Celebrity nutritionist JJ Virgin has a new book out this month called JJ Virgin's Sugar Impact Diet. It's not about just cutting out the sweet stuff, it's about eating the right kinds. We asked her what you need to know about sugar now and how to break your sugar addiction.
FlickrCC/Umberto SalvagninCanadian Living: What are the top foods that people don't know contain sugar? Which are the worst culprits? JJ Virgin: "You already know sugar is bad for you! Hardly anyone is gobbling up straight sugar anymore—consumption of table sugar is at an all-time low. When many of my clients come to me, they’re frustrated and ready to give up because they’re already depriving themselves of candy, dessert, and a spoonful of sugar in their coffee. They’re sweetening their oatmeal with honey, they’re eating low-fat yogurt with fruit, they’re fighting their hunger with low-calorie snack bars during the day, and they’re living on salads, diet drinks, and “healthy” frozen meals. When a sugar craving hits and they slip, they beat themselves up for their lack of willpower. But after all the healthy low-calorie, low-fat, sugar-free eating, they end up with the same symptoms they’d get if they were eating a ton of sugar— weight gain, cravings, mood and energy swings, health issues like inflammation and insulin resistance, and maybe even diabetes. These “healthy” diets are packed with hidden sugars, and these sugars are not harmless. It’s the impact of sugar that matters. You don’t have to eliminate sugar completely, but you need to choose your sugars wisely." CL: Why is eating sugar so bad for you? JV: "Most foods contain some naturally occurring sugar. I mean, two cups of broccoli contain about five grams of sugar. So sugar per se isn’t bad for you; it’s the impact of that sugar that makes some foods worse than others. You’re aware of obvious “bad” foods. You know a piece of chocolate cake is going to have sugar, right? But others, like vinaigrette dressings, have hidden sugars. Those sneaky sugars are what become a problem." CL: How do you recommend that readers change their diet? Any top tips? JV: "Become more aware of where sneaky sugars hide. You’ve really got to read labels and ask questions. Never assume! My plan isn’t a no-sugar diet. Rather, it looks at a food’s sugar impact. Some of the foods you considered healthy won’t make the list, whereas others you thought were forbidden actually are low-sugar impact. Completely going off sugar doesn’t work, yet a low-sugar impact is your ticket for fast, lasting fat loss and great health. Don’t make it hard on yourself." Click here for tips on weaning yourself off sugar.