TOO MUCH SUGAR TOO MUCH SUGAR – This is all we hear in the news and in health magazines. Every news organization is reporting on Americans eating too much sugar. What does all this mean? How much is too much? Most people think “eh, I don’t eat doughnuts and cookies so I should be OK”. Are you really? Let’s take a look.
The morning routine usually starts with waking up, grabbing a cup (or two) of coffee, some kind of breakfast, and out the door to work. If you just stopped there and slept the rest of the day, you would have already consumed approximately 10 grams of sugar, 30% of your daily intake. Coffee by itself has no sugar, but even just adding 1 teaspoon to an espresso sized coffee (which is very tiny) gives you a higher percentage of sugar than a soda! If you have milk in your coffee, this also adds to the intake. Add 3.1g for one teaspoon sugar and 4.24g for ½ cup of regular milk. Total = 7.34g
Did the breakfast consist of toast? A regular sized piece of whole wheat toast contains approximately 1.6g. What was on the toast? If it was butter or margarine you are ahead, these contain no sugar. However, if it was jelly or some other spread (we will assume 1 teaspoon jelly here), then add 3g to your total. Total = 11.94g
You didn’t eat that many calories, and will more than likely be hungry before the noon lunch truck comes by, correct? However, let’s say that you also had fruit juice (23g), and cereal (approx. 12g in 1 cup). Now your sugar intake goes up substantially. If you had pop tarts, waffles or pancakes with syrup – you have already had your daily allowance of sugar, and the day is just starting!
The RDA for sugar intake is an average of 30g per day. With this, the person that only ate the toast and coffee will still be at 30%. The person that ate the waffles with syrup and juice will be at approximately (7.34+23g +43.9g) 74g of sugar to start their day! Now they are 2.5 times OVER the limit and its only 9am.
Why do we care? It’s just a little sugar right? Everyone eats that! It’s also one of the biggest reasons that obesity and diabetes rates are increasing so quickly in the US. One in every 10 people has Type 2 diabetes, and even more have prediabetes. Heart disease, strokes, and blindness are just a few of the complications from this disease. Plus, the risk of death is 50% higher if you have Type 2 diabetes than if you don’t! This is sad, because it is totally preventable.
Most people also don’t know that sugar has been proven in animals to be more addictive than cocaine! It stimulates the reward centers in our brains and humans crave that stimulation. Yet, we have no regulations or restrictions on sugar use or consumption in the US. Many studies have suggested that it be regulated like alcohol or tobacco, but the government has not made any moves to do this. Because it is so addicting, this makes it difficult to stop consuming it. Gradually replacing sugary foods with healthy ones is the key.
There are different types of sugar – naturally occurring sugar in foods (such as lactose in milk) and sugars added to foods (such as high fructose corn syrup, HCFS). HCFS is a highly processed sugar product and far from “naturally occurring”. It heads straight for our livers to process and is a huge cause of fatty liver disease in humans. They also have been known to contain harmful metals and chemicals that humans should not ingest in their food. Bottom line – stick to foods with natural sugars combined with fiber such as oranges, apples, and berries!
How can we do better in our daily lives? Preparing foods at home to take with you is the best option, like these easy homemade vegetable chips. Quick foods are usually filled with HCFS and chemicals, none of which is good for you. If you do need to grab and go, read the labels carefully so you are making informed decisions.
Eating more fruit can help satisfy your sugar cravings and fill you up. The fruit in sugar is mixed with fiber, so your body handles it better (and you get lots of vitamins and minerals too). Cucumber sticks, roasted chick peas, and edamame are all great options that require very little prep work. Bonus if you grow them in your Growing Dome! Another great choice is nuts as they have lots of protein.
Get your kids involved with the preparation. They will learn real skills and be excited they had a part in making something they can eat. Make it fun, and they will look forward to the time you spend together each week. The time you take paying attention to the sugar in your food will help you to feel better and live longer!
How do you lower your sugar intake in your daily life? Share your comments below!
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