I know I have a sweet tooth. I get my “sugar fix” in the form of chocolate. Maybe many of you are thinking, “I really don’t have a sweet tooth”, but there is sugar hidden in many of the foods we eat. Our kids “sweet tooth” is significantly sweeter, and they crave more sugar. Dr. Andrew Weil, in his August 2014, Self Healing Newsletter commented that a European pastry chef said she had to double the sugar in her recipes when moving to America in order to appeal to the American palette. Although sugar occurs naturally in many foods such as fruit and dairy, there are many added sugars to foods as well. The average American consumes more than 150 lbs of sugar per year- that’s 500 extra calories.
Why is sugar so bad? It causes dramatic elevations in blood sugar, followed by high levels of insulin flooding into blood stream, resulting in a “crash”, or dramatic lowering of blood sugar. In addition, high levels of insulin are left floating around in blood wreaking havoc on hormones and fat metabolism. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 25gms of sugar per day, or 5% of calories in food to come from sugar. We eat an average of 31 tsp or 124gms of added sugar per day. When we eat a cookie, or drink soda, we know it contains a lot of sugar, but, did you know fruit juice has as much sugar as soda? Did you know flavored yogurt has 2-3x as much sugar than plain yogurt?
Here are some sources of hidden sugar:
- Low Fat and “diet foods”. (take out fat, need to add flavor)
- Breads/soups/BBQ sauce/ salad dressing and tomato sauce.
- Granola/snack Bars
The added sugar is usually in the form of the following, listed most harmful to least:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (Breads, cereals, sauces, snack bars)
- Evaporated Cane Syrup
- Rice syrup (or a grain syrup)
- Date or coconut sugar/syrup
- Agave Nectar
- Maple syrup, Pure
Here are a few ways you can start to lower your family’s sugar intake:
- Water down juice, (Buy 100% Fruit juice only). Start with ½ and ½ then go to ¼ juice, ¾ water. Limit juice to 1 serving a day.
- Flavor water with sliced fruit, (like the spa).
- Wean self from adding sugar to coffee or tea- less each time.
- Read Labels, look at ingredients. The less sugar, the better. 5gms of sugar per 100 gm serving= Low sugar 15gms of sugar per 100gm serving= High sugar-avoid.
- Buy Plain Yogurt (12 gm of naturally occurring sugar) and add Honey or maple syrup, just a little, to sweeten. Add your own fresh fruit as it has the fiber to slow down the absorption of sugar in the blood stream
- Instead of soda, try seltzer with a splash of 100% fruit juice
For more tips on cutting down on sugar in baked goods, try my Healthy Baking Cooking Workshop!
“Sugar is a recreational drug.”
– Dr. Mark Hyman, author “The Blood Sugar Solution”
Director of Yale Institute for Functional Medicine.