On the side of most food and beverage products is a strange little rectangle with the heading, Nutrition Facts. This rectangle contains such information as serving size, calories, and % Daily Value, usually based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Most perplexing about this little rectangle is the omission of the most troublesome nutritional fact, the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of sugar.
Why would this be important? Sugar? Is there a recommended daily allowance? No. The Food and Drug Administration believes that it is important that we know how much total fat, total sodium, and total carbohydrates we are consuming, and how many of these we need daily, but the allowance of sugar is mysteriously absent from nearly any label.
Sugar is conveniently packaged under the bolder heading of Carbohydrates, kind of a misstep meant to persuade us that sugar is represented, somewhat, by a larger heading. Yes, all carbohydrates eventually breakdown into sugar in our bodies, some of them useful, most of them not, but the “fact” that sugar isn’t given a RDA value is a little worrisome.
It’s no secret that obesity is a problem. It’s also no secret that sugar is primarily responsible for obesity, even more so than “big bone syndrome.” Sugar is used primarily as flavoring. If something tastes good, you will buy more of it. Some sugars, and particularly “sugar substitutes,” have been linked to triggering brain functions that make you crave more sugar. If you are frequently afflicted with “sugar cravings,” you are most likely consuming too many carbohydrates, many more than your body can use as fuel. To combat this peculiar phenomenon, start cutting back on breads, pastas, and certainly sweets. Those cravings aren’t genetic, they are triggered, and they can be avoided with a little knowledge and a lot of will-power.
Villainizing carbohydrates isn’t my intent here, but calling attention to the over abundance of sugar in our daily habits is necessary. If carbs have to get lumped into the complaint, so be it. We abuse our bodies and subject them to the potential for sickness when we ignore the abusive relationship of excess carbs, and more importantly, sugar to our bodies.
The Recommended Daily Allowance for sugar, simple sugar, and sugar substitutes is 0%. If anyone started requiring this information printed as a “Nutritional Fact,” it might just remind us that we are consuming way too much sugar, and that the food industry relies too heavily on “sweeteners” to convince us to buy and eat more of what is ultimately bad for us. Plenty of conspiracy theories are available, but the simple “nutritional fact” of the reliance of sugar, and its genetically modified substitutes, is to sell more product, with little to no regard to the consequences.
Maybe the food industry, and even the FDA, doesn’t care about you beyond the label of consumer, but that doesn’t mean that you have to care so little. Recognize that the insertion of sugar and sugar substitutes into our foods and our lives is more than the healthy functioning of our bodies can handle.