Let’s talk sugar.
This has to be the biggest betrayal of my life. 12 teaspoons of hidden sugar in my typical lunch time meal from a well known “health” chain. 12!
When you learn to read labels, and understand them i.e. 1 teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to 3.5g of sugar on a label, then you start to see the truth oh so clearly. We’re unknowingly being poisoned by added sugar.
You know a lot of medical professionals are tagging Alzheimers as type 3 Dibeties these days. Sugar has a hell of a lot to account for.
So, with haste, let’s take control of the sugar crisis for ourselves. It’s surprising easy to do when you know how.
First, the measurement – 3.5g of sugar per teaspoon. Work out what this looks like for each item you usually purchase or are thinking about purchasing in the supermarket. Check out your fridge and cupboards. I threw away about a third of my products (part-used my I add, but with the knowledge I now have, giving them away might well have made me feel pangs of guilt!).
Second, quit the fruit juice, squash (added to water), and junk food. The amount of sugar in these products is astounding. For instance, the orange juice I’ve purchased before now had 4 teaspoons of sugar – per glass! What many don’t know is that when fruit is juiced (even if you do this at home yourself), the fibre in the fruit is eliminated leaving only the fructose, which is pure sugar. No nutritional value whatsoever.
Junk food is much the same, and to be honest I’ve extended this line of thought, supported by a ton of research, to all processed foods. Junk food isn’t food, and it’s changed the way we view and consume food, which is extremely sad.
Thirdly, watch out for dressings and sauces. If you go to a restaurant or pick up a lunch tray from a well known chain, ask for or buy one with the dressing and/or sauce on the side. Both are typically packed with sugar, e.g. BBQ sauce is usually around 55% sugar. I mean really.
Fourth, try not to substitute with sweeteners. When you taste sugar your body thinks sugar is coming and gets ready for it. It leaves you with an even bigger craving than before. I now view it similarly to methadone for crack addicts. And in case you think that’s extreme, Mark Hyman, a physician, scholar and New York Times best-selling author, has research to suggest sugar is 8 times as addictive as cocaine. I’m serious.
And fifth, so.. fat.. right, so that’s actually good for you as part of a balanced diet. All the crap we’ve been fed about reducing fat and all the many low-fat options available – they have stripped the taste and replaced all that reduced flavour with… you guessed it, twice the sugar. Basically, read “half the fat” as “double the sugar”.
These days I’m pretty relaxed about life. But I have to say, this has got me angry.
Very few people seem to realise what is being added without their knowledge. My inquisitive nature sparked after watching Food.Inc on Amazon Prime, a free documentary. It’s not even about sugar, but concerns the food industry (in the US) in connection with meat and poultry. It led me to researching food in general, and my goodness, what a box to open. But what sparked the most interest, and utter horror if I’m frank, is hidden sugar in what we consume.
What the food industry labels as healthy, as diet-friendly, is nothing but a lie. Once you go digging there’s a lot to find, it’s just being successfully suppressed by that industry. Many parallels are being drawn with the tobacco industry 20 years ago. Tobacco industry leaders swore under oath that it didn’t cause disease, that didn’t cause lung cancer. We all know now that they lied through their teeth, but people didn’t know THEN. We’re facing the same paradox with sugar consumption.
I mentioned the newly coined “type 3 Diabetes” earlier – well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The number of diseases that a high sugar diet is linked to is overwhelming. Study after study makes the link between increased sugar consumption over the last 30 years with the increase in child obesity. Child obesity was rare 30 years ago – what’s changed? Hmm.
Lastly, I have to say I’ve been shocked by what I’ve been able to find on this. The research is more than compelling, it’s knockout. But what I have realised as well, is it’s manageable – you can choose better without lots of time and effort spent:
- Check labels, calculate teaspoons of sugar per product by dividing by 3.5g
- Cut out junk and juice now !
- Be conscious of what is in your dressings and sauces.
- Don’t fake sugar.
- Don’t buy reduced fat products.
- Stay active, it still counts toward around 30% of your weight management, and has huge health benefits.
- Get educated, watch and read it for yourself. If you’re just getting started, watch “That Sugar Film” by Damon Gameau. It really is worth it. Other sources of information can be found on podcasts such as “Sugar Podcast”, and some other famous names in the fight against added sugar are Dr. Robert Lustig, Stephanie Soechtig, Dr. David Ludwig and Sarah Wilson.
So, to everyone opening the box to this travesty, I hope this is the start of your empowerment in managing your health and wellbeing in a new way. I can only hope the people wave on this will start to create real change at a grass roots level. I feel this might be the only way to topple the food industry lies, and curb the disease-ridden futures a lot of our population are facing.
After 2 weeks of cutting added sugar I’m heading out of the withdrawal phase – I woke up with headaches most days and felt a little agitated in the middle of the working day when I’d normally get my sugary caffeine fix post-lunch – but on the whole it’s been relatively easy, and I know it was worth that short phase of relative difficulty. I feel like this is a really easy choice, an easy enough tweak to my lifestyle. It might not be for everyone, but I guess a lot of it is up to the individual, and their own bloody mindedness to make a change.
If it helps my normal day of food and drink now looks like this:
- Roughly 50-100ml of water at the gym.
- Shredded wheat with a tablespoon of oats, sugar free almond milk, handful of almonds, teaspoon of chia seeds, half teaspoon of cinnamon powder, OR two thin slices of rye bread, small amount of butter, and marmite.
- Salad (usually green leaves, beetroot, fresh herbs) and poached salmon, OR green leaves, lentils, beetroot puree and feta.
- Roughly 50ml of water.
- Artisan coffee with full fat milk.
- Mixed nuts (unsalted) or banana.
- 2 “shots” of coconut water (never from concentrate).
- Palm-sized portion of chicken or fish, grilled and/or stir-fried vegetables (at least 3) and a small portion of sweet potato or rye bread.
- Roughly 50ml of water.
- Small portion of blueberries.
- One piece of 90% cocoa dark chocolate.
I’ve lost 2.5kg in 2 weeks – the only thing I’ve done is reduce my added sugar intake – NOT my calories. My daily calorie intake has actually gone up ever so slightly. And this is the the big learning about calories – a calorie isn’t just a calorie. It depends what food source that calorie is coming from as to how it’s burned. A “sugar calorie” is more often than not turned into fat – fat and protein calories are often not.Blowing your mind, right! Sugar with no fibre attached just hits your liver with force. Here’s the science-y bit – I promise it’s worth the read…
The only organ that can metabolise sugar is the liver. Highly active individuals (we’re talking athletes) can eat quite a bit of fructose without problems, because their livers will turn the fructose into glycogen – a storage form of glucose in the liver. However, when someone’s liver is already full of glycogen (which is true of most people), the fructose is turned into fat, contributing to fatty liver disease. At the same time, your liver becomes insulin resistant, which can lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome and many other diseases. Eventually, the pancreas will become unable to secrete sufficient insulin to drive blood glucose into cells. At this point, blood sugar levels elevate significantly, and that’s when a diagnosis of Diabetes is made.
This is what’s going so wrong with the world of health, all those fatty waistlines and clogged arteries. Hidden sugar is the hidden truth we’ve been needing to hear for so long now. Let it be known.