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Sweets or Simple Carbs- Which is Worse?

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As a Health Coach specialized in sugar addiction I hear it all the time- “Sugar isn’t really my problem. I can avoid cakes, cookies and donuts with relative ease. So I don’t believe targeting sugar will lead to the weight loss results I’m looking for.”

Are you sure? 

Let me ask you… How often do you indulge in alcohol (cocktails and beer in particular)? How much do you love mac n cheese, fettuccini alfredo or gnocchi? How much willpower does it take to resist french fries, chips and crackers? How would you feel about giving up bread?

Sorry to break it to you, if the thought of giving up bread, pasta and potatoes horrifies you- you’re addicted to sugar. And here’s why…

Simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules, meaning all simple carbohydrates are sugars.  Once a simple carbohydrate is ingested, the digestive system breaks it down into sugar, and ships it off into the blood stream. As blood sugar levels rise, the pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that prompts cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage. Which means if you’re not immediately burning off that baguette, your mid-section will gladly store it away as fat.

Food doesn’t have to taste sweet in order to be loaded with sugar.

So what about complex carbohydrates? How do those work? Complex carbohydrates are made of longer chains of sugar molecules. Complex carbs generally contain fiber, which yields more energy and prolongs satiety.

Should I avoid carbohydrates altogether?

No! Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source, and they’re a crucial part of any healthy diet. Carbs should never be eliminated, but it is important to understand that not all carbs are created equal.

The bottom line: Avoid simple carbs and invite complex.


  1. Refined white starch: white bread, white rice, white pasta.  General rule: the whiter the grain, the lower its nutrient density. Beware of “multi-grain” and “whole grain” labels. Unless a product is labeled 100% whole grain it’s often not much better than its white counterpart.

  2. Candy, cake and other refined sugar products.

  3. Adulterated cereal products (95% of cereal products). General rule: if it doesn’t taste like cardboard it’s probably junk.

  4. Processed junk food (chips, pretzles, cookies). Basically anything coming out of a bag or box (this includes organic and gluten-free varietals).

  5. Fruit: bananas, apples, grapes, dried fruit etc.

  6. Sugary beverages.


  1. Legumes: lentils, beans (garbanzo, navy, pinto, black, lima, etc).

  2. 100% whole grains: hearty whole grain bread (such as Ezekiel) wild rice, buckwheat or kasha, whole oats, amaranth, barley, bulgar, cornmeal, couscous, kamut, millet, quinoa, rye berries, spelt, wheat berries, farrow, steal cut oats.

  3. Fruits: apricots, oranges, plums, pears, grapefruits, etc.

  4. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes (better to consume sweet potatoes), parsnips, beets and carrots.

  5. Other vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnip greens, eggplant, potatoes, yams, corn, carrots, onions, acorn and butternut squash etc.

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