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The simple answer is that sugar is one type of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are a whole family and sugar is the evil step brother. Just kidding! Kind of. There is no technical definition of sugar, but for the purpose of this article it will be defined as that granulated white (or brown) stuff used in baking and poured on your cereal or coffee.  Food manufacturers also add sugar to beverages and foods such as soda, juice drinks, cookies, cakes, candy, etc.  Sometimes this added sugar is listed under names such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup solids. The scientific name for white sugar is sucrose.

Carbohydrates are the broader category which includes all sweets, grains, fruit, milk, and even vegetables. Carbohydrates found in fruit are fructose; carbs in milk are lactose; and carbs in grain foods are glucose. When your body digests carbohydrates they break down into glucose when they enter your blood stream. All types of carbohydrates are broken down into glucose in your body. A strawberry will turn to glucose just the same as a piece of bread or a tablespoon full of sugar will turn into glucose. The difference is that the strawberry contains vitamin C, fiber, and approximately 80 calories for 1 cup. On the other hand, 1 cup of white sugar (sucrose) contains zero vitamins and fiber, and has a whopping 770 calories. Of course, most of you are not going to eat a cup of sugar, but you may drink a soda which contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.

If you ever turn a food package around and look at the label (which I hope you do!) you may notice that it shows carbohydrates, dietary fiber and sugars. Basically, the more fiber it has the healthier it is, and the less sugar it has the healthier it is. Fiber is also a carbohydrate, but it is indigestible and it moves through your body helping to lower your cholesterol and promote regularity. Fiber can also help stabilize your blood sugar.

Overall, carbohydrates provide fuel for your body and should not be avoided. There are both healthy carbs (whole grains, fruit) and unhealthy carbs (sugar), and with a bit of balance and moderation you can happily consume both types :).




Machu Picchu drinks and kitten at the discoteca

Hello friends,

It’s 4:30 AM and I can’t sleep. What to do? Blog! Since we both need a break from nutrition I decided to write about my lovely trip to Peru. Overall, my trip was really incredible and besides the fact that I was sick, it was probably the best trip of my life (so far). I will briefly discuss the highlights of my month long excursion.

Ayacucho– This was the first stop. I was volunteering with PAMS which is an amazing foundation that provides much needed medical care to the people of Ayaycucho ( a region in Peru that was terrorized in the 80’s/ 90’s). The people in Ayacucho truly touched my heart and I can only wish that I impacted them as much as they impacted me.

Inca Trail- The Inca Trail was one of the most amazing, challenging, breath takingly beautiful hikes I have ever done. Not to mention there was great company and amazing food. I also had the best guides you could ever ask for.

The Jungle- The jungle was hot, sticky, and beautiful. Got to see some piranhas and weird pig-like mammals.

Cusco- The city of Cusco is absolutely amazing. If the air was cleaner I would in fact still be living there. In Cusco I learned Spanish and went clubbing. Every day. I also may have thrown back a few Pisco Sours and Machu Picchu’s.

Camino Inca

Lima- Lima is known as the “sad and strange city.” Interestingly, I did not find it at all sad, strange maybe. My last night in Peru was spent at The Point Hostel. I pretty much had the time of my life at this place and almost missed my taxi to the airport- partially because I didn’t have a watch and neither did my friend. Partially because I didn’t want to leave Peru. Love love love Lima.

Oh, since I am a nutritionist and all. I will take a moment to explain the cuisine. Amazing avocado, lots of meat, guinea pig, alpaca, quinoa, and aji!

Delicious Peruvian Food

Take my completely random poll, por favor.


Heather Mason

Being Emo with my Diet Coke Lime

Is diet soda a good alternative to regular? I get this question ALL the time. Over the years, I have found that people have really strong opinions on diet soda. Either they think its God’s gift to the earth or it’s devils blood. There are hardly any middle roaders when it comes to diet soda. But there is one sitting right here. ME!

The Good

  • Diet soda is calorie free. If you replace exactly one diet soda for one regular soda each day this can help you lose weight. However, if you alter your diet or exercise routine in any other way to compensate for the diet soda you may not see results.
  • For some, diet soda tastes good and is more refreshing than water. It may possibly help you satisfy a sweet tooth and has a lot less calories than chocolate cake.

The Bad

  • Several studies have shown that diet soda drinkers are just as fat as regular soda drinkers. To learn more see this LA TIMES Article. It turns out its not so much about metabolism but more about the mental act of drinking diet soda.
  • Diet soda contains aspartame, citric acid, acesulfame, caffeine, and sodium. All of these substances are approved by the FDA, but that does NOT mean they are “healthy.”

Overall, I would like  for you to make your own conclusions. As for me, I chose water, 100% fruit juice with sparkling water, and the occasional Diet Coke Lime. If a company could make diet Sprite that actually tasted like Sprite I would be all over that.

Do you drink diet? Regular? Any favorite flavors or non-carbonated substitutions?

P.S. Massage Envy gave me a free upgrade 🙂


Heather Mason

Alright friends,

If you are looking to gain some knowledge from this post I fear that I may fail you. However, if you are looking to gain some laughter wrinkles I have a feeling that you will get what you want.

First off, I would like to say that unless Massage Envy Continue Reading »

As a nutritionist, this is a question that I am constantly hearing. The truth is that eating a lot of sugar DOES NOT give you diabetes mellitus (DM).

Slightly embarrassed I had Cocoa flavored cereal in my pantry...

“The myth that sugar causes diabetes is commonly accepted by many people. Research has shown that it isn’t true. Eating sugar has nothing to do with developing diabetes” (American Diabetes Association).

There you have it, straight from the horses mouth. Then why do people believe that they will develop DM from eating a lot of sugar?

  1. The greatest risk factor for developing type two diabetes is central adiposity, AKA, being overweight. If you are overweight or obese you are at greater risk for developing diabetes.
  2. It is true, that once you have DM it is important to monitor and limit the amount of carbohydrates and sugars consumed.
  3. I am a nutritionist; of course I don’t think it’s a good idea to eat a lot of sugar. However, if you are of a healthy body weight, and are metabolically healthy in terms of lipids, go ahead and eat some cake.

Of course, like most chronic diseases, there is a huge genetic component to diabetes. If anyone in your family has DM, you are at greater risk. In this case, it is even more important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly, and to see a registered dietitian if you need help.

I would love to hear your opinions and questions on this subject. Have you been told that eating too much sugar will give you DM?

Happy Eating,

Heather Mason, MS