Anti-Sugar Campaign

It’s no secret that I’m boycotting sugar. I have been semi-against it for a few years, but have essentially eliminated it since August. It concerns me that almost every client I work with wants to lose weight, and when we examine their food diaries, their carb intakes are through the roof.

I’m not proclaiming any particular “diet” as a best way to eat (i.e. vegan, paleo, raw food, etc.). I believe that different people have different nutritional needs, but I do think that among the foundational best food choices we all have in common, is that everyone needs to moderate their sugar intake. The reason I include discussion about carbs in general is because the US government guidelines for many years urged people to consume around 55% of their calories from carbs. This is a LOT. Having much of those calories come from sugar (which evolved based on technology and cheap convenience foods) causes short and long-term issues (whether you can feel/see them or not).

My standpoint: Sugar is toxic if you consume a lot of it regularly. 

The problem:

It is generally understood now that excessive sugar intake is largely responsible for obesity and other serious health issues. Yet, our sugar consumption in the US has tripled over the last half century.

This article describes an issue with sugar being labeled as “empty calories.” The truth is, these sugar calories are not empty—they are damaging and toxic, just like alcohol and tobacco. When I teach nutrition classes, I talk about how carbs (4 calories per gram), fat (9 calories per gram). and protein (4 calories per gram) are all nutrients, but alcohol (7 calories per gram) is a toxin.

I’d like to move sugar out of the nutrient category and into the toxin category. 

The article states: “Sugar, they argue, is far from just ’empty calories’ that make people fat. At the levels consumed by most Americans, sugar changes metabolism, raises blood pressure, critically alters the signaling of hormones and causes significant damage to the liver – the least understood of sugar’s damages. These health hazards largely mirror the effects of drinking too much alcohol, which they point out in their commentary is the distillation of sugar.”

Do you think sugary products should be taxed like alcohol and tobacco?

How’s your sugar intake?

Maybe moderation is the best option for both alcohol and sugar. The problem is that right now, Americans (and probably other countries, but I don’t want to make assumptions) are not being moderate. And neither are their health care costs.


29 thoughts on “Anti-Sugar Campaign”

  1. I think i probably take in tooooo many carbs. I truly believe in moderation, so im working on it!!

  2. I am all over the carb/sugar subject these days. It’s funny, I did my sister’s nutritional profile the other day after talking to her about some low carb diet she was on. When I saw her food diary, her carbs were double her proteins and fats! She had no idea. I’ve been working with her the past couple of weeks and she keeps saying how happy she is that she feels full without being all snacky and she doesn’t have that sluggish feeling in the afternoon anymore! I’ve completely changed how I plan meals now. They start with proteins and fats then move on to the vegetable sides. Love this subject!

  3. While I could absolutely not agree with you more on the point that sugar is a toxin, especially when consumed in abundance,  I do not support the government’s role in taxing it.  People should be free to make their own dietary choices, poor health or no without the government mandating a healthy mind and body.  I’d rather focus on getting more nutrition based information courses available to public schools and as core studies for undergraduate degrees.  There isn’t anything in my mind, more valuable to a human, than to learn how best to navigate their body through a healthy life.  I just don’t agree with government’s role in taxing less than the best choices.

  4. my sugar intake is pretty low, except when I have dessert. My everyday foods are mostly whole grains, veggies, and some dairy and eggs and beans. But when I eat sugar… boy do I hit the sugar! I really need to get it under control.

  5. I eat way too much sugar.  When I cut it out, I always feel better, but then I fall off the wagon, and crave it ten times more than I did before.   For me, convenience is the real issue.  If I don’t take time to cook proper meals (which seems to be happening more and more often these days), then I eat way too many carbs and too much sugar.

  6. thanks for sharing your research and your personal opinion with us, lisa – i respect the fact that you are hardcore in your anti-sugar stance, and talk about your point of view without “sugarcoating” (haha!) your belief.
    i do have sugar in my diet – i like a sweet treat now and again, and do enjoy cereals that contain sugar. i fall into the “moderation” and “enjoy life celebrations” ie birthday cake category!
    i do agree that obesity is a huge problem in north america, and overeating sugar is a major  factor. it’s too bad that junk food is cheap and plentiful, and emotionally soothing for many people. not an easy issue!

  7. That’s an awesome thing to bring up—so many people don’t realize what sugar and carbs actually are (and where they’re hiding)! It’s so awesome to watch someone get to that realization point—when they feel better and have more energy and no slumps!
    …And my favorite part is that once they’ve experienced this “awakening” about sugar, they are responsible for it. Even if they go back to their old ways, they now are making a conscious choice because they know the truth. (Of course, I prefer to look at the empowerment side of it, but responsibility is important too!)

