Diet and Nutrition – Blog Series Too Much Sugar

Most adults and children eat too much sugar.  The type of sugar we eat too much of is known as “free sugars”.  These include sugars added to food or drinks, and are found naturally in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices.

Many foods and drinks that contain added sugars are also high in calories and have few other nutrients.  Eating these foods too often can mean you eat more calories than you need, which can lead to weight gain and obesity.  Being overweight can increase your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  In particular, drinking lots of sugary drinks has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

*Sugar causes weight gain because when we eat too much of it and we do not exercise to burn it off, it gets stored as fat on our bodies.

*Sugar disrupts normal brain function.  High sugar meals can cause mood swings, energy highs/lows, may cause more anxiety and depression and may cause attention disorders and behavioral issues in children.

How do We Cut Down on Sugars?

No one forces food into our mouths.  You can choose to pass on dessert, drink water instead of sugary drinks, and choose toeat whole foods.  There are hidden sugars in sauces, soups, ketchup, processed foods, some protein bars, yogurts, baked goods and more.  Soft drinks such as colas, teas, cool-aids and juices are all high in sugar.  Start reading labels to find hidden sugars.

Calculating Sugar Content on Food and Drinks

Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon of sugar.  For example:  one (12 ounce) can of cola has about 40 grams of sugar.  This is equal to ten teaspoons of sugar.  That is a lot of added sugar!  Another example is yogurt.  Some yogurts that have fruit mixed in are usually higher in added sugars than the “lite” yogurts as well as some of the greek yogurts.  Reading the food label is helpful in choosing the healthier items.

Fruits have natural sugars and are a good choice as a sweetener in whole grain breakfast cereals, yogurts, cottage cheese and other foods needing some sweetness.All fruits have different amounts of natural sugars.  For instance:  one small banana has more sugar than one cup of strawberries or raspberries.  Again, not all foods have the same amount of sugars.

So get busy reading labels to help reduce sugars in your diet.  By making these types of changes in your diet, you are helping to secure a healthier lifestyle for yourself!

Be Well,

Sherry Jenko, NDTR and Wellness Coach