, and it causes peaks and valleys in your energy level that leaves you craving more.
Tips to control sugar intake in diet:
- Choose fresh fruits for snacks and desserts instead of processed, high-sugar foods– Natural sugars in foods are part of a complex carbohydrate package that provides fuel and energy for your body. Eating natural-occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and grains is a healthier way to get your sweets. Sugar combined with fiber and other solid foods metabolizes more slowly and keeps your blood sugar more stable.
- Don’t add sugar to your cereal, coffee, or other foods- Try adding fruit and nuts to cereals for a wholesome and healthy meal. Caffeine, present in coffee, tea, cola-based drinks and hot chocolate, stimulates your pancreas to secrete more insulin. This aggravates sugar sensitivities and low-sugar symptoms.
- Choose sugar-free or low-sugar varieties of soft drinks and packaged foods when you can– Studies have indicated that people consume 500-1000 calories daily in the form of soft drinks, which is one of the cause for alarming increase in obesity. Super sized ice-creams, soda shakes, coke carry excess sugar. A small portion of your favorite sweet treat, consumed with a meal, is okay on occasion. Anything in excess can lead to sugar addiction, obesity and, for some individuals, adult-onset diabetes. Sweetened products may not list sugar, or sucrose on the label because they contain other forms of sugar. Fructose and dextrose, for example, or lactose.
- Read labels and choose foods that are low in sugar. By reading and comparing Nutrition Facts labels on various foods, you can make sure that you choose foods that have enough of the nutrients you need and are low in those you wish to restrict. If you want to cut your sugar consumption, read labels and beware of words ending in ‘ose,’ because that usually means hidden sugar. Even if the label says “sugar-free,” watch out. Sugar-free products may still contain some form of sugar alcohols, like sorbitol, mannitol, and xylitol . These sweeteners have as many or more calories as sucrose, so your ice cream may be as fattening as the real thing. And these sweeteners can cause diarrhea.
- Add protein to each meal – to stabilize blood sugars. Protein needs for the endurance athlete: 1.2 grams/kg of wt/day. Ex: 150lbs = 68kg (¸ by 2.2) therefore, you need 80-85 grams of protein daily. Remember, 1 ounce of any type of meat has 7 grams of protein.
An average American consumes 154 pounds of sugar (granular white stuff) per year, or roughly three pounds per week.
Remember, It works best to split the carbohydrate budget between three meals and two to four snacks. Every bite should count toward good nutrition.
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