Category Archives: carbs

Smoke, mirrors, statistics, damned lies?

Benjamin Disraeli said: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Then we have “smoke and mirrors”, leading us implicitly to believe something is true when in fact it isn’t. This morning, you decide…

I’ve just seen a TV advert for a new breakfast drink product. Always one to know what goes into these things I put the sniffer dog to work. What I found was a great lesson in why we should treat food labels with a dose of healthy scepticism!

Apparently this product contains 8.1 grams of sugar per 100 grams of product – that’s just 9% of your daily advised amount according to the manufacturer’s information panel.

The problem here is the product is sold in 250ml bottles. Well done Sainsbury for therefore pointing out that really means you get 20 grams of sugar in an individual sized bottle equating to 22% of your daily advised amount in their product information panel.

The BIG problem with both sets of information? If 8.1 grams sugar equates to 9% of our recommended intake, or even if 20 grams equates to 22%, it means the actual daily recommended intake is somewhere between 90 and 91 grams sugar. Hmmm – in who’s world?

Well certainly not in WHO’s world! The World Health Organisation recommends limiting free sugars to just 25 grams per. day. The NHS have yet to catch up, and still recommend limiting free sugars to 30 grams per. day. So in my world that means one individual-sized bottle of this new product actually delivers 88% of our sugar intake as recommended by the World Health Organisation, or 73.33% as recommended by the NHS.

weetabix

Healthy Halloween?

Halloween treat 1I love Halloween. Not least because it’s my wedding anniversary!

But I get that this can be a difficult day for people with diabetes. Take a look online and you’ll find conflicting advice – from don’t let your diabetic child indulge in candy at all, to the oft-heard rhetoric that eating candy didn’t cause diabetes so what’s the problem here? Confusion abounds.

My opinion is that it IS a problem. We are becoming increasingly aware that sugar is a big threat to health. Whether you already have diabetes or not, sugar is simply not a healthy diet choice. And if it isn’t a healthy choice for the general population, I totally fail to see that it can be an appropriate choice for a child whose little body cannot process sugar.

It isn’t OK to eat Halloween treat 4the candy, count the carbs and calculate the insulin dose, and here’s why: diet may not have caused diabetes, but it sure as anything is a central part of diabetes management. (That said, that explanation is for another blog another day.)

That’s where it can be really tricky – because no-one, least of all the kids themselves, want to be left out. Well I’ve been digging around to find attractive healthy options for Halloween treats. I found it really difficult: most of the  supposed healthy options are based on fruit or starchy vegetables.
Halloween treat 2

Better than sugar, and fine if you can limit the amounts your child chomps on but still too high GI really to let the kids overindulge.

Dotted around this post are some that tick low-GI boxes for treats. I didn’t devise these, I just found them. So kudos to all the creative folks, whoever you are, for devising these devilishly good snacks!

Halloween treat 5

This Halloween avoid the tricks and enjoy the real treats! #standtogether for #diabetes awareness

Halloween treat 3

Cereal killers?

Sipping my green tea in Waitrose’s cafe on Saturday, and browsing the weekend supplements, I came across an article about a cereal bar, Cereality, recently installed in Texas Fort Worth airport. The pictures of what might typically pass for breakfast or a snack were nothing if not disturbing.

Cartons of cereals, already sugary enough to be considered to be confectionery in their own right, mixed with chocolates, sweeties,
cookies, and dripping in syrups and sweet sauces. Food? Really? Have we so lost our marbles? Lost sight of what constitutes food, let alone healthy food? Or even an appropriate portion size of sugar?

A mere 20 minutes later, queuing at the checkout, my senses were further assaulted by the prominent display of breakfast cereals of the worst kind. Displayed in the most prominent position in the store.

