It’s the Sugar, Folks

By MARK BITTMAN, New York Times
sugar-addictionSugar is indeed toxic. It may not be the only problem with the Standard American Diet, but it’s fast becoming clear that it’s the major one.

A study published in the Feb. 27 issue of the journal PLoS One links increased consumption of sugar with increased rates of diabetes by examining the data on sugar availability and the rate of diabetes in 175 countries over the past decade. And after accounting for many other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity.

In other words, according to this study, it’s not just obesity that can cause diabetes: sugar can cause it, too, irrespective of obesity. And obesity does not always lead to diabetes.

The study demonstrates this with the same level of confidence that linked cigarettes and lung cancer in the 1960s. As Rob Lustig, one of the study’s authors and a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said to me, “You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one.”

The study controlled for poverty, urbanization, aging, obesity and physical activity. It controlled for other foods and total calories. In short, it controlled for everything controllable, and it satisfied the longstanding “Bradford Hill” criteria for what’s called medical inference of causation by linking dose (the more sugar that’s available, the more occurrences of diabetes); duration (if sugar is available longer, the prevalence of diabetes increases); directionality (not only does diabetes increase with more sugar, it decreases with less sugar); and precedence (diabetics don’t start consuming more sugar; people who consume more sugar are more likely to become diabetics).

The key point in the article is this: “Each 150 kilocalories/person/day increase in total calorie availability related to a 0.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence (not significant), whereas a 150 kilocalories/person/day rise in sugar availability (one 12-ounce can of soft drink) was associated with a 1.1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence.” Thus: for every 12 ounces of sugar-sweetened beverage introduced per person per day into a country’s food system, the rate of diabetes goes up 1 percent. (The study found no significant difference in results between those countries that rely more heavily on high-fructose corn syrup and those that rely primarily on cane sugar.)

This is as good (or bad) as it gets, the closest thing to causation and a smoking gun that we will see. (To prove “scientific” causality you’d have to completely control the diets of thousands of people for decades. It’s as technically impossible as “proving” climate change or football-related head injuries or, for that matter, tobacco-caused cancers.) And just as tobacco companies fought, ignored, lied and obfuscated in the ’60s (and, indeed, through the ’90s), the pushers of sugar will do the same now.

But as Lustig says, “This study is proof enough that sugar is toxic. Now it’s time to do something about it.”

The next steps are obvious, logical, clear and up to the Food and Drug Administration. To fulfill its mission, the agency must respond to this information by re-evaluating the toxicity of sugar, arriving at a daily value — how much added sugar is safe? — and ideally removing fructose (the “sweet” molecule in sugar that causes the damage) from the “generally recognized as safe” list, because that’s what gives the industry license to contaminate our food supply.

On another front, two weeks ago a coalition of scientists and health advocates led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the F.D.A. to both set safe limits for sugar consumption and acknowledge that added sugars, rather than lingering on the “safe” list, should be declared unsafe at the levels at which they’re typically consumed. (The F.D.A. has not yet responded to the petition.)

Allow me to summarize a couple of things that the PLoS One study clarifies. Perhaps most important, as a number of scientists have been insisting in recent years, all calories are not created equal. By definition, all calories give off the same amount of energy when burned, but your body treats sugar calories differently, and that difference is damaging.

And as Lustig lucidly wrote in “Fat Chance,” his compelling 2012 book that looked at the causes of our diet-induced health crisis, it’s become clear that obesity itself is not the cause of our dramatic upswing in chronic disease. Rather, it’s metabolic syndrome, which can strike those of “normal” weight as well as those who are obese. Metabolic syndrome is a result of insulin resistance, which appears to be a direct result of consumption of added sugars. This explains why there’s little argument from scientific quarters about the “obesity won’t kill you” studies; technically, they’re correct, because obesity is a marker for metabolic syndrome, not a cause.

The take-away: it isn’t simply overeating that can make you sick; it’s overeating sugar. We finally have the proof we need for a verdict: sugar is toxic.

Bloomberg’s big-soda ban approved by NYC health board

Eric Moore sips on an extra-large beverage during a July protest against Mayor Bloomberg's proposal.

Eric Moore sips on an extra-large beverage during a July protest against Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal.


Enjoy those Big Gulps while you still can.

The New York City Board of Health approved Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large sugar-sweetened drinks Thursday, as expected.

Eight of the board’s nine members voted in favor of the ban; one, Dr. Sixto R. Caro, abstained.

“I am still skeptical,” Caro told The Associated Press. “This is not comprehensive enough.”

The plan, proposed by the mayor in May, calls for a ban on the sale of all sugar-sweetened drinks—soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened teas, coffees and fruit drinks—in cups larger than 16 ounces at the city’s restaurants, food carts, movie theaters, stadiums and sports arenas. The Barclays Center, the new arena for the Brooklyn Nets opening next week, will comply with Bloomberg’s ban, its developer, Bruce Ratner, said Thursday.

The new policy does not include diet sodas, soft drinks sold in grocery stores or those that contain 70 percent or more fruit juice. Beer is also not included in the ban.

