November is National Diabetes Month. Perhaps you are not one of the 24 million people in the US with Diabetes. For this reason, maybe you don’t give diabetes much thought. What if I told you. at the rate we’re at 1 in 3 children born in the U.S. may have diabetes in their future? I was at Good Morning America this morning talking sugar for Good Morning America Health(I will add the link to the segment when I get it). The truth is, diabetes aside, most of us eat too much sugar. On average we have 22 teaspoons (88grams) of sugar a day. For women, that’s over 3 times the maximum amount we should consume.
I mentioned in a Halloween post last week that candy isn’t where we get most of this sugar. If you add soda and juice drinks together they account for 40 percent of our sugar intake. If we were to add coffee and tea-based drinks the number would be even higher. If you want to reduce your sugar intake or your children’s sugar intake start with a beverage intervention. Soda, smoothies, yogurt drinks, chai teas and mochas are full of sugar. Most of these items contain your day’s worth of sugar. Instead try Hint water, Ayala Herbal Waters, Ito En Teas Tea and Boylan’s seltzers for sugar free, sweetener free drinks.
As for better sweeteners, there is agave nectar, honey and stevia. You’re probably seeing these in many more products. Agave has received attention as a lower glycemic sweetener; this means agave raises your blood sugar less than sugar or corn syrup. It has a great taste and is fairly sweet. You don’t need a lot of agave to sweeten teas, dressings or on French toast or pancakes. Agave isn’t calorie free and should be portioned out. Organicville is a great brand of ketchup and Wings of Nature are delicious snack bars, both use agave for sweetness. As for stevia, I see it as a natural alternative to equal and splenda. Stevia is available in packet form; you’ll see it as Truvia and Purevia . Zevia is a stevia sweetened soda that a lot of people like. It is a very good option for diabetics. The downside to stevia is that some find it has a licorice-like aftertaste, see what you think.
In term of sugar free products, I am always a little leery. Many sugar free cookies, candies and gums use sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols end in –ol, you’ve probably seen sorbitol, maltitol or xylitol on ingredient lists. These sweeteners do raise your blood sugar, though not as much as sugar and can cause GI distress (aka gas or diarrhea) in quantities exceeding 10 grams. I tend to feel that sweet begets sweet and the more sweet we eat, “sugar free” or sweetened the more we will crave. My advice would be to stick to 1 sweet a day whether that’s a coffee drink or a sweetened yogurt and to choose more natural sweeteners whenever possible. If we could do that, add some fiber to our diets (oatmeal, fruits with skin) and sprinkle some blood sugar lowering cinnamon on our food…that would be the sweetest thing.
Where do you get sweet in your day? What sweetener to you use?