Sugar laden, refined carbs in a box masquerading as food! IMG_20151003_172234

The kind that kids will nag their parents to buy. For the jolly cartoon images on the boxes. For the free junk toys inside. For the sugar on which the breakfast cereal industry is gleefully getting them hooked.And it struck me that breakfast cereal manufacturers and those peddling them are having a huge, and profitable, laugh in the face of ever rising rates of obesity and diabetes. And it’s simply not good enough!

Here’s why…

In 2009 Which? magazine investigated breakfast cereals, and, as reported in the press at the time, concluded that a mere 8% of tested brands would meet Food Standards Agency criteria for acceptable levels of sugar. In 2012 Which? revisited breakfast cereals and again concluded that few products would provide for a healthy breakfast.

In the intervening 3 years things have gone from bad to worse. Kelloggs and Nestle and chums have continued unabated to peddle their sugar-laden wares, and to add insult to injury have introduced ever more damaging options. Nestle even have the audacity to package some of the worst products, in my opinion, in “green top” boxes, devised to fool consumers that there is something healthy in the packet. There mostly isn’t!
Back to cereal cafes: as ever, what happens in the US eventually appears in the UK. Cereal cafes are no exception. Cereality in the States at least has a fluffy friendly name. But here in the UK it seems we’re prepared to openly embrace the darkest, most cynical side of this new trend.

Cereal Killer Cafe is aptly named indeed. Almost every conceivable brand of tooth-rotting, blood-sugar-disrupting breakfast carb is available. Alongside a piece of cake obviously!

Similar nutritionally-bankrupt concoctions – they call them cocktails – can be found at the unattractively-named Black Milk Cereal Dives popping up around the UK. Already-too-sugary cereal
products topped with Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Topped with Oreo cookies and chocolate sauce? Topped with Tootsie Rolls?

There simply has to be enough information out there about the dangers of sugar and refined carbs now for the owners of these questionable establishments to be fully aware of the health implications of their sugar bowls. Doesn’t there?

I pray the “food” industry never sinks lower than this. It’s hard to imagine that it could!

In the meantime I’m going to cry real tears and pray for a food industry in which sanity and ethics make a come-back! And I’m going to continue to eat, and recommend, eggs for breakfast!

The light at the end of this tunnel is the news that eggs are making a comeback – enjoying some well-deserved redemption. Once more for old times sake – “Go to Work on an Egg!”

Diabetes soars by 60% in a decade? Here’s the answer!

60%The media this morning is full of the news that diabetes rates have soared by about 60% in the past decade. As a consequence it’s proposed NHS services will creak even more.

So it was with great disappointment that I came across an article from just 3 days ago. Just 3 days ago the NHS itself published an article about weight loss diets. It is a far from helpful article, giving no clear guidance to anyone wanting to lose weight, and continuing to promote low-fat diets. Any suggestion that low-fat might be the way to go for anyone
is absurd, but suggesting this might be a better option compared with low-carbs could just be catastrophic for people living with diabetes – either Type 1 or Type 2!

So here it is as simply as I can write it: THERE IS NO ONE-SIZE FITS ALL when it comes to diet and lifestyle.

As far as low-fat is concerned it’s way overdue that we should lay this myth to rest. Low-fat = more sugar. In 2011 the Harvard School for Public Health declared “It’s time to end the low-fat myth“, yet 4 years on our NHS still thinks there’s any room for debate? Have they not yet realised that 40 years of low-fat diets have largely contributed to our current situation? Ever increasing rates of obesity. Ever increasing rates of Type 2 diabetes. NHS resources stretched with no hope in sight.

As far as low-carb is concerned? It’s a meaningless generic term in my book. An appropriate level of carbs for me – sitting here writing for you – would be utterly inappropriate, and likely far too low, for anyone with a physical job. What would be appropriate for a person with a high level of daily physical activity would be way too many for me. I can feel my middle swelling just at the thought of it!

It’s time to get with the plot. Educate people to understand what is appropriate for their own unique circumstances and individual needs. Support them to get great results. Watch the health of the nation improve!

