Did you know that the average American will eat 152 lbs. of sugar in one year. That is 6 cups of sugar in 1 week. To put that into perspective a traditional cake recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar. The frosting is 3 cups of sugar. So the average American eats a 3 layer cake every week…
Now you might be wondering, if every American doesn’t actually eat a whole cake a week, where does all the sugar come from?
Finding The Hidden Sugars
“What happens is that Americans are having dessert several times a day and don’t know it,”
Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician who sits on the board of the Institute for Responsible Nutrition, says sugar-sweetened beverages, along with cakes, cookies, and ice cream, are the major offenders, but hidden sources of added sugars are also a concern.
We all know a cake for breakfast is not the healthiest but what about a non-fat yogurt, granola bar and a glass of orange juice. Sounds pretty healthy right? Let us look a bit further into it.
That healthy strawberry low fat yogurt you think is a healthy choice is hiding 30-45 grams of sugar. Just because it is a non-fat food does not mean it is healthier, in fact they are usually loaded with sugar to cover up for the bland taste of being fat free.
What about the granola bar? They are found in the health food section after all. Your average granola bar or protein bar contains about 8-20 grams of sugar. On its own it can be OK, it all depends on the rest of your day’s diet and which one you choose.
All fruit contains sugar, eating an orange is more natural sugar and the nutrients far outweigh that amount. Then you juice it, losing a lot of its fibers and some nutrients and due to the amount of juice actually in one orange you end up eating 5-6 oranges compounding your sugar intake dramatically. Orange juice contains 20-30 grams of sugar.
- Orange juice + yogurt + granola bar = 58 – 95 grams of sugar
- Cake slice = 36 – 100 grams of sugar
Your whole breakfast, though healthy and contains more nutrients than that slice of cake, ends up having the same amount of sugar as the cake.
How much Sugar is TOO much Sugar?
First there is no such thing as too little sugar, unless you’re diabetic or have to worry about your blood sugar levels for medicinal purposes. The body does not actually NEED added sugars, and has little purpose for sugar which then turns into excess calories and fat. With natural sugars found in milk, fruit and vegetables, added sugar quickly becomes more problematic.
Groups such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that people should consume only 10% of their daily calories from sugar. The AHA suggests an added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) for most men.
Sugar DETOX or Sugar Awareness?
The spotlight has been turned on to sugars, we know that sugar isn’t good for us. With this knowledge comes the FAD trends, and now you are seeing all these sugar detoxes in mainstream media and 30 ways how to quit sugar along with alternative sugar and zero calorie sweeteners.
In theory quitting sugar is a great idea. As it is the most addictive drug you can give to a toddler. The problem is how realistic never having sugar again is.
In an ideal world we would eat nothing with preservatives, make all of our own food and be satisfied with fruit and honey as our own sweetness, and even those in moderation. This is what would make our bodies truly happy and healthy.
Yet food is much more than just the fuel it is scientifically broken down to. Food is culture, comfort, socialization, bonding, and memories. Food is a bigger part of our lives, mentally, emotionally and culturally, and can still be so in a healthy way.
So never having ice cream with your kids again, never eating pumpkin pie on thanksgiving or chocolate ever again is not the solution or answer. These are intentional and with a purpose that add more benefits to our lives than just the sugar within the food.
Fake Sugar Real Myths
Be aware of consuming too much zero calorie sweeteners and commercial alternative sweeteners. Most fake sugar is treated the same way chemically by your body, the chemical makeup is very similar, or the body is so confused with what it is seeing that it doesn’t know how to react. Confusing your body chemically is usually not the best idea and can lead to bowel problems.
Plus there are theories that sugar substitutes are even more addictive to their counterparts.
These substitutes are also much sweeter than table sugar by weight, in the idea that you need less to have more sweetness, yet this can come with a cost. It can change taste buds to require more sweetness making fruits and vegetables palatable and tasteless in comparison.
Not all alternatives should be treated equally. Xylitol is fatal to dogs! Even if you don’t have a dog. I am still suspicious of an ingredient that is fatal to animals sweetening my beverage.
Stevie and monk fruit are derived from plants and therefore a better alternative, but still consumed in moderation, and go for a little extra calories with honey or fruit sugar.
The Sugar Solution
The purpose of a detox is to become aware of just how much sugar you are consuming and to also train your taste bodies to be OK with less, and not to never eat sugar again.
Yet, you can come to this awareness without giving up sugar completely. Follow these 4 steps to start limiting and understanding the amount of sugar you consume unintentionally.
- Mindful eating is a great tool in really learning more about what you are eating and how it is affecting your body and all you really have to do is pay attention.
- Read your labels: learn the 61 different names for sugar, listed below. If the first ingredient on the list is sugar, try to avoid it. It means that the is the main ingredient. Choose foods that have smaller list of ingredients, begins with an actual food, and has sugar lower on the list.
- Try to limit sugar to 10% of your calories and start slowly by making simple swaps. Start small rather than cutting out everything at once.
- Enjoy the intentional desserts you do have, savor each bite and you will begin to notice that
- You may eat less and require less dessert than before
- Other foods might actually taste like more like “dessert”
What it all boils down to is: enjoy your desserts and stop eating desserts that are pretending to be salads
(PS. Check how much sugar is in your salad dressing)
Sugar in Disguise
61 Names for sugar to be on the lookout for
Agave nectar, Barbados sugar, Barley malt, Barley malt syrup, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice, Cane juice crystals, Cane sugar, Caramel, Carob syrup, Castor sugar, Coconut palm sugar, Coconut sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Date sugar, Dehydrated cane juice, Demerara sugar, Dextrin, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Free-flowing brown sugars, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Grape sugar, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltol, Maltose, Mannose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Raw sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Sugar (granulated), Sweet sorghum, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, Yellow sugar