Hidden sugarIn order to maintain a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis, it is important to understand the principles of good nutrition. At Perry Wellness Center, that’s where our Healthy Eating groups come in! Wellness Coach Phyllis Smith provides facts and demonstrations to peers attempting to lose weight, control health problems, and generally develop healthier eating habits.

Recently, Coach Phyllis provided a graphic demonstration on sugar consumption to one healthy eating group. She compared the refined sugar content of several common drinks, including: bottled Coke, canned Coke, Naked no-sugar-added smoothie, Welch’s fruit juice, Lipton bottled sweet tea, grape juice, and Smartwater.

For each drink, the amount of added sugar shown on the nutrition label was converted to teaspoons and measured out into a small bag. The bags were then displayed over the respective drinks. For example, a pound of refined sugar was placed in front of a 20-ounce Coke to illustrate the amount of sugar that would be ingested if a person drank just one of these drinks each day for a week. Peers were shocked at the amount of sugar contained in most beverages and several commented that the information frightened them.

Fear can be an appropriate response, as the “hidden sugar” epidemic has been proven to contribute to a variety of health conditions, including: diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, chronic sinusitis, irritable bowel syndrome, cancer, and increased symptoms of mental illnesses ranging from depression to schizophrenia. Sugar can and does affect the human brain.

Coach Phyllis emphasized the need for making personal commitments to better eating. No one else can make the decision for any of us. She suggests that a good way to start reducing sugar in the diet is to eat fewer processed or packaged foods, to read food labels carefully, and to eat “real” foods – that is, fresh and unprocessed foods. Added bonus: real food tastes better!

In the photo above, Phyllis Smith uses a display board to illustrate the relative amount of sugar in various drinks.

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