“Six months from today,” Bloomberg tweeted, “our city will be an even healthier place. NYC’s new sugary drink policy is the single biggest step any gov’t has taken to curb #obesity. It will help save lives.”

Nearly 60 percent of the city’s adults and 40 percent of its children are overweight or obese, the mayor’s office said, putting them at higher risk for disease.

But Bloomberg’s ban has plenty of critics, who say the mayor is ushering in yet another “nanny state” policy.

A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 51 percent of New Yorkers oppose the new sugary drink policy. A New York Times poll conducted in mid-August found that number to be closer to 60 percent. (Just 36 percent of those polled thought it was a good idea.) And last month, the American Beverage Association launched a campaign against the plan, saying, “150 years of research finds that people consume what they want.”

“The New York City health department’s unhealthy obsession with attacking soft drinks is again pushing them over the top,” Stefan Friedman, a beverage industry spokesman, said in May when Bloomberg’s plan was formally introduced. “It’s time for serious health professionals to move on and seek solutions that are going to actually curb obesity. These zealous proposals just distract from the hard work that needs to be done on this front.”

“Say goodbye to venti Frappuccinos, gallon movie theater slurpees and big sodas,” Jill Colvin wrote on

But Mayor Bloomberg does have some high-profile supporters, including celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who congratulated him on his blog.

“I applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s initiative as I believe he’s one of the few people in power who is taking practical measures to fight obesity,” Oliver wrote. “We hear a lot about how we shouldn’t be ‘nannying’ people with laws about how they live their lives, but with such a massive problem as the obesity epidemic to deal with, we are way past the point where [we] can trust people to make better choices. We have to help them make better choices. Good for Mayor Mike for putting the health of his city’s people first and holding firm against the expected pressure from the food and soda industries.”

According to the Times, the ban should have at least a “broad impact.” Half of New Yorkers polled by the paper said they drank at least one soda per week; a third drink several per week. And only one in six said they did not drink soda at all.

“This is not the end,” Eliot Hoff, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Beverage Choices, said in a statement after the board’s vote. “We will continue to voice our opposition to this ban and fight for the right of New Yorkers to make their own choices. And we will stand with the business owners who will be hurt by these arbitrary limitations.”

Soda purveyors have six months to comply with the new plan, and nine before they face fines for defying it. But some observers, like The New Yorker’s James Surowiecki, suspect that won’t be necessary.

“It’s true that the ban will be easy to circumvent: if you want to drink thirty-two ounces, you can just buy two sixteen-ounce servings,” Surowiecki wrote. “But Bloomberg’s proposal makes clever use of what economists call ‘default bias.’ If you offer a choice in which one option is seen as a default, most people go for that default option.”

Eric Stangel, head writer of the “Late Show With David Letterman,” identified another loophole.

“Sure, New York City banned large sodas,” Stangel wrote on Twitter. “But they did not ban wide sodas.”

By Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News/The Lookout

50 Uses for Coca-Cola – the Ultimate List






The list

1. Remove grease stains from clothing and fabric (I had to start there)
2. Remove rust; methods include using fabric dipped in Coke, a sponge or even aluminum foil.
3. Remove blood stains from clothing and fabric.
4. Make gooey Coke funnel cakes .
5. Clean oil stains from a garage floor; let the stain soak, hose off.
6. Loosen a rusty bolt; pour on some Coke and wait for the magic to happen.
7. Kill slugs and snails; a small bowl of Coke will attract them, the acid will kill them.
8. Help a lawn become lush and green ( lawn tonic article here )
9. Prevent an asthma attack! Apparently, the caffeine in two 12oz cans can prevent the onset of an attack.
10. Defrost a frozen windshield. Apply liberally and wait (I’ll see if this works in winter)
11. Clean burnt pans; let the pan soak in the Coke, then rinse.
12. Descale a kettle using the same method in 11.
13. Neutralize a jellyfish sting.
14. Clean car battery terminals by pouring a small amount of Coke over each one.
15. Cure nausea; let a can of Coke go flat then take a teaspoon of Coke every hour.
16. Also, flat coke can help relieve an upset stomach (aka “the runs”)
17. Make a Mentos & Coke exploding fountain. This one takes a 2-liter bottle of Coke.

Mentos and Diet Coke: A World Record  (click here to watch)

