Dietitian Melbourne

Is sugar really that bad?

Sugar appears to be in all our food products nowadays.

It’s in obvious sources such as biscuits, soft drinks, chocolate and cakes to less obvious foods like tomato sauce, breakfast cereals and pasta sauce.

Sugar is continuing to build a bad reputation as a contributing factor to many health conditions, and rightly so.

We’re eating lots of processed food

Most of our energy intake is now coming from processed and packaged food and drinks, such as cereal and soft drinks, which may contain added sugar. More than half of Australians are eating more sugar than recommended.

You might be surprised at how many of our food products contain added sugar – even the ones that don’t necessarily taste sweet! And food that is marketed as health food is often packed full of sugar.

Moderate your sugar intake (especially if you have diabetes)

While everyone should be moderating their sugar intake, it’s particularly true for those who are managing diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the body is unable to regulate blood sugar levels as a result of an issue with the hormone insulin.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the body does not produce enough insulin, while Type 2 diabetes is where the body is resistant to insulin.

If diabetes is not controlled, blood sugar levels rise. This can cause numerous long-term complications including nerve and blood vessel damage, vision impairment, kidney disease and heart disease.

While eating sugar doesn’t directly cause diabetes, it can lead to gaining weight if eaten in excess, and obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.

Pay attention to carbohydrates

Sugar, and carbohydrates in general, are particularly important when managing diabetes.

One of the biggest impacts on our blood sugar levels is what we eat, especially carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice, noodles, potato, biscuits, legumes, fruit, cakes etc).

All carbohydrate foods will be broken down into sugar (the simplest form of carbohydrate) in the body once it is consumed, no matter the type of carbohydrate.

Dietitian Pascoe Vale

Once the food is broken down into sugar, it’s absorbed into our blood stream. This is why it’s important to keep an eye on how much sugar and carbohydrates you are eating overall.

Stick to small portions (½-1 cup cooked) of carbohydrate foods at each meal and watch for any extra treats in between meals.

High GI vs low GI

Carbohydrate foods that are higher in simple sugars and low in fibre (white bread, biscuits, soft drink) will have a larger, negative impact on blood sugar levels.

These types of foods are usually referred to as high GI (glycaemic index) and lead to large spikes in blood sugar levels and poorer blood sugar control.

Carbohydrates that contain more fibre and less simple sugars (wholegrain bread, quinoa, legumes) are referred to as low GI, and will not result in large spikes of blood sugar levels.

These are much better choices for blood sugar control. It’s best to eat mainly low GI carbohydrates whenever possible.

Aim for a healthy diet

A healthy diet will lower your diabetes risk or help you to manage the condition better.

Watch portion sizes, opt for plenty of vegetables, include moderate amounts of low GI wholegrains, fruits, healthy fats and lean proteins.

You can still include treats but try to limit portion size and frequency to special occasions!

Got any questions about diabetes? Need help with your diet? Book an appointment with our in-house dietitian in Pascoe Vale today.

 

Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.