Is Sugar That Bad? How To Manage Cravings

If you’ve spent any amount of time online looking for healthy diet ideas, you’ve probably come across some articles about the dangers of sugar. Let’s clear up some misconceptions about sugar, starting with properly defining it.

First off, there are two types of sugars: added sugars, which are found in processed junk food like cookies, cakes, donuts, cereals, ice-cream, soda and coffee drinks. The American Heart Association recommends women limit their consumption of added sugars to 100 calories a day, which is about 6 teaspoons. And 150 calories a day for men, which is about 9 teaspoons.

Eating too much sugary junk food is metabolically damaging, causes cardiovascular disease, inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance – which is a pre-curser to type 2 diabetes.  So, the answer is… yes! It is absolutely true that added sugars are harmful and should be reduced and limited to a very small portion of our diet.

Now let’s talk about a different type of sugar. This type of sugar – when eaten properly and balanced with proteins and fats, is actually healthy for you! And these naturally occurring sugars are found in all fruits, vegetables and grains. These are called carbohydrates.Carbohydrates are divided into two categories:

  • simple carbohydrates
  • complex carbohydrates
And these are broken down even further into
  • monosaccharides
  • disaccharides
  • polysaccharides…

But for now, just know that carbohydrates are metabolized into a type of sugar called glucose. And glucose is your body’s preferred and optimal form of fuel.

Unfortunately carbs have gotten a really bad wrap lately. There are a few nutrition philosophies that perpetuate the “carbs are bad for you” myth, to the extreme that even fruit and certain vegetables should be avoided. And naturally, this causes a lot of confusion for people.

Every body is different. Some people may need more carbs, some people may need less carbs. But, in a world where most people are eating way too much processed junk and added sugars, I believe it’s dangerous to deter people from eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

In fact, when you break it down chemically, the only way to avoid the natural sugar from carbohydrates is to remove ALL carbs, even vegetables, and only eat meat and oil. And I think we can all agree that is not a healthy diet! The reason carbs get a bad wrap is due to how they interact with your blood sugar.

Eating too much carbohydrate will cause the amount of glucose in your blood to rise to dangerous levels.

Your pancreas saves the day by releasing insulin, which removes sugar from your blood and converts it to body fat. Unfortunately, this process cause a blood sugar crash, which is very stressful on the body and triggers cravings.

But, removing carbs entirely or reducing them to dangerously low levels for extended periods of time, is not the solution to stabilizing blood sugar. In fact, this could make your body less tolerant to carbs over time.

Having said that, I do recognize there may be certain medical situations where lowering carbs could be helpful. But, for most people, who are healthy carbohydrates are well tolerated and should be included as part of healthy diet and are not to be feared.

The best way to keep your blood sugar happy and balanced is to always eat protein and fat with your carb. This will help blunt the surge of sugar into your blood.

In the real world this looks like a veggie omelet or piece of chicken with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and a bit olive oil, or a piece of grilled tuna with a baked sweet potato and a bit of coconut oil.

Carbs, protein and fat is present in all three of these meal examples. This will help stabilize your blood sugar, with will keep your body happy, prevent blood sugar crashes, which will help to eliminate cravings for junky carbs and added sugars.

Looking for a healthy, low sugar holiday dessert? Try my Baked Apples Recipe
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