This one is tricky. We are often told that “sugar is bad.” Nowadays, people are trying to take a stand by banning sugary drinks and snacks in vending machines. And it makes sense, doesn’t it? Many of our convenience foods are loaded with empty calories (they are foods that offer high caloric value but extremely low or no nutrients at all). As people with poor will-power, we gorge on these foods and over eat. It’s not new news. But what is new is that people are getting one of the worst types of food aversions: they think sugar is bad. For example, we often wrongly think that sugar consumption can lead to diabetes. But it’s not sugar that leads to diabetes; it’s the over-consumption of all foods–or eating more calories–which leads to being overweight/obese which then can lead to health problems. We often think it’s sugar which leads to diabetes because diabetics have to watch their blood sugar levels. Do you see how people can inappropriately make that wrong connection? So many of these misconnections are leading to this war on sugar and inappropriately targeting healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
So, I can’t help but wonder…is sugar really bad? It really depends!
The first thing to do is to categorize sugar–Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars. Foods can have natural sugars in them that make them sweet (like fruits, vegetables, milk, etc) and sugar can be added to foods to make them sweet (like candy, cake, cookies, etc). But so often, people stray away from fruits and vegetables because “they have too much sugar.” Professionally speaking, it’s not the right food association. A piece of fruit is not the same as a regular soda or piece of candy. Most people don’t make the distinction between the two and assume all foods that are sweet are bad for you. WRONG!
The best way to distinguish them is to always ask yourself: “What does my food give me?” Candy gives me sugary deliciousness and almost nothing else. Fruit gives me a sweet taste but also wonderful soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And often, candy/soda can have even higher calories than the piece of fruit. See the difference? It’s not just about the sugar. It’s about everything else: calories and nutrients included. It’s, again, about balance. But somehow, we manage to scapegoat the sugar. Leave him alone, he’s actually sweet (punny!)
I actually support the moderation of foods with added sugar, but I do NOT support the elimination of foods with natural sugar. Fruits and vegetables, for example, give us so much more which fuels our body and keeps it running like a well oiled machine. Let’s LIMIT our soda, juices, and candies, and let’s FEAST on fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians aren’t all wrong, ya know? 🙂
Let’s correctly change it from the “War on Sugar” to the “War on ADDED Sugar”
N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer