It seems every time I study a disease, sugar is one of the main culprits. Ok so we all know SUGAR is bad, but why can’t we resist. Over the last 20 years as we have seen certain diseases on the rise (obesity in adults up 10%, obesity in children up 30% and diabetes has steadily increased in the last 10 years, with now over 366 million world wide, with an estimation of 552 million by 2030 – OUCH!). If we look at other culprits, such as fat, we have actually decreased our consumption over that past 20 years. Sugar consumption on the other hand is still on the rise: 20 years ago an average sugar consumption was 333 of our total daily calories, today we are closer to 400 total calories (to picture this….think of 23 tsp of sugar – if you were not aware…the average recommended daily limit for sugar is 6-9 tsp).
So why can’t we resist sugar….
- Portions are on the rise, so is sugar. Most foods that you associate with sugar (beverages being the largest culprit) average portion size has increased, thus the amount of sugar has increased without you even knowing: take a coffee at the local coffee shop, the medium now looks like a large, and a large looks like a canister! This is the same for beverage size, in 1980 a large soda at a fast food restaurant was 21 oz., in 1990 that large became 32 oz.
- Let’s set the record straight: sugar is in everything: so we know that donuts, cakes and ice cream have sugar, but the list does not stop there: sugar is in many foods that you would not associate it with: 3 tbsp of ketchup has 1 tsp of sugar, 1 cup of lowfat flavoured yogurt can has over 6 tsp of sugar, 4 slices of luncheon meat has 1 tsp of sugar…it can add up fast!
- It taste amazing, and your taste buds know it! Your taste buds are conditioned that the more sweet they get, the more they want. The good news is that taste buds are short lived and if you work at it, you can easily condition yourself to like less of a sweet taste. Try it, this week if you are use to consuming a double double coffee, switch to a regular, on day one, your taste buds will be asking for more sugar, by the end of the second week, your taste buds will be use to less sweet, then try to order a double double, you will cringe at how sweet it is.
- The more you have…the more you want: Some would argue that sugar provides a greater neurological reward than that of the drug cocaine. Its not only the reward when we consume sugar, the feeling also occurs when we look at withdrawal from sweet as well, indicating that getting off sugar may cause the same neurological symptoms as withdrawing from nicotine, morphine and alcohol.
5 STEPS to REDUCE SUGAR
- Commit and know why you want to change: sugar is an easy food to eat, before you come up with a game plan of tricks to reduce sugar, you have to make sure that you are ready to take it out. If not…excuses will come in the way…”I did not want to throw out the piece of cake, so I ate it…we were at a party and I could not say no to dessert”. If you are committed to reducing the sugar, it will take some tough love.
- Take out the obvious: at home clear out the sugary foods (cookies, cakes, ice cream), at work (the candy bowl), avoid the sugar beverages at your next restaurant outing.
- Take out the not so obvious: sugar is in everything, if you are eating processed foods, there is sugar, commit to trying natural replacements for some of your favorite processed foods (homemade salad dressings, grilling meat for lunch vs. luncheon meats, water with steeped tea vs fruit juice).
- Find alternative foods: mcc has a great list of recipes and meal plans that are satisfying and sugar reduced. There are many cookie, muffin and snack bar recipes that are sugar free, try our popular seed cookie, this is a sugar free, high fibre cookie that has become an mcc favorite.
- Find alternative things to do: most people eat sugar when they have free time, it becomes a reward. Have a list of 5 things you would like to do with your free time that do not include food: remember you have to enjoy what you do, do not pick reading a book, if you do not enjoy to read.