To: Clergy and People
From: The Bishop
9th June, 2017


“Healthy Eating and Active Living: Play Your Part Be Sugar Smart”

We believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God and that we are a part of God’s creation. We believe that what God has created is good and that God sustains and directs it. As creatures we belong to God and we are called to enjoy life and take care of ourselves and all of creation in accordance with God’s purposes.

This means that we are to pay special attention to our health, so we can live life to its fullest as we participate in God’s mission and ministry. Poor health will surely place a burden not only on our finances but also on our emotional, psychological, physical, intellectual, spiritual and social well-being. Let us remember that Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines observed Nutrition Awareness Week 2017 from 1-10 June, 2017 with the Theme “Healthy Eating and Active Living: Play Your Part Be Sugar Smart” with a focus on reducing excess intake of sugar.

The Objectives were:

• To promote awareness of the importance of good nutrition and physical activity in maintaining optimal health.
• To focus attention on the health risks of excess dietary sugar.
• To educate the general public on ways to reduce dietary intake excess sugar and the common food sources of excess sugar to reduce their risk of getting NCDs.
• To promote National Dietary Guideline number five:  “Reduce the intake of sugar; Use less sugar, sweet foods and drinks.”

In keeping with this I share the following:

You may not eat sweet biscuits or drink “Sodas” every day, but that doesn’t mean sugar is absent from your diet. You may be eating sugar regularly without even realizing it, because Sugar is added to foods that don’t taste sweet, like bread, condiments, and sauces. Some experts recommend that we should not use more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day. Please note we are speaking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy and fruit. A high-sugar diet contributes to tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. I encourage you to reduce your sugar intake.

Here are some things you can do to help as you seek to do so.

Read food labels

Look for it on ingredients lists. Things that you don’t think are sweet, like tomato sauce, crackers, condiments, and salad dressings can be packed with sugar. Ingredients are listed in order of how much exists in the product, so if sugar’s near the top, that’s a sign that the sugar may be high.

Look for more than the word sugar

When you read food labels, look for more than just the word “sugar”. For ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup contain sugar. Several foods which seem healthy like yogurt and cereal, may contain three or four different types of sweetener. Once several sugars appear on the label, it’s a sign that the food is not as healthy as you think.

Use unsweetened products

Buy foods which have “no added sugar” or are “unsweetened.” -non-dairy milk like almond and soy, nut butters (look for those made with only nuts and salt), applesauce, oatmeal, and canned fruit (they should be packed in juice-not syrup). Gradually reduce your sugar intake. It is recommended that you slowly cut back on your sugar intake. If you normally put two teaspoonful of sugar in your tea, coffee, chocolate or cocoa reduce it to one for a week, then half, until you can go without it. You can also consider including natural sweetness with fresh fruit to your diet.

Don’t use artificial Sugars

As you begin to reduce the sugar in your diet, you may be tempted to switch to artificial sugars. Make the effort to resist this. Don’t go for diet soda, sugar-free candy, and packets of fake sugar. These can have a bad effect on your taste for sweet. You see normally when you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition, but artificial sugars don’t give these to your body. It is believed that this is the reason why fake sugars are associated with weight gain.

Look at what you drink

Avoid sodas, “enhanced” waters, bottled iced teas, energy drinks, bottled coffee drinks, and (shop) smoothies and some juices these contain a high degree of sugar. Drink water, plain water, and natural water.

Let us work together to reduce our sugar intake and promote healthy eating to reduce excess dietary intake of sugar and its attendant health risks.

“Healthy Eating and Active Living: Play Your Part Be Sugar Smart”

Remember your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you (!Corinthians 6:19).

With every good wish and God’s blessings!

The Rt. Rev’ d C. Leopold Friday
Bishop of the Windward Islands