Pour Some Sugar on Me

Anytime I talk to individuals or groups about nutrition, I always start with one not-so-simple step. You have to GIVE UP THE CRAP.  It doesn’t matter whether you want to follow a Paleo Diet, a Zone diet, or anything else,  there are things we all know we should stay away from. The problem lies with all the things that pull us away from the healthy things that we should be eating.  As a culture, we are being over whelmed with advertisements for food and beverages with promises of “low-fat”, “low-sodium”,  “fat-free”,  “reduced fat”, “No sugar added”, etc etc… These all sound great, but what we think they mean and what they actually mean are some times light years apart.  We become victims of relying on our nutritional knowledge from the people who wish to sell us their products.  One of the most notorious is the things that we hear about sugar.

We find sugars in just about every type of food that we consume, and we can get down to how these sugars are used in our body for energy and to support life, but the most pressing issue is excess sugar.  We all know what this means without much explanation. I am not talking about fruits and veggies. I am talking about the candy, soda, and fruit drinks.  The things that should not be part of our balanced diet.  Oddly enough, even if you look at the Food and Drug Administration requirements for what foods can be considered healthy, Sugar is not even one of the considerations.

  • The term “healthy” and related terms (“health,” “healthful,” “healthfully,” “healthfulness,” “healthier,” “healthiest,” “healthily” and “healthiness”) may be used if the food meets the following requirements: 21 CFR 101.65(d)(2)

Conditions for the Use of “Healthy”
low fat < 5 g fat /RACC & /100g
low sat fat < 2 g sat fat /RACC & /100g
SODIUM ≤ 480 mg /RACC and /l.s.; or /50 g, if RACC is small ≤ 480 mg /RACC and /l.s.; or /50 g, if RACC is small ≤ 600 mg /l.s.
≤ disclosure level < 95 mg /RACC & /100 g ≤ 90 mg /l.s.
Contains at least 10% of DV /RACC for vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber except: raw fruits and vegetables; or a single ingredient or mixture of frozen or canned single ingredient fruits and vegetables (may include ingredients whose addition does not change the nutrient profile of the fruit or vegetable); enriched cereal-grain products that conform to a standard of identity in 21 CFR 136, 137, or 139. Contains at least 10% of DV /RACC for vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber Contains at least 10% of the DV /l.s. of two nutrients (for a main dish product) or of three nutrients (for a meal product) of vit. A, vit. C, calcium, iron, protein, or fiber.
Per 21 CFR 104.20 Per 21 CFR 104.20 Per 21 CFR 104.20

Fat, Sodium and Cholesterol make the cut, but Sugar did not despite the fact that the number of new Diabetes diagnoses has increased exponentially.  In fact the Center for disease control reports that

“From 1980 to 2014, the number of adults in the United States aged 18–79 with newly diagnosed diabetes more than tripled from 493,000 in 1980 to more than 1.4 million in 2014. From 1991 to 2009, the number of new cases of diabetes increased sharply from 573,000 to more than 1.7 million. However, from 2009 to 2014, the number of new cases decreased significantly to approximately 1.4 million.”

That’s not total cases, that’s how many NEW people are diagnoses with diabetes.

One of the things that we should first learn to look at is the back of our food. If you are holding ucm268089something like an apple, an orange or any number of fruit or vegetable then you are off to a good start.  If you turn it around and you have  something that looks like the table to the right, then your best bet might be to put it down and get back to shopping around the outer aisles of the grocery store. If it is something that you feel that youmust have, then one thing to consider is the amount of sugar.

Realistically, your body does not need processed sugars, but your body can adequately tolerate about 6-8 teaspoons of sugar  (about 30milligrams) per day.  So anything more than that is definitely excess.  Some of our biggest excesses come from the things that we drink.  To put this more in perspective, Here are some of the more common and popular beverages that we see and enjoy from day to day.



The FDA uses the following rule to determine the measurement of the amount of sugar in a product.

“Sugars”: A statement of the number of grams of sugars in a serving, except that label declaration of sugars content is not required for products that contain less than 1 gram of sugars in a serving if no claims are made about sweeteners, sugars, or sugar alcohol content. Except as provided for in paragraph (f) of this section, if a statement of the sugars content is not required and, as a result, not declared, the statement “Not a significant source of sugars” shall be placed at the bottom of the table of nutrient values in the same type size. Sugars shall be defined as the sum of all free mono- and disaccharides (such as glucose, fructose, lactose, and sucrose). Sugars content shall be indented and expressed to the nearest gram, except that if a serving contains less than 1 gram, the statement “Contains less then 1 gram” or “less than 1 gram” may be used as an alternative, and if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram, the content may be expressed as zero.

All of that sugar causes havoc with our hormones and body. The occasional drink is manageable, but how many times do we see people that have several sodas or drinks a day. This repetitive excess sugar causes us to become insulin insensitive, and if continued it eventually leads to Type II Diabetes.

Drinks that we don’t think have a lot of sugar can be the worst offenders. We think they are good for us and so we think that we can consume even more them. This is usually the case with things such as fruits juices and drinks.  A night out on the town can also lead us to consume more sugar. A rum and coke, Jack and ginger, Vodka and Red Bull. Many cocktails help mask the alcohol “bite” by being mixed with fruit juices or soda.  Recently, a study in the UK delved into the sugar content of some of our favorite Hot drinks, such as coffees, hot chocolate and others.  Some of these beverages had 3 times as much sugar as soda. See more UK Study finds shocking amounts of sugar in Hot drinks

There are several bills that have been brought up in Congress to require manufacturers to put more information on the sugar content of their products. Much of the recent push for consumer awareness has come from groups such as Crossfit, Inc, and Action On Sugar. The intent being to inform the public about the danger of excess sugar and to actively lobby against the large Soda and soft drink producers.

One of the hardest things for people to do is get away from sugar.  It really does have an addictive quality to it. If you don’t believe me, try and give up soda, candies, and desserts for 2 weeks. If you can though, its a good first step. You could be amazed how much better you feel if you did. As I said to start, the first part of any new diet, or attempt to eat better has to be cutting out the excess sugars. You can’t out work a bad diet, and excess sugars is easily one of the worst things in your diet. So do yourself a favor, skip the soda and grab a water.

For More Information

21 CFR 101 Food Labeling.

Food and Drug Administration: Guidance for Industry: A Food Labeling Guide

Action On Sugar

Crush Big Soda


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