“Eat less sugar if you want to live longer. The end” says Steve from Nerd Fitness
- doesn’t contain any vitamins or minerals (empty calories)
- causes deposition of fat in your liver
- harms your cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- causes insulin resistance
- is addictive, to mention a few.
So WHAT do we do? Let’s assume we all know already how bad sugar is, but we would still like to indulge in cookies, cakes and so on now and then.
You see, the problem isn’t that piece of cake you enjoy every Sunday. The problem is also not so much the sugar in itself. The real problem is the massive amounts, tons and tons of “added sugar” that can be found in pretty much everything we eat and drink nowadays – from cola, candy bars, ketchup, beer, yoghurt, ready-made sauces, tv-dinners, etc.
That’s also nothing new and it’s definitely not a surprise to many of the companies that manufacture food. The biggest problem is that many of them companies disguise the sugar content in their food, so it’s not as apparent how much sugar you are consuming. Let’s face it, they are not in business to keep you healthy. They are in business to sell you as much of their convenient, ready-made sauce/meals/candies as they can.
Here is a quick list of what sugar can be listed as on a label:
- raw sugar
- brown sugar
- cane crystals
- cane sugar
- agave nectar
- malt syrup
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- crystalline fructose
Having said all that, a few years ago I decided to cut down on sugar and start paying close attention to food labels and choosing lower sugar or, even better, sugar-free versions, just so I can keep the sugar level as low as possible.
And here I am, surely a FREAK when it comes to added sugar to my foods.
Another thing to watch out for is how to pick “sugar-free” products. Make sure that they really just don’t contain added sugar instead of just replacing it with other potentially harmful chemicals.
Here I go with my 5 top sources of added sugar I avoid in my diet …
1. Sugar, preserves and confectionery – I choose a FRUIT instead.
We all have a sweet tooth, but there are so many lower sugar alternatives. For example, when I crave for something sweet, I grab a banana or a square or two of dark chocolate. I added dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 81-85%, which usually contains a lot less sugar than plain or milk chocolate.
2. Non-alcoholic drinks – I choose WATER instead.
I said NO MORE EVERYDAY to soft drinks and other non-alcolholic beverages, which is perhaps the biggest source of added sugar in our diet. Most fizzy drinks are basically refined sugar with water and flavoring. Let’s do a little experiment: a regular can of cola contains 35g of sugar.
Do you know how much that is? Let’s get a kitchen scale and pour sugar on it until we hit the 35g mark. See that mountain of sugar? That’s about 10 teaspoons right there.
So therefore I drink water. In case I drink a fruit juice, I most of the times go for the FRUIT form, not juice form as I still want to load on fiber and all nutrients left behind in the squeezing process.
You are gonna think now but what about the big debate “Is fruit sugar bad for you?” Honestly, I believe the consumption of fruit is beneficial.
You see when you consume fruit, you are not only consuming fructose, but also consuming fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. I know that fruit can have an effect in your blood sugar (it is sugar), but let’s be fair that generally fruit will cause less of a blood sugar spike compared to raw sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
3. Biscuits, buns, cakes – I choose my own creation instead.
I avoid pastries, biscuits, cakes and other cereal-based foods from the store (they are comforting but often high in sugar and trans-fat) and opted for rolled oats topped with natural yoghurt, berries, nuts and seeds. There are seriously many healthy options that will keep you feeling satisfied and full of energy throughout the day.
4. Alcohol drinks – I choose to only drink once in a while.
Did you know that gram for gram, alcohol contains more calories (7kcal/g) than carbohydrates or protein (4kcal/g)?!
Do you want a few tips on cutting down? :) Probably not, but I am still gonna go tell them:
- have a few alcohol-free days each week
- try lower alcohol drinks
- have a small bottle of beer instead of a can
5. Flavored dairy products – I choose the plain ones instead.
Although dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt contain lactose (milk sugar is a type of sugar that doesn’t damage our teeth), these foods also contain protein and calcium and are part of a healthy balanced diet. However, some diary products, like flavored milk, flavored yoghurts and so on, contain added sugar ( table sugar, fructose, concentrates fruit juice and glucose-fructose syrup).
Watch out for the sugar content in lower fat yogurts though. It kind of makes sense that when you remove the fat from a product, you also remove some of the flavor, so sugar is often added to improve the taste. So “low in fat” can still be high in sugar and calories. Often times it turns out that the plain version is healthier than its low-fat counterpart.
If you’re curious about how much sugar you are consuming, check out SugarStacks.com , which gives you a simple visual aid as to the amount you’re pumping into your body with everyday products from the supermarket.
At the end of the day, you are in control. And if you are going to eat chocolate or something sweet, it should be because you made a conscious decision to do so occasionally, not because you HAD TO HAVE IT.
You can change your bad habits NOW. I’d love to hear about your sugar addiction. Would you call yourself addicted?
If you want to find more about what sugar is and why should you avoid it, I made a short list with the best articles regarding this topic: