We love it, we hate it, we crave it, were addicted to it, we quit it, we can't live without it... We all hear about the evils of sugar all the time but somehow it is still up there as one of the most loved ingredients in the foods we eat. The reality is we are never going to completely cut sugar from our diets in some way so better that we become educated about it and make healthy choices around it.
I come across people everyday that tell me they don't eat sugar... however, they drink wine, eat raw balls with artificial sweeteners, use sauces out of pre made jars in the supermarket, add artificial sweeteners to their coffee. Just because you don't eat a chocolate bar or drink a can of soft drink, it doesn't mean you don't consume sugar.
I am a self confessed hot chocolate loving sweet tooth and there's no way sugar wouldn't factor into my day in some way. Sugar is in most products, to some degree, whether it's from a more natural or a man made source it's a monumental challenge to try to escape it. Eating a mainly whole foods diet and cooking sauces from scratch using herbs, spices, olive oils and so on cuts a whole heap of sugar out from the get go. Knowing how to read the packaging on products that we do have to purchase and also knowing how sugar is labelled are two major ways to know what you're purchasing.
We are very lucky in Australia that nutritional information on packaged products is mandatory by law. So companies have to be transparent with what they're putting in our food.
The World Health Organisation recommend we have no more than 10 teaspoons per day. To me, that's quite a lot to be having every single day, so I like to think on the basis of having up to 5 with a little wiggle room to go between 5-10 teaspoons.
When you read the back of a label they don't put things simply in teaspoons, they use grams, and that's a little harder to wrap your head around.
1 teaspoon = 4.2grams
So if you pick up a product and under the title SUGARS the serving suggestion has 50g per serve that product needs to never enter your body! I like to stick to products that have around 1 teaspoon of sugar per serve maximum. I give a little leeway here and usually go by the standard of 5g and under.
Generally you want to look at the 'Average Quantity Per Serve', and products will have a serving suggestion they advise you to adhere too, and take your sugar quantity from there. That is unless you're planning to eat the whole product in one hit and then look to the next column for the sugar contained in either the product as a whole, or a larger serving size and work your sugar load out from there.
Reading the ingredients on packaging also gives you a great idea of not only how much sugar is in a product but also the types. If sugar, or a name for it, is in the first few ingredients on a pack then that is a large proportion of what is in the product. But there are so many names for sugar it's hard to know what's what!
My approach is natural is best in most cases. Anything chemical and man made is a no no in my recipes. I would much rather use honey, 100% pure maple syrup or dates as a sweetener that also have other nutrients and health benefits as well, rather than a chemical mass produced in a factory. In most cases, artificial sweeteners have little to no nutritional benefit whatsoever, but sometimes with our pre packaged goods this is unavoidable.
**If you are insulin resistant, pre diabetic or diabetic this may differ for you and you should reach out to a nutritionist or dietitian for support alongside your general practitioner and specialists.
The many, many, many names for sugar + artificial sweeteners
It is pretty terrible how many names are out there for sugar... most of these are not natural, some have neurotoxic qualities, some are known carcinogens and some are hormone disruptors just to name a few of the negatives that go along with man made sweeteners.
Look out for these names on your products and even if the sugar count looks low and within a nutritionally sound range... you definitely want to limit the amount of these things going into your body.
brown rice syrup
corn syrup solids
(aka powdered sugar)
dehydrated cane juice
evaporated cane juice
fruit juice concentrate
HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)
rice malt syrup