Sugar is everywhere, we have learned it makes everything taste good, it even “helps the medicine go down” according to Mary Poppin’s. But did you know the average Canadian consumes 88 lbs of sugar per year and children and teens tip the scales at over 100lbs of sugar per year! Wow was my response to seeing that for the first time. Most of us know that too much sugar is not good for us but did you know that according to Dr. Nancy Appleton, there are 141 reasons sugar ruins your health!
So, what can you do to get that Sugar Monkey off your back? There are lots of little ways that can add up to a significant reduction in sugar intake.
Do you add sugar to your coffee or tea? Do you consume juice, sports drinks or pop regularly? These are all high in sugar and lack the fat, fiber or protein to help slow down the digestion and absorption of the sugar which can cause wild spikes in energy levels. A great example of a substitute is a whole orange vs. 1 cup of orange juice. A whole orange has about 3 grams of fiber and 12 grams of sugar where 1 cup of orange juice has no fiber and 21 grams of sugar!! Just substituting 1 orange for your morning cup of orange juice would save 9 grams of sugar daily.
So you hit that point in the afternoon where your energy levels decline, what are you reaching for to snack on? Is it a muffin, cookie or donut? Try planning ahead for your afternoon snack and pair a piece of fruit with some nuts or seeds. You will still get the sweet taste from the fruit, but the fat, fiber and protein in the nuts or seeds help slow down the absorption of the sugar eliminating that quick surge of energy and leaving you feeling satisfied much longer.
Watch Out for the Hidden Sugar
If you don’t already do this, start reading the ingredients and nutrition panel of packaged foods. You will be unpleasantly surprised at all of the unexpected sugar you will find. One of the most surprising foods to me was pasta sauce. Some of these sauces have 13g of sugar or more per serving that’s about 3 teaspoons of sugar! Try your best to find foods with no added sugar and watch out for all of the sugar aliases you will find sugar is also known as honey, sucrose, maltose, invert sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, glucose, fructose, fruit juice, cane sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, cane juice, barley malt, beet sugar, palm sugar, coconut sugar, sucanat and hydrolysed starch.
Set Realistic Goals
When making any dietary or lifestyle changes such as cutting down on sugar take it slowly and set realistic goals. Going cold turkey may work for some people, but I think most people will have better long term success by making small changes over time. It may seem difficult at first to cut out added sugar, but the long term health benefits are definitely worth it and you will find that you will have stable energy all day instead of the wild swings people usually experience when consuming too much sugar. As well, your taste buds will change as you change your diet to choosing more whole foods with less sugar and soon you will find those 2 spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee too sweet