· By Andrew Maida
Why is sugar bad for you?
Why is Sugar Bad for You?
Before I start this article, I do want to mention that just like any regular person I love sugary desserts. Cakes, cookies, pop, candy, donuts, and all the other sugary goodness that I forgot to mention, I absolutely love. I crave them quite a bit, and just like any health enthusiast or anyone who’s trying to eat healthy, I struggle to find foods that are crave satisfying and are actually good for you.
I normally end up eating sugar filled snacks to help satisfy my cravings, which always make me feel bad or completely ruin my diet for the day. But this article isn’t about me…or even you for that matter, it’s about the Canadian children that are being fed an extremely unhealthy amount, and are paying the price for having an unhealthy lifestyle.
What Canadians Struggle to Realize
I’ll begin this article by stating a staggering number that every parent should know. On average, a Canadian child is consuming their weight in sugar cubes every year. Let’s take a moment and just acknowledge how much sugar that is.
Using an average 14-year old Canadian boy as an example, that is about 115lbs of sugar cubes per year.
We all know how awful over consumption of sugar is as it’s been documented for as long as most of us have been alive. But it’s the lack of initiative that we, as decision makers, have taken to stopping the sugar epidemic that appalls me.
We’re letting our children go down a path that I do not think any parent wants and are simply giving in to demands rather than trying to find alternatives.
As the future of our world, I think we should ensure that every child has the resources to eat healthy and are not just given the so called “essential” foods that come with breakfast. According to the Canadian Food Guide, breakfast is the meal where people consume the most sugar. Cereal, orange juice, waffles, pancakes, french toast, Nutella..all sound familiar? That's because almost everyone has at least one of these foods for breakfast regularly. It’s cheap, quick, tastes pretty good, and super easy to make. But, it’s simply awful for their health. We might as well feed them 4 sugar cubes, a coke, and candy.
How, you might ask?
Well, while orange juice may seem like a healthy alternative to have in the morning, a simple cup of “all natural” orange juice contains about 24g of sugar. That’s the equivalent of having 6 cubes of sugar in a single cup. The recommended daily intake of sugar for children is 24g, so unless they are eating vegetables for the rest of the day, it’s easy to see how easy it is for children to overconsume sugar.
What’s the alternative?
Easy, instead of orange juice, have an orange, if orange isn’t your thing an apple will suffice. Juice, is one of the most harmful foods to have and is a non-essential that’s marketed as important and needed in a diet, when in fact, it’s the exact opposite. While parents are a part of the problem, a major contributor to the problem is the food industry itself.
Food Industry Problem
The food industry contains some of the best marketers on the planet today. They hide the fact their products are high in sugar with things such as fructose, dextrose, honey, maple syrup, and any other alternative. They’ll cover it with words such as “low in fat”, “fat-free”, but really all that means is it’s extremely processed, and likely to be high in sugar.
The problem, most of these alternatives actually spike your blood sugar levels, and are just covers for sugar. The food industry is known to create a smoke screen that promotes their product as healthy, low in trans-fat, and make it confusing for one to know the real health facts of the product. A new trend of low-carb foods is beginning to emerge, but be aware, as low-carb foods means the ingredients are likely to be extremely refined, and processed.
Understand The Labels
Another commonly used cover is the word “organic”. Food companies will use the term to pretend that their products are all natural, when in reality, “organic” is just a marketing keyword to grasp your attention.
For example, using organic raw sugar cane is the exact same as using regular sugar as an ingredient but it can be labelled as 100% organic and natural. It’s imperative to read the nutrition labels in detail and understand the ingredients of the product.
What can we do?
If the label is too difficult to understand, it’s safe to assume that it is a highly processed and refined food. Good foods usually have whole ingredients that are easy, simple to understand, and are transparent with their nutrition label/facts.
The war on sugar is an ongoing “fight” that will likely continue for as long as we allow it to. As consumers, we must focus on finding the right foods to feed our children and continue to find healthy substitutes that our children learn to enjoy as much as they do the sugary snacks. After all, their future is at stake.