Some people add 4 or more cubes of sugar to a cup of tea without so much as blinking an eye. Whether you’re guilty of this or think that’s recklessness, most of us fall into the category that worries that we probably consume more sugar than we should.
The human body needs energy and gets it in the form of sugar, specifically glucose. All carbohydrates that you consume – yam, rice, cookies, juices and soft drinks – get broken down into glucose by the body, for use as energy. The unused excess glucose is converted to fat and stored by your body. Your body creatively stores fat around your belly, hips, and your organs, including your heart.
Even if you control your food portions, eating only moderate amounts during meals, you are likely unaware that most of the food you eat that’s not cooked at home contains significant amounts of added sugar. The excess sugar comes mainly from pre-packaged processed foods, soft drinks, juices, fast food, and desserts. Sadly, these foods and beverages are quickly becoming part of the daily lifestyle of many on the African continent who live in and around cities. These empty calories are in part responsible for the rise in obesity and overweight that is now the new face of illness in Africa.
Some signs that you’re eating way too much sugar
Your body always signals when things aren’t going well. The problem is that most of us fail to pick up on the signals. Excess sugar causes unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to an increased risk of diabetes. These are some signs that you’re consuming a lot more sugar than you need:
- You seem to crave sugary foods consistently
- You always feel sluggish during the day
- You’re putting on weight
- You find you lack mental sharpness
- You appear to be constantly moody
- Your skin is always breaking out in pimples
What is the healthy approach to sugar?
The American Heart Association now recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. This amount includes what you put in your tea or coffee as well as sugar already added to processed foods.
- Wean yourself off sugar – you’d be amazed at how quickly your tastes adjust when you start cutting back. Start by halving the amount of sugar you put in your tea or coffee. Limiting soft drinks is also a good place to start.
- Drink mostly water – limit your intake of tea, coffee, alcohol, and other beverages.
- Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of foods – such as market bought fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, and eggs that haven’t been processed. You’re far better off eating two oranges than drinking the same amount of sugar in an eight-ounce glass of orange juice.
- Eat as much home-cooked food as possible – it allows you to avoid processed ingredients more readily and more control over what you eat. You’re also likely to eat less if you eat home-cooked food.
- Avoid pre-packaged heavily processed foods as much as possible – such foods include bread, Indomie noodles, potato crisps, cookies, and cereals.