Do you know that roughly 40% of the world’s population is overweight or obese and that this number will rise to 60 to 80% by 2050?
The scenario – should it play out as predicted – can have disastrous consequences not only on an individual level but also publicly. Expect health care costs to rise and hospitals to be swamped with patients suffering from self-inflicted health issues.
The good news is that it’s not too late to prevent this from happening.
First, a brief history lesson.
Humans, you see, evolved over millions of years to become who we are today, with our body designed for movement since the days of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
This all changed with the agricultural revolution that started several hundred years ago when humans decided that it made more sense to settle down and plant crops instead. The result was a significant increase in food production while decreasing the need to constantly move from one place to the next in the hunt for food.
Fast forward a few hundred years, and machines have taken an increasingly larger role in working these farms, making human input increasingly redundant. It’s also one reason why many young people have mostly abandoned the idea of being farmers and prefer to pursue a career in the city instead.
The result: increase in the supply of food while people become more and more sedentary.
This article will focus mainly on sugar and the role it plays.
What Is Sugar?
Carbohydrates can consist of any combination of sugar, starches, and fiber. These can, in turn, be classified as simple or complex carbohydrates, depending on the speed at which it gets digested. Sugar falls squarely in the simple carbohydrates category because it gets absorbed quickly into your bloodstream.
It’s important to realize that not all sugars are the same. Naturally-occurring sugars like those found in fruits and vegetables usually come with fiber and other trace minerals which are absent from processed sugar. This makes them not only more nutritious but also longer to digest compared to consuming sugar in its crystallized form.
The Issues With Sugar
To start with, sugar is not a nutrient-rich food meaning that it doesn’t contribute much to your body aside from being a fast-metabolizing energy source. This is why athletes prefer sugary drinks fortified with electrolytes for a quick energy boost.
Sugar itself isn’t inherently good or bad. It all depends on the frequency, type, and amount of sugar that you consume.
The fact that consuming excessive sugary food and drinks can contribute to unnecessary weight gain is nothing new. The problem is not the weight gain itself because an impoverished person gaining some weight is, in fact, something welcome. The issue, rather, is being excessively overweight and/or obese.
Another issue with sugar is how easily accessible it has become. This proliferation, combined with its low cost, addictive nature, and mass production, has resulted in sugar being added to most processed foods today.
Sugary foods also don’t satiate like whole foods do and can leave you feeling hungrier than before. Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. Excessive sugar consumption can even result in an insulin spike followed by a crash. It could even lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes and heart diseases.
Excessive sugar consumption is also a precursor of the crippling condition known as diabetes.
Managing Your Sugar Intake
1. Stay Hydrated
Sugar craving may be a sign that you are dehydrated. The solution then is to simply have a glass of water before reaching out for that sugary snack. It will also help you meet your daily quota of drinking at least have eight glasses of water.
2. Sweeten Food With Natural Sweetener
Natural sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup are good alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners. They also contain small amounts of nutrients and minerals which your body may be lacking.
Find out more on natural sweeteners here.
3. Make Sure to Eat Sufficiently During Meals
Eating enough so that you are not hungry but stopping just before you feel full will help with overeating. Try to avoid desserts after eating your main meal or only have them occasionally.
4. Consume the Right Nutrients
Consume whole foods such as quinoa, organic eggs, beans, nuts, and seeds. Have at least some protein with every meal, and remember to incorporate healthy fats and fiber.
5. Prepare Your Own Meals
Making your own meals is one way to keep track of what goes in to your body. It will also save you some money.
6. Always Read the Label
It pays to read the labels on food products prior to making a purchase. Seemingly innocent products that you regularly buy could contain ingredients that are not immediately obvious from their packaging. Even labels such as ‘low fat’ or ‘less sweet’ can be misleading because the base for comparison is rarely, if ever, listed.
Keep These In Mind
We are not advocating the complete abandonment of sugary foods unless absolutely necessary. The key, rather, is moderation.
Sugar is the new fat, but we likely won’t see any sugar-based diet for the purpose of losing weight.
Disclaimer: consult your doctor prior to undergoing any dietary changes.