Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hidden Sugars

Being Diabetic, I am always dreadful of consuming too much sugar, particularly hidden sugars. It is a common fact that 75% of our sugar intake is hidden in all the foods we consume, conscious or unconsciously. Food industries add sugar to make their food nicer to eat. Even foods that are labeled “Low Fat” will normally have added sugar to compensate the removal of fats. Sugar is carbohydrate found in natural or processed foods. Sucrose, Dextrose, Fructose, syrups are all simple sugars. Starches are the second type of sugars, and dietary plant fibres are the third type. The American Heart Foundation recommends limiting our daily intake of sugar of no more than 150 calories for men and 100 calories for women.

How do we know the content of sugar in the food we buy? The obvious answer is to read the Nutrition label carefully. We should not be satisfied with foods labeled “good for us”, as there will always be a catch somewhere. Some products label sugar as total carbohydrate. Then again we should be able to translate and interpret the label “amount per serving”. I believe “per serving” is the most ambiguous measurement of quantity. I still do not know how to interpret it. Do you?

Reading the ingredient list on the label is no help either. We would not know how much of sugar is actually inherent from the food or how much of sugar is added on. Diet Foods are actually the biggest culprits with added sugar. The lower the Fat is reduced, the higher the compensation with sugar. So we should be more careful with diet foods as sugar is used to fill in the taste gap.
Another area for caution is “sugar free” or “no added sugar”. It does not mean there is no sugar at all. These foods may be high in other sugars. They are not automatically no sugar products.
Artificial or synthetic sugars are bad sweeteners. I believe they are basically chemicals and not natural sugars, except for some that are harvested from plants. We should avoid consuming these sugars altogether.

With so much sugar hidden in our foods, I have decided to challenge my sweet tooth instead. I have totally given up all sugared soft drinks. I have not added sugar to my hot drinks coffee and tea in the morning. I do not crave for sweet things like before. I have a fair understanding of the Glycemic Indexes (GI) of food and Glycemic loads. I try to avoid high GI foods and eat lesser portions all the time. I try to eat as many times as possible of small amounts each time.

My only draw back now is my craving for food after my exercises, giving rise to sugar spikes. I feel week and faint after an hour of any exercises and feel that I should be eating or drinking something sweet.
On special days I enjoy a sweet treat. Why not? I am aware of the hidden sugar and that will make me eat or drink less.

Take care

Allen Lai

No comments:

Post a Comment