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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sugar, Not So Sweet?

Ah, sugar, the ultimate seducer, wrecker of diets, destroyer of teeth. What would we do without you? Fortunately, I've never been a sugarholic but my husband's family is adicted. His parents used to bring their own sweets to my house because I didn't serve enough desserts. His mother has cut back on sweets at the recommendation of her doctor and I admire her self control. My side of the family has their share of problems when it comes to sugar with at least one person fighting diabetes.

My husband brought home a brief article about sugar last night from Cardiology News, thus prompting today's topic. "The American Heart Association recommends that Americans drastically cut their intake of sugar to ward off obesity and related conditions." Not surprisingly, a 2004 survey found that Americans eat about 22 teaspoons (or 355 extra calories) of added sugar a day! That's rather disgusting when you think about it. Measure out those 22 teaspoons and take a good look. Would you want to sit down with a spoon and eat that much sugar straight up? The article says that most of that sugar is in drinks with about 8 teaspoons in the average 12 ounce soda. (Remember I addressed drinks in an earlier blog.)
There is plenty of added sugar in other foods that you might not even think of having sugar. Read the labels. The ketchup, salad dressing, tomato soup and a package of spicy Kung Pao asian noodles found in my kitchen right now all have added sugar.

What to do? Give up sodas. Just give them up all together or at least cut back to one a day per person. It will help on your food budget as well. I was adicted to Mountain Dew but now I couldn't even begin to drink one. They are simply too sweet for me. I don't think switching to diet sodas is the answer. I heard a blurb on TV yesterday that people who drink too many artificially sweetened drinks have a higher risk of developing kidney problems. Cut back on all sugary drinks like lemonade, orange juice, coffees and watch those flavored bottled waters. Many have sugar in them.

Cut back on the sugar you add to food when cooking. I mentioned in an earlier blog that I cut back on sugar when baking and no one notices. In some recipes, I omit the sugar. Keep candy and store bought cakes, pies, and cookies out of the house. Remember that granola bars are mostly glorified candy bars.

Now at this point, I should mention that our house is not a sugar free zone. My husband's nurse was surprised that I made doughnuts recently. I do have a bit of an undeserved reputation as a total health nut. I LIMIT the bad stuff and I bake it myself mostly. We have dessert about 2 or 3 times a week. The kids eat a sweet breakfast on Wednesdays and I make pancakes or muffins on Saturday or Sunday. There are healthier alternatives that still take care of your sweet tooth. Earlier I mentioned Fiber One pancake and muffin mix for example.

It would be lovely to eat what we want all the time but to be healthy, we have to eat healthy most of the time. I choose health for my family. I hope you do too.

My next post will talk about high fructose corn syrup.