As a kid I remember going to my babysitter's house and I specifically loved when she would leave the room. Why? Well, in her kitchen she had a sugar bowl. I would sit myself next to it, wet my hand and try to get as much sugar as I could out of the bowl without a spoon. Through some detective work I think she caught on, since she didn't have the sugar bowl when I came back the next time. Did I mention that I used to strategically place and hide cupcakes and dessert under my bed? I'll save that story for another time. Either way at the core of all of this is: our sometimes dreaded and sometimes delighted sweet tooth! Everyone has it and then there are those who not only have a sweet tooth but have a salty tooth too! Which one are you?
With Purim coming up and the many types of sweets and treats that are enjoyed I think this is just the right time to start a series talking about sugar.
One of my favorite nutrition writers and researchers is Dr. Marion Nestle. In several of her publications she confronts the complex topic of sugar head on. I want to share with you some of the practical applications of her findings and research we should all be aware of. Sugar is present in the majority of items that we consume each day, and as consumers it is our responsibility to know how much could be harmful to our bodies. Dr. Lustig (a pediatric endocrinologist) as quoted by Dr. Nestle, found 50 grams of sugar a day (about 12 teaspoons) as a safe zone of sugar, but reaching 100 grams of sugar could in fact be toxic to the body.
Feel free to try an experiment just to see what it would taste like:
Put 12 teaspoons of sugar (about 50 grams) into 12 oz of water. Take a drink! I know, it's hard to swallow! Right away you'll see that spreading your sugar throughout the day is a better option. And just how much sugar 50 grams is.
Here's what I want to say on my soap box: sugars have no nutrients. Which means that there is no nutritional value. When large amounts of sugar are consumed (on their own -not paired with other nutrients) it is a super speedy dropping of sugar to the bloodstream causing a spike in blood sugar. But what goes up must come down- resulting in a "sugar crash" or "sugar headaches." Those who consume too much sugar (in the toxic zone of 100 grams) can be at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Here's the deal, sugar is not poison, BUT it is best handled by your body in smaller quantities. Sugar can have a place in a nutritionally sound and healthful diet, but take an account of how much sugar you consume. How do you feel after? Is your body trying to tell you something? Keep in mind that liking sweet foods is normal- from the time of birth babies are having milk from their mother that is naturally sweet!
When it comes to Purim and the many delectable goodies that are available try and couple the sweets with other nutrients that are rich in fiber or protein. This will help to balance the delivery of sugar to the bloodstream and prevent the uncomfortable sugar roller-coaster that can result.
Next week we will explore more aspects of sugar, leave your questions below!
Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach!
Nestle, M. (2017). Soda politics: taking on big soda (and winning). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nestle, M. (2007). What to eat. New York: North Point Press/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.