One hundred and thirty pounds. On average, that is the amount of sugar each of us consume in one year, according to the experts on a recent 60 Minutes story. Yes, one hundred and thirty POUNDS…or about one-third of a pound per DAY. And guess what? It’s toxic and it’s killing us. We all know sugar is the main cause of astronomical levels of obesity in this country, and that it is responsible for the explosion of Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. But did you know it is also now being linked to cancer? CANCER. One of the leading biomedical researchers interviewed on 60 Minutes said that if you cut back on sugar, you also cut your chances of developing certain cancers. We can all do that, but it won’t be easy.
The story also warned how addictive sugar is…and even compared it to cocaine addiction. It’s THAT powerful. It changes your brain as soon as you eat it, stimulating pleasure centers which in turn make you want more, more, more. In time we also build a certain tolerance to sugar, meaning it takes more sugar to get those same pleasurable sensations. We end up eating more, which then makes us fatter AND sicker. And now, we’re learning that it might actually cause cancer.
More than fifteen years ago I went to a lecture at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires about this very topic. The speaker, a young, energetic nutritionist said “trust me, SUGAR is by far our biggest enemy” and I’m not sure I believed him. However, I did go out and buy Uncle Sam’s cereal (less than 1 gram of sugar per serving) and make a few other changes. But of course in time things slip, and after seeing this episode of 60 Minutes I realized that my kids were eating waffles and pancakes several days per week (whole grain, but with all that syrup? Yikes!). I headed right to the store and bought a few low-sugar cereals (under 2 grams per serving each—there aren’t many on the market), and made sure I loaded up on eggs, whole wheat mini-bagels (without high-fructose corn syrup) and skim milk (forget juice—it’s loaded with unnecessary sugar). Thankfully, they are already used to not getting any sweets in their lunchboxes or after dinner, but I definitely could do better with breakfast.
Take a look at what you are eating and feeding your kids. Most of the sugar we consume is hidden in things you may not expect—so check those labels!! It’s not just soda and cookies!