Growing up, my dad set a no sugar in the first 3 ingredients on any food label rule. Why did he set this rule? Ask me at 10 years old and the response is “He’s a MONSTER!” I know now that he was just looking out for my health.
People love sugar. I. Love. Sugar. It makes all food delicious. Unfortunately, it is the emptiest of empty calories. If I was the type of person to make a sugar pun, which I absolutely am, I’d say – it’s a pretty raw deal in terms of nutrients and we can’t escape it. That addictive dust creeps into everything. Salad dressings, crackers, bread, protein bars, yogurt, soy milk and basically every condiment. Even if you shy away from sweets, odds are you still have a kitchen full of added sugar.
Now, take this moment and formulate your own image of a stern dad. Then picture him with you the next time you’re in the grocery store about to buy some “healthy” greek yogurt with sugar as the second ingredient. He’s looking down at you with his eyes gazing just above the rim of his glasses. He’s addressing you by your first and middle names. You’re starting to sweat and are frantically searching all of the yogurts when you finally realize that plain is the only flavor that doesn’t break the sugar rule. When you’re used to the sweet stuff, plain yogurt can be a little sad at first. You’ll come around to love plain yogurt after awhile and the sweet yogurt will be too intense. Try adding your own berries and nuts to mix things up. Just avoid adding honey. That stuff always seems to find a way into yogurt. What’s that about?
*This is the shock and awe revelation type part of this blog*
I hope you’re sitting down.
Honey and maple syrup are actually just SUGAR
When your body is going through the process of breaking down sugar, also known as glycolysis, it isn’t rejoicing that you decided to eat honey instead of the granulated white gold. There’s no biochemical parade or congratulatory patting of carbon molecule backs for this choice. You’re still going to breakdown a natural form of sugar and use it as an immediate source of energy, store it for later use, or deposit it forevermore as fat fat fat. The key is avoid a lot of those sugary foods that don’t also provide the good stuff like vitamins, minerals and fiber.
I’m constantly seeing those words, “healthy” and “natural” on packaging for items with honey and maple syrup as one of the top 3 ingredients. This means, that sugar is in the top 3 of the things that this thing is! Go ahead and read that last sentence again if you need to. I feel like taking these packages up to an unassuming grocery store worker and saying “You know this is just dessert right? You meant to put these protein bars in the cookie aisle. I’ve gathered them all here in my shopping cart and will gladly re-shelve them for you.”
People are buying these products in the name of no added sugar. No added? You mean, in addition to ALL OF THE SUGAR? We love to hate words like “processed” and “refined” when thinking about sugar but don’t seem to be bothered by the addition of actual sugar if it’s in a liquidy tree sap or bee regurgitate form. Mmmm, bee regurgitate.
Repeat after to me…ehem…
Sugar is sugar, is sugar, is sugar
Sugar is to sugar as sugar is to sugar
Sugar is as sugar does
You may now take a bow.
I wouldn’t advise someone to go on a sugar elimination diet because, science tells us that eliminating something we love completely from our diet can lead to the crazies and then the binge-ies (see: any photo of me from 2014, the year I decided to stop drinking coffee but no one can remember why…also known as the decaf dark days).
A challenge! Take a peek at the food labels on your packaged goods. Are there items that you could switch out for something lower in sugar? Remember that sugar likes to use disguises on food labels. Some common names that are synonymous with sugar are: high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, dextrose, rice syrup, sucrose, and agave to name a few.
If you’re buying items with sugar listed in the first 3 ingredients, expect a call from my dad.
A stands for Abigail