18. Get rid of hiccups; gargle with a big mouthful of ice-cold Coke.
19. Shake up a can and pour it over your windshield to remove bugs and other crud.
20. Use the method in 19 for your car bumpers, too.
21. Clean your engine; Coke distributors have been using this technique for decades.
22. Relieve congestion; boil and a can of Coke and drink while hot to clear you up.
23. Make a sweet BBQ sauce. Mix a can of Coke with ketchup and brush over ribs or chicken.
24. Baste a ham roast with Coke as it cooks. The sugars will caramelize; the ham will be moist.
25. Add a can of coke to your pot roast to tenderize it and add extra flavor. (Thanks Linsey).
26. Make pretty pennies; soaking old pennies in Coke will remove the tarnish.
27. Make your hair curly; pour flat Coke onto long hair, leave for a few minutes then rinse.
28. Age documents and photos; for that antique look, apply Coke, pat with paper, leave to dry.
29. Clean tile grout; pour onto kitchen floor, leave for a few minutes, wipe up.
30. Mix a can of Coke with a packet of Italian seasoning; cook a tough steak in it.
31. Make better compost; Coke increases the acidity, adds sugars and feeds microorganisms.
32. Dissolve a tooth in it; Use a sealed container, this takes ages. Why would you want to though, unless you’re Hannibal Lecter?
33. Remove gum from hair; dip into a small bowl of Coke, leave a few minutes. Gum will wipe off.
34. Get silky skin; mix a spoonful of Coke with regular lotion and apply liberally.
35. Make low-fat brownies .
36. Pour a little in a cup and set it out an hour before a picnic, away from your site; it will attract wasps and bees so they’re not bugging you and your grub.
37. Remove stains from vitreous china. More info on vitreous materials here .
38. Got a dirty pool? Add two 2-liter bottles of Coke to clear up the water (it acts as rust remover).
39. Add Coke to your laundry to remove bad smells, especially fish.
40. Remove (or fade) dye from hair by pouring diet Coke over it.
41. Mop a floor with Coke to make it sticky. It’s a movie industry trick to stop actors slipping.
42. Remove marker stains from carpet. Apply Coke, scrub, then clean with soapy water.
43. Clean a toilet; pour around bowl, leave for a while, flush clean.
44. Apply to skin for a deep tan (although this seems like a recipe for skin cancer to me).
45. Supposedly, drinking an 8oz can of Coke every day can prevent kidney stones.
46. Add it to a Sloppy Joe mix
47. Perk up your Azaleas or Gardenias.
48. Coke and aluminum foil will bring Chrome to a high shine.
49. Strip paint off metal furniture; soak a towel in Coke, sit it on the surface for days. Make sure you keep adding Coke to keep the towel wet.
50. Add it to vodka, rum or bourbon.


The 5 Most Pointless Supermarket Foods

Dave Zinczenko, Eat This, Not That







A few years back, some of the foremost thinkers of our time gathered at the top of a remote mountain to address a question that has plagued man for centuries: How can we get our hands into the chip bag without taking our arms out from beneath the blanket? The Snuggie was born.

Okay, so I don’t actually know what string of events prompted the Snuggie, but the blanket-dress hybrid turned pop-culture phenomenon makes an important point: Marketers can sell us anything, and sometimes it seems like they invent junk just to see if we’ll buy it. In most cases, we do.

Right now there’s no bigger purveyor of pointlessness than the food industry. Over the past couple of decades, food execs have developed an uncanny ability to turn even the healthiest foods into processed piles of junk and to hook us gullible consumers with useless products.

So what are you going to do about it? Bury your head in a Snuggie and hope the problem disappears? No! If you care about your cash and your waistline, you’ll start a personal crusade against crummy foods and all the empty calories they contain. To get you started, I’ve partnered with to compile a list of five of the most pointless supermarket products around. Avoid the sketchy selections below and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you.

#1: Supermarket Lunch

Smucker’s Uncrustables Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly Sandwich

210 calories
9 g fat (2 g saturated)
9 g sugarsBack in the day, homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were considered a quick lunch fix, but Smucker’s somehow managed to turn this old favorite into a processed junk food. Uncrustables are pre-made PB&J sandwiches with the crusts already removed, and unlike their classic counterparts, they’re full of high-fructose corn syrup and heart-damaging hydrogenated oils. For a much more sensible snack, spread some peanut butter and jelly on half of a whole wheat English muffin. Or go with a full peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread. It has more calories than an Uncrustable, but comes packed with more fiber and protein, nutrients that will fill your belly and help you power through an afternoon.

Eat This Instead!

Half a Thomas’s 100% Whole Wheat English Muffin with 1 Tbsp of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter and 1 Tbsp of Smucker’s Simply Fruit Concord Grape spread

195 calories
8.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
10.5 g sugars


#2: Supermarket Snack

Yoplait Original 99% Fat Free Harvest Peach (6 oz, 1 container)

170 calories
1.5 g fat (1 g saturated)
26 g sugars

This yogurt may be low in fat, but it harbors a whopping 26 grams of sugar—that’s more than you’ll find in a Twinkie! The problem: The sugar overload will cause an energy crash later—not exactly what most people are looking for in a product touted as a healthy snack or low-calorie meal replacement. When it comes to traditional yogurt, opt for options sweetened with only fruit or fruit-derived sugar (fructose), like Dannon Light & Fit. And for a more filling dairy snack, go with protein-packed Greek yogurt.

Eat This Instead!

