It's very hard to know refined sugar's effect

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This is the second in a series of posts I’ve written to participate in the Blog-a-Thon To End Sugar Addiction, which started Tuesday and ends on Monday, Halloween Day, perhaps America foremost sugar-driven holiday.

It’s my opinion that many Americans — literally, tens of millions — have a sensitivity to refined sugar not unlike mine, albeit varying in intensity by the individual; I described mine in a previous post. But scoffers will want to know: If that’s so, why don’t they know it?

My answer is that I didn't find out until — more than 20 years ago — I cut out the vast majority of refined sugar from my diet. This takes some diligence to accomplish — far more than deciding to cut down on dessert for a while, or switch to coffee without sugar.

If you’re reading this, you probably know that refined sugar is a common additive to a broad array of processed foods that you wouldn’t expect to have it: a short list could include salad dressings, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, many meat products, crackers, cereal, and bread. Except for some really obvious slips, I haven’t eaten anything in two decades that lists any form of refined sugar above the fifth ingredient.

As you also probably know, the law requires product ingredients to be listed in order of prevalence so that consumers know not only what’s in something, but how much — at least relatively. Manufacturers have successfully argued they shouldn’t have to be more specific because they would otherwise have to reveal trade secrets.

But winning that battle wasn't enough for them; they fiddle with the rules anyway: Sometimes a list will have three, four, or more names of refined sugar — evaporated cane juice, turbinado, molasses, dextrose, barley malt, or at least a dozen others — that, if taken together, would more plainly identify the product as sugar-laden. But listed separately, they can fly lower on the radar.

Until someone has seriously undertaken to avoid all forms of refined sugar, she or he can’t know what effect it is having on them.

Next: The value of surrendering refined sugar.

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