In a nutrition class I took this spring, Dr. Erlandsen taught us that, for optimal long-term health, adults should consume no more than about 25g of added sugar daily. There are about 12g of sugar in a tablespoon! By added sugar, he excluded naturally occurring sugars such as fructose in your fruit and lactose in your milk. Added sugar includes any that’s added to prepared products such as breads and commercial juices. Keep in mind that prepared products can be store bought or home-made.
I aim to consume less sugar daily, and certainly less added sugar. While sugar is necessary for sustaining life, the impact of high amounts of it on our bodies is deleterious and the majority of us are a far cry from have sugar deficiencies. In observing my habits, one of my sugar culprits is creamer in my coffee. I love me a steaming cup of that creamy wake-up-and-love-life goodness. I drink 2 cups a day and add 2-3 tablespoons per cup.
When taste-testing, I used to add the sweet stuff till it tasted just like I wanted. By the end of the cup, the drink was so sweet it was distasteful. So I trained myself to start with it less sweet than I think I want. You can inure or habituate yourself to consume less sugar (or other offenders like salt) this way. Just a few sips into the drink, it tasted just right and continued to be so to the last drop.
You can also do this with your other senses such as hearing. Start a TV show off at a lower volume than normal. Your hearing will habituate to it, as long as the volume within a reasonable threshold. The same thing goes for smells, especially with things like perfumes.
A majority of recipes call for ridiculous amounts of sugar. Think for yourself, promote mindfulness and don’t do things just because a recipe called for it. Get in the habit of using about half of the amount of sugar called for in recipes when you make them yourself. The difference is astounding: it does’t taste that much less sweet and you can actually taste other ingredients like spices or flavorings better when your sweet receptors aren’t overwhelmed with syrupy taste.
Another area where being mindful pays off is with portion sizes. You don’t have to accept or eat a portion of dessert just because it’s pre-cut and served to you, e.g. at a birthday part. Ask for less. Or take what you are given and eat just part of it.
Soda and fruit juices have got to be the worst offenders when it comes to sugar consumption. They have zero to minimal benefit and horrific consequences. Don’t fall victim to clever marketing and thinking that you need to consume them. Cutting regular consumption of those will give your body – and your wallet – significant relief.
Be more aware of habits that impact your health and take small steps towards wellness. You’ll start to notice that things you thought tasted normal soon taste too sweet. Be drastic when it comes to children or when you are diagnosed with a lifestyle related disease. Sugar is a real killer.