healthy eating, Nutrition

A “Spoonful” of Sugar

If you are going to declare war, you need to have an enemy. According to almost thirty million Google searches, studies, and documentaries, America has been at war with obesity for years and it is affecting generations of people. In most wars, your enemy stays the enemy, but in this case, our enemy frequently changes its appearance. Is our enemy fat? Caloric intake? Carbohydrates? Our enemies and allies are constantly swapping places and it can get confusing.

A few years ago, the main enemy was caloric intake: we wanted to watch our fat and caloric intake. In order to cut out fats and heavier foods, we found alternate ways to make boring food tastier. We began sweetening everything to make low calorie food taste a little better (sugar packets are relatively low calorie). What does it hurt? Instead of chocolate cake, we would have fruit. But sprinkle a little sugar on top. Coffee – with cream and a couple of sugars. But, make that two or three.

We over-sugar everything, and that trend (and insulin levels) is still on the rise.

“That Sugar Film”

These days, our focus has shifted to a new demon: sugar. Studies have related sugar to be the cause of a variety of chronic diseases and illnesses like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. According to a study by JAMA Internal Medicine, eating a high-sugar diet can put you at a higher risk for dying from heart diseases.

In a 2004 documentary targeting the War on Obesity, Morgan Spurlock ate nothing but McDonald’s for a month. The “Supersize Me” documentary followed Spurlock’s body transformation and psychological changes – which is directly linked to his horrific diet. Educating millions of people of the dangers of fast food and a high fat diet, McDonald’s responded by adding a “Go Active” menu that offered healthier options.

An Australian man, Damon Gameau, set out to demonstrate the same physical deterioration in his documentary where he experimented with an all sugar diet.

This documentary followed Gameau for two-months while he ingested forty teaspoons of sugar a day.  That is the average sugar consumption of Australian men. That is approximately 7 times more sugar that the recommended amount by the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization.

In one particular scene, Gameau sucks down a smoothie that contains one-hundred and thirty nine grams of sugar – that is the equivalent to thirty-four teaspoons of sugar. Five times more than the daily recommended amount, in one drink.

glass-full-sugar-cubes

If you were to consume that amount of sugar in regular food, you would have to eat four and half pizzas. The point is, no one eats food in that quantity.

Perhaps if enough people watch this documentary, the high-sugar diets will fade out and the industry will see a shift like the fast food industry experienced. For the sake of our health, one can only hope.

Not-So-Healthy Substitutes

Honey, agave nectar, and high-fructose corn syrup have the same effects as sugar, although they are frequently viewed as healthy alternatives to using real sugar.

Eating too much of any of those can cause insulin levels to become unstable and can lead to a variety of health diseases. In the past, we were concerned that sugar was causing cavities, obesity, and diabetes. In fact, those are still major concerns, but new concerns have been added to the pot. As research continues, we are finding that a high-sugar diet is also linked to causing liver problems, periodontal disease, strokes, gout, and heart conditions.   

Sugar in moderation (like all things in moderation) is part of a well-balanced diet. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Sugar is being added in large quantities to food that does not naturally have sugar (like the naturally occurring sugar in fruit and dairy products).  Bread, pasta, cereal, and even some soups are being weighed down with sugar and sugar substitutes. This is adding unhealthy amounts of sugar to our diets.

Studies are Solidifying the Enemy

The research is providing a solid foundation on which to build a platform against war.  Very few cities have actually added a sugar tax, but it is becoming more and more prominent as studies are educating us about the risks and dangers of sugar. CBS News reported that in Baltimore city, one in three children are clinically obese.

The soda industry is being targeted due to the high sugar levels in sodas. In July, San Francisco became the first city to require health warnings on sugar-ridden soda advertisements, and other cities won’t be far behind. Philadelphia is struggling to pass their sugar tax, but the American Beverage Association is working hard and spending billions to fight back, claiming this tax will require layoffs and negatively (and unfairly) impact low-income families.  

soda-sugar-intake

The soda tax would be doing consumers a huge favor. Health conditions would be decreased and maybe America wouldn’t be so fat…

Satisfying Your Sweet Tooth

When you are craving sweets, don’t reach for your stash of candy or drink a soda.  Try some of these healthier options that are healthy and will stave off the cravings.

  • Applesauce is a healthy and delicious option when you’re craving something sweet. The natural sugars are healthy and make for a great treat. Buy the no-sugar added kind or try making your own! Replace sugar with equal amounts of applesauce in baked goods for a delicious alternative.
  • Raisins are a great way to get your sugar fix. Filled with antioxidants and fiber, they can be added to recipes for a twist instead of sugar.
  • Cinnamon adds a nice spice to your morning coffee without spiking your insulin levels. This no calorie kick will add a subtle sweetness and boost your immunity.grapefruit-sugar-alternative
  • Grapefruit is a good way to get your daily dose of Vitamin C and kick start your metabolism for the day. A great tart and sour treat!
  • A splash of Lime Juice is a fun way to add some flavor to otherwise boring water. If you really want to get creative, swap out regular water for sparkling water!
  • Balsamic vinaigrettes are a healthy option for salads. The tangy flavor has a hint of sweetness with fewer calories than heavier salad dressings.  Simmer balsamic vinaigrette until it forms a thick syrup and drizzle over angel food cake instead of using cake frosting.
  • Cranberries are a naturally sweet treat. Add them to baked goods instead of adding sugar. Full of antioxidants, they are a healthy alternative.  

 

There are lots of healthy alternatives to consider instead of reaching for something sugary. Try one of our suggestions, or get creative with your own substitutions! The health risks of sugar are real and are very detrimental to your body. By remaining educated about the effect sugar has on your body, you can provide yourself with a healthier lifestyle and reduce the risk of diabetes, liver diseases, and cancer.  

Stay fit, Stay Focused, Stay Healthy.

 

About The Author

Kellie Handley

Kellie is the Social Media Specialist at gymGO. She loves writing blogs, sharing photos, and staying up-to-date on all social media trends. When she's not busy writing or researching her next article, you can find her reading, trying out a new recipe (or restaurant!), binge-watching Netflix, or shopping with her daughter, Caroline.

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