“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”
We all have fond memories of Winnie the Pooh and his adventures in The Hundred Acre Wood, not to mention his constant appetite for honey.
Honey is frequently hailed as a superfood, not to mention other health uses such as an antiviral and as an anti-fungal. Whilst these latter claims are well substantiated and have strong scientific claims behind them, the use of honey as a “healthy” sugar substitute or as a superfood are less-than glorious.
The micro-nutrient content of honey consists mainly of vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. However, from a nutrition perspective, that’s all – 5% of the total honey content. The other 95 percent is made up of a variety of carbohydrates, the main one being fructose.
It is important to mention that table sugar is made up of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Hence the idea of substituting sugar for honey, may not be the healthiest thing that you can do as in actual fact you have not removed the sugar from your diet.
Honey, together with agave, are two very common sugar substitutes used within the Paleo community. Therefore, if you are trying to make the full switch to a Paleo lifestyle by removing carbohydrates from your diet, putting honey in your cereal and in your healthy bakes may be the reason why you have not seen the benefits associated with following a Paleo lifestyle.
The quote from Winnie the Pooh about his feelings towards honey, perfectly sum up what happens after you consume items high in carbohydrates: you feel good before eating them, however, this feeling quickly disappears after.
In other words, eating honey will cause your sugar levels to rise quickly giving you that feeling of euphoria, however as soon as your blood sugar levels stabilise, your system crashes and you either feel hungry or in need of a nap.
Following a Paleo lifestyle with the aim of losing weight needs to be not about avoiding carbohydrates, but about choosing the right ones. Whilst avoiding bread, pasta, rice, confectionary and other obvious carbohydrate-containing items, it is even more important to ensure that you are not consuming items containing hidden carbohydrates.
Whilst Winnie the Pooh may not have been the ultimate caveman with his love of honey, he certainly taught us that eating too much of it made you sleepy.
Ruth Buttigieg, BSC (Hons), MSc, ANutr is a qualified nutritionist who works at Natural Ketosis, where she helps people to better their health by changing their diet and lifestyle by following a low sugar low starch approach. Ruth read biochemistry for her undergraduate degree and she also has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition from Queen Margaret University.
Image thanks to Leeannett at Deviant Art.