Added sugars: time to cut back!

A couple of sugars in your morning coffee, another in your afternoon tea, not to mention the massive amounts of sugar in the cereal and biscuits that accompany them. Sugar is ubiquitous, even in foods that might surprise you.

The World Health Organization has established a maximum daily allowance: sugars mustn’t account for more than 10% of our daily diet. This means that for an adult of normal weight, with an energy need of 2,000 kcal/day, the maximum suggested intake is 50 grams, or about 10 teaspoons.

Fruit juices, soft drinks, honey, jams and spreads, breakfast cereals, cookies, packaged bread, fruit yogurt, ice cream, popsicles, mayonnaise, ketchup, prepared sauces, alcoholic beverages, prepared foods… all these foods contain a significant dose of the sugar that fills up those 10 teaspoons rather quickly. Basically, if you have a sweet breakfast, you’ve already used up your sugar allowance for the entire day!!

Perhaps, then, we need to reconsider our dietary choices and contemplate the possibility that we have become addicted to those little white crystals. When we can’t go without sugar for as little as 2-3 days, perhaps it’s time to reset our taste buds and rediscover the true flavors of real foods.

Sugar hides behind many names: sugar, sucrose, inverted sugar, grape sugar, agave sugar, coconut sugar, palm sugar, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose syrup, corn syrup, raw sugar, light and dark brown sugar, molasses, and various others. Those classified as ‘sweeteners’ are chemically synthesized and non-caloric, so they provide no energy but nevertheless stimulate the production of insulin, thereby doing nothing to help us beat our addiction to sugar.

To do so, it’s fundamental that we retrain our taste buds, leaving behind the hyper-stimulation of industrial flavors that create dependency. We must embark on a process of re-education of our taste buds, relearn to appreciate natural, genuine flavors. As such, it’s important to start out by completely eliminating sugars in order to understand how powerful our addiction really is.

Sugar can be substituted with natural ingredients like fruit, both fresh and dried. Fresh fruit allows you to obtain purees that can be spread on naturally leavened bread for breakfast or a snack. You can whip dates, figs, apricots or prunes into cake batter to make desserts without the need for other sweeteners.

Dott.ssa Francesca Oggionni Dietician


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