The American Heart Health Association recommends 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and 6 teaspoons of sugar for women, yet the average American and probably an average person in an urbanized society can ingest up to 22.7 teaspoons of sugar a day*. How is that possible? Looking at the rise in sugar consumption in processed foods, the introduction of high fructose corn syrup, the rise of obesity and diabetes, we don’t need a crystal ball to tell us where we are headed.

Gary Taubes, author of Why We Get Fat: And What to Do about It (knopf, 2011), challenges the traditional theory that being overweight is not due to imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended, but in fact more research is pointing toward hormonal imbalance. Specifically, the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar, but also acts as a fat-storage hormone. When we eat a carbohydrate-rich meal, glucose rises in the blood and at the same time our pancreas secrets the hormone insulin which works to keep the blood sugar levels down. However, our muscles and organs can only take up so much glucose to burn for fuel, the rest of it is stored as fat for later use. But why is this a problem now? Our bodies always did this.
The food industry has evolved faster than our bodies and brain can handle and up until the middle of the last century, the human body consumed very little sugar because the source of foods came from our own backyards and farms. However, the food industry has only evolved because the needs of human beings have changed. Most households have both parents working and living a fast-paced lifestyle compared to their parents. With the demand of easy-to-cook meals and convenient breakfasts, came the demand of more raw ingredients like sugar to keep the flavours in the food, but this got expensive until food manufacturers found High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) - a less expensive sweetener that is now used in most processed foods. Fructose is found in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, 50% in sucrose (cane or beet sugar) and 55% in HFCS. The problem with fructose is when consumed in large quantities it is a health hazard. Unlike, glucose which is metabolized throughout the body, fructose is processed in the liver into fats, which can build up there and also enter the blood stream resulting in obesity, hypertension and type 2 diabetes.

Convenience and fast foods are found all over the world, therefore, obesity and Metabolic Syndrome is a global epidemic, not an American epidemic. Human beings are a part of nature and our digestion system is meant to be in alignment with nature, but instead the human body is suffering because we are going against the way nature intended us to eat. How can we create an ‘Ideal Weight Society’?

1. Eat the way nature intended us to eat – go back to eating whole foods instead of processed foods.
2. Plan ahead – the reason we eat out or grab convenience foods is due to the lack of meal planning or lack of resources. Invest in a slow cooker and learn how to freeze homemade meals for later use.
3. Listen to your body – eat when hungry and stop eating when satisfied. There is no law that you have to finish everything on your plate. Notice, any internal symptoms that arise from eating certain foods and start eliminating and then notice how you feel.
4. Use natural sugars – these are less processed than refined white sugar and create fewer fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Some examples are coconut sugar, honey, brown rice syrup and stevia.
5. Leverage technology – there are amazing apps that can help you become more efficient in the kitchen. Search for food apps or recipe apps on your smart phones and devices.
6. Be curious – search for different ways you can make easy or novel meals. If you’d like to experiment with vegan, paleo, low-carb or ethnic recipes, Pinterest (social media site) is a great resource.

If we continue to eat the way we do, our bodies will be unable to catch up, we will create a fat society and the healthcare system will suffer. Can we change what the crystal ball says for you? If you could implement some of the ideas mentioned above, what would your crystal ball say then?

Source:*National Geographic, August 2013

Author's Bio: 

Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and a certified health coach. She teaches people how to embrace change and bounce back. She is also the author of an award-winning book, Attract Your Ideal Weight – 8 Secrets of People Who Lose Weight and Keep it Off. She can be reached at