Oh the wonderful joys of a warm, chocolatey cupcake or big bowl of ice cream, or…well…what about both together? (Excuse me while I wipe my drool). How many times have we heard, don’t eat sugar, sugar is bad, there’s a lot of sugar in that can of pop there? So what is it that is bad about this “sugar” that tastes so darn good? Well, let me tell you…
While sugar occurs naturally in several food items, such as fruit, it does not occur naturally in other items such as bread, milk, pop, nut butters & even tomato sauce. This is called “added sugar.”
So what does this mean?
Jessica Murgueytio, RD, a clinical dietician with Bethesda Medical Association in Maryland says, processed foods with added sugar can cause blood sugar spikes and then crashes. “These swings” can make people feel lethargic and crave even MORE sugar which causes a continuing cycle of ups and downs. (Kadey, 2018).
Sugar increases the brains Dopamine (the feel good chemical) causing temporary improvement in mood and feelings leaving us craving another “fix.” Gee-whiz, sounds like crack.
It use to be said that we could burn calorie for calorie, but according to Kadey, the kind of calories matter because if we are consuming sugar calories (which are empty calories) in excess, we are sacrificing calories from more nutrient-dense foods.
In Laymen’s Terms:
- The more sugar intake, the more cravings that will occur.
- Choose foods rich in nutrients vs “empty calories” like sugar.
How Do We Reduce Sugar Intake?
First, we can start by reading the food labels. Be sure to check out the ingredient list for synonyms of sugar, such as maltodextric, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, fructose, corn syrup, coconut nectar, barley malt,
organic dried cane syrup, dextrose, & maltose (anything ending is “ose” is basically sugar).
Also, don’t let the words natural & organic fool you, there could still be added sugar. Even foods like whole bread, jerky, frozen fruits and nut butters (even almond milk) has added sugar.
75% of packaged food have additional sweeteners & in 2020-2021 the FDA is making the addition of sugar content to labels mandatory.
In laymens terms:
- Be aware of when sugar is added, and how much is added, to the foods we buy at the store.
- Avoid packaged food as much as possible
Avoiding sweet soda and drinks is another way to reduce sugar intake.
“Sweetened drinks are the biggest source of added sugar calories in the standard American Diet” (Kaden, 2018).”
Regular consumption of these can up the chances of developing metabolic syndrome, which includes several conditions such as abdominal obesity & elevated blood pressure that increases your risk of heart disease. (2018).
In laymen’s terms:
Avoid sugary soda’s and drinks more than not. Instead, add natural sweetness to your water with fresh fruits &/or veggies.
Try to avoid cravings.
Easier said than done; but Kaden says exercise can reduce cravings associated with bored-ness and stress with a good example like “a brisk 15 minute walk.” –So maybe even some afternoon jumping jacks or a jog in place for a few minutes would help.
What about Sugar Substitutes?
Examples of sugar substitutes may include stevia,xylitol & Splenda. Kadey describes a link between non-nutritive sweeteners & weight-gain as well as hypertension & diabetes. Large amounts may impact insulin sensitivity & could alter taste buds reducing sensitivity to sweet tastes, as, according to Mayo Clinic Staff, artificial sweeteners are usually “sweater” than the real stuff.
There was a study done in the 70’s that indicated a link between bladder cancer and saccharin deeming artificial sweaters to “cause cancer.” (2015)
Mayo Clinic Staff also says, synthetic sugar substitutes possibly derived from naturally occurring substances as well, including herbs or sugars. (hmmm…)
And, on the contrary, it is also being said artificial sweeteners contribute to weight control as there are no calories, and good for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. (2015).
Take the last few paragraphs with you, do some research, and decide what’s best for you when it comes to sugar substitutes. Be conscious of what is in your food and going in your mouth. I like to avoid “artificially made” as much as possible. What is YOUR “two-cents?”
Be Good, Look Good, Feel Good.
Kadey, M. (2018). Sugar Smarts [Amercian Fitness Magazine]. Retrieved from (https://magazine.nasm.org/american-fitness-magazine/issues/american-fitness-magazine-spring-2018/sugar-smarts)
Mayo Clinic Staff (2015). Artificial Sweeteners & Other Sugar Substitues. [online article] Retrieved from (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/artificial-sweeteners/art-20046936)