The Truth About Sugar – was it useful for people living with diabetes?

fiona phillipsSo, did you see The Truth About Sugar on BBC 1 last night at 9pm?

If you did watch, and you’ve been following RebalanceDiabetes closely, you’ll have recognised a lot of the messages! So much of what I have shared with you via FaceBook, Twitter, in newsletters and in this blog over the past 2 years was covered in the programme. It was great to see those messages finally being addressed on TV. There was one huge message, however, that I whole-heartedly disagree with – but I’ll come on to that!

The way in which the messages were covered was simple, straightforward, and graphic. Some of the experiments they used to illustrate the points brought them home powerfully, I thought.

Here are some of the useful facts to keep reminding yourself of:

  • Sugar leads to body fat – quickly AND easily!
  • Sugar leads to disease!
  • There are huge quantities of sugar hidden in processed foods – even savory dishes.
  • The food industry go to great lengths to work out exactly how much sugar will make you eat more of their products – regardless of it’s effect on your health!
  • More onus should be put on the food industry to make it clear how much sugar is hidden in their products! Never mind the food industry representative saying everyone knows that a gram means – actually I don’t believe they do! I think everyone understands what a teaspoon of sugar looks like though!
  • The ONLY way to know what’s in your food is to cook it yourself and from scratch.
  • The sugars we drink cause us to eat more because they interfere with your hunger mechanism, and your body can’t tell you to stop taking in calories.
  • Drinking fruit juices means you take in massively more sugar than eating whole fruits. What I would add here though is that fruit contains the same type of sugar, and it’s just as harmful, as in juices, so fruit consumption shouldn’t be unlimited! 

So here’s the point I absolutely disagree with: Sadly The Truth About Sugar promoted the idea of artificial sweeteners. NO! There is enough research to show that artificial sweeteners still cause problems. Some of the articles I’ve shared with you over the months show that people are actually MORE likely to be obese using artificially-sweetened drinks compared with the full-sugar varieties. And research has shown that artificial sweeteners disrupt insulin – making them just as dangerous for people living with diabetes. Switching to artificial sweeteners is the one message I would love you to ignore from last night’s programme.

Otherwise, The Truth About Sugar gets my thumbs up, and I can’t wait for next week’s episode!

The first principle of healthy eating for diabetes

There has been so much in the press and news recently about healthy eating / weight loss: the most effective diets, the healthiest things to eat and the best things to avoid. It strikes me that what applies to non-diabetics isn’t always the wisest advice for people with diabetes, and actually people with diabetes have a more tenuous path to walk to achieve both weight loss and good health. I’m not talking about out-there whacky fad diets here. There’s some quite mainstream, some might say “sensible”, advice that doesn’t quite hit the mark for people with blood sugar issues.

I suppose the thing that got me thinking was a strap-line in an article in The Times recently. It read: “The debate over fat and carbs obscures the truth that consuming fewer calories than we burn is the only way to slim“.

Well the truth is, that the debate about fat and carbs is crucial for people with diabetes, and it matters very much what form of calories you consume. The reason being of course that what the calories are made from has a huge impact on their effect on blood sugar levels. The difference between carbs and fats or indeed proteins is vast in terms of their effect on blood sugar.

But it isn’t just the number or nature of your daily calories that impact on blood sugar. The timing and size of meals is also a key factor in keeping your blood sugars balanced. Just these 2 factors could be the difference between burning body fat or storing more of it!

The two diagrams below illustrate what might happen if you eat fewer larger meals compared with smaller more frequent meals. Though they may involve the same actual foods overall, you can clearly see the different effects timings and meal sizes would have on your body.

InsulinGraph

InsulinGraph2

Blood sugar balance is one of four major principles underpinning the RebalanceDiabetes programme. I explain all of them in the FREE RebalanceDiabetes seminars that I hold each month. I would love to explain the other 3 to you in person and if that sounds good to you too why not book your place at the next event on Monday 23 March – here’s the link.

See you there?