Consuming the least amount of added sugar possible is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Lunch Hour Lesson #1
Added sugar is defined as any sugar added to food and beverages during their processing or cooking.
For example, if you’re making banana bread, the added sugar is the sugar, honey, or molasses that you include to make the bread sweeter. The natural sugars in the banana don’t count as “added sugars”.
There’s nothing wrong with making homemade banana bread at home, even with sugar once in awhile, but the problem arises when a large percentage of the food a person eats is composed of foods made by others in restaurants or as a food product.
Most of the time, foods in restaurants, products marketed to adults and products served to children in school lunches have a high added sugar content. Americans are notorious for their preference for sweet foods, which is like a feedback loop – manufacturers know we like sugar, so put more in, which causes us to like it more, and so more is added.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24-36 grams of added sugar per day for adults and no more than 12 grams of sugar per child per day.
It is important to read nutrition labels and look for the grams of sugar. Many will have a new section that actually says “Added Sugar”, which is great! But make sure that you are noting the serving size as well; it can be deceiving.
Give your body a vacation from sugar, processed foods, and starchy carbohydrates.
In terms of ingredients, added sugars come in many different names, so you have to do some investigating. If you Google “different names for sugar”, you’ll find a lot of information that may surprise you!
It’s a good idea to get educated about these names so you can be a better ingredient label reader. That’s really a skill. If the only thing you look at on a label is the fat or calorie content, I encourage you to start skipping that section entirely and start reading the ingredients. Sometimes they can be hard to find!
So what is actually wrong with added sugar? The main problem with added sugar is that it is an inflammatory substance. It can irritate the lining of our arteries, make our joints hurt, lower our immune response so we get sick more often, and, frustratingly, make us crave more sugar! This can be painful in itself, and lead to weight gain because eventually the sugar just gets stored instead of being used as energy.
Make a list of the different names for sugar and keep it in a place that you can access when you go grocery shopping OR Find two beverages in the store and note the “added sugar” content on the label. 🙂