Today I want to talk about SUGAR! The average American needs to REDUCE their SUGAR INTAKE. But don't worry—it isn't as scary as it sounds; I'm going to walk you through it.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have said that both children and adults are getting way too much added sugar on a daily basis. A healthy diet consists of only 10% of calories coming from added sugar (and there are suggestions that 5% would be even better, but too little research has been done on that). That is about 6 teaspoons or 25 grams. That may seem like a lot, but once you read the labels on everyday foods you'll come to find that it adds up much faster than you'd expect.
WHAT is added sugar?
Added sugar (also referred to as free sugar) is anything that is, well, added to a food. This excludes naturally occurring sugars in milk, fruits and vegetables (eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as you want—in fact there'll be a post on that coming soon) and includes things like honey, cane sugar, fruit juices (yep, you read that right), high fructose corn syrup, etc.
WHERE is added sugar? Added sugar is in almost anything that's packaged. READ THE LABELS! You'd be surprised to find out how much sugar you're getting, even from things that look healthy (e.g. organic granola etc.) or foods that aren't even sweet (breads, sauces etc). Unfortunately, labels aren't required to account for where the sugar comes from, but it's pretty safe to assume that most sugar will be added.
WHEN should I cut back on sugar?
Start today! And stick with it. This isn't a 30 day cleanse or quick weight-loss solution. It's a lifestyle choice that makes a difference one day at a time. And you won't regret it. I'm not advocating for extremism. I still occasionally get frozen yogurt with my husband or a cupcake with the girls. But this is a treat, and it averages out with other days that I have very little or no added sugar. I'm not against sugar; But I want to be eating sugar when I choose to eat sugar, not when it's unnecessarily snuck into my food.
WHY should I care about this?
Added sugar has been linked to diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, insulin resistance and other health problems. These are growing problems in our society. We can all be more informed consumers. We can all make small changes to help ourselves feel better and be healthier in the long run.
HOW do I cut back on sugar?
This does not mean switching to sugar substitutes; it means being aware of what you're eating. The more you make from scratch, the more you'll be able to cut out unnecessary sugars. If something doesn't have a label (i.e. fruits and vegetables), then it probably only has one ingredient and can't have added sugar in it. It's simple. Keep fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. instead of processed snacks in the house. Whatever is available in your house, is what you're most likely to snack on. And use ingredients to make your meals, so there's no mystery as to what you're eating.
So that's the who, what, where, when, why and how of reducing added sugar. Give it a try!
Don't believe me? Read/watch these and find out for yourself: