“Sugar is one of the most refined foods we consume daily, and it’s a marker for processed foods in the American diet.  Our sugar consumption has gone from a few teaspoons a week in the early 19th century to 100 POUNDS A YEAR TODAY!” http://www.eatingrules.com/2012/10/hidden-sugar-in-our-diets/

That statistic alone is frightening enough to stray from sugar, without even knowing the dangers that come along with sugar.  This blog does a great job of  explaining all of the aspects of sugar, how much to consume, other ways to consume sugar, where it hides, what to look for etc.  It is a great basic guide to sugar in our foods.

I am sure you have all heard of empty calories before, well that is exactly what sugar is.  This article explains the process of refined sugar.  I learned that refined sugar is depleted of its life forces, vitamins and minerals.  What is left afterwards is pure, refined carbohydrates.  The body can’t utilize this refined carb unless the depleted proteins, vitamins and minerals are present.  Which is what leads to the name ‘empty’ calories.  However, sugar is worse than just being ‘nothing’ as the nickname would imply because it drains the body’s vitamins and minerals during its digestion, detoxification and elimination process.  The article that informed me of all of this goes on to explain a lot more in much more detail and if you have some time it’s certainly worth the read.  It’s good to be informed about what is being put into your body.  

As I am sure you have guessed… there is an unrefined substitution to this problem.  Fortunately for me, I am not a huge sweet tooth person, when I am craving something sweet a piece of fruit will usually cure me.  Right now I am loving the Clementine’s, they are in season and the perfect sweetness and tang all in one, they have become my go to snack.  However, there are situations where recipes will call for sugar or you just plain need to use sugar for something, and if that is the case go unrefined!  There are so many options such as ‘sugar in the raw’ or ‘agave nectar’ just to name a few, and they are so easy to find now and days with their popularity on the rise.  Even starbucks has ‘sugar in the raw’ packets!  So make the change.

This article explains the differences between refined and unrefined sugar, and as I am sure you could conclude on your own, the unrefined sugar has not be stripped of its minerals and nutrients. Raw sugar contains roughly eleven calories per teaspoon and has the same vitamin and mineral consistency that is found in the juice from the sugarcane plant. These minerals include Phosphorus, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium. In addition, when sugar is refined and processed there are many harmful ingredients that are added to the sugar as a result. Unrefined raw sugar does not have these harmful chemicals.

A big issue with sugar is that it is hidden in our foods.  We all know that cakes and cookies are filled with sugars so we can steer clear of them, but you would be surprised to know how much sugar can be hidden in other items, 1 because you just wouldn’t think to see how much sugar was in the item and 2 because it hides under different names.  Check this article, out it lists 10 foods that are classified as ‘healthy’ but loaded with sugars, such as salad dressing, protein bars, granola, iced tea, dried fruits, milk and more.  

This article motivated me to take a look around my house…. don’t freak out just yet most of these items that I looked at are my roommates, but it certainly made it easy to see just how much sugar really is in these items.  I took a look at just some typical items that my roommates consume regularly and I could not believe how much sugar was in some of these items. (make sure to look at the serving size as well, and think of how large of a serving you usually use in comparison to this, ex: the cereal, I certainly eat more than 3/4 a cup of cereal)

Honey bunches of oats

Honey Bunches of Oats 6 grams of sugar for 3/4

Fat free milk

Fat free milk 12 grams of sugar for 1 cup!!

Prego light tomato sauce

Prego light tomato sauce 7 grams of sugar for 1/2 a cup!

Tropicana 50 Orange Juice (50% less sugar and fat)

Tropicana 50 Orange Juice (50% less sugar and fat) 10 grams of sugar for 8 fl oz! Imagine how much is in regular orange juice

The online nursing program put together an infographic that really puts the American sugar usage into perspective.  Take a look at it below.

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth
Created by: www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com

I decided to measure out the 10 tsp of sugar that is in one can of coke just to see exactly how much that is, and then once I did that I decided to add 22 more tsp to see how much sugar children are consuming everyday.  If you are a visual learner like I am maybe this well help you grasp just how much sugar that actually is.

10 TBSP of sugar

10 tsp of sugar

32 TBSP of sugar

32 tsp of sugar