I was sitting at my favorite sushi restaurant indulging in the appealing eat-all-you-can sushi. The restaurant was relatively quiet while the sushi chefs quietly and contentedly kept the supply of sushi moving on its conveyor belt. In front of my plate was a smooth white Cabernet sauvignon blanc (a tad on the sweet side for my liking). The simple black and red theme complimented the content conversation I was having with my mother-in-law (yes, she is a dear friend to me). Conversation turned to the topic of sugar. The more we talked about sugar, the more I realized that I was grateful I had started reducing my boys sugar intake.
Honestly, I have always had an issue with too much sugar which is a bit of an oxymoron because I am a self-confessed chocoholic. Much to my sorrow, I had a few too many sugary items and chocolate milk over Christmas, the result was a few kilos heavier. Instead of angels singing, I heard myself crying “I’m Fat!” Needless to say, I have first-hand experience with sugar being addictive and craving sugar.
What am I getting to?
The reality that people all over the world are eating way too much sugar than is recommended by organizations like WHO or AHA (American Heart Association). We are looking at over double the recommended consumption. The recommended daily intake of ADDED sugar is
- Pre-schoolers – less than 4 Tsp. of sugar
- Children 4-8yrs – 3 Tsp of sugar
- Pre-teens and teenagers – 5-8 Tsp of sugar
- Adult women – 5 Tsp of sugar
- Adult men – 8-9 Tsp of sugar
Another way to calculate your daily added sugar recommendation is to take you between 5% and 10% of your daily calorie intake.
Here’s the frightening reality of the world today: The average adult sugar intake per day is 22 Tsp of added sugar while the average teenager is consuming 34 Tsp of added sugar per day.
Why is sugar frowned upon? Because too much sugar:
- Takes away from healthy foods – we fill up on sugar foods instead of healthy and nutritious foods.
- Increase risk for obesity
- Increase high blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Reduced concentration and increased adrenaline due to blood sugar spikes
I don’t know about you but I’d rather have my family and myself on limited sugars than expose them to health problems later in life. The other reality for me is that my children and I don’t really need to eat a lot of sugar. Yes, it tastes good but that’s it.
Let’s look at what foods count as added sugar and what foods are hiding sugar:
|Added Sugar Sources||Hidden Sugar Sources|
|Honey||Cereals (except Oats, WeetBix and Rice Krispies)|
|Sugar||Cereal and energy bars|
|Processed Food||Low fat yogurt|
|Ice Cream||Ready-made meals|
|Sweets||Soft drinks (500ml soft drink has 13 Tsp of sugar)|
|Chocolate||Milkshakes (around 15 Tsp of sugar)|
|Dried fruit||Flavored waters|
|Fruit juice (1-6yrs can have ½ cup per day; 7-18yrs can have 1-2 cups per day)|
Added sugar is also disguised in fancy names such as: dextrose, fructose, glucose, honey, corn syrup, etc.
How do you know if something has too much sugar in it?
Read the labels: Go to the carbohydrate section on the label. It will have a sub section for sugar: 5g of sugar per 100g of carbohydrates is great; over 15g of sugar per 100g of carbohydrates and you are looking for a sugar rush.
This is all great except I haven’t given you alternatives. Knowing what not to do is unhelpful if one doesn’t know what to do in its place:
Alternatives to sugary foods include: Rice cakes, unsalted nuts, raw veg, plain yogurt with extra fruit, water, oats, milk, and so on.
Does this mean that my children do not get any sugar? Of course not. Everything in moderation. I want my children to have the occasional treat because I believe that teaching my children how to manage their own diet is better than restricting them from “unhealthy” foods.