In my pursuit of good health and better nutrition, I have become increasingly aware of the large quantity of sugar in the Standard American Diet. The suggested amount of added sugar in the diet (read: any sweetener not including fruit) is somewhere between 25 grams and 50 grams per day depending on the association guidelines with which you are following. I think it’s probably best to stick a bit closer to the 25 gram guideline, but once you start actually adding up the amount of added sugar in your diet, those grams add up quickly! In no time at all, you may find yourself at that magic 25 gram limit.
I’ve found that many people are quite unaware of the astounding amounts of sugar hidden in their diet. I mean, it’s often not until you start looking for the powdery white stuff that you realize it’s absolutely everywhere. Turn over that jar or package and read the ingredient list, and you’ll find it lurking in deli turkey, spaghetti and pizza sauces, sandwich bread, cereal, granola bars, yogurt, beef jerky, and even canned tomatoes. Many foods that would be deemed as “healthy” are actually loaded with sugar.
I’ll spare you the details (for now) of why we need to be so concerned with the abundant amount of sugar in the Standard American Diet, but for now, just know that sugar causes large fluctuations in insulin levels which lead to low energy levels, difficulty concentrating, a lack of appetite control, food cravings, and, of course, weight gain. It’s very likely not the fat in our diets which is making us fat. It’s the sugar!
Maybe you’ve got a “sweet tooth” like me, and you just really like sugar! By significantly reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, you will begin to crave it less. One way that I’ve attempted to reduce my sugar intake, is by cutting out foods that have snuck it in where I don’t even want it anyway. Look for packaged ingredients that don’t include sugar. For example, choose a can of diced tomatoes rather than stewed tomatoes. Buy smoked deli turkey rather than oven roasted, and simply stick to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning topped with fruit rather than a boxed cereal. Then, when you crave something sweet, you can really eat a small treat without having already exceeded your sugar intake for the day without even knowing it.
Be warned! Sugar comes in a variety of disguises! I find that most people don’t even know the names of all of sugar’s aliases, so I’m including a list below which is taken from Nutrition Diva’s Secrets for a Healthy Diet: What to Eat, What to Avoid, and What to Stop Worrying About. Who knew one ingredient could come with so many nicknames?!
So, next time you’re at the grocery store (and maybe before you take a second portion of that cranberry sauce on the Thanksgiving table), take a look at that ingredient list before placing that item in your cart. Where did you find sugar, in one of its various forms, that completely surprised you?
The Many Aliases of Sugar
Sugar (beet, brown, cane, confectioner’s date, demerara, grape, invert, malt, powdered, raw, turbinado)
Cane (crystals, juice, syrup)
Syrup (malt, corn, maple, cane, high fructose, glucose/fructose, refiner’s, rice, sorghum)
Words ending in “ose” (glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, maltose)
Malt (syrup, barley, sugar)
Concentrated fruit juice (pear, grape)