Where every piece of junk has endless possibilities!
Hi all, last week I mentioned that I was joining with a friend to try to cut added sugar from our diets for all of November.
So far it has been a pretty rough road. Mostly because its getting cold out and everything I seem to crave is full of sugar. But I thought I would share some tips and tricks non the less.
Let me be really clear about one thing though, this isn’t about cutting sugar completely, sugar is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in lots of foods, from fruits to meat to milk. For this challenge I am not going to differentiate between sucrose, lactose, fructose, etc. sugar is sugar. I am purely looking at the amount of added, or processed sugar, I consume every day, not necessarily the type or source, that is for another time perhaps…you gotta crawl before you can walk.
For me this is about limiting the amount of added sugar (which is sugar added to processed food and drinks), creating better food label reading habits and re-training my taste buds (I have a little bit of a sweet tooth).
It’s a very daunting task. Mostly because you don’t really realize what foods have added sugar in them. Like soup, and pasta sauce and dressings, and candy (Ok maybe I knew there was added sugar in candy). Foods that you wouldn’t think have sugar, can sometimes have a ton.
Also, I am not a nutritionist or food expert. I’m just a girl on a journey to a healthier lifestyle trying to learn as much as I can along the way.
One of the first steps is to know where you are starting from. Keep a journal for a week and only write down how much sugar is in everything you eat.
When I did this a few weeks ago, I found I was eating about 40 grams a sugar a day. (I didn’t count the sugars in fruits). The American Heart Association recommends women eat about 25 grams (which is about 6 teaspoons) of sugar a day. So it looks like I need to cut about 20 grams of sugar a day just to get to my recommended daily allowance. Think about a teaspoon of sugar as a sugar cube…which is a little smaller than a six sided dice. You get six of those a day.
It is crazy how much sugar is in the stuff we like to drink. An eight ounce can of my favorite soda, Dr Pepper, has six teaspoons of sugar, there is my daily allowance right there.
How about my favorite Starbucks Coffee….
I am pretty sure that is a weeks worth of sugar.
Don’t get me wrong I love a good full fat full sugar latte every now and again, but if you are drinking one every day you might want to try switching it out for a cup of black coffee with a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
And when it doubt….DRINK WATER! It has zero added sugar.
Things like granola bars and yogurt are sneaky hiding places for added sugar. I found this out the hard way after buying a ton of my favorite post workout protein bars only to find out a single bar has 14 grams of sugar, which according to the wrapper is low glycemic. Compared to other types of protein bars 14 grams is pretty low but it still takes up half my daily allowance so I try only have one on days when I lift weights or spin and then make sure I don’t eat any other added sugar.
One of my favorite Low Sugar finds are these Kind Bars, with only 5 grams of sugar. They are also super yummy!
Sugar sneaks its way into a lot of foods you wouldn’t normally think of, go to your pantry and check the label on a jar of pasta sauce or some salad dressing.
Making sure you check labels before you purchase something is the best way to keep added sugar out of your diet.
Making stuff from scratch is also a great way to avoid added sugar. I recently bought a jar of applesauce and after realizing how much sugar was in a single serving I decided to just make my own (a medium apple already has 19 grams of sugar why would you need to add sugar to it?).
This is a great starter recipe for apple sauce that you can then jazz up any way you like, I added cinnamon and nutmeg for more flavor.
Again for me this is about limiting my intake, not cutting it out all together. Its not about deprivation its about moderation. If I say I am going to cut sugar all together chance are that I will end up going way over board and have more than I normally would.
Have you ever tried to cut added sugar or cut back on your sugar intake? How has it worked? What are some things that worked for you? Again I am not a nutritionist or health expert, so if you are and want to chime in or correct me please feel free.