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?
I still use Splenda(in coffee and Fage yogurt), but I have been thinking about switching to sugar in the raw. Now I think I will try stevia or agave nectar.
I use nothing don't like sweet drinks he he thanks so much for visiting my blog love your site Rebecca
Catherine- I would make the switch, experiment a bit. Rebecca, nothing sweet at all in your day? Wow.
Lauren, thanks so much for the mention and the great post.
I love your advice regarding cinnamon’s sweet perception. We use cinnamon in two of our Herbal Water flavors because it’s delicious, and also gives an indulgent sense of sweetness without adding sugar or calories.
Giving up sweet drinks has been a huge deal for us. It took my diet coke addicted husband a long time to embrace water, but he finally did it. We drink water, sparkling water (love the Sodaman machine!), unsweetened green tea and gin. Sometimes I'll indulge in a lemonade if I know it will be really good. Otherwise, my sweet comes from fruit or the rare candy treat.
This is a great post. Very straight forward. I think taste buds also come in to play when cutting back. If we eat a lot of sugar, are taste buds become accustomed to it and "desensitize". But, the good news is that they can regenerate and become more sensitive to sweet taste again. So when you first try to cut back and switch to less sweet products it may be hard, but in a few weeks it will become easier!
Thanks for the Zevia shout out! We would love to give all of your readers a coupon – http://www.zevia.com/couponsignup.html
Love ZEVIA! Root Beer is the best. No more diet coke for me!!!
I made the switch from Splenda to sugar in the raw in January, and have never looked back.. It makes a hugee difference in my afternoon sugar cravings!
Did a sugar lesson with my students the other day and was in awe of some of the sugar content of cereals.. obviously something like Reese Pieces Puffs or Cocoa Krispies, I would assume, but 1 1/2 cups of Raisin Bran Crunch has the same amount of sugar as a can of Pepsi!
I had to give up sugar for medical reasons and I have a sweet tooth. so far the best sweetener I found is xylitol (Perfect Sweet), it's a natural plant product that spoons out the same as sugar, and it tastes like a slightly more mellow version than sugar. The only side effect I have been able to find is that in some people it causes a mild laxative effect usually if it taken in very high doses. Everything in moderation.