By Rosemary Marchese
Editor, B.A. Applied Sci (Physiotherapist)
Should you really quit sugar to lose weight in 2016?
It’s a new year and you have those new year resolutions nagging. Should one of them be to ‘quit sugar’ so that you can lose weight? I know so many people that are trying it, some succeeding and some failing. What I am seeing more and more is the lack of understanding as to why there is this massive hype towards quitting sugar. Let’s take a look.
There are a lot of sugars we could discuss here but I am going to keep it super simple. Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose. It’s the ‘fructose’ part that freaks people out because that is the fruit found in sugar so out go the bananas and in comes the fake crap into the pantry. But here’s what is often not so obvious. Fruit is meant to be eaten. Our body can take it…in small doses and that’s why 2, maximum 3, pieces of whole fruit per day is what we should consume. The fibre and other nutrients within that fruit helps our body deal with the fructose a lot better than any pill or ‘part fruit’ product can.
But here’s another thing that is not so clear. Fructose is EVERYWHERE. I could bet that almost every meal you eat is laden with so much fructose. The problem with this is the body is not suited to doing anything with fructose so it converts it to fat, which often sits nicely around and in our vital organs and lo and behold we get heart disease and cancer, just to name two.
So why are we not taking this sugar thing seriously enough? While some of us are you may well be one of those people closing their eyes to the risks involved and the true impact of sugar on the waistline. Why? Because it’s not immediately obvious from the outside. The subtle changes in our health and waist lines are not always recognised, or we choose to ignore them. Plus, the pharmaceutical companies are great at keeping us alive, but they are not great at stopping us from getting sick in the first place. So, while many people live with heart disease for some time before that doomed heart attack, that’s because the drugs are keeping them alive, but not making them healthier.
Fructose is everywhere you look. Every time you read the sugar content on a packaged label you can guarantee that there’s fructose there! High fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks is one of the biggest killers. Soft drink companies will tell you that ‘sugar is sugar’ but I disagree. Are they really trying to kid us that the sugar in soft drink is going to make us just as fat as an apple? Seriously, that infuriates me. Sure, of course you can eat too much of anything, including fruit, but I’d sure rather give my kids a banana than a can of coke and tell them ‘It’s the same thing, kids!’
So what’s the take home message?
- Yes, eat your fruit. Eat 2, maximum 3 pieces per day and enjoy the entire fruit to make sure you get the fibre and nutrients your body needs.
- Instead of worrying about how much sugar is in real food, ditch the processed stuff. There’s sugar in just about all of it and it’s worse in the ‘low fat’ options.
- Drink water and milk as your primary drinks. Soft drinks and cordial are purely sugar waiting to be turned into fat.
- Avoid ‘added sugar’ where possible. Sugar is added to almost everything. Think about it…there’s sauce, salad dressings, sugar in tea and coffee, honey, maple syrup and more. It doesn’t end!
- Party food is for parties. Keep it there.