sugar and diabetes

The Dish on Sugar

Is it bad for you?

(This month we share an article about sugar, from Jaz Batchelor) . Jaz is studying nutrition and is based in Melbourne).

Since being a child, I have always known that sugar is ‘bad’. It rots your teeth, gives you crazy energy highs, and makes you gain unhealthy weight. It makes me think., how can something so tasty be so unhealthy?
With initiatives such as “I Quit Sugar‘ and Jamie Oliver’s petition to the UK government to introduce a tax on sugary drinks, there has to be a reason behind the already obvious facts. Not only this, but are there healthy options of sugar? Keep reading to find out.

What is sugar?

Firstly, what even is sugar? Sugar is the generic term for the word ‘sucrose’ which is a simple carbohydrate (carbohydrates=sugar, what?!) produced naturally in plants. Additionally, after carbohydrates are ingested, they break down into their sugars which is used as energy. So how can something that is natural and found in plants be unhealthy?

Well, it’s just not as simple as that.

Added Sugars

There are two ways of eating sugar; there is the sugar found in fruit, vegetables, milk & dairy, and in carbohydrates which are natural sources of sugar.

Then there is added sugar, which is the extra sugar put into food to improve texture, taste and other components. It is usually refined and processed and is the cause of the negative impacts sugar has on our health. A reason for this is because sugar is an empty kilo-Joule (calorie) which means that it provides you with kJs but contains barely any nutritional value. Moreover, the kJs that it provides you with are insufficient and do not last long, making you feel sluggish and hungry causing you to over eat, maybe even consume more sugar, leading to weight gain which causes complications such as diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay and many more issues.

Another problem with added sugars is that they’re not just in obvious foods like cakes, lollies, biscuits and chocolate, they’re also in foods such as salad dressings, crackers, yogurt, bread, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, and breakfast cereals.

If you’re now thinking, ‘how do I know if something contains added sugars?’, here are some ways to tell;

  • Look for these ingredients on food labels;
    -agave nectar
    -high-fructose corn syrup
    -corn sweetener
    -crystalline fructose
    -evaporated cane juice

Cooking with Sugar

If you’re like me and LOVE your sweets, there is no need to fret. You can still enjoy sugar, it just has to be in moderation. This serves for everything in life, too much of anything is unhealthy. If I’m going to have my cake and eat it too, I like to swap out some ingredients for healthier options which still provide me with nutrients like opting for unrefined and natural sugars such as dates or honey which are less processed.


Sugar is not an evil, toxic, poisonous ingredient. However, it can cause major complications if heavily consumed. Furthermore, added sugar causes the biggest impact on health due to the over consumption and extra kilo-Joules it gives us. But there are ways to avoid it by reading ingredient labels and cooking yourself. The best way to consume sugar is from natural sauces such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. The most important thing I can say is, don’t be afraid of food, even sugar! Everything in moderation.

For any nutritional or food questions- just send me an email in the contact box below or contact me via my social media accounts.

Eat well & be happy,

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