Sugar can be found in many foods and we may be consuming more sugar than we even realize. It is important to distinguish between added sugar and natural sugar: how does this affect our body and food choices?
Added sugar is sugar that is added to foods during processing, cooking or even before eating (adding sugar to coffee). Natural sugar is sugar that is naturally found in whole, unprocessed foods such as fruit, dairy and even some vegetables. We can't forget to mention starch because our body converts starch into glucose, the sugar that our body uses for energy. Starch is found naturally in foods like potatoes, rice and beans. Starch is also found in processed foods like bread and pasta.
Our freshly prepared healthy meals, with delivery across Toronto, are naturally free of processed sugars. But why does processed sugar matter? When we consume sugar, especially in excess and in processed forms, glucose in our blood spikes and our pancreas produces the hormone insulin. Insulin tells our cells to use this available energy (glucose) and our cells will use the energy immediately if they need it, like after a workout. If your cells don't need the energy right away, your muscle and liver cells will convert the glucose into glycogen and store it for later.
A few things to note:
1. If your body has an excess of glycogen (stored sugar) your body will convert this into fat. This is one of the reasons that overconsumption of starch and sugar results in weight gain.
2. The process of storing glycogen happens very quickly and can result in a "sugar crash" because your blood glucose is going into a quick dip after eating. It can also leave your cells wanting another "quick fix", which can result in you eating more.
3. Your body can develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your cells stop responding to your body's signals (because of the constant spikes and crashes of added sugar). Your body ends up storing the sugar as fat.
On-top of weight gain, too much sugar is associated with a plethora of health issues like heart disease, acne, type-2 diabetes, depression, cellular aging and fatigue.
So how do you navigate our sweet world?
Our main tip is to avoid added sugar & artificial sweeteners as much as possible. White sugar, brown sugar and corn syrup all have no real nutritional value and these sugars can become addictive. Further to the negative effects above, these sugars can also weaken your immune system. Although artificial sweeteners have no calories they are also linked to health risks. Stevia sweetener products are often not pure stevia and contain mostly erythritol (a sugar alcohol made from corn). Truvia (Coca-Cola’s branded stevia product) goes through about 40 steps to process the extract from the stevia leaf, relying on chemicals that are known carcinogens (substances that cause cancer).
What can you do? Enjoy sugar in naturally occurring forms like fruits and vegetables! When baking, choose high quality cocoa or sweeten with fruit like banana or monkfruit and sugars made from coconut. You can find these ingredients in our breakfast & snacks as well as our healthy delivered meals.
Remember that moderation and self-awareness is key: you can still over-consume "healthy" sugar. Practice mindful eating by eating without any distractions. Also ensure your diet is balanced with macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to ensure your body and mind is satiated and fuelled.