I recently presented my sugar blues talk at a networking event.  This was the first talk or workshop I gave before I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).   In fact, I think it’s the talk that IIN recommended giving to get out there and start finding clients.

I gave this talk the first time 4 1/2 years ago so I wanted to brush up on the material and see what updates I needed to make.  When I got to the slide about the statistics on diabetes, I figured I better make sure that these numbers are still good.

Guess what?  They weren’t.

Diabetes

Diabetes has increased in the US by 1% in the past 4 ½ years and jumped from 26 million people to 30 million people.

Pre-diabetes

Knowing that many people suffer with what medicine calls pre-diabetes, I figured I should note those numbers as well.  Pre-diabetes is the precursor to diabetes when a person has high blood sugar, but does not show all the signs yet of full blown diabetes.  It is also important to note that elevated blood sugar or blood sugar dysregulation is also a precursor to cognitive decline as noted in my last blog post.

You may be aware of the pre-diabetes epidemic that experts say will affect all adult Americans in the next ten years, but I wonder if you are aware of the hidden sugars in many so-called “health foods.”

Nutrition Facts label

My first challenge for you is to start reading labels.  You can start with the Nutrition Facts label that is required on all packaged foods.  You should see a row that says Sugar(s).  Note that 4 grams of sugar is equivalent to a teaspoon.  If you are eating a serving of pasta sauce and it contains 11 grams of sugar, that’s almost 3 teaspoons in just a ½ cup serving.  I am certain that if you were making your own pasta sauce using real tomatoes, etc. that you would not be adding any sugar, let alone 3 teaspoons.

Ingredients label

If you are looking at the ingredients instead of the Nutrition Facts label, you want to look for:  sugar; anything ending in ‘ose’ which would include fructose, glucose, galactose or dextrose.  Note that fructose is twice as sweet as sugar and its metabolism is super hard on the liver.  Additionally, the high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) version is genetically modified.   HFCS is found in most soda drinks.

Awareness

The first step in getting control of your blood sugar is awareness.  Awareness is knowing where the sugars are and how much total sugar you are eating.  Keeping a food journal and just recording the amount of sugar or what you are eating is a great way to start seeing it in real time.  It’s easy to forget what you ate yesterday or the day before.  Just doing this may be enough to reduce your sugar consumption.

If you eat at a chain restaurant (with 20 more stores), you will have to ask for the nutritional facts or the ingredients statement that they must provide to see what’s in the food you are ordering.  Most other restaurants you can ask the waiter which menu items have sugar.  Preparing as much food at home as possible is the best way to know how much sugar you are eating.