Weighing In: Cutting out the sugar together

Published on Saturday, 12 April 2014 17:48 - Written by Coshandra Dillard cdillard@tylerpaper.com

I’ve written much about the evils of sugar already, but I think there’s plenty more to bring to the table. If I struggle with it, I know someone else does, too. So here it goes.

This week our company began a few new mini-challenges. We’ve had weight loss and other challenges for about three years now, as inspired by Fit City Tyler.

This latest one challenges employees to eliminate processed sugar from our diets.

Our wellness committee, which plans the challenges, is encouraging us to eliminate added sugars and artificial sweeteners. This includes table sugar, honey, agave, aspartame, Splenda, soda and diet soda.

Food with naturally occurring sugar, such as fruits, vegetables, and Stevia, are acceptable.

This particular challenge has my coworkers talking, mainly because most of us have a sweet tooth and sugar is everywhere.

It’s not that sugar is so horrible that we should avoid it at all costs. Of course we can have something sweet from time to time. The problem is, with our industrialized food supply, we often consume sugar without even knowing it.

If you shop for items along the grocery store aisles, it’s almost impossible to avoid added sugar.

Look at cans of tomato soup and bottles of barbeque sauce. High fructose corn syrup is often the second ingredient. If you want to avoid that, you’ll pay double, or even triple for a simpler and less processed alternative.

I’ve examined the labels of high-priced “natural” cereals and granolas that boast of being wholesome, but again, the second ingredient is brown sugar. Some deli meats have added sugar, and high fructose corn syrup is added to a lot of breads.

We think we’re doing well by eating flavored yogurt, but you might as well have had a candy bar. Do you use canned spaghetti sauce or drizzle salad dressing on your greens? Yep, more added sugar to your meal.

Sometimes we miss the added sugar because it’s called by another name, such as dextrose, maltose, barley malt and cane juice.

Some doctors and scientists believe excessive sugar is toxic to our bodies. It certainly isn’t helping our health. According to a new documentary, “Fed Up,” set for a May 9 release, our sugar habit is driving disease.

In the film, they declare that one in three Americans will have diabetes by the year 2050. And within two decades, 95 percent of Americans will be overweight or obese.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine, added sugar increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers said people who got more than 25 percent of their calories from sugar were more likely to die from a heart attack, than those who got less than 10 percent of their calories from sugar.

The American Heart Association’s recommendations is no more than six teaspoons or 100 calories a day of sugar for women and no more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories a day for men. You could easily rack that up with one large soda.

It will take a lot of effort, time and cultural changes to get excess sugar out of our food. In the meantime, read labels, buy whole foods as often as possible and drink water. As for our challenge, I hope that I, along with my coworkers, can make this a lifelong change rather than a novel, temporary fix.

Visit heart.org for more information about sugar and how to reduce consumption of it. To learn more about “Fed Up,” visit fedupmovie.com.