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How Sweet it Is! …How much sugar is too much?
Dear Ellen, I love sweets and sugar but I hear so much bad news about sugar, how much sugar is too much?
The World Health Organization recently recommended a sharp drop in sugar with just 5% of our calories coming from added sugars. This translates to about 25g or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. The main reasons for this change is due to the various physical and mental health concerns excessive sugar consumption has been associated with, including:
- Diabetes and insulin resistance
- Obesity and weight gain
- Tooth decay
- Heart disease
- Harm to cholesterol and triglycerides
- “Empty Calories” no vitamins or minerals
- Increased fat in the abdominal cavity - visceral fat
- Fat deposits in the liver
- Decreased satiety which can contribute to higher calorie intake
- Mood Swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Cognitive abilities and memory
For a healthy, balanced diet, these READ! REPLACE! REDUCE! tips can help you understand and shrink that sweet tooth.
All sugars are carbohydrates found naturally in most foods and their main nutritional value is in providing energy. Sucrose, or table sugar, is extracted from sugar beet or sugar cane. Sugar is also added to many foods such as sweets, chocolate, cakes, fizzy drinks and many juices.
Read nutrition labels to help you choose foods with less added sugar, especially since many foods that we do not consider sweet contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar. Packaged soups, ketchup, tomato sauce, salad dressings, cereal bars, flavoured waters and ready-made meals are among these surprises. Beware! In the ingredients list, added sugar may be called: glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, fructose or molasses. Food labels show ingredients in order of content, so the nearer the beginning of the ingredient list the sugar (or other name above) is, the more it contains.
- More than 22.5g of sugars per 100g is considered HIGH
- 5g of sugars or less per 100g is considered LOW
- If the amount of sugars per 100g is in between these, it is considered MEDIUM.
- Replace sugary, fizzy drinks and juice drinks with water, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juice. Remember that even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, so think about diluting it with water or sparkling water.
- Replace jam, marmalade, syrup or honey by sliced fruit or lower-fat cream cheese.
- Replace sweetened breakfast cereals with wholegrain and unsweetened varieties. For my healthy breakfast ideas, click here.
- Try healthier snack options without added sugar, such as fruit, nuts, rice cakes, oatcakes, plain popcorn or a Juice PLUS+ Complete Bar.
- Chew Gum in order to replace that sweet temptation. It has been shown that chewing gum can be helpful in controlling appetite and reducing sweet cravings.
- Reduce gradually the amount of sugar you add to hot drinks, cereal or yogurt until you can cut it out altogether.
- Experiment halving the sugar in recipes or replacing some sugar by fruit purée which works for most baked goods.
- Plan ahead and decide to spoil yourself with the occasional “sweets”. Allowing yourself to have small amounts of forbidden foods can prevent high calorie bingeing.
- Having something sweet on an empty stomach can make blood sugar rise quickly and give you cravings for more making your intention to “eat just one” impossible. A sweet treat following a balanced meal, a protein snack such as a Juice PLUS+ Complete Bar or a fruit can help keep blood sugar in check and might even “crowd out” the desire for more than one.
Finally….know your ABC’s…how sweet it is!
ABC: Assess – Breathe – Choose. This mindfulness exercise can be used to help you decide whether that sweet treat is really worth it. Studies have shown that taking time to smell, taste and appreciate allows us to better recognize when we’ve had enough. Consider quality and if you do not LOVE it, empower yourself and discretely pass on it! If you do LOVE it….savour and enjoy sweetie!
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