We all know that too much sugar is unhealthy – it restricts hormones that limit your appetite (makes you binge eat), increases fat-buildup in your liver, forces your pancreas to send out excessive amounts insulin (higher likelihood of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease) – but often we don’t realize that there is sugar hidden in many of the “healthy” foods we eat.
When companies produce “low-fat” options, often they make up for the loss in flavor by adding sugar. A bowl of yogurt, poached fruit, and honey seems very healthy on the surface, but can have around half an adult woman’s recommended daily amount of sugar. We know drinking a can of Coke is bad, but fruit juice and smoothies are also culprits that cloak large amounts of sugar behind an expectation of being a low-fat, healthy option.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- READ THE LABEL – these mean “sugar” when you see them on a label: corn syrup, dextrose, barley malt, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, caramel, and turbinado
- Stop adding (or add less) sugar to your coffee/tea
- Know what sugar you’re eating – table sugar is glucose & fructose, which goes straight to the liver, as opposed to lactose (dairy) and maltose (beer), which are processed by multiple organs
- Know how much you’re eating. 4-5 grams is about 1 teaspoon, and a good ballpark per day is about 6 teaspoons
- Natural sugar is still sugar. When you eat honey, agave syrup, etc. you are still putting sugar into your body
- Beware of fruit juices, as they often have very sugary additives. Even ones that say “all natural sugar” or “no added sugar” can include high fructose fruit sugars. A couple glasses can bring you close or above your daily limit
Here are some ideas for alternatives when kicking the sugar habit:
- Drink water instead of juice
- Try cooking with dextrose, which is largely glucose instead of fructose
- Try xylitol or stevia as natural sugar substitutes
- Eat the apple > drinking the apple juice – when combined with fiber (which is lost in juice), sugar is healthier
- VEGGIES, VEGGIES, VEGGIES! If you are making smoothies, you should use a majority of vegetables with a small amount of fruit for the healthiest drink