A diet high in sugar is associated with numerous health problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, cancer and cavities. Sugar that is added to food (i.e. granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates) is called "added sugar" and can have harmful effects on the body. Natural sugars are found in whole fresh fruits and vegetables and there is no evidence that they pose any negative effects on health.
The World Health Organization recommends that Canadian adults and children consume less than 10% of their total energy from added sugars. To see health benefits, consumption should be reduced to 5% of total energy. For the average adult consuming 2000 calories per day, this would amount to 100 calories or 5 tsp of added sugar per day! In 2014, Canadians consumed approximately 13% of their total energy from added sugars. However, this number does not take into account added sugars from some food groups, therefore, it is safe to assume that the amount of added sugar consumed by Canadians is much higher than the estimate of 13%.
Ways to cut back on sugar in your diet:
1. Don't drink your sugar. Switch your pop and juice to water, milk, unsweetened soy or almond milk.
2. Read the ingredients and Nutrition Facts Table carefully for added sugars. There are many forms of sugar that manufacturers use in products. Look for words like dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, invert sugar, cane juice, maltodextrin, caramel, malt syrup, to name a few. Ingredients are written in order of highest to lowest weight, so avoid products that list a form of added sugar as the top three or four ingredients.
3. If a food is low fat or fat free, chances are there is added sugar in it.
4. Cut back on processed foods. Sugar is added to most processed foods and can add up if your diet mostly consists of eating boxed, frozen or fast foods. Eat foods in their whole form as much as possible, such as eating an apple vs drinking apple juice out of a box.
5. Add fruit to sweeten foods, such as berries on cereal and oatmeal.
6. Eat sugar in moderation. If you normally have 2 tsp of sugar in your coffee, try to reduce it to 1 tsp. When you are baking, use less than half the amount of sugar the recipe calls for or substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you are still finding it challenging to reduce your sugar intake and need professional guidance, come and see me for a one on one coaching session!