How much sugar are you eating?

Sweet food
Sugar, sugar everywhere.  It’s in EVERYTHING. Even in the so called “protein bars.”

Added sugar is horrible for your health. I’m grateful that the new food labels will include added sugars- I think it’s a huge improvement. It will be a great step to helping people realize what they’re eating because, let’s face the facts, most people have no clue.

In fact, do you know how much sugar you consume daily?  I’m not going to act like I do because I’ll be honest I don’t. I did, however, make it a point to limit the sugar in the foods I was eating a few years ago. But, that still doesn’t mean I know how much sugar I’m actually digesting.

The sugary truth

The average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar in one day.

sugar-spoons

 

photo credit: wishfit.wordpress.com

It’s safe to say that no one would go and eat 22 teaspoons of sugar on their own, so why do we eat that much in our food? Because we don’t know it’s there.

On most food packages, you see how many grams of sugar are in the product, but it’s hard to visualize and understand how much that actually is. So, to help you, here it is…the conversion of sugar from grams to teaspoons:

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar= 4 grams (1)

sugar cube

So, for example, when you see a protein bar that has 12 grams of sugar, that means you’re eating the equivalent of 3 teaspoons. I’m not sure about you, but that will make me rethink what I’m about to put into my mouth.

Check out the The American Heart Association for great advice to cut out added sugars.

Take a stand for your own health. Try to cut out added sugars. And, in the meantime…

 

Let’s get energized!

 

 

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Protein bars

I realize I haven’t posted anything in a week. I was on spring break, and boy did I need a break.

I’m a workaholic, so I forced myself not to do any type of work while I was on vacation. Trust me, it was painful to stay away from writing a blog post, but I dug down deep and survived!

Beautiful sunset on the Gulf Coast of Florida

Beautiful sunset on the Gulf Coast of Florida

I’m back now, though, and I want to make this a short one.

While I was on vacation, I was still reading articles. (Some habits are hard to break.) Before discussing the article, I want to first explain my position on  protein bars.

I’m an avid reader, especially when it comes to food labels. I read food labels like it’s my second job. No matter what I’m eating, buying, etc. I’m looking at the food labels first.

I eat a lot of protein bars and I’ve found that they’re not in fact protein, but “sugar” bars. If looked at closely, there’s more sugar in a bar than there is protein. While I was reading, I found an article that backs up my belief of “sugar” bars.

Nutrition label of Black Cherry Almond Clif Bar photo credit: http://www.clifbarstore.com/detail/CLF+160026

Nutrition label of Black Cherry Almond Clif Bar
photo credit: http://www.clifbarstore.com/detail/CLF+160026

It’s an interesting read and reveals the true makeup of what many believe to be a “healthy” alternative for a meal. The lesson learned: read the food labels on all protein bars and see how much sugar you’re actually eating.

 

Let’s get informed, and, most importantly… Let’s get energized!

 

FDA’s new food labels

It would be a complete shame as a health and fitness blogger, whose goal is to advocate and educate on living better, healthier lives, if I failed to mention the FDA’s proposed food label updates. Such a shame that I would have to deny myself the title of health and fitness blogger. Since I like said title, let’s chat about the FDA, shall we? 🙂

If some of you are unaware, the FDA announced late February it is going to update food labels. Some major changes include requiring information on the amount of added sugars, reflecting serving sizes based on the way people currently eat, and emphasizing certain elements.

taken from FDA

taken from FDA

Their efforts serve to address the current state of the obesity problem in the United States, which has led to diabetes, heart disease and more. I am all in favor of addressing these issues. I wouldn’t be writing a health and fitness blog if I wasn’t. But, I have some things to point out.

Added sugars

This is fantastic that they’re adding this. I’m completely ecstatic, seriously. It’s a great move toward informing people on what they’re actually eating. If you see there’s a bunch of added sugars, you know you’re eating junk.

The NY Times article from above even said that this can influence companies to start reducing the amount of added sugars like it did when calories from fat were included on food labels in 2006.

While I’m rejoicing at this update, I’m also left asking one thing. What about the manufacturers? What about restricting how much sugar they’re allowed to add?

I personally feel that the manufacturers are the ones who need to be responsible. They have a large say of what food is produced and sold, leading to the large influence on the American diet. It’s time they’re held responsible and not the food labels.

I know someone will read this and have some smart, legal reason why the FDA can’t do this. I welcome it because I want to know why.

Serving sizes

On certain food products, the serving sizes were deceptively labeled. Soda or juice, for example, would give nutritional information for 1/3 of a bottle, which no one actually drinks a 1/3 of a bottle. In this regard, I’m cheering.

taken from FDA

taken from FDA

I’m not cheering about two things.

One
Many people aren’t educated on what amounts to a specific “serving.” I know I’m not the only one here. When a jar of delicious almond butter says 2 tablespoons, unless I’m actually measuring, I have no idea what 2 tablespoons equals in almond butter.

My point here is that while this is a great improvement to food labels, it’s not the cure to overeating. Not that I’m saying that’s what the FDA was out to do. Americans need to become more aware of what an actual serving is and how much they’re eating, which brings me to point two.

Two
In the FDA’s press release, it says it will base serving sizes to reflect the amount people currently eat. Serving sizes from 20 years ago have increased by significant amounts. Correct me if I’m wrong here (seriously correct me), but this tells me that we’re overeating. The FDA, then, is reflecting serving sizes based on patterns of overeating.

I’m no nutritional science expert, but overeating, without proper exercise, or any exercise for that matter, leads to obesity as well.

Emphasizing calories

My last problem resides in emphasizing calories. I think everyone needs to be aware of calories. However, many people treat high caloric foods like the black plague. This is fine for some foods, but there are plenty of very nutritional foods high in calories. Avocados for example.

David Kantz, M.D. and Director of Yale Prevention Research Center, wrote an article that you need to read. He explains this better than I ever could.

In conclusion….

I’ve bored you enough with this long post, especially if you’ve stayed with me this whole time. I’m passionate about health and fitness and this is a huge deal when it comes to the health of America. If you’re just as passionate and have something to say about the proposed changes, I dare you to comment on the FDA’s proposed food label changes. It’s open for 90 days.

Here’s more information on the proposed changes.

We are ultimately responsible for our own health and fitness, and it’s time we start acting on it.

Let’s get energized to change health and fitness!