For decades the fattening of America has been blamed on our consumption of foods that contain fat. To combat this belief and increase sales, processed food companies removed the fat and advertised LOW FAT and FAT FREE on the labels of their products. But without the fat most products have little to no flavor. What did they do? They added sugar.
Read the Nutrition Facts Label of most any processed food and you will find the sugar content listed in grams. Four grams of white sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. In order to calculate how many teaspoons of sugar a food or beverage contains divide the number of grams of sugar by 4.
Have you noticed that unlike most all other ingredients listed on the Nutrition Facts Label that sugar does not have an amount listed under the % Daily Value * column? That is mainly because of the lobbying of large, processed food companies. Why? Because most people would be alarmed at the amount of sugar in these foods and maybe not purchase them.
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are:
Men – 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons)
Women – 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)
The current daily average consumed is 104 grams or 26 teaspoons per day.
To give you an idea of how much that is in some popular foods, a 12 oz. can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar and a regular sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar. So, either one would max out your recommended daily intake.
Add to that the sugar you put in your coffee, the sugar in your breakfast cereal, donut or muffin – and that’s before you even leave your home in the morning. If you eat at a fast food restaurant for lunch and order a soda or get a super-sized one at the local convenience store (especially the ones that give the free refills) you are super-sizing your waistline. And that doesn’t include sugar content in prepared soups (Campbell’s Tomato has 12 grams) , yogurt (19 to 29 grams) and Nature Valley Granola bars (12 grams) if you want a quick snack in the afternoon.
The Secrets of Sugar
The Secrets of Sugar, a The Fifth Estate video by CBC news, sheds light on the topic and reveals information about sugar and its affect on health that you may not be aware of.
So what can you do?
7 Steps to Reduce Sugar In Your Diet
- Understand the common names for sugar and eliminate or minimize them from your diet. Some are brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose mannitol, maple syrup, moslasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar and xylitol.
- Reduce or eliminate sugary beverages, juices and sodas. Drink water and add lemon or lime juice for a light, refreshing flavor. Herbal teas come in many different flavors. Don’t order sweet tea when you eat out but regular iced tea and add a small amount of sugar.
- Incorporate more healthy, whole foods into your meal plans. Most from scratch recipe ingredients are void of sugar.
- Read labels of all processed foods that you buy and minimize their consumption. Check your salad dressings, ketchup, barbeque sauces cereals and other processed foods for their sugar content and find alternatives.
- Find breakfast cereals with less than 8 grams of sugar per serving or , preferably, unsweetened altogether like oatmeal and use fresh fruit to sweeten it up.
- Don’t skip meals. Eating regularly helps you feel full longer and less likely to reach for sugar laden snacks.
- Set a daily sugar quota and stick to it. You may do this gradually so your sweet tooth doesn’t rebel. Set an amount that you will reduce your sugar intake by each week and plan your meals accordingly.
To your health!
What kinds of foods do you have in your pantry that contain sugar that you were unaware of? Please share your experiences and questions with eliminating sugar from your diet in the comments section below.