Oh Sugar, Sugar, You Got Me Wanting You

That addictive white powdery stuff is in everything. From store-bought spice blends to fruit juice to ketchup to even vitamins, it’s everywhere and in much higher amounts than you might think.

The average Canadian consumes about 88 pounds of sugar a year. Young people aged nine to 18 and men consume over 100 pounds a year. That is over 10 whole bags of pure sugar.

Eating large amounts of sugar has been scientifically linked to heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, cancer and cavities.

A recent 15-year study found that those that got more than 25 per cent of their daily calories from sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease than those who got less than 10 per cent of their calories from sugar.

One key issue with sugar is that it is nothing but empty calories. It takes up space in your diet without offering any nutrients, which leaves less room for healthy and nutrient-rich foods.

Worse, it can actually deplete nutrients as your body tries to stabilize and regulate post sugar consumption. Vitamin D is one such nutrient that is depleted by eating sugar. Others include vitamin C, chromium, magnesium and calcium.

Consuming sugar-laden foods and drinks is also a sure-fire way to turn you into an addict. The initial spike in blood sugar that it causes is followed by a crash, which causes you to crave more.

This can lead to experiences of anxiety, irritability, headaches and dizziness when you skip a meal. While other factors in life – such as caffeine and stress – can also contribute to blood sugar imbalance, the regular intake of the white stuff plays a key role.

How much sugar is in common foods?

It is actually astounding to look at how much sugar you are eating when you are just going about your day. Beverages such as sodas, juice, iced tea, sports drinks and energy drinks are some of the worst culprits when it comes to hidden sugars.

Looking at popular brands, here is an idea of how much sugar is hidden in common foods.

Ketchup: 4 grams per tablespoon serving

Pasta sauce: 10 grams per ½ cup serving

Granola bar: 11 grams per bar

Yogurt: 13 grams per 100 gram serving

Orange juice: 25 grams per cup

Soda: 39 grams per can

Sports drink: 35 grams per bottle

While fruit contains naturally-occurring sugars, it doesn’t have the same detrimental effects as added sugar or even as it does in juice form. Fruits are full of fibre, which slows the uptake of sugar into the bloodstream and counters much of the negative effects. Fruits also have numerous nutrients, which make them a healthy addition to your daily diet.

Cutting the Cravings

The best way to stop craving sugar is to cut it out of your diet. Eliminating or reducing foods and beverages that have high amounts of sugar is a great place to start. When you first begin doing this, the cravings and symptoms of withdrawal may be pronounced.

A diet that focuses on whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins can help stabilize your blood sugar to minimize these symptoms.

Sugar is hidden in most packaged and processed foods. Sticking to whole foods and steering clear of the packaged aisles in the grocery store can help you avoid sugar.

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