Here’s an exercise worth trying out: over the course of a week, make a note of everything that you eat and drink, whether consumed as part of a meal or in isolation. While putting that list together, also note the sugar content of any food or drink you consume. Once the week finishes, calculate your total sugar intake for each day. If your daily average exceeds nine teaspoons for men (six teaspoons for women), your diet contains too much sugar and you’re strongly advised to rethink your dietary habits.
Dervla Leavy Dental Care produced this infographic which looks at the alarming levels of sugar that we consume so regularly. Some of this intake is blatantly obvious, like having two teaspoons of sugar with a cup of tea, for instance. Soda is another prime culprit, with a standard 330ml can containing the same sugar as 16 strawberries, two plums and an orange put together. Candy, chips and chocolate are also hugely detrimental to your health given their sugar content. It is reasonably common knowledge that these foods and drinks are overloaded with sugar, yet we rarely say no to an invitation to ram a chocolate bar down our throats and wash it down with a can of Coca-Cola or Dr. Pepper.
What might surprise you is the abundance of sugar in a lot of items that are branded as healthy eating options when the reverse is much truer. Food and drink companies are very conscious of their use of words like ‘low fat’ and ‘diet’ in their products, preying successfully on the naivety of consumers who willingly accept the marketing that is put in front of their faces. A closer look at many of these products tells you that what they lack in some nutrients, they make up for in sugar.
Did you get a large coffee at Starbucks today? If so, don’t be surprised if that cup contained 100 grams of sugar. Maybe you’re a gym junkie and you snack on granola and protein bars regularly? These contain seismic amounts of sugar in a single bar, but that often gets lost among the glitzy packaging and muscle-bound model pictured in adverts for the product.
It’s worth taking a bit of time to read up on the different forms of sugar and their respective marketing names so that you’re not taken in by manipulative nutritional information. Also, aside from knowing what you’re eating, get into a routine of when you’re eating it – a routine that starts with a proper breakfast. People who skip breakfast are much more likely to succumb to the temptation of an 11am snack, so give yourself a little extra time in the morning for a full breakfast which will perk you up for a busy day.
A level of self-discipline will also be required. Fight the urge to have a sneaky candy bar, or to pull a multipack off the supermarket shelf. The sooner you get into healthy eating habits, the more likely they are to stick so that, before long, eating sugar snacks doesn’t even enter your thought process.
Check out the infographic below for more on the subject.