Unless you really get an understanding of sugar, you may not know which foods actually contain sugar. A simple carbohydrate that offers your body calories for use as energy, there are two types of sugar you must be aware of, and today I’ll break down both of you and talk about why added sugars can be detrimental to your health.
The Two Main Types of Sugar
Natural Sugar: you’ll find natural sugar in unprocessed foods. Whole foods like vegetables, fruit, grains, and dairy. The name for the natural sugar found in fruit is fructose. In animal and dairy products, the natural sugar you’ll find is lactose.
Added Sugar: this is the sugar you want to avoid at all costs. You’ll find added sugar in any processed foods or beverages in addition to sugar you mix into your foods. There is virtually no value to your nutritional intake when you consume added sugars.
Added sugars serve many purposes, but mainly act as a preservative for large companies to be able to extend the shelf life of processed foods. Added sugars will help add shelf life and “time to consume” foods like baked goods, jams and jellies, breads, and even alcohol. They add the appearance of color and the addition of flavor to drinks such as sodas.
Foods That Have Added Sugars
- Pastries, donuts, cinnamon rolls
- Any dessert or processed (think of foods on the shelves, not the bakery) ice cream or yogurt.
- Sports drinks, juice beverages, and energy drinks.
Sugar is something that has become mainstream in America, and we consume far too much of it. It’s advised on FamilyDoctor.org that you should keep your daily sugar intake to less than 10% of your daily load. If you consume 2,000 calories, for example, that’s 200 calories or less from sugar.
Follow my journey of going without sugar for two weeks! You’ll definitely see what happens when sugar is entirely avoided.
Why is Sugar Bad for You?
Overconsumption of sugar can lead to various health problems like obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, among many other ailments.
When you consume sugar in high volumes, you may be less likely to make healthy food choices. As I said earlier, sugar provides virtually zero nutritional value and are considered empty calories.
How to Avoid Eating Added Sugars
For me, when I cut out foods with added sugars, it was all about avoiding the following food and drinks:
- No soft drinks or fruit juices – instead, consume water.
- No baked goods, candy, or desserts filled with dairy. Instead, choose vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein.
- Absolutely no processed foods.
- Don’t add sugar when cooking or baking.
- No protein bars or smoothies. (This one is the hardest for me.)
When you are looking to eliminate sugar from your diet, you MUST look at food labels. Every label is required to show you how much sugar is in each product. You’ll be shocked when you view these labels!
Sneaky Ways to Incorporate Sugar into Foods
Even further, knowing how to read food labels is of great importance. Look out for words that are synonyms to sugar, such as: dextrose, sucrose, glucose, honey, brown sugar, syrup of any kind, molasses, and fruit juice concentrates. These are all hidden sugars disguised as other ingredients.
I’ve drilled all of this into my head, and as I’m doing a two week “no sugar” challenge, and a 2023 weight loss journey, but I feel like I have a good grip on things. For me, the hardest part of cutting out sugar comes from the fact that I had to alter my weekend libations. This means no old fashioneds, margaritas, and any rum drinks. For me, it’ll be sipping tequila.
How many of you out there struggle with cutting out sugar?