Oct 13, 2014

Are you addicted to sugar?

You may not know that you are; it lurks in some unsuspecting places like salad dressing and cooking sauces.  The average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons per day from natural and added sugar sources, which is the equivalent to 85 lbs of sugar per year!  Yikes! But why do we have such an overactive sweet tooth? One of the secrets lays in our love affair with high glycemic foods.

High glycemic foods are quickly digested carbohydrate and sugar based foods which send our blood sugar levels soaring. Our pancreas quickly secretes insulin to cart the sugar to our cells for use, and the rest is sent for storage, hello love handles!  Insulin is very efficient at its job, and the resulting drop in blood sugar levels has us feeling tired, cranky and foggy headed, so we start to look for our next sugary fix.

Getting off this yo-yo pattern takes a little work, but it’s completely do-able. You will need to replace high glycemic foods with low glycemic alternatives, and consume enough fat, protein and fiber with every meal and snack.

Here’s an example:

Toast and Jam  – replace with steel cut oats with a nut butter and ground flax seed mixed in

This helps regulate our blood sugar in 3 ways:

1. The complex carbohydrates in the whole grain steel cut oats are more slowly broken down by our bodies than the simple carbohydrates found in the flour in toast. Therefore the glucose is more slowly released into our blood stream leading to a more even keeled rise in blood sugar levels and subsequent lowering of blood sugar levels by insulin.
Complex carbohydrates include: whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, also,  beans and lentils, and most fruits and vegetables which are not too sweet. Stone ground whole grain toast will be lower glycemic than white or whole wheat toast, especially when combined with a fat or protein.

2. The fat in the nut butter takes more time for our body to breakdown than the oats and therefore the glucose will be released more slowly into your blood stream as the whole digestive process is slowed down. This is also the case with protein, so always plan to consume a fat and/or protein with all meals and snacks.

3. The added fiber in the flax seed also slows down digestion of the whole meal leading to that ideal slow release of glucose.

If you follow these three principles, you’ll have more balanced blood sugar and be less tempted by the donut at break time or apple pie at dinner. Plus, you’ll be consuming more nutrient dense and fiber rich foods for greater overall health and well being.

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