It is estimated that the average Briton consumes as much as 700 grams of sugar a week in their diet. By understanding sugar’s negative effects on your health and learning smarter eating habits you can banish the sweet habit for good.
According to the 2008-2011 National Diet and Nutritional Survey, the average Briton consumes approximately 700 grams of sugar per week. The addition of sugar to the human diet is a recent phenomenon (in the last 150 years), as sugar became cheap to produce. No other mammal consumes as much sugar as we do and humans are facing alarming rates of obesity and diabetes in the U.K. and worldwide. Diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases (including heart attack), stroke, kidney failure, degenerative eye disease and poor circulation which can lead to leg amputations. Diets high in sugar raise insulin levels and energy is stored in fat cells rather than being utilised by the body.
Action on Sugar
A group of high-profile scientists and doctors have rallied together to form the organisation Action on Sugar to combat the worldwide obesity and diabetes epidemic. The organisation is targeting food manufacturers to reduce the amount of sugar added to food and soft drinks, which will result in a reduction in calories consumed by the public. The organisation assert that refined sugar offers no nutritional value and has no place in people’s dietary requirements.
Do you know what you’re eating?
Sugar is everywhere often hiding in many everyday foods, from breakfast cereals to yoghurts and fizzy drinks to protein bars. Low-fat foods are one of the worst culprits as food manufacturers pump these products full of sugar to compensate for the taste. Do you know how much sugar you are consuming?
- Baked beans—15 grams of sugar per serving
- Children’s fruity cereal—14 grams of sugar per serving
- Coca-Cola—39 grams of sugar per serving
- Fruit yoghurt—26 grams of sugar per serving
- Grande latte—17 grams of sugar
- Muesli—18 grams of sugar per serving
- Orange juice—20 grams of sugar per serving
- Protein bar—23 grams of sugar
- Tomato soup—15 grams of sugar per serving
Sugar by another name
Sugar is a refined sweet-flavoured carbohydrate typically obtained from sugar cane, beet and corn. It is important to be familiarised with other names sugar goes by on labels:
- Agave nectar
- Corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High fructose corn syrup
- Hydrolysed starch
- Invert sugar
- Rice syrup
How to say goodbye to sugar
Breaking bad habits is not always easy. First evaluate your eating habits for two consecutive weeks and then you can review where you can make positive adjustments.
- Know thy sugars—familiarise yourself with sugar and its aliases so you can make educated decisions.
- Opt for Paleo-style eating—lean meats, proteins, plenty of leafy greens, vegetables and limited fruits.
- Learn to cook—this is the best way of controlling what is going into your body.
- Limit the amount of processed foods—if it comes from a box, tin, package, takeaway or drive-thru, try and limit these as a treat.
- Cut back on the fizzy or sweetened drinks—these offer no nutritional value; try water infused with fresh fruit or herbal teas instead.
- Put down the drink—alcohol acts like sugar and increases the body’s insulin levels, which can lead to fatty liver disease.
- Eat the skin—if you eat fruit with edible skin, always eat the skin which provides essential fibre.
- Add coconut oil or stevia—this is an alternative sweetener for coffees and teas.
- Watch out for sauces—these are a haven for sugar, especially tomato-based sauces. For salads, opt for oil and vinegar-based dressings and for condiments opt for mustard or hot sauce.
Evaluate your eating habits and see what healthy modifications you can make to banish the sweet habit. Practise what Action on Sugar’s Dr. Robert Lustig suggests, “We need to make sugar a treat, not a diet staple.”