  8. I think the moderation thing is key for most people—like, eat the same way our ancestors from 100 years ago ate, averaging a couple teaspoons of sugar a day rather than the buckets full Americans are eating now….

  9. There is significant amounts of research out there regarding the addictive qualities of sugar—it’s got a similar pattern in the body as crack, as far as addiction goes. People get their “fix” and they feel good, so it then reinforces the cycle.
    I’ve always been the same way—if I’m not prepared, I reach for the sugar/carb stuff. Now, since I’ve got this determination to avoid it…I’m finding myself thinking I’m “starving” when really I’m just yearning for a sugary treat. I can usually fill the craving with something else, but it isn’t quite the same…

  10. I think moderation really is key for most people, especially healthy non-overweight people like yourself. If you had a weight problem or other illness/symptoms then you might want to cut back, but from what I know about you there’s a lot of balance/moderation going on over there 🙂

  11. I think sugar in moderation, like anything, is  ok. What I think is excessive is the amount of sugar that people take in every day now…..even things like bread and crackers, when storebought, can have a TON of sugar in them!

  12. My sugar intake is definitely moderate because I watch it extremely closely, probably more closely than anything else. Simply eliminating sugars makes a HUGE difference. I have friends who have lost a lot of weight just by cutting out soda. I love desserts but I feel so much better with less sugar and whenever I eat a fair amount of it, I have a sugar “hangover” the next day and am reminded of why I try to keep my intake moderate.

  13. I honestly don’t think taxing would help. It doesn’t stop people from smoking so I have a feeling it wouldn’t stop people from buying/consuming so much sugar.

    As you know I’ve come a long way with sugar. I used to eat a lot everyday and now I only have it occasionally. If i’m going to a celebration and feel like having some I will. I don’t think I will ever cut it out 100%, but I am happy I have drastically cut back. I find myself gravitating towards natural sweeteners when I have a sweet tooth, so that’s a big step 🙂

  14. I think my sugar intake is relatively low — I have cut it out a lot, and in the last months have changed from more chemical laden sugar substitutes to more natural forms of sugar.  I have periods where I cut it out totally, but I can’t do that on a permanent basis.  I think moderation is the key, just like in most things …  I think taxing sugar would be hard …  since it is in practically everything.  Interesting to think about though!

  15. I eat a lot of sugar if you include my fruit sugar..but I do LOVE chocolate..I think that if it were taxed more I might lay off it a bit..maybe. 

  16. I heard about this yesterday on the news and on online. My view of sugar
    has drastically changed over the last 2 years. I limit my sugar on a
    day to day basis, but I still enjoy the occasional treat a few times a
    month. Looking back at how much sugar I used to eat, it scares and
    disgusts me.

  17. Totally agree that moderation is the best option for alcohol and sugar!
    There are so many amazing whole grains and it’s sad that most of the grains that people consume are processed and then put into a product that has added sugar…. crazy!!

  18. Completely agree with you that sugar is not empty, but toxic. I’m all for some sugar in moderation, but you’re so right: Americans are not good at moderating their sugar intake. Rather than taxes, I think there needs to be more regulation around what gets put into processed (read: affordable) foods. So many people don’t realize that the ‘healthy’ options they’re consuming are riddled with sugar and other toxic ingredients. 

  19. Are you abstaining from all forms of sugar (i.e. dates, figs, other fruits, …) or just the processed kind (white sugar and stuff)?  I dooo have a sweet tooth, and I’m trying to get it under control.  For me, that means filling up with veggies and some nuts/seeds/whole grains, and the every-once-in-a-while indulgence.  My problem is once I’ve gone off track of this, the desire for starchy, “empty” carbs comes back strong and so does the sugar. (that’s why I’m doing this juice fast, to hopefully kind of “reset’ my body and taste buds so it’s easier to stick with how I want to eat)

    I don’t know about the tax thing…probably not, but I do wish the government could do something with the prices of HEALTHY food..  It gets me all worked up that you can buy white bread, candy, sugar-laden kids cereals, ice cream, and more for so cheap and on the other hand so many can barely afford anything organic or stuff that’s actually really good for us!  If they give subsidies or whatever it is to the corn farmers to put HFCS into everything imaginable, thereby cheapening it, can’t they give some sort of subsidy to something worthwhile for our health?  I know a lot of people (myself included) desire to eat very healthy, but due to price differences, don’t always put that desire into action.  I’m not saying it’s an excuse exactly, since we all have our priorities and can *usually* find a way, but not always.  Whew!  🙂  Sorry, I got carried away there!! 🙂

  20. I really try to avoid sugar, but at the same time – I don’t necessarily track it. I think I’m going to track my intake for a week so I can see how much sugar I am actually consuming. I completely agree that the issue is with over consumption of sugar, alcohol, etc.. We shouldn’t have to tax something like sugar because people should take their health into their own hands and make certain that they aren’t way over the limit. This is wayyy easier said than done though. Unfortunately.

