Sweet Season has Begun
“Sweet” season can be year-round, but the season begins with Halloween and continues through to Valentine’s Day. Many of our family traditions include special desserts and side dishes that have added sugar. Thanksgiving includes pies and sweet potatoes with marshmallows. Kwanza, Hannukah, Christmas and other winter holidays include warm comfort foods. And we bring in the new year with appetizers and alcohol that are filled with sugar.
Too much of a good thing like sugar can become like an addiction. Studies currently show that sugar is not addictive, but many people prefer sweet foods. We choose sweet things over many other foods just because they taste good. Because of this, many cooks add sweeteners to foods so their family will eat them. As a result of all the holidays that we will be celebrating with sugary treats, we can make a habit of eating too many sweets.
Sugar makes us feel good
Sugar provides energy and does impact brain chemistry by creating a good “feeling.” The problem is when people choose too much sugar. Experts in nutrition also believe that removing sweet items completely is not only impossible it is not a good idea. It is okay to eat Halloween candy but learning to control the amount is the goal. We can learn to be in tune to how we feel when we eat too much sugar. And we can learn to balance flavors in meals so that we can enjoy the savory, the bland and even the bitter foods. This takes time. But slowly changing meals to include basic foods without sweet sauces can teach the taste buds to like the natural flavors of foods.
Read the labels
Sweets come in a variety of forms and not all of them are sugar. No-calorie sweeteners can be used but they still promote eating sweet foods. When you read the ingredient label, there are more than 60 names for sweeteners on food labels. Here is the a list of many of the names you might see. Just remember they may all add sweetness and calories but they have different uses.
Agave nectar ,Demerara sugar, Maltose, Barbados sugar, Dextrin, Mannose, Barley malt, Dextrose, Maple syrup, Barley malt syrup, Evaporated cane juice, Molasses, Beet sugar, Free-flowing brown sugars, Muscovado, Brown sugar, Fructose Palm sugar, Buttered syrup, Fruit juice Panocha, Cane juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Powdered sugar, Cane juice crystals, Glucose, Raw sugar, Cane sugar, Glucose solids, Refiner’s syrup, Caramel Golden sugar, Rice syrup, Carob syrup , Golden syrup, Saccharose, Castor sugar, Grape sugar, Sorghum syrup, Coconut palm sugar, High fructose corn syrup, Sucrose, Coconut sugar, Honey Sugar (granulated), Confectioner’s sugar, Icing sugar, Sweet sorghum, Corn sweetener, Invert sugar Syrup, Corn syrup, Malt syrup, Treacle, Corn syrup solids, Maltodextrin, Turbinado sugar, Date sugar, Maltol, Yellow sugar, dehydrated cane juice.
Enjoy sweets in limited amounts
If you see several of these listed on the ingredient label, it means there is more sugar in there than you might expect. It also means it is going to be sweet. Check the labels to be sure. The newest label law requires foods to list any added sugars that may be in the product. If it is high in added sugars, you may want to look for something different.
The bottom line is that we can still have sweet foods, but it is better not to have them too often or too much at one time. Try not to make sweet items the focus of each meal and make “sweet season” a healthy season.
Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, Bartley G. Hoebel. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. Volume 32, Issue 1. 2008. Pages 20-39. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763407000589)
Ohio State University Extension SNAP program. 61 Different Names for Sugar. Author unlisted.
Satter, Ellyn. Feeding with Love and Good Sense. (2011). Ellyn Satter Associates, Madison, WI. www.ellynsatter.com
Westwater, M.L., Fletcher, P.C. & Ziauddeen, H. Sugar addiction: the state of the science. Eur J Nutr 55, 55–69 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-016-1229-6. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00394-016-1229-6/)