LiveWell @ Worship > Gimme Some Sugar!

From Our November Newsletter:

If you were here for our Fifth Sunday program by Live Well Greenville last year, you may remember counting out the added sugar in foods that we typically eat. This month we will revisit that lesson and see how we might limit added sugar for better health benefits.

Of course, our bodies need sugar to provide fuel to our brains, red blood cells, and kidneys. When we don’t have enough sugar to provide that energy, our liver makes an alternative fuel called ketones from fats. By eating a well balanced, healthy diet, we should have all the nutrients we need to keep our cells properly fed.

All kinds of foods contain sugars, either those which occur naturally or those which are added. Added sugars have extra calories but provide nothing in the way of nutrition.
Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products have natural sugars paired with fiber and protein, which make it possible for our bodies to access the sugar in our blood over a longer period of time. Our blood sugar remains much more stable, enabling us to maintain steady levels of energy without hunger.

“If you're like most people in the U.S., you eat 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day. That adds up to 285 calories, which health experts say is way too much. How much sugar should you be eating? No more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) daily for women. That's 100 calories. Men should get a max of 9 teaspoons (36 grams). That's 150 calories.” (WebMD, The Truth About Sugar Addiction,

What are some of the other risks associated with added sugar? We all know too much sugar can cause weight gain. A heavier weight makes it harder for our body to use insulin. Insulin controls our blood sugar and, when our bodies resist insulin, the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes go up. Obesity also adds to the risk of heart disease and stroke; high blood pressure; some cancers, including breast cancer; osteoarthritis; and breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma.

You might not add table sugar to coffee or tea, so where should you look to see if added sugar grams are sneaking into your diet? As you read these, keep in mind that a gram of sugar has four calories. Common sources include:
● flavored yogurt, even low fat (Blueberry Activia has 19 grams of sugar per 4.4oz. serving, more than a Twinkie!);
● prepared dressings and sauces (barbecue sauce can contain 6 grams of sugar per tablespoon);
● granola and snack bars (8 grams of sugar per 1 bar serving);
● baked goods (1 chocolate chip can have up to 35 grams);
● sodas, flavored coffees; and energy drinks (1 can cola has 28 grams of sugar);
● instant oatmeal and breakfast cereals (31.2 grams in Raisin Bran, 35.6 grams in Frosted Flakes);
● and, of course, our Southern favorite - sweetened tea (40 grams of sugar per 16 oz. serving!)

Prepared or prepackaged items that have less than 10 grams of sugar per serving are healthier choices. Be sure to read labels carefully, especially the sugar grams in prepared foods because sugar hides under many names in the ingredient list. This fall, labels will change to reflect added sugar grams, making it much easier to track how much added sugar you eat every day. And be sure to check portion size - cereals are usually one cup, not one bowlful.

If you crave sugar, try eliminating one source a week. Perhaps you could substitute a piece of fresh fruit for a dessert or steel-cut oats made from scratch for instant oatmeal. (See this month’s healthy, convenient recipe!). Don’t try to eliminate all added sugar cold turkey. Too much change at one time can lead to failure and frustration.

My goal for the coming month is to track added sugar grams and work toward limiting them to 25 per day by the end of the year. How about you?

November 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Getty

A follow-up to our earlier post about sugar: How The Food Industry Helps Engineer Our Cravings

December 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura Getty