There is a lot of debate about how much sugar we should be eating. Food processors are overwhelming our bodies with extra sugar. However, we still need to eat some natural sugars to help our body’s natural processes. So, how much should we actually be eating?
How Does Sugar Help Our Bodies?
It is important to maximize the benefit of the sugars we put into our bodies. Naturally occurring sugars are beneficial to your diet. However, sucrose, or table sugar, is often the main source of the sugar you eat, and sugar is your primary energy source. When we’re using a large quantity of sugar in our diet outside of the natural sugars we’re getting in fruits and vegetables, our body is trying to consume a large energy source that it can’t properly consume. The enzymes in your intestine work break down sugars into glucose and fructose, which allows your liver to process the sugars and your bloodstream to transport them throughout your body. Insulin helps cells take up the glucose and the cells turn it into the energy you use.
Our bodies are constantly breaking down foods and sugars into this energy so we always have it available. When there are extra sugars, our bodies store them for a time when we will need them. It is important to consume only the amount of food necessary to avoid weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, or other ailments related to excess sugar intake. In other words, too much sugar leads to weight gain as your body begins to store sugar it can’t consume.
What is the Recommended Amount?
How are you supposed to make sure you and your family are consuming the right amount of sugar? This requires a little bit of legwork on your end, as nutrition labels don’t make it easy. Unlike all the other aspects of your food that are being broken down on the label, sugar is the only one that does not include a percentage of daily recommended intake. This is because there is still debate on the recommended daily amount.
Currently, the American Heart Association recommends that men consume no more than 150 calories of sugar, woman 100 calories, and children 130 to 170 calories. Determining how many calories your family is consuming will require some math. There are four calories in one gram of sugar. The nutrition label on foods does list grams of sugar.
Take some time to go through your family’s typical day’s diet. Use a rough estimate of the ingredients you are consuming to determine about how many calories of sugar each day your family is eating.
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How Can You Maintain the Right Levels?
Cutting back on sugar and getting yourself and your family to the recommended levels will increase your health and energy. Too much added sugar just adds calories. I’m a big believer in Stevia as a sweetener. It is natural and doesn’t contribute to weight gain. A little bit goes a long way. Here are some tips for meal times to limit your sugar intake.
Avoid sugary cereals or waffles with syrup. Instead, have a Greek yogurt or yogurt with no added sugars. Try topping it with some chopped nuts for extra protein.
It is very easy to grab a quick cookie or pastry but have some veggies or fruits instead. These nutrient-rich foods should help curb your cravings.
Protein-rich foods and snacks are key during lunch. Replacing store-bought bread, which can be loaded with added sugars, with a whole-wheat wrap can bring levels down. Instead of offering the kids sugary snacks like crackers or chips, include veggies in their lunches. The extra vegetables will bulk up the meal, leaving them more satisfied.
Avoid eating out or ordering delivery food as much as you can. A homemade meal with nutrient-rich ingredients can go a long way. Stir-fry recipes are quick and easy and offer great health benefits.
Lowering your sugar intake can be difficult. It will be a trial and error process to determine what foods will work best for your family. Just keep in mind the recommended values and encourage your family to make good food choices.
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