We are eating TOO MUCH SUGAR!!
Obesity and Diabetes is becoming a massive problem and while there are plenty of possible factors influencing this progression, sugar is a highlighted factor.
Sugar is what we call empty calories. It contains a lot of calories with little nutritional content. So it’s providing you with ‘energy’ but you are not benefiting from any extra nutrition that you would get from whole foods. It contributes to your overall energy intake and can put you in a positive energy balance which will lead to weight gain. High intake also causes dental caries which has social implications and is expensive to treat.
Just 1 tablespoon is equivalent
in energy to 1 slice of bread
Free sugars are your monosaccharides (glucose and fructose) and disaccharides (sucrose and table sugar), and your natural sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juices. These are added to foods and drinks ether by manufacturers, cook’s or the individual. Sugar found in fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy are not included as free sugars.
Besides the obvious foods like your sweets and chocolates, sugar is hidden in a lot of processed foods that you buy at the shops. This includes your ‘Healthy’ breakfast cereals, flavoured dairy, fruit yoghurts, dried fruits, energy bars , etc.
Some savoury foods may even surprise you that they contain sugar. These are things such as ready to use sauces (ketchup, tomato sauce, sweet chilli, chutney, barbecue sauce), salad dressings, bacon, meat spices and pickled foods like beetroot and gherkins. For example, 1 tablespoon of ketchup contains 4 g (1 teaspoon) of sugar; 1 Big Mac Burger contains 9 g of sugar.
‘Healthy’ breakfast cereals sugar content:
- Kellogg’s All Bran – 1.5 teaspoons (6.8 g) in 40g serving
- Kellogg’s Special K – 1.5 teaspoons (7 g) in 40g serving
- Pronutro Original – 1.5 teaspoons (8 g) in 40 g serving
- Nature’s Source Muesli – 2 teaspoons (10.4 g) in 40 g serving
- Oatso Easy – 2.5 teaspoons ( 13 g) in 1 sachet
The average individual will have about double or more of the typical serving size.
One of the easiest ways to take in excessive amounts is to drink sugar containing drinks. If you think about it, it is easier and faster to down a glass of juice then to eat something. So if you are quenching your thirst on cool drinks you need to consider how much sugar you are actually consuming.
Sugar content in common drinks:
- 1 can Coke – 39 g = 2.5 slices of bread.
- 1 can Ice tea – 23 g = 1.5 slices of bread
- 330 ml Fruit Juice – 35.5 g = 2.5 slices of bread
- 1 bottle flavoured water – 15 g = 1 slice of bread
- 1 bottle Vitamin Water – 27 g = 2 slices or bread
- 1 bottle Sports Drink – 23 g = 1.5 slices of bread
If you think of what you eat in a day you can easily be surprised as to how much sugar you consume in one day. The World Health Organisation recommends that we reduce our intake to less than 5% of our total energy intake. This is roughly 25 g per day.
Here is an example of the sugar content of a ‘healthy’ every day menu:
1 cup All Bran with 1 cup Vanilla Yoghurt and a Drizzle of honey
Jungle energy bar
Brown bread sandwich with sweet Chilli sauce and chicken
4 Provita biscuits with 2 tablespoons peanut butter
Beef stir fry with Ready To Wok Stir Fry Sauce and noodles
= 94.37 g (7 slices of bread)
In general we consume more sugar then is recommended without even realising it. We need to become aware of what we are eating and not let our selves fall into this trap.
6 Tips to reduce sugar intake:
- Read food labels – Ideally you want a product to have less than 2 g in 100 g of the product. You may not even realise that you are adding sugar to your meals so its important to check food labels.
- Avoid processed and convenience foods – As time consuming as it is to prepare your own meals and make your food from scratch, you can significantly reduce your intake by preparing meals your self.
- Avoid flavoured foods – Such as flavoured waters, yoghurts and dairy, cereals , etc.
- Avoid ready made sauces
- Start drinking water or fruit infused water rather than cool drinks and juices.
- Stop adding it to your foods and drinks, even if its ‘natural’ – Use things like fresh fruit, cinnamon, vanilla essence, lemon, dried fruit, and sugar-free nut butters to sweeten foods.