With September marking back to school and the end of summer vacation, how can you get back on track with meals and avoid the sugary trap of snacks and treats? It is important to understand the facts about sugar so that it is easier to make informed healthy choices for yourself and your family.
Sugar, or sucrose, is a naturally occurring chemical that is made up of fructose and glucose. Fructose is found in fruits, vegetables and honey. Glucose is the main sugar molecule found in the blood and is important as a primary source of energy for us. When sugar is refined all the vitamins and minerals that were in the natural sources are taken out and we are left with just the sucrose and empty calories. According to Statistics Canada back in 2004 the average Canadian consumed 110 grams of sugar daily. Drinks are among the top sources of sugar, and include milk, fruit juice, pop and fruit drinks.
Sugar is often added to other foods to enhance flavour and as a preservative to keep foods longer. Sugar might be hidden in the ingredients so it is important to look at labels and see if any of the following are listed:
- Glucose/ Fructose
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Cane Juice
- Syrup (corn, malt, golden, maple, refiner’s)
One teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams of the listed foods. High fructose corn syrup is added to many foods to make then last longer and because it is very sweet and cheap to produce.
Beyond cavities and diabetes, sugar also affects our hormones and liver function, which can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, mood changes, poor concentration and skin issues like acne. Besides the fact that added sugar has no nutrients, just calories, it creates a double hit on your health by making it harder for your body to absorb certain nutrients and also by depleting your body of key vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B’s, calcium, potassium and magnesium. Simple sugars cause inflammation in the body and can suppress your immune system for up to 4 hours! It is linked to chronic disease and actually can age you because of a process where it creates Advanced Glycation End products.
If it is white, refined and packaged – leave it on the shelf. If you still eat breads and pastas make sure they are whole grain options and only have small amounts. Make sure to eat regular amounts of fiber, healthy fats and proteins to keep blood sugar stable and avoid cravings. Eat more fiber to keep blood sugars balanced, slow sugar absorption into the body and lower cholesterol levels.
Dates can be used instead of table sugar for baking and sweets. Also think about using honey or maple syrup if you have to have a little bit of sweet in your coffee. Don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, these have been shown to increase cravings more than plain sugar! The less sugar you eat the less you crave it, so start with some simple substitutions and reading labels to put you on the fast track to beating the sugar trap!
For the full article visit Little Chewz for their September newsletter