With a holiday weekend approaching I’ve been thinking about the mass quantities of candy that will be consumed over the next week. Easter candies are sweet indulgences and high in empty calories which means that it provides energy but no nutrition. I’m prepped to eat more sugar than I’m used to (not to mention, I’ll be near Hershey, PA this weekend) so I wanted to look a little deeper into sugar and how it effects the body.
So here’s a little lesson: we all know fruit is sugary because it contains fructose which is a monosaccharide. Monosaccharides take our bodies one step to break down and absorb. Drinking fresh juice, though low in fiber, is abundant in nutrition but high in fructose at the same time. Sucrose, typically table sugar, and sugar added to food and candy is a disaccharide and takes two steps for our bodies to break down and absorb. Both sugars trigger an insulin (a hormone released from the pancreas to regulate the sugar we ingest) release but the insulin that gets released from fructose intake is less than the insulin released when sucrose is ingested. Over time, if the body can no longer release enough insulin to regulate the sugar in the blood then diabetes can develop. Separate from diabetes, high amounts of sugar in the diet can also lead to inflammation which could lead to heart disease, cancer and other “western diseases.”
Now that we have an idea how the body processes sugar and what can happen when you eat too much over time, I ask you all to pay attention to your sugar intake. A person should ingest about 25 g or 6tsp of sugar per day. The American Heart Association says that women should ingest about 100 calories from added sugar and men should ingest about 150 calories from added sugar per day.
Take a look at the nutrition facts on the package of what you’re eating and add up the amount of sugar in a day. The results may be a surprise. I was shocked to see how much sugar is in my favorite Chobani yogurt. 18g of sugar! Yowza! I love Chobani, it has a lot of protein, which I need since I’m not eating meat, so I’m still going to eat it. That just means that I have to pay more attention to where superfluous sugars may be creeping into my diet.
Sweets, like everything else, are fine in moderation. I’m a jelly bean girl when it comes to Easter candy. I sample the flavors and that’s enough for me. I think this is a good way to keep my sugar intake under control. And I don’t eat a lot of candy unless it’s a holiday. I don’t like milk chocolate. When it comes to chocolate, for me, the darker and more natural, the better.
I’m giving some general homework: become more aware of your sugar intake. Remember to take into account the soda and alcohol you consume too. Most importantly, take some time to sit quietly and focus-in on how you feel after eating those sweets. If you don’t feel normal, don’t feel well, or feel jittery and hyper, use this to bring yourself a better awareness of how much sugar you can or can not consume.
And now you know, and “knowing is half the battle.” Happy Wednesday everyone!