Paging through a book of nursery rhymes, a legacy from a grandmother, was like traveling in a time machine to a distant past.
This passage caught my attention: “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice!” Ouch! at many levels, but let’s stay focused on sugar.
Sugar in many forms is added to most packaged and processed foods, even in foods we assume are sugar-free – like ketchup and salad dressing. Because our DNA and taste receptors are hardwired for sugar, many of us are attracted to such foods. Food manufacturers have capitalized on that!
Refined sugar is not a food, and the body does not treat it as such. For one thing, it provides only empty calories, devoid of any nutritional value. Depending upon your constitution, you may experience wide swings in blood sugar levels, or your body might trigger inflammation.
Some people find sugary foods and drinks addictive. During my 30’s I felt addicted to a soda called TAB. It was hard to stop drinking it and I felt withdrawal symptoms when I avoided it.
A disease connection: Refined sugar consumption, together with refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners, increase the risk of nearly every disease you can imagine, including diabetes.
We are eating way, way too much sugar, though exact figures are hard to come by. According to a US estimate, the average American ate 60 pounds of added sugar in 2005-2010. The average for men was about 22 tsp per day and the average for women was about 16 tsp per day. The daily maximum amount of added sugar recommended by the American Heart Association is 9 tsp for men, and 6 tsp for women. Yikes!
It’s unrealistic to completely avoid added sugars. Food Labels make it even trickier to determine what is “added,” since total sugar, not “added sugar” is listed. Here is a tip. Be aware of all the code names for sugar, which can be listed separately. Some of them are: agave syrup, barley malt, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, corn syrup, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, sucrose, etc.
Take a look at the ingredient label of a snack or treat you like. Do sugars appear as the first or second ingredients? If so, consider chucking it for a healthier alternative.
Easier said than done? I’m with you!
If you have been eating or drinking a sugar snack on a regular basis, (M&M’s and Ginger Ale come to mind), can you isolate the particular quality that is emotionally satisfying? Then experiment to find a new “ritual” without the added sugar that replicates the same “satisfaction.”
My clients come up with many creative solutions. I’d love to hear what food or drink substitutions and fulfilling rituals you have found to limit added sugar.