The Sugar Epidemic
Do you know how much sugar you consume each day or each week?
What if you began measuring that? How would you do it? Gone are the days of scooping a spoonful of sugar with reckless abandon on our foods – some still do this I suppose, but it’s less common.
The sugar content in our drinks, with various code names, and highly processed foods are a constant, unseen force in the average American diet. Recently, it’s been found that over 80% of the foods in our grocery stores have some kind of added sugar.
Hidden sugar in our foods has become an epidemic. Just look at the many names of sugar now.
When I did my Fit2Fat2Fit journey, I consumed a constant stream of highly processed food. The sugary cereals and soda drinks filled me up fast, but then I was hungry again only a couple hours after that. My blood sugar levels spiked and then crashed. My body told me I was hungry again and I chowed down some more. It became a “dietary death spiral” habit that put 70 pounds of layered fat on my man-boobs, stomach, and thighs. There were cravings. There was regret. I was stuck in a vicious cycle.
Your Fast-food Sugar Fix
We already know that fast-food isn’t the best for us. But guess what? It just got worse! A recent study found that McDonald’s food has more calories, sugar and salt than it did 30 years ago. Despite chain’s pledges to be healthier, sugar was found to be 3 times higher in its burgers, like the Big Mac and Filet-O-Fish. At the same time, levels of protein have greatly decreased in most burgers and chicken nuggets. This information, based on a news article and research from this British think-tank really is not a surprise. The more they pump addictive substances into their “food”, the more likely you are to become hooked into a habit. Bad news for sure!
Avoiding Sugar: Your choice or the government’s?
Two months ago, it was reported that the country of Norway enacted a new tax on sweets and sugary drinks. Why? Well, they considered the obesity rate of children a public health issue. One in six Norwegian children is overweight, while that number is 1 in 3 in the U.S. and in England.
In this scenario, all sweetened drinks, including “diet” drinks with artificial sweetener, are now taxed at about 50 cents a liter. The Minister of Public Health in Norway stated, “…we have also a lot of campaigns about eating five greens a day, more fruits, eating fish, whole grain products and of course also being active out in nature and so on.”
In response to the sugar tax, leaders in the food industry have agreed to reformulate their recipes, with some cutting up to 80% of sugar content.
This is good news.
But, will you wait for the government to limit your sugar?
What if you took a more proactive approach? That’s what thousands of my followers are doing – and you can too!
How Sugar is Made
While growing up in Southern California, my grandparents from Hawaii would visit and they told some amazing stories of island living and folklore. One story my grandfather shared was about how sugar is made. Our ancestors worked the sugarcane fields and, as a boy he toured the factories that processed the cane into the refined, white sugar grains. He famously told us grandkids,
“If you saw how they made sugar, you wouldn’t want to eat it!”
See the video: How Cane Sugar Is Made
This didn’t make sense to me then. I was like most kids who loved candy bars and filled up my bag while trick-or-treating on Halloween. But these are words of wisdom to me now.
Sweet, sweet sugar. It’s addictive, delicious, and absolutely terrible for your body. Sugar will always be the ultimate death knell for your weight loss and fitness strategy. Before you can understand why you should avoid sugar, it’s important to understand how your body processes it.
How Our Bodies Process Sugar
You’ve just eaten a meal that contains sugar (in its many forms and many names), what happens next? When sugar is consumed, it eventually makes its way to the bloodstream. Your pancreas reacts and releases insulin to regulate the excess sugar.
The amount of insulin released is proportionate to how much sugar is present in the blood. Therefore, a higher amount of insulin is released if there happens to be a lot of sugar in your bloodstream. The insulin works to store the glucose in your muscles and liver as “glycogen.” Likewise, the insulin also begins storing the glucose in fat cells.
This process is often extremely unbalanced, especially in cases where sugar is entering the body at an extremely rapid rate. In this case, the pancreas releases too much insulin, causing the body’s blood sugar to dip much lower than normal levels.
When this happens, the body experiences a sugar crash. The body’s natural response is to crave more sugar, and from there, the process inevitably restarts. It’s an incredibly vicious cycle, and it is a huge culprit behind weight gain.
How to Spot Sugar in Foods
Now you’re probably thinking, “So, I’ll just cut back on my sugar intake.” While this is a step in the right direction, the problem is that food companies know the general public is learning to avoid sugar. This is why they’re starting to disguise sugar with various new names in the ingredients portion. <<<See sidebar above>>>____
Sugar is even found in substitutes that promise “healthy alternatives.” In my experience, sugar alternatives usually contain hidden forms of sugar, or there isn’t enough research available to know exactly what’s in the product. My advice is to just avoid these types health gimmicks altogether.
As far as developing a plan of action for avoiding sugar, it’s always good to aim for real foods when grocery shopping. In essence, if a food product has a commercial, it’s likely bad for you. Stay up on the current trends in sugar and its related pseudonyms, and keep your intake at a strict minimum. Substitute that sweet tooth with some fruit or a homemade smoothie. Cutting your sugar intake will significantly boost your fitness journey!
Look for sugar content on the labels of your food purchases. Find the pseudonyms and list them or post a picture to this hashtag: #SurvivingSugar
Also, take a picture and post it of a meal that is sugar free or a substitute for your sweet tooth craving!
Learn more about how to kick sugar: