Sweet stuff and desserts are so yumm! But we all know they contain a lot of sugar and so we don’t eat much of it. But still..we read and hear sugar is one of the main reasons we gain weight or can’t get rid of it.
So if we don’t eat much desserts and sweets, what do we eat in order to consume less sugar?
Over the past 6 decades, the amount of sugar consumed on a daily basis has increased dramatically.
The consumption of sugar increased most in the countries where heavily processed food has become a readily available.
Surprisingly, some experts estimate that only one-sixth of our sugar comes from desserts or foods that we think of as sweets.
I Don’t Eat a Lot of Sweets. Where Does the Sugar Come From?
The majority of our sugar comes in the form of highly processed food and sweetened drinks. It’s hard to believe but a can of Coke (330mL) contains 35g of sugar! That’s 8.4 tsp of free sugar and 140% of your recommended sugar intake for the whole day!
I checked how much sugar the world produces on a yearly basis: 176 million metric tonnes, that’s 176 000 000 000 kgs.
To put our focus on the US – if we would eat 25g free sugar a day (6tsp), that comes to a bit over 9kg (19.85 pounds) sugar a year per person. Unfortunately, we don’t consume only 6tsp a day but a whooping 17tsp (71g)! And that bring us to 26 kg (57.3 pounds).
A human body wasn’t designed for such amounts of sugar.
Many people are becoming aware of the need to eat or drink less sugar in order to maintain a healthy body weight.
But what many people still aren’t aware of, is the fact that sugar is added to so many foods that we don’t expect to contain sugar. Things like packaged breads, condiments, chips, sauces, and salad dressings.
In 2015, the World Health Organization released new guidelines strongly recommending that all adults and children reduce their sugar intake to less than 10% of total calories consumed.
This recommendation goes on to suggest that a further reduction of sugar intake to less than 5% of total calories would likely have additional health benefits.
If you’re eating an average of 2000 calories a day, your added sugar intake should be no more than 100 calories. We will dive deeper on that in a second.
These recommendations focus on free sugars, those that are added to foods by the manufacturer, the cook, or the consumer, as well as sugars that are naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices. But they don’t apply to built-in, bonded sugars found in whole fruits and vegetables. Because the World Health Organization found no reported evidence linking the consumption of intrinsic sugars to adverse health effects.
The sugar that naturally occurs in milk is also excluded from that 5%.
How Much is 5% of Daily Intake?
Let’s say an average adult consumes 2000 calories per day. Sugar intake should be no more than 5%. So no more than 100 calories per day should come from free sugars.
Since free sugars offer 4 calories of energy per gram this would translate into approximately 25 grams of free sugar, about 6 teaspoons.
Six teaspoons seems like a generous amount when you picture spooning it out of a sugar bowl and mixing it in your coffee.
But when you start to look at the nutrition labels of most packaged, processed foods, the numbers begin to add up incredibly quickly.
You’ve already exceeded your recommended sugar intake by
2 full teaspoons before even leaving the house.
For example, a one-half cup serving of organic granola can contain 16 grams or 4 teaspoons of sugar. If one-half of a cup of regular sweetened yogurt is added to that cereal for breakfast, this can add another 4 teaspoons of sugar.
There you go, you’ve already exceeded your recommended sugar intake by 2 full teaspoons before even leaving the house.
Good Sugar, Bad Sugar
There’s a growing like-mindedness that we need to cut down on our sugar consumption. And yet there may be a downside to devilish sugar the way we did with the dietary fats. Saturated, unsaturated and trans fats, good and bad fats, good and bad cholesterol.
It’s often just either white or black. Good or bad.
Human diet is much more complicated than that.
We should think of it as a system. If you only cut down on sugar but stuff yourself every meal and then find an extra inch for an ice-cream…well that won’t make much difference.
But what would make a big difference is to cut down on sugar and at the same time learn to not over eat and balance our diet as a whole. No food is wrong or right. It’s the dosage that matters.
