Have you checked your food for sugar content?
Today's Knight Ridder newspaper carried a thought-provoking column by Claudia Smith Brinson about sugar. She writes:
To tell the truth, I didn't know that a 20-ounce cola would have seven teaspoons of sugar. If asked, I would have guessed maybe two or three, like a double cup of coffee. But seven?
Ms. Brinson goes on to list foods in which she found sugar, usually corn syrup. Canned veggies. Peanut butter. Breads. Almost everything! She writes what is already obvious; most of our sugar intake comes from soft drinks and "fruit" drinks. To break it down, she states that 14 percent of our added sugars come from baked goods, 5 percent from candy, 33 percent from soft drinks and 10 percent from fake fruit drinks. Alarmingly, she says that teens get a walloping fifth of their calories, on the average, from added sugar.
What disturbs me is her assertion that according to the Department of Agriculture, (which has published guidelines about reducing our sugar intake,) our consumption of fat, protein and alcohol hasn't changed a lot in the past 20 years, but our average consumption of sugars has climbed 30 percent. No wonder we're getting fatter!
Many sources have suggested that high sugar intake contributes to an earlier onset of adult diabetes. For those with diabetes in the family, it certainly would be worthwhile to cut the sugar out of our cooking as much as possible. One thing to watch out for are "fat-free treats" which often have very high amounts of sugar to make up for the "mouth-feel" missing after the fat is bypassed.
Can we keep our kids from consuming heavily sugar-laden foods? Not entirely. As soon as we're out of sight you can bet they'll be eating sweets; it's a natural instinct. But there are things we can do. We can try to see that their school or day care serves healthier food. Most important for the whole family, we can cut out most of the trash beverages in the house and substitute healthier choices.