Sugar is bittersweet. Especially when it comes to health.
Sugar is a carbohydrate and it naturally occurs in fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy - or any whole foods that contain carbohydrates. Consuming sugar in this way is okay. This is because these foods, especially the ones that come from plants, have high amounts of other nutrients and vitamins that are good for you. Things like fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, antioxidants, protein and calcium.
But when sugar becomes added is when it becomes bad for you. Added sugar is sugar that food manufacturers add to products to increase flavor or extend shelf life. Added sugars are found in the obvious things like soda, fruit beverages, cookies and candy, but there are a lot of hidden sugars in things you might not expect. Things like soup, bread, cured meats and even ketchup.
Eating too much of this added sugar (which we as a society are doing) can cause weight gain, acne, fatigue, mood disorders and increase the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and Type 2 Diabetes. According to Heidi Turner, M.S., R.D.N., a medical nutrition therapist at The Seattle Arthritis Clinic, “Everyone is sugar intolerant. Sugar is the universal inflammatory.”
So how do you avoid sugar? For starters, try avoiding sugary drinks and instead hydrate with healthy drinks. Half of added sugar comes from beverages alone!
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Additional tips for reducing sugar in your lifestyle:
Tip #1: Start reading food labels.
You don’t have to be obsessive about it, but if you see the following words on your food labels, you’re probably consuming more sugar than you think.
- Brown sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert/malt sugar
- Syrup sugar molecules ending in "ose" (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
Tip #2: Pay attention to serving size.
If a food label reads “only 5g of sugar/serving” but the serving size is 3-4 servings, you’re getting almost all of your daily sugar needs in that one item.
Fun fact: Women need no more than 25g of sugar per day and men need no more than 36g per day. Try to stay within or below these numbers if you can.
Tip #3: Pair carbs with protein or fat to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable.
Instead of going for that sugary snack you love… try eating something sweet, like an apple, along with a small handful of nuts, like almonds, to maintain prolonged, consistent energy levels. This will help you avoid a blood sugar spike and an energy crash you might get from consuming too much sugar at once.
Other food swaps to consider:
- Olive oil and vinegar as salad dressings
- Rolled oats or an omelet made with fresh greens instead of cereal for breakfast
- Sliced bananas onto your peanut butter sandwich instead of jelly
- A sugar free nut butter in place of a sweet spread like Nutella or spreads with added sugars.
- Add Body Balance powder to your beverage to help boost your balance when it comes to your sugar levels.
Ultimately, cutting sugar out of your diet is a lifestyle change. Fortunately for you, this lifestyle change is one that we’re here to help you with. It’s hard work at first, but avoiding sugar will lead to a longer, healthier life. Live it to the fullest with us.