When I was overweight, I used to say “I don’t eat sugar, I don’t understand why I can’t lose weight!” I did not realize that my pancreas was overproducing the hormone called insulin whenever I ate anything that turned to sugar (glucose) in my blood stream. Most of those foods were healthy, such as fruit, natural honey and whole grains. However, when the blood sugar spikes happen internally, your body shifts into fat-storing mode. So, the more blood sugar spikes you have, the more fat you store. That was my problem. And, the bigger problem is the health challenges that can come from this imbalance, such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
It is important to understand how many teaspoons of sugar you might be consuming daily, even if you are not eating empty calories, like cookies, donuts, cakes and sodas. The formula for calculating sugar is: 4 net carbs = 1 teaspoon of sugar. When you look at the ingredients in any foods you choose, look at the total carbs per serving, subtract fiber and divide by 4. That will tell you how many teaspoons of sugar are about to consume. Keeping the added sugars as low as possible will help your body regulate the amount of glucose entering your blood stream. Our brain and cells require a certain amount of glucose to function properly, but too much is when all the problems can start.
The most important factor is regulating blood sugar, keeping your body in homeostasis (balance). Paying attention to added sugars and how many carbohydrates you consume daily will help your body work better and control your weight.
Here are some ingredients that are in our food resources that can lead to insulin resistance and weight-gain:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup: an added sugar in many foods and drinks that the body may or may not break down very efficiently.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): is a flavor enhancer found in many foods, including asian cuisine. This additive has been associated with insulin resistance.
- Aspartame: is an artificial sweetener that is considered an excitotoxin. That means it crosses the blood-brain barrier. A better alternative to sweeten your food is the natural stevia leaf.
- Sugar: if you read sugar as an active ingredient in your food labels, that is an added sugar. Limit foods with added sugars to control your sugar spikes.
Learning to pay attention to food labels is one of the biggest keys to managing your weight and your overall health. The most important rule I follow is the less ingredients, the better. I look for foods that have less than five ingredients and that I can read (and pronounce) all of them. Otherwise, I eat more whole foods, proteins, leafy greens and vegetables. Controlling my blood sugar is my number one life rule, make it yours too!