What you eat is what you are.
You may have heard that before. I know I have. When you are a diabetic what you ingest is even more important than it was before you had diabetes and if you are like me, you LOVE sugar and pretty much anything made from it. I’ve been a “sugar addict” as far back as I can remember. If it’s sweet, I want it. I crave it. I love it! And it’s one of the worst things there is for you to eat.
Truly, sugar is not that good for your body. In fact, especially for diabetics, sugar can be virtually a poison and here are some reasons why:
- Sugar is a fast-acting glucose. The minute you eat sugar it begins flooding your bloodstream with glucose, which can cause blood sugar numbers to rise rapidly.
- Sugar can act negatively on your eyesight and blindness is not a condition in our bodies that most of us strive to achieve.
- Sugar can damage your arteries, leading to heart disease and nerve damage, which can in turn lead to gangrene and amputation.
- Sugar adds extra calories, which can lead to weight gain
- Sugar can trigger dangerous inflammations in your body.
- Sugar can be addictive, which is probably why I crave it SO much, so often!
After learning all these things about sugar, I no longer wonder why when I was first diagnosed with diabetes (in 1999) my doctor told me I could never eat sugar again! Today my current doctor says that I do not need to cut all sugar from my diet, but that I should “ration” my sugar intake so that I don’t get too much at a time. (Ask your doctor what you should be eating – and not eating – when it comes to sugar.)
But she also tells me to never forget how dangerous sugar can be when eaten in excess, and that I need to think about how much and what kinds of sugars I am putting into my body each day.
2) Artificial Sweeteners
And now that you know how bad sugar can be for you, will it surprise you to know that artificial sweeteners can be even worse for you? They are not natural substances and your body cannot easily process them. It has to work much harder than it should have to before they leave your body.
Did you know that it can take as many as 32 glasses of water to flush the toxins from just one artificially sweetened soda from your body? Learning this blew me totally away! NutraSweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin®, AminoSweet®, Splenda®, Sweet’N Low® and aspartame are just some artificial sugars that I now avoid like the plague.
3) High Fructose (corn syrup)
For me, this is the worst offender of all. I’ve read a lot about it and once I found out how bad it is for my body, I cut it out of my diet completely. I threw out 3/4 of the food in my house, because nearly everything I had contained High Fructose! NOTE: Fructose is natural sugar from fruit and it is fine to eat. It’s just the High Fructose — sometimes called HFCS for High Fructose Corn Syrup — that is unhealthy to eat.
Today, more and more you will find foods in stores that are labeled, No High Fructose. That’s probably because the companies realized their sales were dropping because people are finally getting smart and realizing how extremely bad this additive is and, like me, they are refusing to buy products that contain it. It is, to put it bluntly, poison to your body!
High Fructose causes your body to be unable to tell when you are full, so you might keep eating way beyond the amount of food or beverage you really want or need. It converts to fat more easily than sugar, which can add extra unwanted pounds to your body. It isn’t natural and your body has to work much harder to remove it from your system, causing your liver to work extra hard. It elevates triglycerides in your bloodstream, making you even more vulnerable to heart attacks and strokes.
If you must eat something sweet, you are much better off with natural sugar!
But all is not lost. There IS a natural sugar that actually doesn’t affect your blood sugar levels – Stevia. But read the ingredients on the label before you buy Stevia! They are not all the same. I personally avoid Stevia that has Dextrose in it – a type of corn syrup.
SweetLeaf® is my personal preference for Stevia. It’s less bitter than some others and doesn’t have any extra ingredients in it that I personally consider bad for my health.
I do have to admit, though, that I still cook mostly with real sugar. Nothing else reacts quite like real, natural sugar in baked goods. These days, however, I try to find recipes that have less sugar in them, or I experiment with the recipes to lower the sugar as much as possible without ruining the food.
5) Hydrogenated (foods)
The dictionary definition of hydrogenate is: “A process that changes a liquid oil into a solid or hydrogenated fat.”
This process causes your food to be full of trans fat – the worst possible kind to put into your body. Trans fat raises the LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowers the HDL (good) cholesterol in your body. The exact opposite of what you want. Breads, tortillas, many foods have hydrogenated <something> in them.
This is another food additive I have totally cut out of my diet. If the label says, “hydrogenated” anywhere on it, I won’t buy it or eat it.
To sum it all up, here are my recommendations, based on my research and from talking to my medical team.
- Talk to your doctor. Ask if there are foods YOU should avoid, or should definitely eat. If your doctor or clinic has diabetes nutrition classes, courses or handouts, ask about them and then take them. You will be shocked at some of the information you will learn!
- Research these substances that I’ve mentioned. Don’t take my word for it. Look them up for yourself. The practice of putting artificial additives into our food began in the 1970s. These artificial additives made foods last longer on the shelves and were cheaper to make than foods with real sugars and all natural ingredients in them. But they were added for profit for the manufacturers of the foods, not for your health!
- READ the fine print on labels on EVERYTHING before you buy foods. Take a magnifying glass with you to the store if you need to. Avoid these bad additives. Just don’t buy products containing them. Find another brand or a store that stocks products that don’t have these dangerous additives in them.
Always remember that your health is the most important thing you have and it’s highly doubtful that anyone else is going to take care of it for you if you don’t do it for yourself. The old adage, “You are what you eat,” is very appropriate today.