Sugar is everywhere. In your drinks, in your food, in your snacks, and pretty much anything that comes in a box, but this co-dependent love affair with sugar has to stop.
Humans have been consuming sugar in one form or another for thousands of years. During the medieval period, sugar around the world was very expensive and considered a fine spice, it was rare, delicious, and we wanted more.
From around 1500 AD, technological improvements and New World sources began turning it into a much cheaper bulk commodity. Since then, we’ve discovered the kind of damage too much sugar can cause and we’re paying the price with our health.
Obesity rates are steadily increasing and weight related diseases are plaguing the world. It’s easy to point the finger at sugary beverages or convenience store goodies, but the reality is; sugar is everywhere, drinks are only the tip of the iceberg.
Recently, leading researchers are finding that added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup might be the causing the liver to work overtime leading to a variety of issues from metabolic syndrome to fatty liver disease.
These discoveries have prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to slash their recommended daily intake of sugar in half. “Less than 10 per cent of total calories coming from ‘free sugars’ to 5 per cent for additional health benefits.”
According to the WHO, “free sugars refer to all monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrup, and fruit juices.”
But keep in mind, the majority of your sugar intake should be derived from natural sources and the amount of natural sugar each person requires is highly individualized so it’s not a one size fits all scenario. The math can be daunting at first, but with these simple steps and just a little background information, it’s easier than you think to remove excess sugars from your diet.
Limiting sugar consumption to 15 per cent of your total calories is a great starting point for lowering intake from all sugar sources. If following a “low sugar” diet based on WHO recommendations, a 2000-calorie diet with 5 per cent, or 10per cent calories from sugar translates to 25 or 50 grams, respectively. To calculate your daily “added” sugar goals: multiply total calories by 10 per cent (or 5 per cent) and then divide by 4 to get total grams of added sugar.
Fruit sugar, (fructose), is a simple naturally occurring sugar, like lactose found in milk. While fruit definitely contains sugar, it’s a sugar the way nature intended it, and it’s also loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre. Fruit is a fundamental part of the diet but it should also be balanced with other foods like vegetables, proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, and dairy.
Eat natural sources of sugar over added sugars. Fill up on fresh fruit and vegetables instead because they contain fiber that slows the rate of absorption of carbohydrates along with improving cholesterol levels, digestion, and satiety to help with weight loss. Unfortunately, added sugars like honey, agave, and high fructose corn syrup contain empty calories and have zero nutritional value.
Following a low sugar, diet requires some diligence in knowing how much you should eat. In general, most people should consume 2 fruits (or 2 cups) and at least 3 cups of veggies per day. On average 1 serving of fruit contains 15 grams of sugar. So, try to space out your servings so that you don’t end up with a sugar rush all at once.
Foods in their whole form are going to be your best bet when it comes to lowering your sugar intake. According to the New York Times, 75 per cent of packaged foods in the U.S. contain added sugar. You can simplify your sugar doses by keeping these to a minimum.
Even some healthy foods can have sneaky sources of added sugar. Foods like energy bars, smoothies, juices, enhanced waters, salad dressing, cereals, tomato sauce, and medications are common culprits. Watch for these, sugar will try to trick you into taking it back.
Instead of cutting sugar cold turkey, lower your intakes slowly. If you usually eat sweets after lunch and dinner, start by taking it down to one meal a day, or at only a certain time of day.
Spend more time with better options like nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and salmon. Not only are these foods heart healthy and help with blood sugar control, healthy fats will displace excess sugar from the diet and keep the body satisfied for longer so you are less likely to have energy dips between meals prompting a quick sugar fix.
Logging your food intake can help with staying on top of your sugar consumption so you become more aware of how much sugar you are really ingesting since they sure can add up fast.
Walk out the door and never look back, give added sugar the boot - for good.
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