We all have special moments linked to food. Food is what brings us together time and time again. When we celebrate or mourn, we come together to nourish our bodies with food that keeps our bodies and souls healthy.
We receive food to celebrate when we have a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation, a first day of a new job or a new school. We also have food given to us when a loved one passes away or someone is sick. Most of us can recall that moment, when our troubles seemed a little better because we shared or received a meal or dessert from a friend or family. Hence the comfort of food…it’s definitely tied into the way we are nourished physically and mentally. As a child, most of us remember an ice cream date with a parent or family member and this tradition continues today.
The problem is the sugar consumption in America has gotten completely out of control. According to the Angeles Institute, the average American is consuming an additional 57 LBS. of sugar a year. The CDC recommends “Americans should keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories as part of a healthy diet. For example, in a 2,000 daily calorie diet no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars”. This is approximately 6 teaspoons. Naturally occurring sugars are not in this number. This number does not include sugar in fruits, juices and dairy products.
This is where it can get confusing. For example a can of coke of U.S origin has 39 grams of high fructose corn syrup. A 12 oz. glass of orange juice has the about the same amount of sugar-but it’s naturally occurring. Is the orange juice better? Of course! But that is still an excessive of amount sugar on a regular basis.Yes! I suggest, along with many in the health field,to avoid or minimize juice and eat the whole fruit instead. There are also a number of other products that have “hidden” processed sugars in them that consumers should be aware of: such as bread, salad dressings and condiments among others.
Manufacturers have made it even more challenging, incorporating over 61 different names for sugar and the number is growing constantly. The top names for added refined sugar are: agave nectar, barbados, barley malt, barley malt syrup, beet sugar, brown sugar, and cane juice. For the sake of space, if you would like to know all the names of sugars currently-check out www.sugarscience.ucsf.edu.
Most people know sugar has been linked to obesity. But it has also been linked to anxiety, depression, inflammation in joints, cancer, heart disease, gut imbalance, sleep disturbances, and chronic diseases. More and more information is coming out all the time about the evils of excess sugar consumption.
With all this information, what is my advice? Keep sugar to a minimum level. Don’t stop eating fruit, but eat ones lower in sugar more frequently than those that are higher. I prefer to eat berries in my smoothies almost every day because I have found that they are low in sugar and nutritionally dense. Additionally, keeping a paleo, lower carb or keto diet generally works well for most people. Celebrate special occasions, don’t take the joy out of that—in my case I feel much more joy feeling better and eating gluten free treats now and then.
I always tell clients, if you can’t get over a craving after an hour—and you’ve hydrated, walked, done some work to get past the craving-just do it. If you want a chocolate chip cookie do your best to make it the BEST chocolate chip cookie whether for you that’s paleo, gluten free or a traditional chocolate chip cookie—with whole ingredients-REAL ingredients. Then move on…and enjoy other wholesome foods that feed your body. Don’t get stuck! Sugar is proven to be addictive, so the longer you don’t eat it, the easier it will be to eat it less!
I urge you if you are consuming too much sugar, to try a week of eating less…you will find you feel better. Your body will thank you for it! We can still have all the amazing relationships we do around food and eat less sugar. You will feel better to enjoy those occasions to the utmost as well.
All the best,