The Sugar Debate

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in Blog, Books, Foods, Thoughts

There have been several articles in the news recently discussing sugar and it’s affect on our bodies. I’m more than relieved that we’re finally paying attention to this issue, but it’s certainly a complicated one.

My relationship to sugar is also a complicated one (because of my type 1 diabetes). Many people believe that people with diabetes cannot eat sugar. This is not¬†true. In fact, many people with diabetes successfully eat plenty of sugar because they figure out how their body will react, and they know what to do about it. But, even more interesting, (at least based on my twenty years of having diabetes and my discussions with other people with diabetes) is that sugar is not any different than any other fast-acting carbohydrate. After testing my blood sugar levels several times a day for the last twenty years, I’ve learned that food is really complicated. And, blood sugar levels are really complicated. They can be affected by stress, illness (even just the common cold), exercise, hormones, and other daily¬†occurrences.

Two effective strategies in controlling MY blood sugar levels have been:

Avoiding high-glycemic foods like wheat, potatoes, rice, and high fructose corn syrup.
Eating enough protein and fiber. These are an essential part of every meal; they slow down the absorption of carbohydrates (causing less impact on my blood sugar levels) and keep me feeling full.

And, surprisingly:

Ice cream is ok. Especially full-fat (not low-fat or sugar-free) ice cream because it fills me up faster, and the added fat and protein slows down the absorption of the sugar.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re craving sweetness, consuming a sugar substitute that does not contain any carbohydrates (like aspartame, saccharine, or stevia) can actually confuse your body. We continue to crave sweetness and sugar until we actually consume SOME carbohydrates. That is when it’s important to consume the right kind.

I know that advice from health experts is easier to follow when it’s one simple rule (ie. sugar is bad), but, unfortunately, I think food and health is more complicated than that. And, everybody is different, and every BODY is unique.

If you’re interested in reading up on the debate, check out the following articles:

Is Sugar Toxic? by Gary Taubes

It’s the Sugar, Folks. by Mark Bittman

What does the Sugar-Diabetes Finding mean for Type 1 Diabetes? a response by Erin Digitale

Reduce That Load and Reduce Your Risk by Dr. Alan Barclay




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