1 February 2007

Food for Thought

Should you be eating that, it’s full of sugar?
Feel guilty every time you enjoy something sweet? Do you think having diabetes equals no sugar? Join the club. Not only that, if you have diabetes, you have probably been on the receiving end of an accusing: ‘Should you be eating that, it’s full of sugar?’ Or ‘I thought sugar was to be avoided like the plague.’ It’s not only irritating, it’s outdated (the sugar taboo was based on experiments on dogs in the 1920s). But old habits die hard. And be grateful the Diet Police didn’t grab that lifesaving lolly or sweet drink out of your hands while you were having a hypo.

Photo: Ian Hofstetter

One of the happy spin-offs of glycemic index research has shown that most sugars in foods produce quite moderate blood glucose responses, lower than most starches. Why? Well sugars (including sucrose/table sugar GI 60) are a mixture of molecules, some of which have only a negligible effect on blood glucose levels. Many scientific studies clearly show that a moderate amount of sugar in diabetic diets (for example 30–50 grams or 6–10 teaspoons) does not lead to poor blood glucose control nor weight gain. Keep in mind, however, that this moderate amount includes all sources of refined sugar you consume – white, brown, raw, treacle, golden syrup, soft drinks, desserts, cookies breakfast cereals or a teaspoon of sugar added to a cup of tea or coffee.

When you want a little sweetness in your life, opt for nutritious foods that will provide more than calories – porridge with brown sugar, a dollop of jam on grainy toast, muesli with fruit yoghurt, a scoop of low fat ice-cream with a baked apple. And it’s OK to enjoy a treat occasionally too, such as two or three squares of good quality chocolate.

What does 40 grams of added sugar look like in a healthy diet?
Diabetes dietitian Kaye Foster-Powell shows us what 40 grams of added sugar looks like in a healthy diet for someone with diabetes.





Photos: Scott Dickinson

Nutritional analysis
The total energy content is 1520 calories (6400 kJ) with 22% energy from fat and 55% from carbohydrate. The fat content is 38 grams. The total carbohydrate content is 220 grams with 112 grams from starch and 108 grams from sugars (added plus naturally occurring).


Anonymous said...

Now I know why medical doctors practicing nutritional medicine deplore dietitions and nutritionists lack of knowledge about diabetes. I don't know any diabetic in good control who would ingest over 200 grams of CHO. I don't allow my blood sugar to spike like it would with your recommended meal.

Tonja said...

A note to anonymous - I would strongly encourage you to try an experiment. For a day, eat 200 grams of CHO, but all in the form of beans (e.g., kidney beans, black beans, lentils, etc.) and vegetables, and a couple low GI fruits like apples or pears. Monitor your blood sugar and report back.

Tonja said...

The one caution I would make to the information above is that, while sugar has a lower GI than, say, white flour - some research has shown that it results in a greater insulin response. Some research has also shown a direct relationship between sugar consumption and beta-cell functioning (the cells that make insulin). The bottom line is that whole, unrefined food (something that still looks the way it appears in nature) is always better than a highly refined substances.

Anonymous said...

Brown sugar, rice, CANNED pears, cookies...and she calls this a "healthy diet"? I absolutely agree that diabetics are misguided by the medical community (so-called "diet foods" are processed beyond recognition), but here F-P has bailed out and succumbed to pressure by someone more powerful than herself. There's so much great unprocessed real food out there - why encourage otherwise?

Anonymous said...

1) What relevance does "low fat" milk have to do with sugar consumption?

2) How is "plunger" coffee superior for a diabetic than a cup of coffee brewed in a drip style or percolator style machine?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I think that what F-P done has put together a healthy diet that provides what she said it would - while there are wonderful unprocessed foods out there, it's important to be realistic about what people can actually take time to prepare etc - And low fat milk is just better for your health - it doesn't have anything to do with 'low sugar' but is right up there with 'healthy diet; (and plunger coffee just tastes better!)

Anonymous said...

"It's important to be realistic about" diabetes and obesity - now; "actually take time to prepare"?
1. Breakfast: throw a few raisins in the milk while it cooks instead of adding sugar.
2. Snack: an apple, or figs; a few nuts provide that feeling of fullness. Compare preparation time to grabbing ONLY 2 cookies.
3. Dinner - sweet potato instead of rice (in the microwave ~8')- also adds color (sure looks deceptively like white rice in the picture).
4. Snack - a real live pear? Think of the white and green, the crunch; no pears? get what's in season.
Low fat (yoghurt, ice cream) does not mean low sugar, and sugar is converted to fat. Most importantly, these foods stimulate us to eat more of the same!
GI provides a needed service and is looked up to for answers; why "nourish" the idea of having cookies and ice cream at home?

nay said...

¿Is Brown Sugar better tha white?

nay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
beruang said...

also note that this is the MAXIMUM amount of added sugar we should eat - so the bottom line is, if u can eat food without added sugar, thats great (that's ideal) but if u "can't live without added sugar", u can have a bit of sugary foods like F-P's menu example, but dont add more to that menu!

gi group said...

We are often asked if brown sugar is the same as regular sucrose (white table sugar). Here's what Dr Joanna McMillan Price (co-author of The Low GI Diet) says:
'Yes brown sugar is just sucrose with some of the molasses still present. We don't have a GI value for molasses yet (it hasn't been tested, or the results haven't been published). But it is unlikely to be very different from sucrose since it is predominantly sucrose, with some fructose and glucose also present. It does however contain less carbohydrate per 100 g than brown or white sugar and so the contribution to the overall GL of the product will be affected slightly if molasses replaces some of the sugar in a recipe. There are of course a few extra minerals found in molasses too.

