Breaking Up With Sugar
Global recognition is building for the very real health concerns posed by large and increasing quantities of hidden sugars in our diets. And right here in Howard County we are doing our part to win the war against sugar.
Three years ago the Horizon Foundation launched “The Better Beverage” campaign and reached out to the Rudd Center to help initiate a campaign to reduce sugary drink consumption: Howard County Unsweetened.
Science around sugary drinks has further solidified that consumption is linked to obesity, childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes (type-2) and even lower fertility.
Around the planet, more countries are taking sound measures to reduce sugar consumption in their citizens. France, Belgium, Hungary, Finland, Chile, the UK, Ireland, South Africa and many parts of the United States.
Horizon Foundation was very recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. You can read about the study on CNN.com .
Through policy changes, media communications and community outreach, soda sales in Howard County have plummeted by nearly 20%, while fruit drinks decreased by about 15%.
Here Are Tips To Help You Break Up With Sugar:
1) Understand Sugar
Every day we read another scary headline calling sugar toxic and adding to the mounting evidence that sugar is a big threat to our health. And...YES...in large quantities, it is! Recent research suggests that the for every 150 calories of added sugar per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes rose by 1%, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity and calories from other foods, according to a large international study. People who ate the most added sugar more than doubled their risk of death from heart disease.
It's important to know the difference between the two main types of sugar:
Naturally Occurring Sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These foods tend to be better for you because they deliver fiber (in the case of produce), as well as protein and calcium (in dairy) and other important vitamins and minerals.
Added Sugars are anything sweet put into a food for flavor, such as the sugar in store-bought ketchup. Although honey, maple syrup and the like have some healthful antioxidants and minerals, they still pack a large dose of sweetener per spoonful. This means that you get a lot of pure sugar - and calories--in a small portion, making it easy to go overboard and cause problems. Coffee drinks, for example, can be worst than a candy bar.*(1)
Sugar is a type of refined carbohydrate and a source of of calories in our diet. Our body uses sugar and other sources of calories for energy, and any sugar that is not used is eventually stored as fat in our liver or on our bellies. The World Health Organization recommends we get just 5% of our daily calories from added sugars (also known as free sugars). Consume more than this, and our risk of health problem rises.*(2)
2) Quit Soft Drinks
With 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single bottle serving - that's more than 64 grams - there's nothing "soft" about soft drinks. Including all carbonated drinks, flavored milks and energy drinks with any added sugars, as well as fruit drinks and juices, sugary drinks are a great place to focus your efforts for a healthier lifestyle. What's more concerning, evidence suggests that when we drink calories in the form of sugary drinks, our brains don't recognize these calories in the same way as with foods. They don't make us feel "full" and could even make us hungrier - so we end up eating (and drinking) more.*(2)
Not only will reducing your consumption to sugary beverages improve your health, but it will also improve the health of our our federal and state budgets!
3) Eat Fruit, Not Juice
When it's wrapped in a peel or a skin, fruit sugars are not a challenge to our health. In fact, the sugars in fruit are nature's way of encouraging us to eat the fruit to begin with. Fruits like oranges, apples and pears contain important fiber. The "roughage" in our foods, this fiber is healthy in many ways. First, it slows down our eating. Second, it makes us feel full. And third, it slows the release of the sugars contained in fruit in our blood streams, allowing our bodies to react and use the energy appropriately, reducing our chances of weight gain and possibly even diabetes.
In short, eat fruit as a snack with confidence. But enjoy whole fruit, not juice. *(2)
4) Sugar By Any Other Name
High-fructose, corn syrup, invert sugar, malt sugar and molasses – they all mean one thing: sugar. As the public awakens to the health challenges posed by sugar, the industry turns to new ways to confuse consumers and make “breaking up” more difficult. One such way is to use the alternative names for sugar – Be on the lookout for: Evaporated cane juice, golden syrup, malt syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose. *(2)
5) Eat Whole Foods Where Possible
A study found that 74% of packaged food in an average American supermarket contain sugars. Buying and cooking with mostly whole foods – not products – is a great way to ensure you are not consuming sugars unaware. *(2)
6) See Beyond (un)Healthy Claims
Words like “wholesome”, “natural” and “healthy” are clad on many of our favorite products. Sadly, they don’t mean much. *(2)
7) Be Okay With Sometimes
Eating or drinking sugar is not a sin; it’s part of our lives and can be enjoyed in moderation. The problem is that sugary drinks, and sugars in our foods, have become every day occurrences. *(2)
*(1) ABC News/ Monday, March 16, 2015/ The 4 Most Confusing Things About Sugar/ Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, Heath.com
*(2) The Huffington Post/ December 17, 2016/ Seven Essential Tips To Breaking Up With Sugar/ Alessandro Demalo, World Health Organization, Geneva