We all know that sugar is not good for our bodies, but the scary repercussions do not seem to be fully realized when we look at American culture. Many of our holidays revolve around food, and, particularly and not coincidentally, processed and refined foods such as candy. Americans love candy and purchase around twenty-four pounds of candy per person, per year, ingesting the most around Halloween. Americans, we have a problem. Too much sugar is poisonous for our bodies. Sugar overworks the liver and pancreas and causes inflammation. It directly and indirectly leads to a wide array of health problems from tooth decay and obesity to heart disease and diabetes. Removing sugar from your diet can even lower your chances of suffering from the worst symptoms and conditions from Covid-19. In a study on the effects of sugar on heart health published in 2014, “people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar.” So we know it is bad, but there are important questions that remain: How much is too much and how do we change? How much is too much? The American Academy of Pediatrics says that “on average, sugar makes up 17% of what children consume each day,” way more than what the Food Pyramid suggests. It isn’t feasible for us to track our sugar using a pyramid graph, but there are more reasonable ways we can monitor and evaluate our sugar consumption. Nutrition labels have continuously improved over the years in containing a wealth of info that should not be ignored. The American Heart Association recommends you look to this label and keep your daily intake to under twenty-five grams (or six teaspoons) for women and under 36 grams (or nine teaspoons) for men. What to do about it. Of course, there’s an app for that, but we can’t expect ourselves to digitally track sugar intake for every member in our home. One of the easiest ways to monitor is to limit and even cut sugary foods in their entirety from the shopping list. Who is in charge of the shopping and meal preparations? Start here. Limit or remove foods that contain refined sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, listed on the labels. Replace sugary drinks, which is the main way children consume sugar, with healthier options such as milk and water. Begin this healthy overhaul before the food even enters your home.
Don’t be a total killjoy, especially around the holidays, but do be conscientious of what is going into your and your childrens’ bodies. Don’t leave candy lying in plain view- out of sight, out of mind, right? Impose limits on daily sugar intake that follow the guidelines for children (25 grams per day for children 2 and older) and for adults, especially if you have dietary restrictions for a health condition. Other ways are to choose healthier options. Insider ranked almost two dozen fan-favorite candies from worst to best (Smarties are “best”). Whole fruits and low- to no-calorie sweeteners are another, healthier way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Most importantly, be mindful of what goes into your body, and if you buy the groceries, pay mind to those who look to you for guidance on living a healthy lifestyle. There are many resources around you. Ask your doctor, dentist, and even your insurance agent about these resources to cut costs and improve your dental, health, and life insurance plans. Heeding advice now will have more rewards than a king-size candy bar can offer! Your health is invaluable- treat it that way.