Sugar-it brings a smile to our face. Our love sugar starts early in life, and often continues to grow. For some of us, sugar is an addictive ingredient we are trying to eradicate from our lives. For many others, sugar is a common source of confusion.
Here are three common sugar fallacies followed by facts:
Fallacy #1: All sugar is bad.
Fact: Sugar is the main source of energy for your body. Without sugar, your body can’t function. Sugar comes in many forms. In fact, natural sugars are found in all foods except for meats, fats, and oils. The healthiest forms of sugar are found in whole foods, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and some dairy.
Fallacy #2: Sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: There is no single food or ingredient that causes diabetes. However, diets high in added sugars may contribute to the development of Type 2 Diabetes. This is especially true if excess sugar intake leads to weight gain. In addition to sugar we add to our own food, added sugars are those found in cookies, cakes, candy, soda, and other sweets. Added sugars can also be found in other foods such as cereals, condiments, and salad dressings.
Fallacy #3: Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, and other natural sweeteners are healthier for me than table sugar.
Fact: Honey, Maple Syrup, Agave, and other natural sweeteners we add to food are still considered added sugars. Added sugars, regardless of the source, do not have any health benefits.
Now that we have that cleared up, how much added sugar is OK to have?
It may be difficult to eliminate added sugars from your diet. After all, no one should stop you from having a piece of cake on your birthday!
Emerging research on sugar indicates excessive added sugar intake is linked to increased risk of heart disease. This link is independent of excess weight. In other words, even if you aren’t overweight, increased sugar intake increases your risk of heart disease.
Guidelines from the American Heart Association are as follows:
Women: No more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This is no more than 25 grams or 100 calories from added sugar. To put this is context, this is less than an 8oz can of soda per day.
Men: No more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This is no more than 36 grams or about 150 calories from added sugar per day. This is the amount of sugar in one 8 oz can (not 20 oz bottle) of regular soda per day.
So, what do you do if you can’t stop craving sugar?
Start with where you are. Think about how you can start to decrease obvious sources of added sugars such as soda and other sweets.
Have a piece of fruit for dessert. You’ll be amazed at how much satisfaction you derive from nature’s candy.
Start paying attention to the foods you keep in your house. Do some of your favorites have added sugars? Take a look at the first few ingredients to help you determine if sugars have been added to the foods you are regularly consuming. Be on the look out for new food label nutrition facts requirements that included added sugars.
Gradually add more whole foods to your regular eating plan. Once you start to get used to how foods taste naturally, your craving for sweets will lessen over time.
Whatever you do, don't beat yourself up over the amount of sugar you are consuming. Getting used to new dietary changes takes time. Take one step at a time, and remember, a goal without a plan is a wish. Review the previous post on making action plans to help you achieve your goals today!