Friday, May 30, 2014

Fed Up With Sugar

I recently watched a trailer for the new "Fed Up" movie that is out in select theaters.  I haven't had a chance to see the movie just yet, but just the trailer alone is mind-blowing.  
Some of the statements that really caught my attention:
  • There are 600,000 foods items in America, and eighty percent of them have added sugar.
  • Your brain lights up with sugar just like it does with cocaine or heroine. 
  • Over 95% of Americans will be overweight or obese in two decades.
  • By 2050, one out of every three Americans will have diabetes.
  • Junk food companies are acting very much like tobacco companies did 30 years ago.
While naturally occurring sugars found in whole foods are a necessary part of our diet, it is really the added sugar that is the problem.  Added sugar can be found EVERYWHERE (especially in processed foods), it offers absolutely nothing nutritionally, and it's majorly addictive.  Too much of it can lead to all sorts of problems including obesity, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, cognitive decline and cancer.

The American Heart Association estimates the maximum amount of added sugars a person should eat in a day to be: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) for men, and 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for women.  However, it is SO easy to consume double, triple, or even ten times that amount on a daily basis. 

My new (lofty) goal is to try and limit my added sugar to 10 grams or less per day.  I always stay away from the obvious culprits (like soda - 33 grams in a 12 oz. can!!), but there is literally sugar hidden in everything.  Here are a few products I found in my own kitchen with surprisingly high sugar totals.
1. Gatorade: 20 oz. = 34 grams

2. Simply Orange Juice: 8 oz. = 23 grams

3. Clif Energy Bar: 23 grams

4. Raisin Bran: 1 cup = 18 grams

5. Bottled Spaghetti Sauce: 1/2 cup = 11 grams

6. KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce: 2 tablespoons = 12 grams

7. Organic Wild Blueberry Jelly: 1 tablespoon = 8 grams

8. Hunt's 100% Natural Ketchup: 1 tablespoon = 4 grams

As you can see, it's really the beverages that are the biggest offenders.  I read somewhere recently that "soda is the cigarette of the 21st century."  In fact, sugary beverages are the source of HALF of the added sugar in the American diet.

Fruit juices without added sugar (like Simply Orange juice) may seem like a better choice, but even those contain a whole lot of sugar without any fiber to limit it's absorption.  It's much better to stick to eating whole fruits and just drink water!

When it comes packaged foods, always be sure to check the labels and ingredient lists. Keep an eye out for ingredients that end in -ose, like dextrose, glucose, maltose and sucrose, as well as any types of syrup, such as rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup or malt syrup.  Cook your own food as much as possible so you will know exactly what's in it!  Pretty much any amount of sugar that you add to your own food or drink will be less than a pre-sweetened, packaged version.  
I've noticed over time that my taste buds have really changed.  Things that used to taste good, like soda, now seem disgustingly sweet.  It is always going to be hard to completely avoid added sugar, but being mindful of it is a good start!

2 comments:

  1. You can do it! I am trying to regulate my PCOS with diet and exercise and have been living without consuming added sweeteners of any kind (except whole fruits) for 5 weeks. It is truly life changing! Many ask me how long I will do this for... I honestly don't know if I can go back to mindlessly consuming added sweeteners ever again. I may let myself have honey or maple syrup every once in a while (I do miss a good waffle :)

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