No food is wrong or right. It’s the dosage that matters.
Let’s make an example.
Treating fat as the evil nutrient. We went overboard on fat. Bad fat. A lot of products in supermarket are know low-fat or zero-fat, skim milk, etc.
But it turns out fat is not as evil as we thought and saturated fat is not necessarily the thing to worry most about in your diet.
In fact, our obsession with saturated fat led us to promote trans fat, which turned out to be lethal.
From fat, we went to sugar. Bad sugar.
We should be wary of focusing all our attention on a single nutrient.
Sugar’s been part of the human diet for a very long time. It actually has a really interesting history and was prized by people all over the world. We have evolved to like the flavor of sugar for very good reasons, but we are eating too much of it.
We definitely need to cut down on the amount of sugar we’re eating, but will a block of chocolate hurt you? No.
What can and may hurt us is hidden sugar in the processed products we buy. We start eating sugar for breakfast, continue with coffee, then second coffee and brunch, lunch, dinner and little snacks in between.
Our bodies weren’t made for such amounts of sugar.
The Importance of Home Cooking
You would think it’s about the food and not the process by which it’s made. But in fact the process by which the food is made has a lot to do with our health.
The best thing you can do to avoid sugar is to start cooking at home. This way you have a say how much salt goes in your food, how much sugar (if any) and how much oil, and more importantly – what kind of oil.
Research suggests that families who eat food cooked by humans are eating a better diet and are healthier as a result.
When you cook at home you will use the best ingredients you can afford. You will keep it really simple.
You don’t need the food to last six months on a shelf, and the odds are, whatever you eat, it will be better than processed food.
There’s something about the act of cooking that enforces, without us even being conscious of it, a healthy, wholesome diet.
I think it’s very hard to get fat on home-cooked food.
Now, the other reason that cooking is important, is that if you cook, you will have a meal, you will sit down at a table, with other people, with family, you eat together. And that has a lot of implications for our health too.
Eating alone, snacking, eating in front of the television, all these things lead to a very different kind of food consumption and state of mind.
We have to realize to that we’ve been kind of brainwashed to think about cooking as drudgery. It’s not.
It’s really satisfying. And more satisfying the better you get at it.
People over-complicate cooking. We live in a culture that celebrates cooking, but doesn’t actually do it very much. We watch it on television, we watch it in restaurants where know the kitchens are all open. And we all think that cooking means restaurant food, and it’s not.
Everyday home cooking is throwing a sliced zucchini on the grill or in a pan. It’s taking out a box of frozen spinach. Frozen vegetables is a very healthy choice, very easy choice.
There are a lot of really satisfying meals that you can get on the table in less than a half hour.
Start Cooking at Home and Avoid Sugar
One way to make your life easier with home cooking is meal kit delivery service. It basically solves all the above issues: You will eat less sugar, eat healthier and satisfying food made by you and your family. It saves you time, gets you right in to cooking with easy recipes and provide you with healthy, fresh food.
Food processing companies don’t have interest in your health. They have interest in profits. Which equals to, if you put more sugar in a food you will sell more of it.
Sugar is addicting. So we need to be conscious of it.
You have the best interest in your and your family’s health, so it should be you and your family that cooks the food you eat. So go grocery shopping and buy food that will support your health.
If you don’t like shopping or don’t have time..or you lack inspiration what to cook, check out HelloFresh.
HelloFresh is US most popular and flexible meal kit delivery service. Long story short: they deliver fresh produce and ingredients with complimenting recipes to your home. All you do is choose the plan they offer (vegetarian, classic, family), decide how many times a week you want to cook with their recipes and they deliver. Easy.
I cook with HelloFresh twice a week and I’m happy with what they provide me with.
They’re good. Give it a try.
Pssst, if you click the banner below and order, you get a pretty nice discount 😉
I hope you found the information that is useful to you. If you have any questions, want to share your experience or just chat on this topic, write a comment below. I’d love to hear your point of view!
Till next time,