The Great Sugar Confusion

Are you as tired as I am of hearing about sugar and all its evils?

**** I am not a health care professional nor do I have anything that looks remotely like a medical degree. So take anything I say with a pinch of salt.

The Great Sugar Confusion was originally posted on the 9th October 2013. I have taken a different spin on it this time.

Everyday, it seems like there’s another “sugar scare” story!

And yes, I know that too much sugar is not good for us, any of us but I get so confused when I try to understand what these articles are trying to tell us and how to explain it to someone else.

I know that these pieces are written by well intentioned people, even qualified medical professionals,  who are trying to educate the masses but everytime I see one of these articles I get “irked” because I feel that the healthier foods are being branded as “bad” too.

People with diabetes, despite the truth, are taught that sugar = poison. I feel this is changing in the diabetes community but the rest of the world will continue to be stuck in this time warp for a long time to come.

So, if someone shows you an image like this ;  Sugar

and you have diabetes and are not very carb-aware, you might assume that you can’t eat any of these three items.

For me, I get confused because I don’t know if it's representative of the sugar that is added when the food is being created or if that’s what the carbohydrate becomes when digested into glucose. I don’t know if my reaction should be “Gosh, I didn’t know that!” Or “Yes, I knew that”. What, just what are you trying to tell me????

Educating the masses about the complexities of our food and how it affects us is a huge challenge. So many different approaches have been tried but haven’t really succeeded.

However, I do think that people with diabetes, especially those of us who count carbs to match insulin, have a leg up on this one. Learning to read a food label has been the best tool for me to know exactly what I’m eating, it’s even better if there are very few ingredients in it or if my food is cooked from scratch. The closer the food is to the farm the better it is. But it’s also a tool I HAVE to rely on to stay healthy and not let diabetes take me down.

It’s probably not very realistic to expect all others to scrutinise their food labels as I do. But it might be realistic to teach this in our primary or secondary schools along with how our digestive systems work? I mean that stuff has stayed with me.

This is what I remember from my 2nd year biology class.

  • - starch + sugar = Carb
  • - bite, chew-chew-swallow, swish-swoosh in the stomach
  • - presto = glucose.
  • -  Glucose floats around in the blood, gets absorbed by cells = energy.
  • -  Leftover glucose get stored for a while then gets turned into fat.
  • -  Done! A+ for me…. surely?

Molecular Structure Table Sugar

For those of you who would like a bit more science, have a look at this really good website; basic biology of digesting carbohydrates.

The Clare branch of Diabetes Ireland is hosting a Diabetes Education event will feature a dietitian who will talk about "being sugar smart”, on Tuesday, May 17th in The Temple Gate Hotel at 8pm. It's going to make for a very interesting evening and hopefully be enlightening.