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How did we end up eating so much sugar?

<b>How did we end up eating so much sugar?</b>

How did we end up eating so much sugar?

How did we end up eating so much sugar?

In our article Low-Carb vs. Low-Sugar Diets: what is what?  we talked about how having too much sugar is one big problem in how we eat today; but, how did we get here?

Some of you may remember the 80s when Jane Fonda's aerobic videos and low-fat foods are the must-haves if you want to stay healthy. Low-fat foods reigned well into the 90s, hoping that it would help reduce excessive weight gain and cardiovascular diseases (CVD).

According to the American College of Cardiology, the GBD (Global Burden of d Disease) Study 2019 found that prevalent cases of total CVD went from 271 million in 1990 to 523 million in 2019.

In a 2012 paper, researchers noted an accelerated increase in the prevalence of obesity in the decade before compared to the 1980s and 1990s.

Somehow, having low-fat foods didn't seem to lower the burden and risks of diseases.

One can argue that it's because of the way we live, and we are simply moving less. That said, our foods have also changed in the past 30 years.

Back in the day, the thought of reducing fat led people to consume more carbohydrates. For example, we were replacing eggs, milk, cheese, and meat with pastas and potatoes.

Health experts, at the time, were encouraging intakes of unrefined complex carbohydrates, but food manufacturers saw the market opportunity for low-fat foods and no-fat foods.

How can low-fat food be made tasty? Add sugar.

Sugar is added not only for the flavor but often to help with temperature control and creating texture, such as in the case of low-fat ice creams. Fat replacers made from lipid compounds, or protein and fiber, are also used.


Here is a quick look based the USDA Database:

Serving portion:  0.5 cup (66g)




Low Fat




Total Fat

7 gram

2.5 gram

Total Carbs

17 grams

17 grams


14 grams

13 grams

First 5 Ingredient

milkfat, nonfat milk, buttermilk, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup


milk, buttermilk, sugar, whey, corn syrup




Ditching regular ice cream for low-fat versions,  you still take in similar amounts of calories and sugar. And if you look at the first five ingredients of each ice cream, sugar and syrup are still amongst the top ingredients.

Here is another example:

Whole oats and steel-cut oats are loaded with healthful nutrients with no added sugar; a bowl of granola (28g) can be 8-12g of sugar, which is equivalent to 2 to 3 packs of table sugar, before the sugar you add to your beverage in the same meal.

Added sugar is in almost every processed food, bottled beverage, and sauce. It is proven that sugar can be addictive.

Stress and lack of sleep would drive us to crave the energy boost we get from sugary foods; sugar also affects the brain's reward system, giving you the extra kick. Over time,  you will need more and more sugar to get that same kick over and over again.

If you find yourself needing your bubble tea boost or a kopi kick after your rice or mee,  you are probably eating more sugar than you need.



Where's what happens when you stop taking so much sugar

Reducing your sugar intake, especially that from added sugar in foods, is a quest.

Consuming whole foods that naturally contain sugar, mainly fruits and vegetables, is good for you. These foods are often nutrient and anti-oxidant powerhouses that help us build the body and fight against chronic illnesses.

Added sugars are the sugar and syrup added to foods at the breakfast table, cooking, baking, and any processing or manufacturing; these are what you want to start reducing.




Change is not easy, especially if you are fighting sugar addiction.

The first you experience may be withdrawal symptoms. You may feel tired, irritated, and anxious. Expect mood swings or even feelings of sadness or depression. It may also affect your sleep. Some others may experience brain fog, find it hard to concentrate or suffer dizziness.

Getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and exercising will help you fight this process. Snacking on protein-rich foods that are high in good fats such as beans, eggs, lean meat, avocado, nuts, and seeds will help keep you full and energized.

You may want to start one step at a time. Cut one source of added sugar in your day, perhaps sweetened beverages. Monitor your progress and take the next step when you are ready.



Once you get past the withdrawal phase,  you will notice that your craving and sweet tooth are no longer there.  On top of being better protected from chronic diseases and certain cancers, the benefits of cutting out added sugar include: 

- weight loss

- better complexion

- increase energy

- improve immunity

- lower risk of PCOS and other hormonal disorders

- better blood sugar control

- reduce joint pain


The best part is,  you are now in charge of your health and you are in control.


Take a break from sugar with Umami Chefs' Low Sugar Meal Plan, filled with healthy and wholesome recipes that make resisting sugar easy!