How sugar tricks your brain…

Nutrition can be confusing, but most people know that too much sugar is a bad thing.

We’ve been taught since grade school about how sugar can damage our teeth, and while most folks are easily mixed up about the whether or not meat, eggs, dairy, grains, breads and the like are good, bad or indifferent, if you stop pretty much anyone on the street and ask, “Should you avoid too much sugar?” the answer is going to be yes from almost everyone.

The problem is processed foods.

If you pick up a box, bag or can of anything you’ll very likely find sugar on the ingredients list. In many cases you’ll find it very close to the first item (which indicates it is one of the main ingredients in the product). In others, if you know what to look for, you’ll see it listed multiple times.

Let me stop for a moment and let that sink in.

Packaged food manufacturers put multiple types of sugar into their products. If you watch this video you’ll begin to understand why. By putting plenty of sugar into their stuff they are tricking you into liking them more. By using different forms and listing them separately they avoid having it show up as what it mostly likely is on their ingredients list – the main ingredient in the product.

So, what can you do? The simplest tactic is to minimize processed and packaged foods in your diet. You don’t have to worry about how much sugar might have been added to an apple or a carrot for instance. But life, and reality dictates that we are going to be eating packaged foods at least some of the time, so we need to become diligent in reading labels and knowing what names sugar appears under on those labels.

You can also pay close attention to this portion of the label:

sugars_1_0See that bit circled in red? That’s the amount of sugars, in grams, that make up this particular product. The World Health Organization has recently recommended that we get no more than 10% of our daily calories from sugars. To put that into perspective you need to be comfortable doing a little math. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and each gram of carbohydrate contains 4 calories. So, using the label for this product as an example, you’d get 100 calories from the sugars contained herein.

One serving of this product would give you half your daily allotment of sugar, accounting for 5% of your daily total calories. Now, think about how much of what you eat comes from packaged or processed foods, and realize that it’s quite easy to exceed that 10% recommendation.

When you are in the supermarket and choosing between two packaged foods, try to pick the one with the fewest number of grams of sugar. Again, the best path is to minimize packaged foods.

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