The Truth About Nutrition Labels and Sugar

The amount of sugar we eat is the leading cause of many chronic lifestyle diseases that are so common today: diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s – it all comes down to too much sugar.

It’s easy enough to say ‘cut out sugar’, but how can we cut it out? How do we know how much sugar are you eating? And do we know how much sugar is in the foods we eat in the first place? Probably not.

So, let’s play a game to see what we understand about sugar.

Which contains more sugar? West Country Yoghurt or a Famous Energy Drink?

Which would you guess has more sugar? Probably the energy drink, right?

The yoghurt is made of 20% sugar! Twenty grams of sugar for every 100 grams. The labeling is confusing because the pot contains 150 grams. So, when you eat the entire pot you’re eating 30 grams of sugar.

The yoghurt has more sugar weight for weight compared to the energy drink, but it does have some benefits. Calcium, some protein and a bit of fat. Not much, but the energy drink has full-on, hard core sugar and nothing but.

There is 11 grams of sugar for every 100 mL in the energy drink, but the can is 473 mL making it 52 grams of sugar in the entire can. That’s more than twice of what’s recommended for the whole day.

It’s recommended that our daily sugar intake be no more than 24 grams. That’s six measured teaspoons of sugar. So when eating the yoghurt we already eat more than what we should.

Let’s compare the granola to the yoghurt. When you think of granola you probably consider it a healthy option. Well, there are 31 grams of sugar for every 100 grams and the serving size is 25 grams. The granola is worse for you than the yoghurt.

How about the Granola VS. a Sugary Kids Cereal?

The total amount of sugar in the cereal is 27 grams for every 100 grams! If you were shopping and you wanted to make a healthy choice you’d go for the granola wouldn’t you? The granola and sugary cereal is comparable – they both have a high sugar content.

A “Healthier” cereal actually has 20 grams of sugar for every 100 grams. Like the yoghurt, it is 20% sugar.

The truth is, highly processed foods are designed to be hyper palatable, that are made to make you want to eat a lot, with a ton of salt and sugar in them. They are made to make you want to eat more. Money is spent on these products to make them taste really good.

And the truth is, even more money is spent on persuading you to eat them by packaging them with phrases such as, “delicious,” “taste tested by customers,” great taste, award winning,” and “a good source of protein.” The print of the nutritional facts is small and difficult to find.

We’re bombarded with messages to eat more sugar and even when we know we shouldn’t and are trying not to it becomes difficult because it’s sneaked in.

You would think the yoghurt would be something you give to a child for breakfast. Well, what does starting the day with 30 grams of sugar do to a young child?

Let’s break it down:

They eat 30 grams of sugar before their day has even started. By mid-morning (10am) they’re hungry again because their insulin levels have spiked and crashed. They’ll have a hard time to concentrate at school. They’ll be fidgety. It will be difficult for them to sit still. At lunchtime they’ll want more sugar because their blood sugar would have dipped correspondingly because of the high earlier on. They want more sugar so they’ll fill up on chips, bread and pasta. When they come home in the afternoon they’re desperate for more snacks and it is a never ending cycle.

It’s so easy when you think you’re doing the right thing to set up a cascade of undesirable behaviors. You don’t want children or yourself to be struggling with sugar problems.

The truth is, sugar goes straight to fat.
Sugar = fat. Fat in your tummy, your thighs and all around your organs.

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There Is 1 Comment

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You’re right, there needs to be more thought in how we read our nutrition labels, and approach the foods with apparently low or high sugars. It’s often considerably more nuanced than the little green indications on the side of a bottle!

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