Sugar – Aren’t you sweet enough?

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Once again the issue of too much sugar in our diet, and especially that of our children, has been raised in the news. Research is showing us that we are eating too much sugar for the good of our health and bodies. It is thought to be a major contributing factor in obesity, especially for our children. ( Ref 1 and 2). Maybe we need to be more realistic of the effect of our lifestyles have on what our body needs nutritionally. We have car’s to travel and walk less, remote controls to watch the television instead of getting up to change channel, video and online games instead of playing a game of football or tennis outside etc etc. I even remember washing clothes involved more energy even using the twin tub! (that shows how old I am!!).
This means the consumption of different types of foods that contribute to our daily total calorie intake needs to be adjusted. We have so much choice and food is so available that we need to plan our meals and make shopping lists so that we don’t fall prey to the marketing ploys to persuade you to buy more than you need. We make 200 choices a day about eating and 90% of those decisions are not conscious!! Don’t eat on the run and sit down with your friends and families to eat. It’s more enjoyable and you actually eat less ,digest better and your food gives you more energy.(ref 3)
The evidence shows quite clearly that high free sugars intake in adults is associated with increased energy intake and obesity. There is also an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and type-2 diabetes. The problem looks more grim into the future as In children there is clear demonstration that sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with obesity.
So how MUCH can we eat and what CAN we eat?
Scientists in the UK and US are reviewing the amount of added sugar people should eat each day. The current guideline has a limit of 10-11%. The World Health Organization suggests only 5% of our daily calories should come from sugar.
That means for a woman 40-50gms and 60 to 70gms a day. You can measure this by assuming 1 medium teaspoon of sugar is 5 gms. So that means 8 to 10 teaspoons of sugar for a woman and 12 to 14 teaspoons for a man.
However how do you know how much sugar are you eating? Look at the label every time and equate 5gms of sugar to 1 teaspoon.
There are commonly six types of sugar used in making your food;:
Glucose: It is a simple sugar raises sugar in the blood. Constitutes of one half of sucrose or table sugar
Fructose: It is a simple sugar that occurs naturally in fruit. Constitutes the other half of sucrose
Sucrose: Commonly known as table sugar and is refined and occurs naturally in sugar cane or beets
Lactose: Milk sugar, which makes up just less than 5% of cow’s milk
Maltose: Two joined-up glucose molecules often used in processed foods
High fructose corn syrup: Where half of the syrup’s glucose has been converted into fructose. This also is found in processed foods, soda’s and put into animal feed. It is this that is causing so much controversy about sugar addiction, obesity and non fatty liver disease.
So try to cut down your sugar and watch your waist come back!
The foods to watch out for are here, including ideas on how to replace them with healthy alternatives:

  • Sugary Cereals Replace with porridge oats, shreddies, wheetabix
  • Supermarket Biscuits and cakes Bake your own and halve the sugar and replace with honey
  • Drinks-alcoholic and non alcoholic soda’s Drink more water-can try slice of lemon in it
  • Ketchup/salad creams Choose the variety that has 50% less salt and sugar
  • Fruit juice Water it down by half and do not drink in-between meals. Eat more whole fruit
  • Cook in sauces Make your own using fresh herbs and raw ingredients
  • Bread Use a bread maker and make your own
  • Chocolate Try dark chocolate instead
  • Jams Use the low sugar varieties
  • Fruit yoghurts Try using plain yoghurt adding fresh fruit and a teaspoon of honey

Two final points: 1) Remember that alcohol is a very fast acting sugar. 2) Note too  that Saccharin and other articifial sweeteners, whilst zero caloried, will promote a liking for/dependancy on  sweetness and can create bad habits in children.

Ref 1-“Sugar sweetened drinks should carry obesity warnings” by Simon Capewell (2014) BMJ 2014;348:g3428
Ref 2- “Fat Chance-the bitter truth about sugar “Robert Lustig
Ref 3-“Mindless Eating” Brian Wansink

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