Dannon Light & Fit Peach (6 oz, 1 container)

80 calories
0 g fat
11 g sugars


#3: Supermarket Treat

WhoNu? Nutrition Rich Chocolate Cookies

160 calories
7 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
14 g sugars

“Nutrition-rich” cookies? WhoNu the food industry could stoop so low as to market sugary, high-carb treats as health food? These cookies are advertised as being an “excellent source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B12, C, D and E” with “3 grams of fiber and 20 essential vitamins and minerals,” but they’re really just a processed junk food with some nutrients thrown in. You know what else has 4 grams of fiber and 20 vitamins and minerals? Apples. As do bananas, blueberries, grapes, nectarines, and dozens of other naturally sweet fruits that come without the refined flour and genetically modified ingredients found in these health-food wannabes. If you want a healthier version of a classic cookie, go with a less sugary, whole grain treat like Kashi’s oatmeal chocolate chip option, and get your vitamins in the produce aisle.

Eat This Instead!

Kashi TLC Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Soft-Baked Cookies

130 calories
5 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
8 g sugars




#4: Supermarket Breakfast

Kraft Original Bagel-fuls

200 calories
5 g fat (3 g saturated)
2 g fiber

Most people would agree that it’s not too difficult to spread cream cheese on a bagel. But apparently the folks at Kraft think otherwise, because they’re selling prepackaged, pre-stuffed bagels filled with an array of unpronounceable processed ingredients. Don’t fall for this gimmicky breakfast: Spread some whipped cream cheese on a fiber-filled whole wheat bagel and call it breakfast.

Eat This Instead!

Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat Mini Bagel w/ Kraft Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese (2 Tbsp)

160 calories
6.5 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
4 g fiber


#5: Supermarket Drink

Tropicana Twister Cherry Berry Blast (8 fl oz)

110 calories
0 g fat
25 g sugars

This is a classic move in the juice-trickery playbook: Use inexpensive fake food dyes—not actual fruit juice—to give the liquid an appealing color. Despite its name, Tropicana’s juice concoction contains 0 percent berry and cherry juice. What’s more, this bottle is guilty of what I call a serving size rip-off: It contains 2.5 servings, which means if you guzzle the whole thing (a likely scenario), you’ll take in more sugar than two packs of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups! When it comes to fruity drinks, 100% fruit juice is the only way to go, but you’re better off eating actual fruit—you’ll get more fiber with less sugar and calories. Or drink green tea, which is packed with heart-protecting, cancer-stopping nutrients called polyphenols.

Eat This Instead!

R.W. Knudsen Family Just Cranberry (8 fl oz)

70 calories
0 g fat
9 g sugars



Clemmy’s Vanilla Bean Donut Peach Ice Cream Treat

When is a donut healthy for you? When they are Clemmy’s Ice Cream O’s or they are the recipe we made today using the Donut Peach. They are naturally sweet, fat and cholesterol free, sodium free, and less than 50 calories. These interesting, almost fuzz-less, white flesh peaches are sweet tasting with a delicate hint of almond, perfect for out-of-hand consumption or as a recipe ingredient.

Cultivated in Asia for centuries and exported to the US in the 1800s, flat peaches, as they were then referred to, were at first a novelty due to their odd shape, but were soon forgotten as more spherical peach varieties emerged. However, the donut peach remerged in the 1990s and has gained popularity in North America in recent years.

When you spot this unusual saucer looking peach in the produce aisle, do not pass them by because they don’t look like the peaches you are used to. Instead, stop, embrace their unique shape, enjoy and have fun with them.

Perfectly sized for the smaller hands of children or for adults mindful of portion size, donut peaches are delicious on their own or as a summer recipe ingredient. The growing season is short; they are available in July and August.  As only a few North American farms produce these gems, supply is limited. As they won’t be around for long, be sure to pick up a dozen or so to enjoy and incorporate in this Clemmy’s summertime recipe:

Donut Peaches for sale








6 ripe, donut peaches

2 cups (500 mL) Clemmy’s Sugar Free Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sugar Free Sprinkles – like Bernard Food’s Sweetie Sprinkles for garnish









Wash donut peaches and pat dry with a paper towel.

With a 1-inch (2.5 cm) circular cookie cutter, core the pit from the donut peach, or with a knife cut around the pit and push out, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) hole. Now it looks like a real donut!

Repeat step for all six donut peaches.

Place donut peaches on a platter that has been pre-chilled in the freezer. With a melon ball scoop or teaspoon, scoop the Clemmy’s Vanilla Bean and fill the center cavity of each peach.

Enjoy immediately or return to freezer until ready to serve. Note that peaches will freeze within 30 minutes, so be careful not to make these treats too far in advance of serving.

Serves 6

Tip: For a different taste try making it Vanilla Bean Maple by adding a product like Joseph’s Sugar Free Maple Syrup, or crumbling Murray Sugar Free Shortbread, Chocolate Bites, or Vanilla Wafers.

The Truth About Sugar Addiction

Web MD

Sugar Detox: Hype or Hope?

Sugar detox is the hottest trend, with three-week diets promising to rid you of your dependence on sinister sweets so you can finally lose weight. But can eating masses of broccoli for seven days really get the sugar monkey off your back for good? Let WebMD show you the truth about sugar cravings, sugar addiction, and how to tame an unruly sweet tooth right now.

 Is Sugar Addiction Real?

