For years you have heard it. If you want to be healthy, cut sugar from your diet. But experts are beginning to elaborate and show us that sugar is not the enemy. Yes, too much sugar can cause problems. Too much anything can cause problems. Even too much water can hurt you. So we have to use sugar with moderation.
How did the battle begin?
When we look at our diets with the intention of losing weight, we look for ways to cut calories and increase our nutrition. So, when the medical community looked at sugar, they see a few calories but no nutritional value, so they slashed it and moved it to the naughty list. Iceberg lettuce has virtually no nutritional value, but it stayed on our list of things to eat. Why? It is because lettuce is filling and low in calories. It serves a purpose.
Sugar also serves a purpose. It provides a quick source of energy. It also gives us the mental and emotional feeling that we are deserving of something special. As a matter of fact, dieticians recommend a small treat of less than 200 calories every few days for that very reason.
Then why are we fighting obesity?
The main reason why we are fighting obesity, especially in the United States is because of hidden sugars and fats. These are foods, that we think are okay to consume, but they are loaded with extra sugars and fats from the manufacturers. We do not realize we have just eaten grams of fat and sugar, so adding extra puts us over the limits to accomplish our goals.
The simple math is this. Proteins and carbohydrates (including sugar) contain 4 calories per gram. Fat, however, contains 9 calories per gram. With more than double the calories, it makes better sense to reduce (but do not omit) the fat you eat.
Hitting the sweet spot
Now that we have determined that sugar is not your enemy, how can we satisfy that craving and enjoy our treats without going overboard? There are logical ways to do this and they are not hard. Here are some tips:
- Indulge in a sweet treat every day or every other day. This keeps you from feeling deprived. By knowing you are going to have this yummy treat again keeps you from eating too much of it at one time.
- Watch for sugars in pre-packaged foods. If you cut back on the sugars you are eating without knowing it, you have more room for the treats you love. Opt for fresh foods whenever possible.
- Keep your treats on hand. If you keep candy or other sweets around, you will not feel the panic or frustration of not having what you want. Going to a candy store or an ice cream shop when you are hungry and frustrated, is an invitation to overindulge.
When to eat your treat?
As mentioned, sugar gives you energy. The best time to eat your treat is when you need the energy. A treat an hour before your evening walk, or swim class is perfect. You get a burst of energy and then do something good for yourself. Even better, if you happen to over do it with your treat, the physical exercise will burn those extra calories. By the time you are finished with your exercise, the sugar rush has died down and you can relax without any after effects.
As an adult, you know there are times when we just cross the line. This is not a sin and it is not illegal. But look at it as an adult and deal with it. Consider the extra calories that you grabbed with that second or third treat of the day as a commodity that is for sale. You can have it, but you have to pay the cost. Say you eat an extra 100 calories in chocolate. You now owe the body bank 100 energy-calories. That is an extra 15 minutes jogging or walking on the treadmill, 10 minutes swimming, or 20 minutes on the stationary bike. It is that simple.
Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with ManageBacklinks.io who helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in the SaaS world and digital marketing.