Case Study #03 The Sugar Seeker
First, let’s clear up a major misconception. The “lone gunman” theory that puts added sugar at the centre of everything that’s wrong with our diets is a fallacy. So far, the evidence that it’s worse for our waistlines than other fast-acting carbs (such as white bread) is flimsy.
If you overdo it on a regular basis, however, it can quickly become a problem. In the absence of fibre, carbohydrates flood your blood with glucose and your brain with reward chemicals – creating an itch that’s hard to scratch. It’s a phenomenon that Martin, Carmichael and others are trying to map at Pennington, feeding subjects sugary drinks or sweets and then comparing their FMRI scans when they look at images of foods afterwards.
The Prescription Reading food labels is only effective if you know what you’re looking for. Generally, anything ending in “-ose” (glucose, sucrose, maltose) is an added sugar, and you’re as likely to find these in pre-dressed salads and breakfast oats as you are in “treat” foods.
Remember, too, that ingredients don’t exist in isolation. Fibre, proteins and fats will slow the release of glucose, cushioning the crash that leads to further cravings. Tempering this by adding healthy fats and proteins to your next plate of pasta will therefore have a greater effect than simply turning down a square of chocolate.
Finally, it’s worth considering that inadequate sleep may play a part in your sweet tooth. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those who undersleep by 50-90 minutes (that’s most of us) eat 12g more sugar per day on average. Sweet dreams.