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Are Processed Carbs the Reason for the  Obesity Epidemic?

We’re told to steer clear of simple carbs (like sugar), yet so many of the foods  on supermarket shelves are pumped full of sugar (listed as ingredients such as  ‘fructose corn syrup’, ‘glucose’ ‘maltose’ or, in fact, almost anything ending  with ‘ose’). Sugar is a highly addictive substance. In fact, in a review  published in the British Medical Journal last year, the authors argued that  there are “substantial parallels and overlap between [typical] drugs of  abuse [like alcohol and drugs] and sugar, from the standpoint of brain  neurochemistry as well as behaviour.” And the food manufacturers know it.  

In fact, although fat used to be thought of as the demon when it came to  weight control, it’s now clear that the obesity epidemic is more likely  explained by the carb/sugar content of our foods (some of which are  ‘hidden’, leaving the consumer at an unfair advantage). Some food companies have invested  heavily in various tactics to keep us hooked on certain foods, designing  products that use sugar to bypass our natural appetite control mechanisms  (meaning we often find it almost impossible to resist).  

So, no wonder that we’ve grown larger over the past few decades. Our food  is simply loaded with sugar – that includes some yoghurts, breakfast cereals,  snack bars, tinned soups and sweetened beverages. Of course, we have also  become less active over the past few decades, but most experts believe it’s our  sugar intake that has led to the overweight and obesity epidemic we are now  facing.  

The Truth About Carbs

What Can we Do?

Put simply, we need to outsmart the manufacturers.  

1) Don’t go shopping when hungry: also, be prepared to walk past those tempting foods and be wary of the influence of advertising on both yourself and the rest of your family.

2) Ditch the sugar from your diet: it may be a challenge at the beginning but, if you stick it out, your body will adapt and soon you will actually prefer that serving of Greek yoghurt with blueberries over a slice of cake.

3) Learn how to read a food label (see more here): the simplest technique is to find the sugars category under the ‘per serving’ column on the label, and then to divide that number by four to give the number of teaspoons of sugar per serving (also, you might be eating three or four times that servings so that’s 3-4 times the sugar you’ve recorded).

4) Be particularly wary of products masquerading as ‘health foods,’ like sugar-soaked cereals, granola bars or smoothies: if you want a snack that’s handy and low in sugar, choose our protein bars here.

5) Don’t let yourself get too hungry: do this by eating small, regular portions of high-quality protein, along with high fibre vegetables and a small amount of fat (sometimes also add a small quantity of wholegrain carbs, but not necessary always).
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