Halloween is coming…and you know what that means, right? The sugar industry is greedily drooling about this time of year. Why? Because in the U.S., it is estimated that we spend close to $2 billion dollars on Halloween candy alone. And for what? Do you feel better as a result? Or do you, and your children, end up experiencing more sugar burnout: suppressed immune system, obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, accelerated aging, and a host of other health concerns?
The good news – it’s not all your fault. Marketing of sugary products is very intentional and very deceptive. In fact, the food industry spends millions upon millions of dollars each year to advertise products loaded with sugar to a population that just can’t seem to get enough.
Keep in mind that food manufacturers try to disguise the excessive amounts of sugar in a product by using multiple sugar derivatives, not just one. Since ingredients are listed on the label in order from highest amount to lowest amount by weight it can be deceptive. Refer to the Sugar content on the label keeping in mind that 4 grams is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Here’s a list of refined sugars and its synonyms: corn syrup solids, beet sugar, brown sugar, caramel, dextran, dextrose, diastase, diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, fructose (fruit sugar), fruit juice and fruit juice concentrates, glucose, glucose solids, golden sugar, grape sugar, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS, also called corn sugar), invert sugar, lactose (milk sugar), malt syrup, maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, raw sugar, refiner’s syrup, sorbitol, sucrose (white table sugar), turbinado sugar, xylitol, and yellow sugar.
Other sweeteners that are processed very little if at all, therefore more natural, but still high in calories are: barley malt, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, date sugar, dehydrated sugar cane juice (Sucanat), fruit (includes dried), honey, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, rice syrup powder (DevanSweet), sorghum syrup.
[Tip: Stevia is an herb, has zero calories and an excellent substitute for all the above, especially in place of artificial sweeteners.]
From early childhood, with a mother’s breast milk, we learn quickly to have a sweet tooth. Sweetness is one of the major tastes registered by the taste buds of our tongues. Most people feel deprived if they can’t have their sweets.
As an adult, are you still a sugar junkie? Do you find it hard to break your childish ways?
Do you look forward to the joys of the holiday and all things sweet? What about your children? Do you know how much sugar you and your children are eating?
One hundred and fifty-six pounds!! Yes, that’s how much added sugar the average American consumes each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is up from just 12 pounds in the early 1800’s. That’s more than 1,300% in the last 200 years! Just imagine: 31 five-pound bags for each of us!
According to The Sugar Association, a trade group of sugar manufacturers, only 29 pounds comes from the sugar bowl, the rest comes from foods. Of course, those foods include things like candy, soda and sport drinks, and junk food. But plenty of sugar is hiding in foods where you might least expect it.
What about the other 127 pounds of sugar? A large chunk, making up 26% of added sugars, comes from a variety of prepared foods like ketchup, canned vegetables and fruits, and peanut butter. In the American diet, the major source of “added sugar” – not including naturally occurring sugars, like the fructose in fruit – is drinks. They account for 33% of all added sugars consumed. According to the USDA, sweetened fruit drinks account for 10% of the total added sugars we consume. Candy and cake come in at 5% each. Ready-to-eat cereal comprises 4% of the total.
Refined sugar acts more like a drug that our bodies need to detoxify rather than a nutrient-supplying food, which in fact it is void of nutrients. A number of important nutrients are stripped away during the sugar refining process, and our bodies actually have to use their own mineral reserves just to digest it. With lots of calories but no nutrients, sugar is the number one cause of America’s weight problem and lack of nutrition to keep our bodies functioning properly.
Sugar averages for children are around 36 teaspoons a day – a contributing factor that cancer has become the number one “killer disease in children” in the past several years.
Sugar consumption is robbing their young bodies of oxygen and making their cells very acidic while shutting down their immune systems. And when a child is sick, they don’t need sugar in order to “make them feel better.”
In a perfect world, I would tell you to forget about eating sugar and just stick with healthy foods. That’s still the best advice to follow the majority of the time. But it’s not always practical — or realistic, especially during the holidays such as Halloween.
Simple sugars, also known as simple carbohydrates, supply virtually instant energy for the body, but they don’t provide energy that lasts. Complex carbohydrates on the other hand require longer digestion to be absorbed allowing the sugars they contain to release more slowly and gradually in the bloodstream providing longer lasting energy for the body. Although the media presents dietary fat as the main culprit in the development of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (the 3 leading disease killers in the U.S. today) sugar appears to be the real source. We’d be much better off if we never ate another gram of sugar.
Nutritionally, there is little difference between processed carbohydrates and simple sugars since in refining nutrient dense whole grains to have a long shelf life as much as 86% of the nutrients are lost. So instead of being healthy foods, these processed carbohydrates contribute to blood-sugar, weight gain, and malnutrition problems with very little in return.
Highest on my list of sugars to avoid is high fructose corn syrup (“corn sugar”), which is basically sugar derived from cornstarch. Usage of HFCS increased drastically due to high sugar prices back in the 1970’s. By 2003, consumption was up 1,000% from a faint ½ pound per person in 1970 to 62 pounds – mostly from beverages. It is associated with blood sugar problems, depression, fatigue, B-vitamin deficiency, hyperactivity, tooth decay, periodontal disease and indigestion to name a few, primarily due to the high concentrations of fructose.
For your family’s sake: don’t make every day Halloween. Don’t make every day a sugar-filled day. I’m not saying that you should take all the fun out of the holidays. But, perhaps it’s time to begin a new family tradition, one that is more intentional regarding your health and that of your children.
Instead of overindulging your children (and yourself), and creating negative habits and patterns that could lead to health and emotional issues, begin by limiting sugar consumption.
And please don’t do it by switching to treats artificially sweetened with Splenda® or Nutrasweet®, which is made from aspartame. They’re even worse than eating sugar! Aspartame is 10% wood alcohol – which your body metabolizes into various carcinogens! Fully three-quarters of all non-drug complaints to the FDA involve aspartame. Complaints include headaches, dizziness, mood changes, numbness, vomiting, nausea, muscle cramps and spasms, abdominal pain, vision problems, skin lesions, memory loss and seizures.
Rather than allowing your children and even yourself to load up on candy bars, hard candy, or other sweets, encourage healthier food choices, such as a piece of fruit or eat snacks and desserts made with natural sweeteners.
To your wellness,