Sugar, Sugar, Everywhere

June 22, 2012

I read this article yesterday (http://news.yahoo.com/diabetes-doctors-nyc-big-soda-ban-just-start-040234025–sector.html) basically about personal responsibility and how the government should not intervene because the big, bad cola companies want to keep serving their sugary concoctions. I have to tell you I’m very torn. I’m very much a live and let live sort of person and would consider myself at least a reasonably bright guy who thinks the government screws up everything its involved with but soda is really only part of the problem with diabetes and obesity. Prior to actually being diagnosed with diabetes (years ago) I was drinking 5 or 6 20 oz bottles of Coke a day when I found out, I quit, cold turkey or so I thought. I hadn’t quit, I merely switched to diet soda. This caused a modest drop in my blood sugar and my weight but not nearly as significant as one would think given that kind of consumption. Want to know why? I’m glad you asked

Even though I had undergone at that time (circa 2004) some diabetes eduction training (don’t drink soda, don’t eat candy, exercise, blah blah blah) there was surprisingly little in there about nutrition. I figured, I got rid of all the bad stuff in soda and candy so I should pretty set and in listening to the training from both the hospital and insurance companies I should’ve been. The training was simply wrong, dead wrong and it took a few years and several events for me to figure out just how wrong. It stressed only removing the “bad” sugars as they were called at the time and not overall sugar so I and many others I suspect focused on the bad stuff. Soda, candy and any sugary treats were all gone. The problem is that’s only half the story really.

What I have learned on my current journey through massive weight loss and really trying to get better overall is that what really matters is overall sugar and carbohydrate consumption not just the bad stuff but all of it. The rub, as they say is it isn’t all that easy to discern what the carb count is in a lot of foods. I mean sure, you can look at the side of the box but I have to tell you, even now that I’ve learned a lot of this stuff, labels are pretty hard to read intelligently. Now you have a whole ranking system of carbs and it is very confusing (my nutritionist put it simply, it is “lying”).  If the government wanted to do something useful, they could force labels to be more clear and talk in consistent serving sizes. There’s no reason for them to be deceptive, people are going to eat what they want regardless but it helps for people who are trying to be cautious or need to be to figure out what is actually going on in the food. Sugar on its own I don’t think is bad for you, it is just the large amount we get, sometimes unknowingly, that really get you. I know of people, some I consider intelligent say “hey these cookies aren’t THAT bad, only 24 grams of carbs in here” and now when I point out that that is just in a single 1/4 teaspoon. Do you know anyone that only eat a 1/4 teaspoon of a cookie? I sure don’t.

Also I’m not trying to be preachy here, I’m just putting this out there because I’ve had to learn this stuff the very hard way. Hopefully someone else can save themselves some anguish when they come across this post. My new food motto is “No more than five or six ingredients and it has to be recognizable on my plate” — I think that’s a pretty simple motto to stick with, hopefully it keeps working. BTW, since changing my life around like this, my blood sugar readings have gone from around 230 to a consistent 85-90 no matter when I test. It does work.




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