Sugar is the common name for sweet, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose. The table or granulated sugar most customarily used in food is sucrose, a disaccharide. Other disaccharides include maltose and lactose.
Why do we crave it and what can we do to make more conscious choices?
What I find perplexing about sugar is that I can refrain from eating it all day, but as soon as I get even a little in my system, my mind tells me I want more immediately. This is because sugar gives us dopamine which gives us a feeling of pleasure, and who doesn't like the feeling of pleasure? Well, the good news is we can get that same pleasure from healthy relationships, exercise, and by getting our ‘sweet fix’ from better sources.
Let’s first explore how much sugar we should eat in a day:
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are: Men: 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons).
Red Seedless Grapes - 1 serving (126g - 4% waste)
Sugars, total: 20g
Cantaloupe - 1 cup cubes (160g)
Sugars, total: 13g
Apple - 1 large apple (3.25"/223g - 10% waste)
Sugars, total: 23g
Banana - 1 large (140g)
Sugars, total: 17g
Chocolate Ice Cream (Haagen Dazs) - 1/2 Cup
Sugar: 21 grams
Sugar: 21 grams
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Sugar: 8 grams (1 cookie)
So, what is the difference in eating an apple or a snickers bar if the grams of sugar are the same?
Fruit naturally provides a number of important nutrients while being low in fat, sodium and calories. Some common nutrients in fruit include fiber, potassium, vitamin C and folate. Fruits are also rich sources of antioxidants and other protective plant compounds called phytonutrients. Although fruits contain some natural sugar, the fiber content in fruit slows your digestion and thereby prevents a spike in blood sugar that occurs with other sugary foods such as candy. Fruits have varied nutritional profiles, so to get a full spectrum of nutrients, it's important to eat a variety of fruits.
So the next time you go for the cookie….think about what fresh fruit might give you the same satisfaction. This process is challenging, but you can do it. It’s all about changing old habits for new ones. You can also have a positive influence on your family and friends while making these changes, and that feels good too.
For information on how eating too much fresh fruit can be dangerous, please check out my dear friend Theodora's blog, "Instagram Got me Candida"
Recipe Time: Stone Fruit Summer Crumble