How and Why to Reduce Sugar Intake Part II

By Susan Piergeorge, MS, RDN

The next step in reducing sugar intake is to switch the type of carbohydrate you consume. Complex carbohydrates are a larger molecule, made up of more complex chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They include starches and fiber and take longer to digest. Examples include fruits*, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (such as lentils, edamame, peas, starchy beans such as black, kidney, garbanzo, pinto, navy). Legumes are also a source of protein. Some dairy products such as milk and plain yogurt also contain complex carbohydrates as well as protein.

Consuming complex carbohydrates are beneficial in so many ways. They have more fiber, which is healthy for the heart and digestive system. They maintain blood sugar for a longer period of time; they provide quick and sustained energy. Additionally, complex carbohydrates contain the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants we need every day. They also are a satisfying food source. Think of how many comfort foods contain carbohydrates. If we weren’t supposed to eat them, they wouldn’t exist. It’s really about being more selective in the type of carbohydrate versus the quantity.

When it comes to managing hunger and blood sugar, your best bet is to consume a mixture of complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. Protein is found in beans, legumes, dairy products, eggs, seafood, meat and poultry. Animal proteins naturally contain some fat. Fat is found in nuts, oils, butter, avocado, coconut and mayonnaise.

Here are some examples of a blend of protein, carbohydrate and fat:

– Nonfat Greek yogurt or milk, nuts and whole grain cereal or fruit
– Turkey or tuna sandwich with pesto (fat) with a side salad (such as cole slaw made with vinegar)
– Fruit and cheese/cottage cheese with chia or ground flax seeds
– Wasabi peas and nuts
– Herbed pasta or rice or quinoa with legumes, vegetables and olive oil
– A hearty soup such as beef (protein and fat) and barley with vegetables (complex carbs) or chicken (protein and fat) noodle with vegetables (complex carbs)