You say you can’t live without your daily donut — but are you really “addicted” to sugar? The answer is complicated. Researchers think a pattern of withholding and binging — not sugar itself — may lead to addictive-like behavior and even brain changes. Sugar influences the same “feel-good” brain chemicals — including serotonin and dopamine — as illicit drugs. But scientists aren’t   quite ready to lump sugar in with heroin.

 Symptoms of Sugar Addiction

Whether you call it an addiction, an eating disorder, or simply a bad habit, there are signs of an unhealthy use of sugary foods. You may lose control and eat more than you planned. You may have withdrawal symptoms when you skip your regular cookie “fix.” “You can get low blood sugar symptoms, which would include a little bit of anxiety, shakiness, jitteriness…a cold sweat,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman for the ADA.

Your Brain on Sugar

Sugar fuels every cell in the brain and influences brain chemicals, too.  And overloading on sugary foods may alter the brain receptors that regulate how much we eat. In laboratory studies, rats that binged on sugar had brain changes that mimicked those of drug withdrawal. In humans, just seeing pictures of milkshakes triggered brain activity similar to what’s seen in drug addicts — and that activity was stronger in women with a high food-addiction score than in women who didn’t report addictive eating.

Quick Sugar Highs…

When you eat cake, the sugar in that treat — called a simple carbohydrate — is quickly converted to glucose in your bloodstream.  Your blood sugar levels rise and spike when simple carbs are eaten alone, as when you grab a candy bar mid-afternoon. All simple carbs are absorbed quickly, most especially the processed, concentrated sugars found in syrup, soda, candy, and table sugar. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products — but fiber and protein slow absorption and provide wholesome nutrients.

…And Sugar Lows

Your pancreas releases the hormone insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream — and into your cells for energy. As a result, your blood sugar level may “drop pretty dramatically,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD,  of the Cleveland Clinic. That lonely afternoon candy bar has set you up for more bad eating. “When you have a very high spike followed by a very low drop, you tend to get hungry again.” Low blood sugar leaves you feeling shaky, dizzy, and searching for more sweets to regain that sugar “high.”

When Starch Equals Sugar

Do you overdo it with bagels, chips, or French fries? These starchy foods are complex carbohydrates — but the body breaks them down into simple sugars. When eaten alone, without better foods, some starches such as white flour, white rice, and white potatoes can trigger the same surge-and-crash cycle of blood sugar seen with sugary foods. Highly refined starches are the worst culprits: white bread, pretzels, crackers, and pasta. Grain-based desserts can be a double-whammy of sugar and refined grains.

Do Sugar Detox Diets Work?

Can you beat your sugar addiction by quitting cold turkey? Some sugar detoxes urge you to eliminate everything sweet — including fruit, dairy, and all refined grains — to purge your system of sugar. Diet changes like this are too drastic to be realistic. “If you are doing something that is not sustainable, that you can only do short-term, then you will ultimately go back to your old habits,” says dietitian Kirkpatrick.

Retrain Your Taste Buds

You don’t need sugar as much as you think you do. “If we wean ourselves off [sugar], we can train our taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet,” says Kirkpatrick. Try eliminating one sugary food from your diet each week. Pass on dessert after dinner. Slowly reduce the sugar in your coffee or cereal. “Over time, you will lose your dependence on that sensation,” she says.

Choose Sweet Alternatives

You don’t have to give up sweetness — just get it from other sources. Try fresh fruit or pureed berries on oatmeal instead of sugar. Fruit in many different forms beats table sugar: dried, frozen, or canned fruit (without too much added sugar). A glass of low-fat milk or low-sugar yogurt can satisfy, too. These contain the milk sugar lactose, which doesn’t taste sweet. And of course, these dairy foods are packed with protein and calcium.

Kick the Habit: Take Baby Steps

Don’t get drastic. Make small, simple changes to your diet that you can sustain over time, Kirkpatrick suggests. Eat more fruits and vegetables, drink extra water, and use fewer processed products. Start buying unsweetened foods and add just enough sugar to satisfy your taste. Cut out a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks of trimming back the sugar, you’ll be surprised at how little you miss it.

Kick the Habit: Add Protein

When you’re starving, every cookie cries out to you. Hunger robs you of the willpower to resist sugar cravings. Eating protein is an easy way to curb those cravings. High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. Protein doesn’t make your blood sugar spike, like refined carbs and sugars do. When you pick a protein snack, choose healthy sources like lean chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, or beans.

Kick the Habit: Fill Up on Fiber

“Fiber always helps with fullness,” says nutritionist Gerbstadt. High-fiber foods also give you more energy, and they don’t raise your blood sugar so there’s no hungry crash afterward. Look for soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables, as well as insoluble fiber from whole grains. Or, smear some peanut butter on an apple for a protein/fiber combo. As a bonus, fiber can also protect against heart disease and some types of cancer.

Kick the Habit: Get Outside

Exercise doesn’t “cure” sugar addiction, but it could change the way you eat in general. “People who get into an exercise program and start to feel better about themselves are more likely to try another healthy behavior — like eating less sugar,” Gerbstadt says. Whatever exercise you prefer — walking, riding your bike, or swimming — try to do it for at least 30 minutes at a time, five days a week.