  21. Love this post!

    A few months ago I downloaded my net diary, the full version (I hear Fitness Pal is just as good?)…anyway, I did it not to track calories, but my pro, cho and fat percentages. Sice I am nursing, working out doing a lot of strength training and HIIT I wanted to make sure I was eating the right amount. I made a program with a nutritionist like 7 years ago that followed a similar method and we really focused on the anti-sugar thing. Right now I am eating a high fat, high protein diet and my default my carb intake has been lower the recommended 55%. I have seen so many changes in my body and I feel the best I have felt with all the coconut oil, whole eggs and avocado I am eating! I def avoid sugar, but I need sweets every day. Okay I don’t “need” but I am enjoy a dark chocolate bar or my PB an dark chocolate “treats” At the end of the day, when all is said and done even after I have my treat my sugar intake is a lot lower than I thought it would be! All about moderation like you said…butI look, and my sugar is still higher than I’d like, not horrible by any means, but if I eat how I do and have some dark chocolate every day I can not imagine how much sugar is being consumed by people who eat a lot of processed foods!

    The tax question…I am up in the air with that. I sometimes think processed foods and high sugar soda should be taxed so less people buy it, or they can use the tax towards lowering the cost of fresh healthy foods. It makes me so sad when I see families stocking up on soda and high sugar boxed food because it’s buy one get one…then sugar addiction comes in, etc, etc, etc.

  22. I love this!!  People think I’m crazy for being a sugar-nazi with my kids but I have a VERY sugar-sensitive child that literally TRANSFORMS within 5 minutes of having 10+g of sugar, natural OR otherwise.  Just one or two pieces of chocolate will set him off and I end up with a problem child!!  So not only do I avoid sugar for my own healthy diet, I keep it away from my kids!!

  23. Taxing it is an interesting argument… sometimes I think I eat too much sugar, but I think that if I were compare myself to the average, I would be doing alright for myself!

    I’d rather see a subsidy for gym memberships or sport registration fees first, I think…

  24. Basically, what I’m doing is eliminating all processed sugars, and minimizing all other sugar sources…so I’m not eating dates, figs, fruits, etc., but if I were to make a salad and wanted some blueberries on it or something, I would add them (b/c I’d have all the fiber, protein, and fat from the meal to slow the absorption). Sugar is really addictive for me—and it also causes a lot of terrible (in my opinion) side effects physically for me (like skin breakouts, low energy, brain fog, hormone imbalance). If we talked about this 8 years ago, I would have told you I was living on easy mac, diet pepsi, and animal crackers 🙂

    I agree with the price/healthy food thing! I do think there are people working on solutions, but it’s such a big problem that it will take major overhauling..and that’s just difficult!

  25. I agree completely—I’d love the taxed foods to supplement the healthy food industry…imagine what the corn growers association and Monsanto would do if that happened! Ha!

    It’s so crazy to document diet and see in numbers what your food is made up of. Most people who track for me (clients/students) find they are surprised by at least one thing. Although, many people knew it was gonna be bad… Whenever I tried to eat “healthy” in the past by limiting fat, I never felt good or satisfied, and I always ate more carbs to compensate. I think that’s what has happened to the US as a whole!
    The high protein high fat diet is great! I’ve never felt this good… 🙂

  26. Thanks for commenting—I have recently been working with a couple kids on diet/behavioral issues. And I’m sure you’ll totally understand when I say that it has been nothing short of revolutionary! Not only have we totally toned down behavior problems, but made 100% changes in academics. I knew this would work, and still, when I keep seeing the results, I am totally amazed by it.
    I think so many kids nowadays are sensitive to sugar (and probably always were, but sugar is just so much more prevalent now)—and it makes me so sad when I hear of a parent/teacher/doctor just going the ritalin route. A low-sugar diet and some fish oil supplements yield better results with no bad side effects!
    Thanks for sharing about your son—it’s very reinforcing for me to read other people’s experiences too 🙂

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