Sugar Avoidance – Music to My Ears

May 15, 2018 in Diabetes Management, Foodland, General, Health, Weight Management by Joyce Bunderson

As noted by the International Food Information Council’s 2017 survey, 76% of respondents of the survey, (an unprecedented number of consumers) say they are looking to reduce their sugar intake or avoid it altogether. During the past two years, sugar has topped the list of ingredients that consumers are seeking to limit or avoid in their diet; AND the numbers are continuing to rise. The foods at the top of the list for consumers to target are the historically high sugar-containing foods like beverages, salad dressing and condiments; bread and buns; ready to eat cereal; foods designed for children; nutrition bars; yogurt and snack bars. For me this is certainly music to my ears.

This reduction and avoidance is worldwide; not just a U.S. phenomenon. The global response is stimulated by publications like the World Health Organization’s Guideline Sugars Intake for Adults and Children, (Switzerland, 2015; pp.1-49). Another factor in this new wave of moderating sugar intake is our public health messaging linking excessive sugar consumption to obesity and other risks to health.

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new label rules about listing added sugars was supposed to start on July 26, 2018. But the powerful food processors lobbied hard and got an extension to January 1, 2020. And if your company only makes $10 million in food sales a year (that’s a lot of candy bars) they get an additional year on that (till January 1, 2021.) My big fear is that some of the big food conglomerates will ‘chunk’ up their holdings so they can get that extra year. For me going until 2020 is bad enough. Cargill[1] posted an Insights Report: The evolution of sugar reduction. You really need to see how the product label would appear on an identical product. If you go to page two on the evolution of sugar reduction report you will clearly see what an impact the new label could have had beginning in July of this year. I think that people would be far less likely to consume a product containing 10 grams of added sugars than when the label of the identical product only shows one gram of sugar under today’s regulations.

If you’re trying to reduce your sugar consumption and have discovered that it’s not a snap; you may be interested in a study done at New York University’s Center for Neural Science. The lead researcher Anna Knova says, “Even if people strive to eat healthier, craving could overshadow the importance of health by boosting the value of eating unhealthy foods relative to healthier options. Craving, which is pervasive in daily life, may nudge our choices in very specific ways that help us acquire those things that made us feel good in the past – even if those things may not be consistent with our current health goals.” One discovery of the study is that subjects were happy to pay disproportionately more for higher portion sizes of the craved items. I’m sure Snickers and other candy producers are taking note (if they don’t already know this.)

Awareness may be a worthy first step. If you’re cutting back on sugar; be aware that the food processors are likely trying to offer a giant candy bar; the giant bar may lead you to eat more than you intended. Maybe a mini bite size would fill the bill for a little treat you decided to give yourself. Knowing this, we have the custom in our home of rewarding ourselves with 3-4 little chocolate chips after meals. It caps things off and helps us fend off later temptations. In the spirit of protecting yourself from unintended consumption, be aware; plan ahead what you will actually buy; so you’ll not be confronted with unintended sugar intake.

One last hip, hip, hooray for the 76% and growing number of consumers who are limiting, reducing or avoiding sugar.

1 Cargil provides food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. They have 155,000 employees in 70 countries. In 2017 their revenues were $109.7 billion, of which $4.7 billion was cash flow from operations. They are influential in what food-related legislation succeeds and what does not.