Sugar is everywhere. That’s not hyperbole, it is in 75% of packaged foods consumed in the United States. So how can you avoid something that is so widespread? Taher Dietitian Melanie Wirth explains here.
Sweet good, bitter bad.
We evolved that as a survival strategy, learning what berries and foods to eat and which ones to avoid. It worked well for the first few thousand years of humanity’s existence on Earth, but now… not so much. More foods than not contain much more sugar than they need. It even shows up in places you wouldn’t expect.
So why is sugar so bad?
To be clear, small amounts of natural sugar are fine. The amount of sugar you get from an apple or orange is actually pretty good for you. That being said, remember that sugar is everywhere. So you’ll have to learn how to navigate the sugar minefield. But why is extra sugar all that bad?
The long-term impacts are what cause the most issues. It leads to a higher risk of heart disease. It can cause an entire population to have obesity and diabetes issues. Even when all other factors are accounted for, consuming 150 extra calories from a sugary drink vs consuming a healthy item, the risk for diabetes went up 1.1% vs 0.1% for the control. Yes, it’s that bad.
So what can you do?
Well, start by cutting back on packaged and processed food. Remember to read those labels! They were changed recently to make them easier to read.
Don’t put loose sugar on the table. Cut back on sugary drinks, replacing them with water. The American Heart Association has a whole checklist you can go through to limit your sugar intake.
Don’t necessarily go with the low-fat alternative. In order to make up for the lack of fat, companies add sugar to make up for the taste. If you sweeten your hot drinks with sugar, try using honey instead.
Health.gov has a list of more ways to cut down on sugar.
We really hope this helps you and your family make better choices in what you feed your family at home. When you’re in the workplace or your kids are at school, that can be a different issue. Unless of course, your school lunchroom or business cafeteria is run by Taher. Our Food4Life Harvest of the Month initiative regularly recommends new, healthy foods for you to try at home and promotes the same foods in your cafeteria. We hope you’ll stop in and try some of the recipes we create with them!
Have a question for Ask A Dietitian? Ask it below!
Dietitian Melanie Wirth has worked at Taher for over 15 years. She graduated from the University of MN, Twin Cities with a degree in nutrition. She also worked in healthcare early in her career and moved into the food business due to her passion to promote health and wellness to people at the source.