I bet you’d be surprised to learn the average Canadian consumes 26 teaspoons of sugar per day according to Statistics Canada. This equates to 88 pounds per year or 20 bags! That’s an insane amount of sugar. How is this possible? Where is all this sugar coming from? Well, it’s coming from hidden sources. Big companies LOVE adding sugar to their products because they know we’ll want more and more of it. Sugar is addictive in the same manner opioids are. Sugar addiction is a biological disorder that stimulates the reward (addictive) center of our brain. It makes us feel good so we crave more.
Sugar is the root cause of the obesity epidemic. When we consume too much sugar, it taxes our liver. The liver has to convert the excess sugar into fat and store it. Where is it stored? Our hips, thighs, waist, all over! In addition to the excess weight, there is a rise, especially among children, in the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is heartbreaking. This is a completely PREVENTABLE disease not to mention parents are the ones responsible for most of what a child consumes. This disease is becoming so prevalent that by 2020, it will be the number one reason for liver transplants in the US surpassing Hepatitis C.
Back to where this sugar is coming from. You might think you’re making healthy choices when buying foods but if you’re buying packaged or processed foods then chances are there’s added sugar in there! It doesn’t have to be a bag of candy or a chocolate bar. Those are the obvious offenders. I am referring to the foods you wouldn’t even think sugar is added to. For example, bottled salad dressings. It’s very easy to make salad dressings at home but we buy them in bottles for convenience. And what’s in the bottle? Sugar! As well as refined, high inflammatory oils like canola, soy and/or peanut. Sugar is also added to condiments, energy drinks, prepackaged oatmeal, granola bars, protein bars, crackers, cereals…the list goes on! Chances are, if it came out of package, sugar has been added to it.
So how do you make more informed choices? You have to read the ingredient labels. Don’t think it will be easy right away as companies are allowed to write sugar in many different ways. The best way to find the sugar is to look for words ending in “ose”. If it ends in “o-s-e” like dextrose, maltose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, then it’s a sugar. In addition, the grams of sugar will be listed on the nutrition facts panel. It’s important to keep in mind this will be for the serving size. If the cereal serving contains 10g of sugar per 3/4 cup and you’re eating 1.5 cups of cereal then you have to double the sugar. That’s 20g! The best way to reduce sugar consumption is to limit or better yet avoid packaged/boxed/bottled/processed foods. This means eating real, whole foods. Foods that are grown in the ground and purchased in their original form. This would include (but not limited to):
- Dark leafy greens
- Organic meat
Protein and good fat are essential for keeping your blood sugar balanced especially if you are working to shift your diet away from hidden and refined sugars. Combining the two in a meal or snack with some complex carbohydrates will help keep you satiated.
I hope this inspires you to read the ingredients in the foods you’re buying and encourages you to make shift towards healthier eating.