Here are four steps I recommend for my patients to cut back their sugar intake:
1. EAT ACCORDING TO THE GLYCEMIC INDEX
When you eat foods that contain sugar, your pancreas secretes insulin, the hormone necessary to convert glucose to energy.
Eating too much sugar can cause unhealthy insulin “spikes” that over time may contribute to the development of diabetes.
A measurement called the glycemic index was devised as a way to moderate insulin levels and prevent these unhealthy fluctuations.
On this scale, foods are indexed to 100 according to the rise they elicit in insulin levels. Foods with a glycemic index of less than 55 are considered low; these include beans, most fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.
A medium glycemic index measure is between 55 and 70; foods such as whole wheat, sweet potatoes, and baked potatoes have a medium glycemic index ranking.
A high glycemic score is above 70; this includes refined grains such as white bread and white rice, as well as corn flakes, pastries, candy, and many desserts as well.
As I tell all of my patients: When it comes to the glycemic index, aim low.
2. CUT OUT OBVIOUS SUGAR OFFENDERS
Banish the sugar bowl, soft drinks, and candy from your house, car, and office.If your sweet tooth absolutely needs a fix, eat a few small squares of dark chocolate.
And remember: the higher the percentage of cocoa in the product, the lower the sugar content, as opposed to milk chocolate, which contains added sugar and fat.
3. ELIMINATE WHITE FOODS
These are the foods that your body converts into sugar. And this not only means the obvious ones — like cakes, pastries, and cookies — but white bread and pasta as well.
4. BANISH ALCOHOLIC DRINKS
When my patients have followed the first three steps and are still not losing weight, I ask them to eliminate alcoholic beverages from their diets.
Hard liquor, wine, and beer all harbor calories, and cocktails, often made with syrups, are even worse.
Not only that, but liquor weakens diet discipline, so before long, that “before dinner drink” translates to emptying the breadbasket and diving into the dessert cart.
Posts by Chauncey Crandall, M.D.
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