Sugar Matters
December 20, 2011
Hide and seek with Sugar

As we are all in the throes of cooking and baking for Christmas, which is right around the corner, many of you will be already rationing to figure out where the sugar will need to be cut in order to compensate for all the black cake headed to your plate.{{more}} I am not trying to pour cold water on your plans for enjoying food, but do be cautious when you head to the table full of sweets and cakes! Now to be clear, ADDED sugar does not include naturally occurring sugars like those found in fruits and dairy. The sugar I am referring to is sugar added during processing. It comes in various forms, like syrup, cane juice, and of course plain old sugar. The amount can also be difficult to figure out, even if you read all labels; but you should try. The biggest culprits are sodas, various processed foods and, of course, baked goods, like cookies.

What is the recommended amount allowed for adults? 8 teaspoons for women, and 9 for men. This is TOTAL added sugar per day. In contrast, the average American takes in about 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and I am sure my Vincentian family is probably in the same ballpark. Well, that sounds like a lot, you say and wonder how in the world someone could end up eating that much sugar in one day.

Consider this: just one soda, yes, that one Ju-C or Pepsi, has about 8 teaspoons of added sugar. That is the 12 ounce size, so those of you guzzling a bigger size are getting even more. Had any cereal this morning? It probably had a few teaspoons of sugar there too. Even yogurt with fruit flavor has added sugar. See, you already had a bunch of sugar and we didn’t even get to the cookies you ate at lunch…

I am not asking that you cut sugar, entirely out of your life, especially during the holidays when practically everything seems to have gone through a sweetie factory. If your body can tolerate a bit of sugar, there is no reason for you to try to go completely sugar-free. BUT, you do need to keep an eye on what you are putting into your mouth: meals, drinks, snacks and all. Don’t use the holiday season as an excuse to fall completely off the wagon.

In addition to the obvious rise in your blood sugars for all diabetics drinking sodas (PLEASE stop drinking regular sodas; they are some of the worst things for you to drink unless your blood sugar is very low), added sugar brings you more calories with almost no nutritional value. They pack on weight in a sneaky way. True, increasing your physical activity is a way to help balance the sugar intake so that you do not gain weight. BUT, remember that it is harder to burn calories than it is to simply restrict them. You need to run about 1 mile in order to burn through those three cookies you had at lunchtime. Take your pick – start running or cut back on the cookies!

Enjoy your Christmas holidays, Vincies! But remember a little sweetness goes a long way. Don’t overload on it!

Anita Ramsetty, MD

Medical Director Endocrine Care Group

Tel: 843-798-4227