Sugar comes in many forms, and you may be surprised to find out that it actually comes in many different types of foods and you may be consuming more than you realize every single day. Did you know that the average American adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? That’s nothing compared to the average American child who consumes about 32 teaspoons per day. No wonder obesity rates and diabetes rates are higher than they have ever been! We are consuming on average about 150 pounds more sugar per year than we were 200 years ago. If that isn’t alarming to you, I don’t know what would be.
The majority of the sugar that is being consumed is coming in the form of glucose/fructose, (in Canada) or High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS in the USA.) What’s more alarming about this form of sugar is that all of the corn that is used to make this sugar has been genetically modified. This substance can be found in many food items that you would not expect such as: cereals, stuffing mixes, juice boxes, soft drinks, chocolate milk, bread, ketchup, candy, chocolate bars, energy bars, granola bars, cough syrup, crackers, cheese, yogurt, applesauce, pickles, ice cream, syrup, jam, salad dressing, dips, sauces and soups! It is literally in almost everything. Below are some simple steps to follow to being to eliminate processed sugars from your diet.
1. Avoid Soft Drinks, Sports Drinks And Even Fruit Juices
Many people have an addiction to soft drinks, usually Coca-Cola or Pepsi, but consumers are not only addicted to the sugar in these beverages, but also the caffeine that is added to them. Just one can of soda contains 45 grams of sugar, 30 of which are coming from fructose. Compare that to a large apple, which contains 23 grams of sugar, 13 of which are coming from fructose. The main difference here is that the apple will actually leave you feeling satisfied and full of nutrients while the soda has little to no nutritional value and leaves you wanting more. A soda is a can full of empty calories and should be avoided if possible. Soda is most likely one of the leading contributing factors that has led to the increased rise in obesity within the United States and Canada. The States has done an okay job at eliminating soda from schools, but this has largely been replaced with an increase of sports drinks and “fruit” juices which also contain high levels of sugar, sometimes just as much or more than soda.
2. Read Ingredient Labels
Pay attention to what you are buying. Just because something isn’t sweet, it does not mean that it does not contain any processed sugar. Be sure to check ingredient labels carefully. If possible, try and stay away from overly processed, pre-packaged foods. Even fruit juices that claim to be “100% Real Juice” should still be looked over carefully as these juices are usually concentrated and contain extremely high levels of sugar.
3. Incorporate As Many Whole Foods As Possible
To avoid this problem altogether, you can try and switch as much of your diet as possible to a whole foods diet. A whole food is a food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances. Whole foods can include: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, herbs and spices, even meat, chicken, eggs and milk (if that’s your thing.) Some people might argue that you should stay away form eating too many fruits because they also contain a lot of fructose, however you would have to eat a very large amount of fruits really fast for them to have any negative impact on your health. When you eat a fruit you are slowly chewing and metabolizing it, and your body is able to properly process the sugar compared to when you chug back a can of coke.
4. Eat Organic When Possible
A good rule of thumb is to stick to organic foods. At the very least organic foods will ensure that you are not consuming any genetically modified ingredients – particularly HFCS. However, there are still many organic treats that will contain a lot of sugar, generally this will be organic cane sugar, but this is still something that you should limit your intake on and avoid it as much as possible as it is still quite processed. Even when sticking to organic foods, it is still important to check and read the labels carefully.
5. Substitute Natural Sweeteners (Stay Away From Artificial Sweeteners!)
Whenever possible, you can substitute natural sweeteners in place of sugar. Some great substitutions include: raw unrefined honey, maple syrup, dates, stevia, and molasses. Stay away from any artificial sugar substitutes like aspartame, Splenda, sucralose, nutria-sweet, equal, sweet and low etc., as these can be even worse for you to consume!
By following these simple steps you are well on your way to cutting out processed and refined sugars from your life and significantly reducing your risk of developing obesity (which leads to the number one cause of death in the States, heart disease) type II diabetes, premature aging and many others. The first few days may be kind of difficult because we are literally addicted to this substance and you may experience some withdraw symptoms, but hang in there! You will be so happy that you did. Good luck everybody! It’s time to take back our health!
To read more about the addictive properties and health concerns associated with sugar check out these links: