Sodding Sugary SodaArticles of Interest . Recipes and Health Facts . Training notes
Americans have the most access to food in the world and yet we eat the worst, what is up with that?! We eat and eat and never seem to get full too! Part of the reason for this is the lifestyle we live, the other is the food we actually have access to eat. Our lifestyle we can change but can we really change the food we have access to? The answer is that depends…if you are willing to spend the time and of course with the money anything is possible. One of the biggest contributors to health and obesity problems in this country is artificial additives, from radiating our meat to chemical flavor enhancers to the topic today, high fructose corn syrup. In the USA high fructose corn syrup is commonly used in place of sugar in processed foods. Most of us don’t even know we are eating it, as the average American eats an astounding 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year! That means the average American is consuming 51.6 grams of high fructose corn syrup a day! The USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams (8 tsp) of added sugar per day for a person with a 2000 calorie diet (calculate how many calories you should consume a day).
Before we continue let’s take a second and examine why we care about high fructose corn syrup. To be clear there is no conclusive evidence (no accepted studies done) that high fructose corn syrup is detrimental to your health. High fructose corn syrup contains the same amount of fructose as sugar. Despite this there is concern in the health community. The reasons include the fact that beverages containing high fructose corn syrup have a higher level of carbonyl’s (reactive compounds) which ARE linked to cell and tissue damage that causes diabetes. Also many nutritionists think that we can better process natural foods then food additives and artificial foods. Makes sense to me but my personal reasons are one foods with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup taste better; and, it just makes sense that natural is healthier. With that out of the way let’s get back to our discussion.
There is some good news and some bad news… The good news is that “added sugar” means “man added” so sugars found in fruits and vegetables are free! Of course eating fruits and vegetables is expensive but that’s not the bad news… The bad news is that the above figures do not include our additional consumption of sugar! See the key word when looking at the daily allowance of 32 grams of “added sugar“. Take a look at what comprises “Added Sugar”…
- Names for added sugars on food labels include:
- brown sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- fruit juice concentrates
- high-fructose corn syrup
- invert sugar
- malt syrup
- raw sugar
So here is the bad news is that the amount we discussed earlier of high fructose corn syrup consumed doesn’t include other sugars! While most of us don’t even know we are eating 41.5 lbs of high fructose corn syrup per year; we also need to understand that the average American is eating an additional 44.5 lbs of sugar per year! That means the average American is consuming 55.3 grams of sugar a day! Combined the average American consumes 86 lbs of added sugar per year or 106.9 grams of added sugar per day! Remember that the USDA daily recommends your daily diet contain no more then 32 grams of added sugar per day. That means the average American is consuming almost 75 grams more added sugar then the daily recommended amount. Shocking or Not? To illustrate why this is bad news; by drinking one can of soda a day the average person will gain 5 lbs in one year. A can of soda contains between 31 and 36 grams of sugar or your entire daily allowance.
- Foods that contain most of the added sugars in American diets are:
- regular soft drinks
- fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch (not 100% fruit juices)
- milk-based desserts and products, such as ice cream, sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk
- grain products such as sweet rolls and cinnamon toast
Now that we have all of this information and a pretty good picture of what this means to our health; what are we going to do? I personally do not believe in sudden drastic change unless you are in an extreme situation (health, risk of death, etc). Sudden drastic change is usually to difficult to stick with which can only lead to failure. To really make a change start small, instead of cutting out snacks between meals right away switch to healthy snacks for 3-4 months, then cut down on the snacks and eventually make the jump to no snacking between meals within 6-9 months. This is a realistic plan and will help you cut your overall added sugar consumption since most snacks are high in calories and added sugars. Cutting out between meal snacks will reduce your daily calorie intake which of course will lead to weight loss. It is important that you couple the weight loss with exercise or your body will loos muscle mass before losing fat which can be detrimental to your health (watch for the upcoming article about muscle loss and maintenance!). It takes a minimum of 3 months to make something a habit but if you are breaking a life long bad habit it can take longer so be patient with yourself but not soft on yourself! Improving your diet can be costly however if you are eating less it should be a wash in the long run. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself occasionally as well but be careful it doesn’t make you fall off the wagon. Use your rewards as a goal (ice cream on Friday night, etc) but try to push yourself to better goals too. When Friday rolls around perhaps you forgo the ice cream to Saturday night or the next week, thereby increasing your willpower and shaping new positive habits by proving to yourself that you can go without those extra unhealthy sweets if you really want to, it is empowering and rewarding to have that control!
Now that you understand your diet a little better and what it presently contains perhaps you can improve your situation. The better you feel the better you can train! That’s what it is all about reaching new heights of personal achievement that is why you are working towards your black belt or next rank. Use your goals to help you improve your whole life and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve!! Good luck, train hard, train often!
And by all means post your questions, comments, personal stories and additions to the comments section!
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