I am pretty focused on healthy eating and exercise – but by no means do I do it all correctly, or have all of the answers. I read a lot about the impact of food on our overall health, and have adopted a diet that includes lean meats, lots of fruits and vegetables, and occasional whole grains.
But I also have a huge sweet tooth. I can remember times when I ate an entire bag of jelly beans (a favorite) in one sitting — usually followed by a stomachache! So lately I have been learning about the impact that added sugar has on my health, as well as the overall health of our community, and the role sugar plays in the obesity epidemic in our country.
I recently saw the movie “Fed Up”. Its message is “for the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong.”
The movie tests our knowledge regarding sugar, school lunch programs, the healthcare industry’s commitment to educating the public on sugar’s impact, and ends with a challenge.
The Fed Up Challenge requires giving up all food and drinks that have added sugars for 10 days. (No exceptions, so don’t ask.) And these foods are everywhere.
The chart above from The Center for Science in the Public Interest shows where added sugars are hiding.
Your diet should be full of fresh, whole foods that are free of honey, molasses, agave, artificial sweeteners, and any one of the 56 hidden names for sugar, such as glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, and maltose. Say goodbye to liquid sugars, such as sodas, sweetened teas, fruit juices, and sports drinks, too.
Why go cold turkey? Sugar has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol. The more you eat, the more you need to be satisfied. So if you cut all added sugar from your diet at once, you will avoid triggering the addiction center in the brain.
The World Health Organization has dropped its sugar intake recommendations from 10% of your daily calorie intake to 5%. For an adult with a normal body mass index (BMI), that is about 6 teaspoons — or 25 grams — of sugar per day.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance: no more than 100 calories per day for women (about 6 teaspoons) and no more than 150 calories per day for men (9 teaspoons). They have great educational resources to help you learn about managing sugar in your diet and why it is important.
I work for an organization with a mission to improve people’s health, and I firmly believe that what we eat is a foundational building block for health.
I encourage you to see “Fed Up,” know where the added sugar is in your diet, learn to read food labels to be aware of what you are eating, and consider taking the 10 day challenge.