The thing about sugar

Sugar. Sucrose. Fructose. Lactose. Glucose. Dextrose.

Sugar and diabetes go together like Romeo and Juliet. Like a warm gentle breeze on your skin as you lie on a beach with your toes digging in the sand. Like a warm scone with a good cup of tea. Like the sweat dripping down your back after a good run. Having “a bit of sugar”, “sugar diabetes”, being a “sugar baby”means you are ever connected to the stuff.

Yes sugar in all of its forms is something we diabetics know a lot about. We joined a healthy chat about sugar last night. It was not a diabetes chat but a “healthy”chat and the topic was something both dear and hated by people with diabetes – sugar. Our first question was about how much sugar we had consumed that day. Hmmm I thought. It depends on what you mean by sugar?

The answer was not clear but related generally to processed foods that break down quickly- ahh so we are talking about glucose then?But not really because we are not talking about complex carbohydrates which are also broken down into glucose, just not as quickly. Confused and a little uncertain we plowed on. There was a lot of discussion about giving up sugar and how much fruit was ok to eat?

It is about here in the sugar debate that the hairs on the back of my neck start to stand up. I am totally for a low sugar diet. By this I mean letting go of highly processed packaged foods and especially sugary drinks that are high in their glycemic index and thus break down quickly into the blood stream. A nightmare for us diabetics – EXCEPT when we are hypo. Then sugar in all of its forms but particularly the fast type becomes our best friend. Our saviour. Our hero.

Sugar and too much of it can be “poison” as stated by some of the anti sugar mob in particular sugary drinks which can be clearly linked with obesity and risks for type 2 diabetes but all forms of sugar as the single cause of all obesity and associated problems? That is not so clear – this is a great balanced article

And what about saturated fats and simply eating too much? Of anything?

Honey was then questioned in the chat. Ok ok ok – as  person who was handed a “forbidden foods” list at the age of 12 that contained all thing delicious including honey (one of the hardest for me to give up) this just kills me.When I was told many years later that it was ok for me to have sugar, that it was not about sugar anymore but the quality and quantity of what we eat – my life was changed and honey came back to me. I have since discovered the many forms of honey with a low GI and in particular the range of raw honey which is totally divine.

If you are considering giving up sugar, think about being a kid and being told the reason you are probably going to lose your eyes,vision, kidneys and legs is due entirely to sugar.  Being told to never ever eat sugar (unless you are hypo) and to go out and eat as much “free food” as you like – i.e meat, processed meat, cheese, and did I mention meat? And then finding out as an adult this was in fact not the case…..and being obese….and guess what? I did not let sugar cross my lips yet I WAS FAT. So the idea that sugar is the sole reason for obesity? Not so sure about that.

As far as I am concerned life is all about balance. Sure don’t ever have sugary drinks (unless you are hypo), try to avoid lollies and sweets and all those sugar filled treats (unless you are hypo), no need for juice, go for the real fruit as it has less calories and all the lovely fibre (unless you are hypo) and go for your unprocessed fresh foods as much as possible. Don’t eat a crappy high processed diet – including high added sugar and fat and anything else that is empty and devoid of any nutrition and you can not see where the food began its life. And don’t, just don’t, drink sugary drinks. Eating a low carb diet has also been shown to be very helpful in weight loss but this is about carbs, rather than just sugar.

But give up all forms of sugar totally including fruit, honey and other healthy nutritious forms of “sugar”?  To me that is a bit like someone giving up gluten for “health reasons” when they don’t even have Coeliac Disease. Give me a break. Those who have “given up sugar” say it helps you lose weight.Yep. So will the lemon diet, the Atkins diet, the sit in a circle diet- any diet where you have less calories in than calories out will mean you lose weight. Giving up sugar also means giving up carbs and that will certainly help with weight loss. Many of us with diabetes have begun to realise that lower carb eating plans are better for our diabetes and weight management. Insulin is needed less and as we know insulin is a weight loving hormone, it means we are better able to stay healthy.

So I am sure you do feel better with no sugar in your diet. Especially if you replace it with low processed, fresh foods, I for one do not add sugar to anything and try to stay low sugar and low carb in most of my eating plan (except when I am hypo) but I will  not give up fruit or honey.  I am currently losing weight. Not by giving up sugar but by reducing my carbs and my overall food intake and thus my insulin doses; and by increasing my exercise. And it is working. And I eat honey every day. And fruit. And I feel great and am healthy. My skin is great, I sleep well and have heaps of energy. In 8 weeks I have lost nearly 9 kilos. So something is working.

I am all for informed choice. For balance. For educating the masses in a genuine and FREE way about what is healthy and how we can achieve the best possible health for all of us. And for people not judging each other about the ways others choose to live their lives. This only makes us depressed and generally we eat more food when we feel like that. These people are also  now making a living off the idea of giving up sugar – book after workshop after speaking engagement. Make no mistake the “give up sugar” industry is now an industry. That’s the thing about sugar. It is addictive whether you are eating it, trying to give it up, or writing about giving it up.  It’s sweet like that.