Sugar is the generic name for sweet, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. There are various types of sugar derived from different sources.
Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose. Sugar is used in prepared foods (e.g., cookies and cakes) and it is added to some foods and beverages (e.g., coffee and tea).
Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on the body and your overall health depends on the type of sugar you’re eating, either natural or refined.
Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. It provides calories with no added nutrients and can damage your metabolism in the long run. Eating too much is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease.
Additionally, we all face the unfortunate reality that sugar is readily available in our food supply as a cheap fix for our cravings, 24 hours a day, in thousands of different venues and forms. Finally, we often use sugar as a reward (kid stops throwing a tantrum at the store, kid gets cookie at home) and the main food substance during celebrations?
So given these studies and the vast availability of this stuff, is there any hope? Can you really break free from the chains of sugar addiction? The answer may be yes. The start of your sugarless healing could perhaps come in the form of seven easy steps.
1. Read labels: Sugar sometimes hides behind words such as syrup and anything ending in –ose (such as sucrose).
2. Go sugar-free, not fat-free: Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and olive or coconut oil will curb your hunger to make you feel full longer—thus decreasing sugar cravings.
3. Choose unsweetened varieties: Almond or soy milk, nut butters, and baking chocolate could all contain sugar, but many brands offer an “unsweetened” option.
4. Multiply the grams of sugar in a product by 4 to find the amount of calories from sugar in that product. For example, a food containing 10 grams of sugar has 40 calories from sugar—if you eat 2,000 calories a day, that’s 2 percent.
5. 5% or less: The amount of our total daily calories that should come from sugar, according to the World Health Organization. For the average adult, this percentage equals about 6 teaspoons—less than the amount found in a typical can of soda.
6. Beware of “lightly sweetened” or “low sugar” products. This advice might sound counterintuitive, but “there are no FDA regulations governing the use of those phrases, and their meaning is ambiguous.” The product could contain almost as much sugar as the original version does. Instead, look for labels that say a product is “sugar-free” or has “no added sugars.”
7. Eat more whole foods. The less processed food in your diet, the less added sugar you’ll get. When you crave something crunchy, reach for carrots or bell pepper slices instead of crackers. Skip the energy bar and have a banana.