Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
The sooner North Americans learn to recognize simple sugars as a public enemy in the same way they view germs as vile, the sooner their health will improve and their waistlines will decrease. Ridiculous? Think about it for a moment. We sanitize, scrub, wash, bleach and disinfect the devil out of germs, but we consume, indulge, munch, snack, nibble and scarf sugars without a second thought. What gives?
The reality is many of us don’t recognize poor-quality ingredients in the foods we consume. The average adult’s sugar consumption has increased by more than 30 percent in 20 years. Sugar’s seductive sweetness plays havoc on the body, with hormone-related illnesses like type 2 diabetes reaching unprecedented levels.
Let’s Not Sugarcoat It
Never before has a population faced the onslaught of obesity-related diseases that we encounter today. Many of these diseases are thought to be brought on by consuming too much sugar. And it’s everywhere! Eating a turkey deli sandwich? There are 3 grams of sugar per slice of turkey alone. Was that ketchup with your fries? More sugar—it’s like candy, virtually everywhere. Here are some hard facts for you:
- On average, North Americans drink approximately 355 mililiters or 12 fluid ounces of soda each day – the equivalent to 10 teaspoons of refined sugar. That adds to a weight gain of 12 pounds per year.
- But that’s not all – that was only soda. The average North American consumes 23 teaspoons of sugar each day! Not looking good for the waistline.
Carbs: Do I Or Don’t I?
Carbs have gotten a bad rap — especially as a result of fad diets. Yet carbohydrates, which break down into sugar in the body, are necessary fuel for strenuous exercise. However, it’s important to recognize the difference between simple and complex carbs: They metabolize at different rates. Simple carbs (white bread and pasta, chips, cookies) spike sugar levels, while complex carbs (whole grains, veggies, most fruit) keep blood sugar levels steady longer. They keep you feeling full longer too. Slow conversion is ideal so you don’t experience that crash or the dreaded 3:00 p.m. slump! As a bonus, you won’t get appetite swings, food cravings will dwindle and your energy will soar.
The United States Department of Agriculture defines added sugars as “sugars and syrups that are added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation, not including naturally occurring sugars, such as those that are found in milk or fruits.” Read the labels on packaged foods carefully. Ingredients like corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, maltose and syrup signal that sugar has been added.