Bittersweet Truth about Sugar

November 16, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Health Tip


Sugar is everywhere.

It’s in more food than you probably realize. And it’s pretty scary especially when you consider the consequences of over consumption.

Type 2 Diabetes is a life devastating disease and one that nearly 2 million Americans and more than 5,000 children and adolescents will be diagnosed with this year; it will claim the lives of nearly 200,000 people. Worst of all? Type 2 Diabetes is a preventable disease. Does sugar cause diabetes? Yes. Excess sugar, leads to excess weight which contributes to diabetes.

Added sugars make up at least 10% of the calories the average American eats in a day; one in 10 get 25% or more of their calories from sugar.  A study that looked at sugar consumption and cardiovascular disease found that individuals who consumed 25% or more of their calories from sugar had a higher risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease. These findings were largely consistent across age group, sex, race/ethnicity (except among non-Hispanic blacks), educational attainment, physical activity, health eating index, and body mass index.

Despite the evidence that sugar is contributing to preventable diseases in the United States, there aren’t federal guidelines in place that offer upper limits for sugar intake. We are given upper limits for salt and fat intake, but sugar is ignored. The American Heart Association suggests women consume less than 100 calories of added sugar (approximately 6 teaspoons) and men consume less than 150 calories (approximately 9 teaspoons). To put this into perspective: 1 can of regular soda contains approximately 9 teaspoons of sugar.

Spoonful of Sugar 45 cover” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Wikipedia.

Spot the Hidden Sugar:

  • “Low Fat” foods generally have sugar added to improve the taste after fat is removed. TIP: Don’t skip out on fat. Fat is used more effectively as fuel than sugar is
  • Yogurt flavored with fruit can contain as much sugar as a Twinkie. Read labels and try to stick to plain yogurt for protein without the sugar. TIP: Go with plain Greek Yogurt and add your own mix-ins.
  • Condiments, dressings and sauces are packed full of sugar. TIP: Skip the store bought versions and whip up your own at home.

Condiments and Dressing

  • Milk replacements like Almond Milk, Coconut Milk and Soy Milk can contain unnecessary sugar. TIP: Switch to the unsweetened versions for healthier milk replacement options.
  • Prepackaged foods, instant oatmeal and cereal (even the healthy versions) can pack in added sugar. Read the labels. TIP: Use plain oats and flavor with fresh fruit or a controlled amount of your favorite sweetener.  

If you need a little help kicking the sweet stuff, check out I Quit Sugar. It’s an 8 week program facilitated online that helps you slowly improve your food choices and cut the sugar for good. You’ll find me on the expert panel, helping motivate everyone enrolled in the next segment (starting on 9/25).