One of the pitfalls of writing a food blog is weight gain. In the past year, I have tried a couple of times to kick the sugar habit, without any lasting success.
After my husband was diagnosed with heart disease last year, we went on a health kick. We lasted a pretty long time, but I began to slip back into my habit of baking desserts and eating cookies. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was not good for me, so several months back, I decided to try to go back to eating more fruit. I only lasted about a week before I caved.
As I have gotten to be a better cook and baker in the past two years, I have posted more and more dessert recipes on this blog. Sugar is my demon. I fully admit it.
We really don’t know how much sugar we are eating. Processed foods are full of it; even those foods that don’t need to have added sugar, like bread, are loaded with it. This is how we are kept addicted. And then there is the controversial high fructose corn syrup. Experts differ on their opinion on HFCS, but most agree that it is not good for you at all. Sugar is sugar. And it is poisoning us.
There are 200 grams in one cup of sugar. The daily recommendation from the American Heart Association is 25 grams or six teaspoons for women, 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons for men. Just for perspective, one 12 oz. can of coke contains 39 grams, well over the daily recommendation. As you can see, it’s really easy to go over your limit very quickly.
When I bake, I usually use a 9×9 or 8×8 baking pan and cut my cakes into nine pieces. Those pieces are not always the same size. So if I use a cup of sugar in the recipe, which is 200 grams, each piece contains about 22 grams, give or take, depending on the size of the piece. I usually eat at least one piece of cake a day, sometimes two. That puts me way over my daily limit, without eating anything else.
Once I started looking at sugar content of certain foods, it really surprised me to find out that my favorite frozen fruit bar contains more sugar (15 grams) than 8 gluten free cookies (10 grams). Just because something is made with fruit, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.
Speaking of fruit, eating fresh or frozen fruit is actually fine. Because the fruit contains fiber, it offsets the natural sugar. But can you eat too much fruit? There are some signs that you are eating too much fruit. If you have IBS, like I do, too much fructose can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Eating too much fruit can cause blood sugar spikes as well. It’s generally recommended to eat 2 1/2 cup portions of fruit a day.
Eating too much fruit can trigger the hunger hormone, ghrelin. Eating that fruit with protein and fat will offset that. Eat that apple with some peanut butter, those blueberries with some full-fat dairy free Greek yogurt (but watch out, yogurt can have high sugar content), and that peach with a handful of almonds (if you don’t have a nut allergy). The fat and protein from those additions will help dampen the effects of fructose.
All of this brings me back to that sugar demon. Can it defeat him? I don’t know for sure, but I am damn well going to try.