Just Say No… to Added Sugar!

Hello Loyal Soup People! Last week I wrote about fat – specifically how not all fat is bad (or good) for us! There is quite a bit of debate about fat. One thing that is not up for debate is the unhealthy nature of sugar. Almost all nutritionists and health experts agree that we can only benefit if we cut down on sugar in our diet. Any sugar that our bodies don’t burn up during the day is turned directly into fat. Unless we burn this sugar off through exercise, it heads to our bellies in the form of fat. Our bodies are trained to do this for survival! Our bodies are naturally always trying to prepare for times when food will be scarce, and we’ll need extra fat to sustain ourselves. In modern day society, we are very lucky that many of us will not face starvation or famine. So we’re just left with extra fat that, according to most statistics, will increase as we age.

One essential component to fighting fat? Reducing sugar intake! If you have less sugar in your body, and are burning more during the day (i.e. exercise!), your body will then start using built up fat for energy! Perfect! The problem is sugar is everywhere these days. Food companies sneak sugar into the most unexpected places. Take a look at that loaf of bread you bought from the store. Sugar! Check out the back label of your tomato sauce. Yup, more sugar.

You have to be extra careful when shopping for convenience food as sugar is really everywhere. Food manufactures are smart! Sugar tastes good and our bodies crave it (back to that innate inclination to store fat…). Here are a few tips to keep added sugar out of your life:

– Quite simply – keep the cookies and candy out of your home. If you have a craving and you don’t have it near, you’re forced to wait for it to pass. If you really want that ice cream and find yourself in the car heading out to the store – you probably really, really deserve that ice cream and should eat it! But 99% of the time, you’ll just wait for the craving to pass. If you don’t have treats in the home, you really will reserve them for special occasions.

– Find naturally sweet substitutes. Instead of sweetening your coffee with sugar, try cinnamon. Put fruit in your oatmeal instead of maple syrup. Get creative with dessert! Grill fruit and bake apples instead of eating ice cream. Yes, fruit has naturally occurring sugars – but they are mixed in with so many other healthy elements – such as fiber and vitamins. They key is to avoid added sugars.

– Stop drinking your sugar. I’m really adamant about this one. Remove sugary drinks from your diet. Soda, energy drinks, artificially flavored juices – they are simply terrible for you. They offer no health benefits and so many studies link them to obesity. I also include diet drinks in this category (more on that later). In addition to needlessly adding sugar to your diet, they are so sweet that they make it hard for you to fight sugar cravings. They change your palate to crave even more sugar – not less! Water, tea, coffee, seltzer – there are plenty of beverages out there that are actually good for you!

– Read labels carefully. Like I mentioned above, sugar sneaks in the most unexpected places. Read the nutrition labels to really understand what you’re eating. Obviously, the best way to avoid sugar is to cook everything from scratch. But many of us simply don’t have the time. That’s why it is so important to know what you’re eating! Ignore the claims on the front – always read the back!

No controversy in this column! Cut down on sugar for a healthier life. It’s as simple as that!