"For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
As a society, we have become addicted to sugar. In fact, the average person now consumes over 42 teaspoons of sugar each day--about three times the recommended amount. Besides the dental danger, this excessive use of sugar contributes toward serious health consequences, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These possible consequences in and of themselves should be enough to get you to cut some sugar out of your diet, but if you need some added spiritual motivation, then consider this quote from Corinthians:
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body."
Your body, as a temple of the Holy Spirit, deserves to be treated with respect, and part of that respect is about paying attention to what you put into it.
Reducing our sugar intake to more manageable levels is easier said than done, however, as sugar is a prime ingredient in many processed foods. In particular, the use of high fructose corn syrup has skyrocketed over the past 40 years as technology has made the extraction process much more efficient and cheaper. Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup (and other refined sugars) are devoid of nutritional value and only add empty calories to your diet.
The pervasive nature of sugar means that it can be found in many unexpected sources, including commercially prepared pasta sauces, coleslaw, smoothies, salad dressing, and canned salmon. Indeed, removing all added sugar from your diet would require extreme care, most likely forcing you to prepare all your meals from scratch while carefully monitoring every ingredient.
An important realization is that sugar is sugar, regardless of what form it takes. Glucose, fructose, sucrose, and dextrose are essentially on par with honey, molasses, or agave nectar. In each case, the sugar involved contains little or no nutritional value. Substituting one sugar for another, then, makes little difference.
Artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, may offer some benefits. Options like Aspartame, Neotame, Saccharin, or Sucralose are noncaloric and present no threat to teeth. Critics contend, however, that these sweeteners pose other health risks.
A natural alternative that has arisen in recent years is stevia, extracted from a shrub grown in Paraguay. Stevia--reportedly 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar--is noncaloric, contains no carbohydrates, and scores at zero on the glycemic index. Though fairly new to the market, stevia is growing in popularity among those looking for healthier alternatives to sugar.
Even if you are not ready to take the steps necessary to completely eliminate added sugar from your diet, some simple changes in your eating habits can greatly reduce your sugar intake. For instance, choosing water over soft drinks can reap huge rewards. About forty percent of the sugar contained in our diet comes from soft drinks, so identify water as your preferred option.
When recipes call for sugar, you could intentionally reduce the amount you add by ten to twenty percent. Your taste buds will likely not even notice the change, but your body certainly will. Healthier eating contributes toward better health, a more positive outlook, and greater levels of energy.
Keeping healthy snacks on hand can also provide a viable alternative to eating foods high in sugar. Raw vegetables, plain yogurt with berries, and cheese are examples of foods that--though they may contain some naturally occurring sugars--provide healthy choices to replace highly-processed foods that are typically high in sugar.
Minimize your health risks by limiting your sugar intake. Start making simple changes that will help you wean yourself off the sugars that are so prevalent today.