An image went viral a while back, which showed various drinks and the amount of sugar content they had dissolved in them. If the sight of a bag full of white sugar next to a personal sized Coke did not scare you just a little bit, you have some soul-searching to do.
But just how bad is sugar, really?
Sugar is popularly known as white poison and there is such a thing as sugar addiction. This can occur because our daily diets are usually so full of sugar, they simulate in your brain and this can override your self-control mechanisms, which leads to addiction. In a study conducted by French scientists, it was found that specimen rats, despite being cocaine addicts, chose sugar over cocaine.
It is important to understand that sugar comes in different forms, as well as under different names (maltose, fructose, sucrose etc) and all of these types affect our bodies differently. For example, in cases of Type 2 diabetes, it is not important how many calories a person takes in, rather where those calories are coming from. It is more problematic for you to get say, 150 calories from a soda can, than from any meal you eat.
Even more worrying is the fact that added sugar (processed foods) is many times more likely to lead to diabetes than general calories.
Here are a few candidates for what you should try to cut out of your diet, whether you are diabetic, afraid of diabetes or simply care about your health in general:
Beware of brown and multi-grain breads and make sure you are getting the real deal and not just the prettied-up bread with caramel colouring and, in most cases, added sugar. Always peruse the label first to check the sugar content. A single slice of bread may contain up to 16 grams of sugar. Rye bread is a good alternative to white bread.
Even ‘grown-up’ cereals have sugar in them, and when you top your oats with dried sugar you are probably eating more than the recommended amount of sugar, or at least filling up a whole day’s quota with just one meal.
Granola bars are another product that should be looked out for. They may have a yoghurt or chocolate coating and this is obviously hiking up the sugar calorie counter. It’s also important to check for ingredients like dextrose, brown sugar syrup or corn syrup all of which contain sugar calories.
- Packaged Sauces and Soups
Pasta sauces aren’t sweet but they often have about 6-12 grams of sugar per half-cup mixed up in them.
- Supplements, particularly protein supplements
There are a variety of ‘hidden’ names that are given to sugar, which comes from genetically-modified corn, like ‘juice’ or ‘concentrate’ and artificial sweeteners are worse. All the supplements that come with flavouring obviously also have sugar content.
Focus Performance sports supplements are sugar and artificial sweetener free, including their whey and hemp proteins; a good option of you want to avoid sugar altogether.
- Packaged Baked Beans
It’s a better option to make your own beans at home, because the ones you’ll get at the store will contain additives and lots of sugar.
A smart thing to do is to always check food labels, whether the product is organic or not. Even ‘lite’ or low fat foods may have added sugar in them. It is also handy to remember that one teaspoon of sugar is about 4 grams, so if you ever need help imagining how much sugar is in the product you’re buying, just divide the sugar content on the label, by 4.