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Carbohydrates (bread, potato, rice and pasta)

Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for your body

The two main types of carbohydrate are starchy foods (like bread, potatoes, pasta cereals and rice) and sugars. Sugars are found within natural products like apples or carrots and are often added to products for a sweeter taste. All carbohydrates, whether from starchy potatoes or from a bar of chocolate turn into the body’s preferred source of fuel, glucose.

How much starchy carbohydrate should I eat?

The amount you eat will depend on your age, sex, state of health and how much exercise you take. However you should plan to make starchy carbohydrates the basis of all your meals.
  • Starchy carbohydrates have 4 kcal per gram (less than half the calories of fat) and fibre has 2 kcal per gram. Try to reduce the fatty parts of your meal and increase the amount of vegetables on your plate.
  • Watch how much starchy carbohydrates you eat. They are turned into sugar in the body and stored as fat if your body doesn’t use the energy up! Watch the size of your portions!

What is a Glycemic Index (GI)?

Some supermarkets are starting to label foods with their GI level. This is a measure of how quickly the energy is released from food into the bloodstream.
  • A high GI measure (70 – 100) means that the energy is released quickly and causes the blood sugar levels to increase. A low GI measure (less than 55) means energy is released more slowly and allows for a more sustained availability of energy for the body.
  • Choosing foods with a low to medium GI will help to avoid high and lows of sugar levels in the body and therefore support a feeling of being sustained for longer.

How much sugar should I eat?

As a guide, an average adult man should eat no more than 120g of sugar a day, an adult women no more than 90g of sugar a day, and children aged 5-10 years no more than 85g of sugar per day but this can be balanced out over your meals and snacks ins. As an example, two chocolate Digestives would contain 10g of sugar.

How can I look after my health and still enjoy a treat?

The important thing is to eat a variety of different foods, plenty of fruit and vegetables and watch that portion sizes don’t creep up in size.
  • Keeping active in some way is also important (see the keep active section on this site.)