What! I ate that?

Carolyn Daly

After a four hour flight from LaGuardia Airport to Miami en route to my island home in Cudjoe Key, I was starving.  The cholesterol sandwich I’d eaten earlier was all gone.  I thought I’d eat light for lunch. It was a choice between a bowl of fruit or yogurt with granola and strawberries. The yogurt, looking sooo good won.  Well!! It was 300 calories, with 30 grams of carbs and sugars! Good thing I’m only PRE diabetic.  All this sugar is going to cause me to starve earlier as the insulin kicks in on overdrive to cover all that sugar.

I was surprised to find that yogurt had these flaws. Obviously it wasn’t Greek yogurt or natural unsweetened yogurt.  8 oz. of  natural unsweetened yogurt has 212 calories with 27 grams of carbohydrates.  An 8 oz. glass of milk has about half of that. Another comparison: a cake pop from Starbucks, yum, is only 180 calories and 25 carbs.  I basically had dessert for lunch!

Yogurt is not all bad; it has lots of calcium, vitamins A and C and 11 grams of protein. However,  if you are diabetic, pre diabetic or just watching carbs for your diet, this is not a good option.

Dasia Collins BSH, DTR who is a dietician in Key West told me that diabetics and people watching their sugar content can eat Greek yogurt with no added sugar.  Your own fruit can be added and maybe a little honey and /or Stevia. Stevia is a naturally occurring plant sweetener. The Greek yogurt has naturally occurring lactose sugar, and a larger quantity of protein, 11-18 grams.  Also she suggested adding ground cinnamon as this helps to regulate blood sugar. Any flavoring, granola or berry syrup added by the manufacturer will add extra unwanted sugars and calories. Dasia added that the granola added to my yogurt is high in fiber and energy calories which will turn to fat if not burned up.

What other seemingly healthy foods have flaws?
Apple juice and orange juice! In fact most juices are full of sugar. Did you know that 12 oz. of apple juice or orange juice has more calories than a regular cola? Cola has 10 teaspoons of sugar!  It’s incredible to me. Better to quench your island thirst with water. It can be flavored with fresh lemon or lime or even a fresh orange.  Grape juice has the highest calorie count of the juices, double what’s in a cola. A drink that’s low in carbs but high in vitamins is 100% cranberry juice. It has absolutely no added sugar or sweetener. It’s really tart by itself but add a little to water and it’s a thirst quencher.  If you can’t find 100% cranberry juice at the grocery store, you will find it at a health food store.

Fruit itself is also high in sugar, but the difference is fiber.  Whole fresh fruit has all the fiber and pulp left in and only the natural occurring sugar fructose. Nothing is added. Fiber is like a counter balance for sugar Dasia said. Fiber content in grams minus the sugar content in grams equals net carbs.  Some juices are made with added sugar or concentrate for added shelf life, making manufacturers happier. The sugar in juice is a simple sugar stored in the body for energy but if not burned it converts to fat.

Of course cola and other sodas are nutrient free whereas juice has a great amount of vitamin C and minerals. It’s just everything in moderation.  Before obesity was such a problem people really only drank juice at breakfast in 6 oz. glasses.

The main take-home from all of this is to read the labels on your food, and know what ingredients to avoid.  There are two natural sugars; lactose found in milk and yogurt, and fructose found in fruits and vegetables.  Sucrose is your processed granulated table sugar. Dasia says most of the good stuff has been bleached out.

So stay hydrated, especially out in our hot sun; eat healthy and live well.