Ohhh honey, honey…
The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons a day for women and and 9 for men. But the average American consumes 22 teaspoons!
Ok, so we’ve got quite the sweet tooth. What’s the big deal?
A recent documentary, That Sugar Film (released July 31st) is to the refined sugar industry what Super Size Me was to fast food.
Damon Gameau, Australian author-director, is the guinea pig of his experiment. He documents the physical and emotional effects of consuming a diet containing 40 teaspoons of sugar daily (the average in Australia).
But he doesn’t head right to the bakery counter or candy isle- instead, he derives his intake solely from foods that are supposed to be healthy- granola bars, low-fat yogurts, cereals, pasta with tomato sauce, salad dressings, teriyaki dishes….
Within the first 18 days, he showed signs of fatty liver disease. By the end of the month, his doctors informed him that he was at high risk for heart disease and had developed the early stages of Type 2 Diabetes. He had gained significant weight, couldn’t focus, experienced mood swings, and was always hungry. He had been a normal, healthy adult, ate a balanced diet with limited sugar, and he had maintained his moderate, regular exercise. Most surprisingly… he was consuming the same number of calories!
Could hidden, added sugars be affecting your health?
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
1) Mind the math! 4 grams is approximately equal to 1 teaspoon. Think about portions and be considerate of serving sizes- they are tricky on purpose.
2) Familiarize yourself with sugar’s alternative names that are “aliases” (they have the same effect on your body). Lists of a sneaky 46, 50, 56 of them are everywhere!
3) Limit processed foods as much as possible. Eat real food! A common theme of JeniFit Deflate Your Weight (DYW): “If it came from a plant, eat it- if it was made in a plant, avoid it!” Nutrition expert Mark Hyman explains that there are 600,000 processed food items in our environment, and 80% of them contain added sugar.
4) Quench your thirst with water and unsweetened teas. Avoid sodas, juices and sweetened beverages. A 20-ounce bottle of soda contains the equivalent of approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar. Fruit juices are loaded with sugar and don’t provide the benefits of fiber from the whole fruit to nourish us and keep us full!
An unfortunate note on artificial sweeteners, for those of us who enjoy a Diet Coke…
Nutrition Source from the Harvard School of Public Health explains:
“The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.”
So.. they may actually be worse…
All of this is pretty mind-boggling.
5) But keep in mind that you’re not alone! Breaking up is hard to do- Sugar is a drug. Studies have shown that sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. Rats that were previously addicted to cocaine switched to sugar and were 8 times more willing to work for what has become a common staple of our diet than for the high-profile, illegal drug.
But there is hope!!
The FDA proposed on the 24th of last month (right before That Sugar Film came out… timely!) that the amount of added sugars that processed foods contain must be listed as a percentage of the recommended daily caloric intake. Last year they had proposed that added sugars be listed on the labels, but that we would have to pull up the calculator app on our phones to figure it out ourselves. They will be computing the figure for us now. It’s the least they can do…
You can watch That Sugar Film online. Please be warned that there are graphic images.