Sugar- we hear about it, talk about it and love to indulge in it. Many of us consume sugar on a daily basis, unknowingly, in extreme amounts. For every 4 grams of sugar that are listed on the back of your nutrition panel, you are consuming 1 teaspoon of sugar. To give you an idea, look at these common foods and notice how much sugar is in them.
Regular candy bar : 6 teaspoons
1 8-ounce serving of orange juice: 5.5 teaspoons
¼ cup of maple syrup: 9 teaspoons
Fat-Free Yogurt: 8 teaspoons
It’s no wonder we are over-consuming it without even realizing it.
Have you ever taken the time to glance at the packaged foods you have in your kitchen to notice how much sugar you and your family are most likely consuming? It’s a scary thing to become aware of, but can be easily turned into a positive experience if you are willing to take the action towards ridding it from your diet majority of the time.
Sugar can be hidden in many ways. Some sources of sugar that may be listed on your ingredients list include: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, crystal dextrose, molasses, fruit concentrates, maltodextrin, sucralose, malted barley, xylitol and many others. Looking out for these on your food labels is another way of being sure you aren’t unknowingly consuming sugar.
“My advice is to give up stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sugar alcohols such as xylitol and malitol, and all of the other heavily used and marketed sweeteners unless you want to slow down your metabolism, gain weight, and become an addict.” Mark Hyman , The Blood Sugar Solution
The biggest issue I see with sugar is the effect that it can have on one’s health.
Sugar has been linked to things such as Heart Disease, Type II Diabetes and Cancer. Sugar can also cause what we have come to know as ‘normal’ symptoms such as: Brain fog, irritability, acne and other skin issues, digestive problems, aging and can also be a prime source for weight gain. With the array of health issues available from this one ingredient, shouldn’t we look to limit it as much as we can?
In my opinion, I believe that we NEED to be educated on the sugar availability in our society today. Most of us are unknowingly consuming it in amounts that reek havoc on our health without even realizing it. While learning is only one part of creating lasting change, taking action to rid it from the diet can be one with withdrawal like effects.
What researchers have found with sugar is that it lights our brains up in a similar way that cocaine does. Yes, cocaine. When we consume sugar, dopamine (the chemical the controls our pleasure center in our brain) is released which causes that feel-good, euphoric effect that we get when eating sweets. As time goes on and we consume higher amounts of sugar, our body creates a tolerance to it somewhat like what it does with drugs and alcohol.
So why is there so much sugar in our diet today and where on Earth is it coming from?
In the 1970’s we got introduced this idea that FAT was the killer. People immediately started eliminating fat from their diets and companies were ridding it from their products as well. Companies found that when taking the fat out, their products didn’t please the taste buds as much as before, so what did they do? They added sugar back into the ‘no-fat’, ‘low-fat’ foods to make them taste better.
Another reason sugar is so highly consumed is because of the way our Dietary Guidelines were set up. The Food Guide Pyramid, which was released in 1992 and the MyPyramid that replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2005. Both showed that the biggest portion of calories in our diets should stem from grains. Although the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) did not specify which type of grains we need be consuming, it doesn’t make much of a difference when you take a look at what most of our grain-like products are made up of today. Things like whole wheat breads, pastas, cookies and crackers have high amounts of added sugars and cause more harm to the body than they do well.
Sugar is hidden everywhere. From dressings, sauces, yogurts, soups and even packaged meats, we need to make sure that we are aware of the fact that if we don’t take time to look at what we are consuming, then we are most likely going to be putting it into our bodies.
If we look at all of this in regards to our genetic make-up and evolutionary history, we will notice why and how we Americans are becoming obese and sick at increasingly high rates.
Thousands of years ago, when we hunted and gathered our food, we expended high amounts of energy just to eat and live. Sugar was few and far between and when we did find it, our body would be triggered to gorge on it and store the excess calories as fat. This way, when wintertime came around our bodies had energy to live off of when food was limited. It served as a survival instinct for us. Our genetics have not changed over time, but the availability of sugar that we have access to has, and it has not done us any good.
We can clearly see why, if sugar really is a cause of all of these symptoms and diseases, why we are experiencing such high rates of cancer, heart disease and obesity.
So what do we do about it and how do we make sure that we keep our family and ourselves safe from this hidden and harmful ingredient?
The key is to be aware of the foods you are buying and to opt for whole-foods over package foods as often as possible. Make sure to always look at the ingredients lists and see if there are any sugars hidden. Ridding sugar from your diet can be an amazing experience and I promise once you get off of it you won’t ever want to go back.
For sugar free recipes that are easy and simple to incorporate into your diet, click here. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions and make sure to share this with your friends!
To your health & happiness, xo Rach