Sugar in almost everything we eat. Aside from the obvious places, it’s in our breakfast cereal, bread, crackers, even condiments. Taken alone, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you add up what most people consume throughout the day and whoa, that’s a lot of sugar! In fact, the American Heart Association (AHA) says the average daily consumption of sugar is about 77 grams, or 19, yes, 19 teaspoons!
The AHA recommends no more than 25 grams/day of sugar. If you’re a big drinker of specialty coffee drinks, you’ll want to rethink the habit. A Grande Vanilla Latte has 35 grams of sugar! Soda drinker? A Coke has 39 grams of sugar. And, don’t think you’re being “good” by drinking diet soda. Aside from the health concerns about sugar substitutes, the fact is your body thinks it’s sugar.
The facts are there: not only does sugar impact our body’s metabolism and cause weight gain, study after study shows it contributes to obesity, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, fatty liver disease, and the list goes on.
Sadly, sugar is hard to avoid if you eat the processed foods mentioned above. It’s also a hard habit to break – sugar triggers the same receptors in your brain that addictive drugs do. So, the more you have, the more you want.
So, what to do? Here are some steps you can take to get some control over your sugar intake:
- Stop eating (or at least drastically reduce) processed foods because they inevitably contain added sugar!
- When you crave sugar, eat (don’t drink) fruit. Avoid canned fruit, or fruit cups. They usually are preserved in a sugary syrup.
- Ditch the soft drinks completely – that means diet drinks, too. Instead, drink water with some lime or lemon squeezed in.
- Stop drinking fruit juice – it can have as much sugar as a soft drink. DRINK WATER instead. In fact, aim for half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Not only will you be well hydrated, you’ll be full and less likely to give into those cravings!
- Stop eating “low fat” or “diet” foods. They’re processed foods, and when the fat is taken out, sugar is added so they taste better.
- Go for lower sugar options. For instance, most flavored yogurts have a lot of sugar. Instead, buy plain yogurt (Greek is better) and add fresh berries, or fruit. It’s healthier, and it tastes better.
- Always check the ingredients. If sugar (in all it’s various forms) is one of the first three ingredients, put it down!
- Know your sugars! There are 71 different names for sugar. Here are some of the most common: barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane-juice crystals, cane sugar, caramel, carob syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, ethyl maltol, fructose, glucose, glucose solids, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, molasses, raw sugar, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose
If you want to learn more about developing better eating habits, or losing weight, come in for a free fitness and lifestyle evaluation.