There are few topics that raise my ire like the topic of added sugar.
Now, understand that:
#1. I am a nutrition nerd and I eat up, pardon the pun, research on this particular topic. My shelves are lined with textbooks, research books and anecdotal books all about nutrition and how what we eat, or better yet, what our bodies absorb nutritionally really does matter not only in our bodies but also for our brains and our planet.
#2. Vocationally I am a Level 2 Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, Health Coach and Medical Exercise Specialist. I work every day with people who are working toward fitness and nutritional goals and darn it, if not 100% of them struggle with sugar, including me.
#3. I love to cook. I am always on the lookout for great recipes that not only provide the nutrients my family needs but also what tastes amazing. But wait, I have a dilemma. In a previous article, I wrote about how our family uses the SNAP budget for our grocery shopping. That means for our family of 5 our monthly grocery budget is $622.50. So, what’s the dilemma? Choosing whole, natural foods that fill our nutritional needs without resorting to buying the often cheaper options of processed, sugar-laden foods. Some reports state that 80% of all food products on grocery shelves have added sugar. That’s a real problem if that’s the one thing I’m trying to avoid.
But how much is really too much?
"If you're like most people in the U.S., you eat 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day. That adds up to 285 calories, which health experts say is way too much. How much sugar should you be eating? No more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons daily for women. That's 100 calories. Men should get a max of 37 grams or 9 teaspoons. That's 150 calories."
What does that really look like?
Let’s look at a typical can of soda. A 12-ounce can of Coke has 39 grams of sugar. That’s already over the recommended daily allowance put out by the American Heart Association. A mid-afternoon, regular sized candy bar can pack between 16-28 grams of sugar. Ouch! Breakfast foods are just as guilty. While a cereal like Honey Nut Cheerios comes in at 9 grams per serving (3/4 cup), a cereal like Apple Jacks comes in at 12 grams per ¾ cup serving. Grab a Strawberry PopTart on your way out the door and you’ve added 32 grams of sugar to your daily totals if you eat them both.
So how do you know what to look for?
You don't always see the word "sugar" on a food label. It sometimes goes by another name, like these:
You may be thinking you’ve dodged this bullet because you use artificial sweeteners. Hold on to you your hats because a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest released their findings on the safety of sugar substitutes. The report strongly advised avoiding both aspartame and saccharin. You can find this report at www.nutritionaction.com. Its full title is “Sweet Nothings: Safe…or Scary? The Inside Scoop on Sugar Substitutes.”
Before you go cold turkey and give up all added sugar there is another, more sustainable and realistic option. Stay within the guidelines. Read the labels of the food you purchase, be an informed consumer and make well-educated decisions on what you put into your body. Read the research, watch the documentaries. Talk to your doctor or nutritionist and then seek their help or the help of a trained, certified health coach to help you reach your nutritional goals.
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Simply put, I love life. I love the body, all things healthy, all types of movement and a good belly laugh. My hope is to share some of my experience and knowledge with you so that you can love YOUR life and be an influencer of others.
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