Sweet, Silent Sabotage…

It creeps in, slowly sabotaging our health. The more we have of it, the more we crave it. For some of us, it feels like it controls us. Our thoughts circulate about our next fix and it has been referred to as having a greater addictive control than street drugs like cocaine.

It comes in many forms and is often marketed differently based on age and stage of life.

For children, it is packaged in brightly coloured vessels that quickly draw the eye. It comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and is often considered a rite of passage during childhood. It is conveniently placed at eye level at the grocery store checkout.  Many holidays focus in on the collection of it. Halloween, advent calendars & candy canes, cinnamon hearts and chocolate bunnies keep the desire for more fueled. Breakfast cereals add marshmallow bits and chocolate to their product and then boast about the 2 grams of fibre per serving.

For teens, it comes brightly coloured in plastic bottles or cans in addition to the brightly coloured bits & pieces that drew their eyes to it as a child.

For adults, it comes in paper travel cups stamped with the emblem of their favourite morning stop in addition to the same things we began our love affair with as children and teenagers.

Mel-sugar2Sugar is a sweet, silent sabotage to our health. We are hard wired from a young age to enjoy sugar. Breast milk is quite sweet and we get used to the warm cozy feelings associated with eating from a very young age. Sugar equals comfort for many of us. Add in special memories attached to the consumption of sugar such as birthday parties, family trips out for ice cream and hanging out with friends. I will not argue that we have an innate need for sugar. It gives us energy and to fuels our brains. The issue that I have is the source of the sugar.

The World Health Organization recommends that we consume no more than following amounts of refined sugars:

Preschool aged children              4 tsp

Children ages 4 to 8                     3 tsp

Adults                                            6 to 9 tsp

According to the WHO, most North Americans consume approximately 26 tsp daily. I suspect we are grossly under estimating that value.

Let’s look at the following items…

  • A can of Coke has 39 grams or 9.75 tsp of sugar.
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt has 28 grams or 7.25 tsp of sugar. 3 tsp of this sugar comes from lactose which is naturally occurring, but the additional 4.25 tsp is refined sugar.
  • 1 medium Tim Horton’s Hot Chocolate has 49 grams or 12.25 tsp of sugar.
  • 1 child sized Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s has 68 grams or 17 tsp of sugar. (The simple fact that anything considered, ‘child sized’ contains 17 tsp of sugar is beyond me!)
  • 1 Starbucks Chai Tea Latte has 42 grams or 10.5 tsp of sugar.

The list could go on, really it could for quite some time. We need to do better for our children, our nieces, our nephews and for ourselves.  According to the Senate who recently made recommendations based on a study conducted from February 2014 to June 2015, the number of obese adults since 1980 has doubled and the rate of obese children has tripled! Every year in Canada, 48,000 to 66,000 people die due to conditions linked to excess weight. It is time to stop playing nice with the wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. Refined sugar is killing us. Every.Single.Day. Sugar substitutes are not the answer either! These substitutes have their own issues that are not health promoting either.

I am not calling for a complete ban on birthday cake, lollipops and lattes. I am asking you to take a good look around you though. Sugar is quite open about where it lives most of the time but I must ask you to look in places you least expect it to be hiding. Take a peek in your own kitchen, at your salad dressings, BBQ sauce, ketchup, pasta sauces and other processed foods. Stop sprinkling sugar on your Shreddies just because you did that when you were a kid. (Full disclosure – I totally did that and it took a good while to break that little beauty of a habit!) Stop drinking juice on a regular basis, even if it is 100% pure. Regardless of the purity, it is still the straight of sugar of the fruit without any of the fibre benefit. One glass of orange juice is like eating 3 to 5 oranges in one sitting. Most juice is highly processed anyways, going through multiple steps for pasteurization, preservation and flavour enhancements. Have you ever wondered how 2 different brands of orange juice have their own distinct flavours that never seem to change despite time of season & growing conditions?

1[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=Here is a handy chart of sneaky alias’ that sugar likes to go by. Print it off and hang it in your cupboard at home so you can quickly check the labels in your pantry.

I am okay with calling cake, lollipops and lattes treats. Here is the caveat though. A treat is a treat. According to Google’s definition, a treat is, “an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure.” Unfortunately, treats have become a daily occurrence, something expected rather than unexpected and almost always sugary.

Recently, as a family we did a one month challenge. Our challenge was to not have an after supper sweet or treat for the month of February unless it was actually a special occasion. I was feeling like we had gotten ourselves into a little treat rut. We were all expecting a little sugar surge after supper and I didn’t like where we were headed. We all made it through the month with a greater appreciation for what a treat actually should be – out of the ordinary. It wasn’t always easy. There was negotiating and a sense of relief once the month was done. We need to re-define what ‘treat’ means in our minds. Extra snuggle time before bed, an unexpected visit with a friend, a sticker or pencil can all be treats too.

It is time to rescue the next generation as well as ourselves from this sugary slope we are on. Let’s end this sweet, silent sabotage and move on to better things. It is time to teach our children how to cook and what real food tastes like! Sounds like the makings of my next post…

Share below your tips and tricks for reducing sugar in your home.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]