Cutting Down On Added Sugars From Your Diet!
Today I wanted to specifically discuss added sugars -- and how we can limit them to the recommended goal of <10% of our total daily calorie intake.
What are added sugars?
Added sugars are substances added to enhance the flavor,color and texture of a certain food or drink. Added sugars are also used as preservatives to prolong freshness. Added sugars are different from "natural sugars". Natural sugars are "naturally" found in sweet foods like fruits, vegetables, milk, honey, nectars, etc.
How can I identify added sugars?
By reading nutrition labels.
The nutrition label is important to me for 3 things when related to added sugars:
1. Identifying the amount of sugar in the food I am consuming
2. Identifying the number of calories in the food I am consuming
3. Providing a list of ingredients that might contain added sugars
When reading the nutrition label, look for the "Total Carbohydrate" section and then the sub-section on "Sugars" to identify how many grams of sugar are present per serving. Make sure you look at the serving size, and measure out what you are eating to ensure that your serving size is correct!
How do I identify added sugars in the list of ingredients?
Sometimes added sugar will be simply labeled as "sugar" in the ingredients list.
Don't be fooled though-- added sugar is not always labeled as such. Look for other names for sugar such as:
-corn syrup solids
-fruit juice concentrate
-high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
-nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
Let's take a look at everyone's favorite cereal Lucky Charms - its magically...full of sugar! See the added sugars that I have outlined in red.
What are the main sources of sugar in the American diet?
-Sugary drinks (the biggest source!) like soda, juice drinks and flavored water
-Candy including chocolates
-Snacks including fruit snacks, granola bars, fruit bars
-Other sweets: pastries, doughnuts, etc.
What can you do to limit added sugars?
1.Start with your children early
Behaviors and food preferences develop early. How often do you see a child drinking water and not juice? Not often.
Limit your child's consumption of added sugars by not purchasing such products. Give them a bottle of water in their lunch bag instead of a juice box. Give them cut up fruits instead of a fruit roll up. For rewards use natural foods like fruits and vegetables OR non-food items like toys, music, stickers, etc. Do not use ice cream, cakes, cookies, etc. as a form of reward because they will grow up associating such foods with reward and this can influence their eating behaviors as they grow older.
2. Drink more water
More than 4 in 10 Americans aren't drinking enough water. Choose water when you can, and carry a bottle with you at all times.
3. Choose the natural forms of sugar in fruits, vegetables, and dairy
4. Avoid processed foods as these not only contain hidden sugars, but some contain excess salt and unnatural chemicals
5. Limit added sugars to <10% of your total daily calories
A rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams of sugar = 16 calories
6. When you do eat "sweets", don't over-indulge.
Stick to 1 cookie at a single seating, maybe 1-2 times weekly. Moderation is key.
7. Don't buy foods with added sugar at the grocery store.
If you don't bring it home, you can't eat it. Out of sight = out of your belly.
8. Choose healthier snack options - vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, salads
9. Don't believe food labels that say "no sugar added"
If the ingredients list different fruit juices as an ingredient -- those separate juices may contain added sugar. Be careful!
10. Educate yourself by reading nutritional labels. They are there for a reason!
11. Eat 3 balanced meals a day with lean protein and healthy fats
This will keep you more satisfied with less sweet cravings.
12. I don't recommend use of artificial sweetners, as this is just
another chemical we are introducing to our body.
13. Set realistic goals for yourself!
The goal here is to decrease your added sugar intake not to get rid of it 100% because that would be an unrealistic goal. Decrease the amount of sugar you put into your coffee over weeks. Eat 1 scoop of ice cream instead of 3 scoops for dessert. Make changes over weeks to months - as the change in your behavior will be more likely to stick that way!
13. Love juice but worried about the sugars?
Fill up a glass with 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup juice or better yet, make a fruit smoothie with a base of water, ice, or non-fat yogurt!
14. Add spices to enhance flavor instead of sugar.
Spices like cardamom, ginger, mint, etc. can really help step up a meal!
Do you have any tips to avoid added sugars??
Please feel free to ask any questions! Email me at DoctorDeenaMD@gmail.com or ask/follow me on Twitter/instagram @Doctor_Deena!
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