The Truth About Sugar Substitutes

Before you sprinkle that packet of artificial sweetener into your coffee, consider this: Researchers have found that sugar substitutes may leave you cravingmore sugar, making it harder — not easier — for you to control your weight. “You never get out of the sense of needing sweet, and eventually you’re going to grab the real stuff,” Kirkpatrick says.

Are ‘Natural’ Sugars Better?

Honey, brown sugar, and evaporated cane juice all sound healthy — but are they really any better for you than white table sugar? Not really. Sugar is sugar. And whether it comes from bees or sugar cane, it can cause your blood sugar to rise. Honey and unrefined sugars are slightly higher in nutrients than processed table sugar, but they still contain calories, which will go straight to your hips if you eat too much.

How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

If you’re like most Americans, you’re eating 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day. That means about 285 of your daily calories are coming from sugar, which health experts say is way too much. How much sugar should you be eating? No more than six teaspoons (100 calories) daily for women; and about nine teaspoons (150 calories) for men.

Names for Sugar

Sugar isn’t just in ice cream and candy. It can hide in foods where you least expect it. Although you don’t think of them as being sweet, ketchup, barbeque sauce, spaghetti sauce, and reduced-fat salad dressings can all be loaded with sugar. Bread may also be high in sugar. So are baked beans and some flavored coffees. Get in the habit of reading labels, and filtering out high-sugar foods before they go into your shopping cart.

Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?

You may have heard that too many sugar splurges can lead you straight down the road to diabetes. Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, but it can trigger a chain of events that make you more likely to get the disease. Eating too much sugar can contribute to weight gain. Being overweight makes your body more resistant to the effects of insulin. And insulin resistance increases your risk for diabetes.

Tame Sugar Withdrawal

When you first cut back on sugar, you will go through a sort of withdrawal. You may feel tired, listless, or edgy. “It’s very short-lived,” Gerbstadt says. Having goals — like vowing to lose 10 pounds or cut out desserts for a week — can help you get through your sugar withdrawal. Knowing that you’ll soon be free from your sugar addiction and on the road to better health can also be a real motivator.



Where Consumers Put Their Food Money

On a national basis, households spend less than 9% on groceries in 2012 vs. more than 12% thirty years ago, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data assembled by Planet Money/National Public Radio.

Today’s favorable spending ratio certainly doesn’t reflect people eating less—witness the record obesity rates and population growth in the United States. There’s more left in our wallets—and on our waistlines.

Center-store looks to be the reason why. We currently spend close to a quarter of our grocery dollars (22.9%) on processed foods and sweets. That’s about double the 11.6% rate of 1982, the BLS figures show.

Cost shifts in meats, produce, baked goods and other foods make the processed items relatively cheap per calorie—not per nutrient. For millions of consumers who need the energy while stretching their food budgets in tough times, this is appealing. For those who crave the convenience and simplicity of packaged foods, the processed items are traffic draws, says F3.

These pulls are powerful. Processed foods and sweets are collectively the #1 sellers when compared with:
• meats (21.5% of today’s grocery spend vs. a commanding 31.3% in 1982)
• fruits and vegetables (14.6% today vs. 14.5% in 1982)
• grains and baked goods (14.4% today vs. 13.2% in 1982)
• beverages (11.1% today vs. 11.0% in 1982)
• dairy products (10.6% today vs. 13.2% in 1982)
• other foods (5.1% today vs. 5.3% in 1982)

That’s despite so much retailer attention to perishables and perimeter departments, a revamped Federal food pyramid, and a steady stream of opinions from health experts to eat less sodium, sugar and fat.

With sugar prices down 16.7% to 70 cents per pound, manufacturers are understandably tempted to use this affordable ingredient—and it appears many consumers find these products hard to resist. Other packaged food examples in the BLS/NPR data show: an 11.9% price decline for potato chips to $5.01 per pound; a 6.6% price dip for ground coffee to $5.51 per pound; and a 34.4% price drop for butter to $3.18 per pound.

Even more severe price drops accounted for the pronounced share loss of grocery spend on meats. For instance, bacon prices slid 12.9% to $4.53 per pound in 2012, ground beef prices fell 19.9% to $3.33 per pound, steak prices dropped 30.0% to $4.90 per pound, chicken leg prices were down 35.2% to $1.59 per pound, and pork chop prices tailed off by 37.9% to $3.72 per pound, the comparative data show.

Meanwhile, a Meijer survey released last summer shows a majority of adult consumers seem quite aware of their dietary shortcomings. Nearly six out of ten (58%) feel they don’t enough fruits and vegetables.

“Most people know they should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but they perceive them as expensive to purchase [39% said this] and difficult to prepare [20% said this],” said Shari Steinbach, Meijer registered dietitian and healthy living manager, at the time. By comparison, 48% of consumers surveyed by Meijer said their kids eat more fruit than other children, and 35% said their kids eat about the same amount of fruit as others. With regard to vegetables, 36% felt their kids ate more and 44% felt their kids ate about the same amount as others.



