Health & Fitness
Ring in a Sweet New Year With Less Sugar
“ Sugar is the tobacco of the 21st Century.” So says Mark Bittman, food journalist & cookbook author on NPR.
It got me thinking about how much sugar I might be consuming without realizing it.
I don’t sweeten coffee, tea or cereal, and I rarely drink soda. I try to avoid foods with “added sugar” noted on the containers.
But, I wondered if I was eating sugar unknowingly and consuming extra calories that I don’t need.
It is an unexpected ingredient in many foods. It is used to boost flavors, balance acidity in foods that contain vinegar, and help bread rise.
The only sure way is to read labels.
Ingredients are listed in descending order by the amount that is in the product. If you see sugar listed among the first few ingredients then you know the product is high in sugar.
The tricky part is that sugar has many different names depending on where it comes from and how it’s made.
An ingredient that ends in “ose” is a sugar. It is the chemical name for many types of sugar including fructose, glucose, maltose and dextrose.
After I heard Bittman speak- I looked at a health bar that I carry when traveling.
I was surprised to find the following ingredients listed: corn syrup, sugar, high maltose corn syrup, sugar cane fiber and fructose.
How healthy can this bar be? We may be sabotaging ourselves.
“There's no nutritional advantage for honey, brown sugar, fruit juice concentrate or other types of sugar over white sugar.”
– Mayo Clinic
Consuming Excessive amounts of sugar leads to serious health problems including tooth decay and the spread of obesity. Sugar gives us empty calories and may result in skimping on more nutritious food and missing out on important nutrients.
The American Heart Association recommends about 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women and 9 for men. Most Americans consume more than 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
One 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 8 teaspoons of sugar. That’s the daily limit before eating any other food that has sugar such as a fruit flavored yogurt, ketchup or a cookie.
In “The World Is Fat”, author Barry Popkin writes, “We are what we drink,” and many people drink between 450-500 calories a day. Try these two strategies to cut down on liquid calories.
If you are a soda drinker, can you replace a glass of soda with a glass of water?
If you like fruit juice, drink 100% fruit juice and not a juice drink that has added sugar.
Even better, eat the fruit instead of the juice.
I was shocked to learn that it takes almost a pound of oranges to make an 8 ounce glass of juice.
Fruit juice concentrates the sugars and strips away the appetite-satiating fiber and bulk of the fruit.
Another way to cut sugar consumption: Choose breakfast cereals carefully to avoid added sugar. If you or your children are used to sugary or frosted cereals look at our book, “Funny Food” for whimsical ways to make unsweetened cereals taste delicious.
Replicate some of the images and you and your children will be taking an important step to fighting the sugar overload.
Have a sweeter 2013 with less sugar.
Visit us at Funny Food Art.