Anonymous said...

As a young person who has insulin resistance (I orginally had 6 x as much insulin as a normal person - something I am born with) and someone who was lucky enough to find an endocronologist who knows what he was talking about and is up to date with how diet and exercise can be optimised to increase resistance to glucose I can see how this anonymous user could write what they did.

There are many doctors who not only practice outdated techniques, but preach it as gospel.

If I were to follow healthy guidelines put out by the government and preached by many doctors practicing nutritional medicine, I would get unhealthy, put on enormous amounts of weight which would make more more unhealthy and create many complications, including eventually developing diabetes once my pancreas has tired itself out.

Instead, I follow a low-GI diet. It isn't low carb and it isn't necessarily low sugar as the article explains. I feel good, I am looking better and my insulin resistance symptoms are slowly leaving.

To anonymous - swap your high GI basics like bread and rice for low GI types like Burgen Soy and Linseed and Doongara/Basmati or Clever-Rice (yes....it is white!) for starters. You can very quickly feel the difference. Then try a few more low-GI products and you will feel like a different person.

I now control my blood sugar by eating low GI-foods and feel fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Dear "young person" - thank you for your touching letter and comments; and wishes to you for continued good health!! I discovered low GI foods on my own 4 years ago after seeing how dieticians and doctors continually failed; and, on my own, succeeded spectacularly. People were amazed at my new body, everyone asked me how I did it, but only 1 person out of all of them tried this "new" way of eating. She lost weight, but then went back to "normal" eating and gained it all back. Wake up people, today's "normal" will kill you - don't have cookies and ice cream in your home for snacks if you can't stop snacking. Be well "young person" - here's to smart eating.

interested reader said...

I am sorry that this post a comment has brought out a slinging match. As the Dalai Lama says, "my religion is simple. My religion is kindness". Maybe we all need to adopt this in our dealings with each other.

Anonymous said...

The Dalai Lama isn't fat. A smile with an offer of cookies to a fat person is a death wish. This is not a slinging match - your note verifies how much people don't want to be told the truth, even if it can save their lives. The people who read this forum deserve to get the right answers - without the cream on top.

Anonymous said...

What is "Plunger Coffee"

gi group said...

Here's what the fabulous Wikipedia says re plunger coffee, and we quote:
"A French press, also known as a press pot, coffee plunger or (in English only) cafetière, is a coffee brewing device popularized by the French. Its operation is simple and it produces a stronger coffee than other devices.
A French press consists of a narrow cylindrical jug usually made of glass or clear plastic, equipped with a lid and a "plunger" which fits tightly in the cylinder and which has a fine wire or nylon mesh acting as a filter. Coffee is brewed by placing the coffee and water together, leaving to brew for a few minutes, then depressing the plunger to separate the coffee at the bottom of the jug.
The French press goes by various names around the world. In Australia and Ireland the whole apparatus is known as a coffee plunger and coffee brewed in it is known as plunger coffee. Its French name is cafetière à piston, a melior (from an old brand of makers of coffee pots of this type) or a Bodum (another brand). In the UK the device is known as a cafetière (the French word for "coffee pot"), perhaps from the La Cafetière brand name.
Because the coffee grounds are in direct contact with the brewing water, coffee brewed with the French press captures more of the coffee's flavour and essential oils, which would become trapped in a traditional drip brew machine's paper filters. French pressed coffee is usually stronger and thicker and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee. Because the used grounds remain in the drink after brewing, French pressed coffee should be served immediately so as to not become bitter from over-extraction."

Anonymous said...

After battling weight for years and trying all kinds of 'diets' including low-carb, which left me tired and cranky and prone then to binge, I sort of stumbled upon the GI eating method as a middle road. What a change in how I feel, how much more energy, and at 41, I look and feel better than I did 10 years ago! I eat as many whole foods as possible, only whole grains, healthy fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil) and I include moderate PROTEIN with each meal or snack. I do NOT include ice cream (once I began getting more fiber and got OFF the low-fat bandwagon, my desire for such things seemed to ebb away) or heaven-forbid, CANNED fruit; maybe once a week I will indulge, after a meal, in 2 Whole Grain Chips Ahoy cookies (these are great!) I eat dark chocolate every day. I do not drink any calorie-laden drinks;water, coffee, green tea, V8 juice pretty much are it. I do yoga, pilates, body-weight exercises and moderate cardio.
It saddens me to see people still trying to or disputing about 'having their cake'. There's so much more to life than food, if we get OFF all the various bandwagons and eat as close to nature as possible. This is easier than it used to be with various convenience produce,etc. Whole-grain 'low-carb' tortillas make an excellent bread substitute to make wraps of all kinds. (watch for hydrogenated fats--apparently, the trans fat count can be '0' per serving and they can still have used the nasty stuff.)

Health and best wishes to all.

ernie Lee said...

I think I might have started this !
I think the GI group has resorted to promoting junk foods, high in sugar content
eg Nutella, Milo cereal

Please read Choice assessment-


Both of these products are virtually junk food, loaded with sugar. ALL sugars are very energy intensive. How then can a diet which actively promotes excess use of sugar be healthy ?

I can give you a qualified Industrial Chemist's assessment on the poor science used here
erniemac@comcen.com au

Ernie Lee