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Academic Word List: Exercise 17

Read the following text, paying particular attention to the highlighted words.

Carbohydrate and Fibre

There are many different kinds of carbohydrate. Complex carbohydrate, or starch as many people term it, occurs in plant products such as bread, rice, spaghetti, flour, breakfast cereals (and cereals generally), potatoes, and in many vegetables. As well as starch, carbohydrate can occur naturally as simple sugars. For example, there is a sugar called lactose that is naturally present in milk; fruit sugar (fructose) and glucose occur together in many fruits. Generally speaking, where carbohydrate is taken in any of these forms, it is useful and is also accompanied by other nutrients. Meals for everybody, including slimmers, should contain such foods. Not only are such foods very nutritious, they also contain fibre. Generally it is recommended that there is more fibre in the diet to keep the gut working smoothly and efficiently. Fibre is the unabsorbed part of the food, a type of complex carbohydrate found in plant cell walls. To maintain fibre intake at an adequate level, it is best to have carbohydrate foods in "whole" form. For example, eat the skins on jacket potatoes; use wholemeal flour in cooking; buy brown, wholemeal bread; use brown rice and brown spaghetti; take breakfast cereals that are not over-processed, such as Weetabix, Shredded Wheat, porridge oats, and sugar-free muesli. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are also important. Dried fruits are especially high in fibre, as are pulses.

It is necessary, even if you are trying to lose weight, to maintain adequate carbohydrate and fibre levels. At each meal try to have at least one form of good carbohydrate such as we have mentioned above. Better still, have one form of complex carbohydrate (something starchy like rice or bread or pasta) plus a piece of fresh fruit. Be careful not to accompany your chosen carbohydrate with large quantities of fat. If you are eating carrots and potatoes with your meal, do not add a knob of butter or margarine. If you have chosen bread to make up sandwiches, use only the thinnest scrape of fat (preferably a polyunsaturated margarine or nothing at all). If you want potatoes with your meal, cook them more often as boiled or jacket potatoes rather than as chips. If you must have chips do them thick cut, as they absorb less fat that way. As you can see, the main mistake people make with carbohydrate is to use too much fat with it.

Another difficulty with carbohydrate food is that it is often over-refined. Sugar, the kind you buy in bags, is a highly refined form of sweetness, totally lacking in protein, minerals, vitamins, and fibre. Everyone, whether on a slimming diet or not, should reduce this kind of sugar to an absolute minimum. It can be surprisingly difficult to avoid, too, because it is added to so many foods and drinks. Biscuits, cakes, most fizzy drinks, squashes and fruit juices, sweets, chocolates, ice-cream, and jam all contain vast quantities of sugar. Savoury foods such as pickles, sauces, tinned vegetables, gravies, soups, and ready-made frozen meals often have sugar added. Read the labels on the foods you buy and you will be surprised at the number of hidden sources of refined sugar.

You can see why it is easy to be muddled about carbohydrate. Some diets have put all carbohydrate in the "bad" category. This is a great pity. The thing to avoid or at least cut down on is refined sugar and the products that contain it. You will be more successful in this endeavour if you make sure you are not excessively hungry because of an over-restrictive diet. If your standard way of eating (or your slimming diet) includes a mix of proteins, complex carbohydrate, and fresh fruits at each meal, you are much less likely to eat large amounts of refined sugar or the products that contain it.

(Get Slim and Stay Slim: The Psychology of Weight Control, by Jennifer J. Ashcroft and J. Barrie Ashcroft)

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