Healthy Habits: Added Sugar Addiction
Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk all come by their sugars naturally. You shouldn’t feel shame in allowing yourself the pleasure of consuming these foods in their natural form. Their fiber, minerals and antioxidants promote positive effects in the body. The obesity epidemic we are currently facing isn’t due to overeating these commodities.
For years, sugar has been added to our processed foods and beverages in order to enhance flavor and texture and increase shelf life. Major food corporations have gone to great expense to ensure the cost of sugar sweeteners remains low, and that product needs remain high.
“ADDED SUGARS” contribute calories, but no essential nutrients. The phrase “added sugars” continues to confuse most consumers because currently the nutrition facts label doesn’t distinguish between natural sugars (from fruits, vegetables and milk) and sugar sweeteners added during processing. Beginning in January 2021, all food labels will be required to provide added sugar totals and daily value percentages making it easier for consumers to distinguish between sugar in the commodity and that which is added during processing. Many product labels have changed ahead of the scheduled mandate.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend the average American should consume only 10% of their calories from added sugars each day. That is approximately 12 tsp (48 g) of added sugar.
By reading the food label, you will be able to educate yourself on how much added sugar is in a food product and make an informed decision about your purchases.
Added sugars can sometimes be disguised using many names, so don’t be fooled. Look in the ingredient list to determine what sugars are being added to your food products. Often, you will see them labeled as an ingredient with the word “sugar” (granulated, brown, beet, raw), “nectar” (agave, peach, fruit), “syrup” (corn, high fructose, maple, malt), words ending in “ose” (dextrose, sucrose, fructose, maltose), honey, molasses, caramel, cane juice, corn sweetener, and the list goes on.
For too long, we have given our purchasing power to large food corporations marketing to our busy lifestyle. Making a conscious effort to reduce added sugars can be as easy as making these simple changes:
• Eat fresh, frozen or canned fruit in natural juice, not syrup
• Drink water instead of sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sugar sweetened fruit juices
• Buy plain yogurt & add in your own fruit (I’m shocked how much sugar is in yogurt)
• Swap sugary cereals for unsweetened cereal with fruit
• Choose fruit for dessert instead of cookies or cakes
This week’s Healthy Habit: Identify your sugary weaknesses and have a plan to replace them with healthier options.