12 Foods Your Dentist Won’t Eat

A fully grown male deer. The carbon body of a 2007 Shelby Mustang Funny Car. Tom Cruise. And all the sugar and other sweeteners you, the average American, will eat this year. What do they all have in common? They all weigh approximately 140 pounds.

Life is sweet, all right—so sweet that each of us will eat the sugar equivalent of 6,047 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in the next 12 months. Impossible, right? Sure, you like a piece of birthday cake now and again, and you’re not above raiding the kids’ Halloween stash or Christmas stockings or even stealing a serving of ice cream once a week or so. But 140 pounds of the sweet stuff? How can that be?

The authors of the best-selling weight-loss books, Eat This, Not That!, reveal 12 of the most sugar-packed foods in America. Some are ice cream treats, sure. But just as many are regular food products that you’d never in a million years consider “desserts”—that is, until now. Steer clear of these 12 sugar-packed foods. Your blood sugar—and teeth!—depend on it.

12. Most Sugar-Packed Canned Product

Del Monte Peach Chunks in Heavy Syrup (1/2 cup)

23 g sugars
100 calories
0 g fat

Unlike most food on this list, these peaches aren’t bona fide junk food; they are, after all, still fruit. But why manufacturers feel the need to can, package, and bottle nature’s candy with excess sugar is a question we will never stop asking. In this case, the viscous sugar solution clings to the fruit like syrup to a pancake, soaking every bite with utterly unnecessary calories. Looking for cheap sources of fruit to have on hand at any time? Opt for the frozen stuff—it’s picked at the height of season and flash frozen on the spot, keeping costs low and nutrients high.

Eat This Instead!

Dole Frozen Sliced Peaches (3/4 cup)
10 g sugars
50 calories
0 g fat

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Are these 8 fattening foods in your fridge? See the snacks that are sabotaging your diet now:

When I think of the most decadent, fattening food I can eat, my mind doesn’t go to the high-priced, frou frou chocolate éclair or the rich and creamy New York cheesecake. No, I think more along the lines of pure sugar, cream, and processed chemical goodness that comes in a pretty plastic wrapper: the all-American Twinkie.

I love those little rolls of heaven, but they definitely don’t love me. That’s because just one Twinkie has a whopping 18 grams of sugar, which knocks out nearly 100 percent of my daily sugar quota in one fell swoop. So I steer clear of my favorite dessert and reach for healthier foods instead. If I’m craving something sweet after lunch, I make a fro-yo run; if I’m still feeling hungry after dinner, I have a bowl of cereal.

But here’s the thing: Karen Ansel, MS, RD, co-author of “The Calendar Diet: A Month by Month Guide to Losing Weight While Living Your Life,” says some of the “healthy” picks at your grocery store have more sugar than your off-limits desserts. In fact, things like whole wheat bread, yogurt, and granola have more grams of sugar than the ubiquitous Twinkie.

And the real danger comes not just because we eat these fattening foods, but because we think they’re healthy, says Ansel. “Everything is OK in moderation,” she says. But of course, when we think a food is good for us, we tend to snack with abandon. The result? An ever-expanding waistline.

While the “healthy” daily amount of sugar is up for hot debate right now (the World Health Organization says added sugar should make up no more than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake; the American Heart Association says it should only make up 4 percent), all experts agree we’re consuming too much of the white stuff. The AHA says added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar found in sodas, desserts, and other processed foods are responsible for Americans’ overall increase in calorie consumption and the subsequent rise in obesity.

Over the past 30 years, Americans have consumed an average of 150 to 300 more calories per day than we used to — and we haven’t increased our physical activity. And experts say most of these extra cals are coming from added sugars. It’s no wonder more than two-thirds of us are battling obesity.

To stay in your skinny jeans, watch out for these “healthy” (read: high-sugar and highly fattening) foods.


There’s a reason why that jar of Prego can taste as good as a home-cooked sauce from a nonna’s kitchen: It’s got sugar in it. Loads of it. To be precise, just 1/2 cup of Prego Fresh Mushroom Italian Sauce has 11 g of sugar — the same amount that’s in a glazed Krispy Kreme donut.

Eat this instead: If you read labels and compare brands, it ispossible to find a sauce with no added sugar. Another alternative is to make your own spaghetti sauce from chopped canned tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and a little dried basil.


Yogurt might seem like the ultimate health food, but you’d be surprised by how some flavors, like the Key Lime Pie-flavored Yoplait, can be as sugar-loaded as an actual slice of pie. The Yoplait has 29 g of sugar — that’s the equivalent of 1 1/2 Twinkies! However, Ansel says, “It’s worth noting that about 12 g [of sugar] is from lactose, the natural sugar found in milk. Naturally occurring sugars like this aren’t nearly as much of a concern as added sugars because they come packaged with a bundle of nutrients. What you really want to watch out for is added sugars.” And yogurt — especially those with fruit on the bottom — is typically loaded with added sugars.

