In America, the amount of sugar consumed yearly has increased by 30% since 1983 and has been linked to an increase in more than 60 different ailments including acne, arthritis, cancer (particularly breast and colon/rectal cancer), indigestion, heart disease, osteoporosis, ulcers, and obesity. The average American typically eats three times the recommended amount of sugar each day and consume their body weight in sugar each year.
Where is all this sugar coming from? Surprising to many, it’s not necessarily from just eating candy and drinking soda. Sugar is often one of the main ingredients in everyday food like bread, crackers, condiments, canned food, yogurt, chips, frozen meals, breakfast foods, beverages, and more! The low-fat food trend has caused an increase in the amount of sugar added to foods because when fat is taken out, flavor is lost. Sugar is then added to replace the lost flavor.
The problem with sugar is mainly a quality issue. The sugar that is added to foods is highly refined and lacks nutrition. During the refining process, important nutrients such as chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, and magnesium are stripped away so the body has to use its own mineral reserves just to digest it. Sugar that is foundnaturally in foods like fruit andveggies is not refined and oftencontain many additional nutrients. Honey is a natural food that can even help build immunity against certain seasonal allergies. Learning how to identify the different types and names of sugar is the first step to reducing our processed sugar intake.
Limit processed and packaged foods. Salad dressings, soups, sauces, and even bread contain high amounts of processed sugar.
Sweeten naturally. Eating foods that are naturally sweet will help cut down on the amount of added processed sugar you consume.
Avoid liquid sugar. Coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks, and even many smoothies or juice drinks contain a lot of added sugar. Look for 100% fruit smoothies and juice and add your own sugar to your tea or coffee using cubes or packets. If using cream, use half-and-half rather than the sweetened, flavored coffee creamers.
Quality over quantity. Rather than buying a 2 lb bag of cheap candy, treat yourself to a rich dark chocolate truffle that you really enjoy. You will get more satisfaction from the one quality sweet than you will from the entire bag of the cheaper candy.
Pack your own snacks. Keeping a few treats like almonds or dried fruit with you will reduce the urge to snack on candy at worksites, offices, or businesses.
Read labels. If sugar (or a form of sugar) is listed in the first five ingredients, make a different choice.
Start and end wisely. Avoid high-sugar/fat foods at breakfast and end your meals with a piece of fruit.
Water not syrup. When buying canned fruit and veggies, choose ones that are canned in water or natural juices rather than sugar heavy syrups.
Reduce in recipes. Try halving the amount of sugar used in most recipes or substituting a natural sugar instead of refined sugar.
Cut down slowly. Don’t try to cut out sugar cold turkey. Start by reducing the amounts you eat little by little and you will be much more successful.