Have you ever tried quitting added sugar? What foods did you skip if you want to avoid sugar?
The obvious ones are soft drinks, cookies, ice cream and desserts, but what about breakfast cereals and snack bars that are supposed to be healthy, high in fibre and low in fat?
According to the NHS in the UK, adults should have no more than 30g of added sugars a day. "Added sugars" are sugars or syrups that are added by food and drinks manufacturers when they process their products, i.e. these are on top of what is naturally occuring in the food.
For reference, one teaspoon is 4.2g, so an average limit of 30g for an adult is equivalent to 7.14 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day.
Take a look at the infographics, by having a 12 oz. can of soft drink, anyone can exceeded the 30g daily allowance easily.
For kids, simply having a McDonald ice cream with 18g of sugars, there is just enough room for 1.5 oreo cookies before the limit is exceeded.
One dangerous thing about sugar is that it is hidden in plain sight. It has over 50 aliases. Let's check out the ridiculous number of ways food producers use to disguise sugar in our food.
Next time when you go to the supermarket, pick up a box of cereal or any convenient food or even some bacon or cured ham. Read the ingredients list and look out for these aliases, you will notice they appear more than once. If I got a dollar every time you spot a sugar alias, I would get rich quickly.
I am not saying you shouldn't eat these foods, I have eaten most of not all of these products. Do not rely on the food industry to tell you how healthy a food is. Always read the ingredients and nutrition label, be a really well-informed consumer and make up your own mind whether it is something you can and should eat.
Why is There Added Sugar?
Manufacturers put additional sugar in their products because sugar extends shelf-life and improves the palatability (i.e. taste) of their products. Natural fats in food such as milk or yoghurt are flavour enhancers. As fat is removed, the taste goes along with fat-soluble vitamins and micronutrients. Something is needed to fill the void left by the fat. Sugar seems the obvious replacement - because it is cheap, widely available, sweet, highly palatable, addictive, and as mentioned earlier, sugar helps preserve and extend the shelf-life of packaged food.
A Practical Approach - Eat Real Food
You can spend a lot of time learning all the names above and avoid them as much as you can. A much better way to quit sugar, as I have said so many times in my previous posts, is to focus on eating single ingredient foods, or food that comes without a nutrition label. Eat food that is grown from a plant, not manufactured in a plant.
What do I mean by single ingredient foods?
Below are examples of single ingredients, a piece of fish, a piece of steak, brussel sprouts, broccoli, tomatoes. These are usually food that comes without an ingredient list, nutrition label or expiry date. Try some pan-fried fish and steamed vegetables for dinner tonight?