Unfortunately, Ansel says food manufacturers aren’t required to separate natural sugars from added sugars on the nutrition facts panel. The only way to know is to check the ingredient list. Look for common added sugar ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, glucose, honey, or evaporated cane juice.

Eat this instead: Sweeten plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey and some fresh berries or sliced bananas.


When I was in college, I would treat myself to a 16-oz. White Gummy Bear at Jamba Juice. The best part about it was that it felt like I was slurping a dessert but thought I was getting all kinds of healthy fruits. But in this particular smoothie, there’s sugar and four scoops of ice cream that get mixed in with the fruit, which ultimately amount to 540 calories and, depending on the size, anywhere from 40 to 110 g of sugar.

Eat this instead: Make your own smoothies at home, says Joy Dubost, American Dietetic Association Spokesperson, PhD, RD, CSSD. You’ll get all the nutrients of the fruits without the added sugar.


Even if it’s labeled vitamin water, an energy drink, or a sports drink, it can still be loaded with empty, sugar-filled calories. For example, sports drinks like Gatorade have 28 g of sugar per 20-ounce bottle. Dubost says that if you want to cut calories from your diet, skipping sugary beverages is an easy way to do it.

“I think there’s a place for sports drinks, but it’s for those who are extremely active and have sweated out their nutrients,” she says. “If you’re working out for more than an hour a day, then you can have a sports drink to replenish what you’ve lost,” says Dubost.

Drink this instead: Water. I know it’s not as flashy as a flavored drink, but I also know those empty grams of sugar and calories are not worth it. And no, water does not include vitamin water. A 20-ounce Glaceau Vitamin Water has 32 g of sugar. But what about the vitamins? If you have a well-balanced diet, you don’t need your vitamins to come from a bottle, says Dubost.


When you’re on a health kick and decide to spend your Saturday morning hiking instead of sleeping in, the No. 1 snack that gets tossed into your backpack is a granola bar, right? Sitting on top of that mountain with the sun shining and sweat beading off your face gets even better when you bite into that satisfying snack. Yet that “healthy” bar isn’t as good for you as you might think.

“Essentially, granola bars are really healthy-sounding cookies,” says Ansel. An Apricot-flavored Clif Bar has 24 g of sugar; a Twinkie would’ve tasted better and has 4 grams less sugar.

Eat this instead: Reach for a graham cracker with some all natural peanut butter.


OK, we already know there’s sugar in cereals like Froot Loops and chocolate-flavored Cocoa Puffs, but what about the healthier options like Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart Toasted Oat? Well turns out even a 1 1/4 cup of Kellogg’s has 17 g of sugar, and my personal favorite — Special K Fruit & Yogurt — has about the same amount of sugar, which puts both on par with a Twinkie. “When cereals are made from whole grains, we assume they’re made with other wholesome ingredients, too, but that’s not always the case,” says Ansel.

Eat this instead: To avoid the sugar in cereal, “your best bet is to go for the most unprocessed cereal possible,” such as a bowl of whole oats or bran flakes. “If you want a little sweetness add some fresh fruit,” says Ansel.


Touted as the healthier option to other frozen desserts, fro-yo has exploded in the last few years. (Pinkberry, Menchies, and YogurtLand, anyone?) But dieticians agree we should think twice about this sweet treat.

Why? “You walk in and pour as much yogurt as you want into a cup, before you pile on the toppings,” says Dubost. “By the time you’re at the register, you’re up to the caloric value of a meal.”

Here’s the frozen yogurt nutrition breakdown: One Pinkberry medium-sized cup of the original tart flavor gives you 46 g of sugar — 46! Throw on some yogurt chips and you’re adding another 8 g of sugar. Assuming you opted for just the yogurt chips instead of the complimentary three toppings, you’ve just consumed 54 g of sugar — or about three Twinkies worth of the sweet stuff.

Eat this instead: “Frankly, there are low-sugar and low-fat ice creams in the grocery store that have less calories and sugar than some of these frozen yogurts,” says Dubost. Try Dreyer’s Slow Churned No Sugar Added Ice Cream.


Peanut butter caught some flak for having 25 percent of your recommended daily intake of fat in just 2 tablespoons, so many peanut butter companies came out with reduced fat options. But while they may boast “25 percent less fat than regular peanut butter,” you will definitely not be “spreading some on without the guilt” like the Skippy’s Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter tagline claims.

“When manufacturers remove the fat from their foods, they need to put something else in to pump up the flavor — and that something is often sugar,” says Ansel. “Many brands have up to a teaspoon of sugar in a 2 tablespoon serving.” Skippy’s 25 percent less fat option has 4 g of sugar in 2 tablespoons — that’s double the amount of the original, “fattening” variety. So, while we admit this is less than the amount of sugar in a Twinkie, it’s still astounding.

Eat this instead: Rather than reduced fat peanut butter, try almond butter. While it has a comparable amount of calories, they’re substantiated with extra doses of iron, magnesium, calcium, fiber, and vitamin E. Almond butter also has about half of the saturated fats than peanut butter.