Facts About Sugar - 9 Sweet Tricks
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. I love coming up with a great costume and all the activities that come with the fall season. I also dread it a bit because it seems that the next three months are a challenging part of a healthy lifestyle with all the treats that follow: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and back to New Year and resolutions. It's important to be aware of the facts about sugar during this time.
Let's find out more in this article:
- Basics of sugar
- Sweet tricks
- Learn the label lingo
- Know your portions
- Eat whole and fresh
Let's find out facts about sugar. Sugar is a natural ingredient that has been part of our diet for thousands of years. Sugars are carbohydrates that provide energy for the body, including keto glucose levels. Sugars are carbohydrates that provide energy for the body. The most common sugar in the body is glucose which your brain, major organs, and muscles need to function properly. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars in one year.
If you eat 2,000 calories per day, your goal is to eat less than 200 calories (50 grams) of added sugar. The American Heart Association is even stricter: It recommends women consume no more than 100 calories (24 grams) of added sugar per day; men, no more than 150 calories (36 grams). According to the USDA, sweetened fruit drinks account for 10% of the total added sugars we consume. Candy and cake come in at 5% each. Ready-to-eat cereal comprises 4% of the total. So do each of these categories: table sugar and honey; cookies and brownies; and syrups and toppings. The biggest chunk, making up 26% of added sugars, comes from a variety of prepared foods like ketchup, canned vegetables and fruits, and peanut butter.
The body does not distinguish between the different types of sugar and breaks them down in exactly the same way within a healthy meal plan. For example, the sucrose in an apple is broken down in exactly the same way as the sucrose in the snack-size Snickers. All sugars are carbohydrates, known as "simple" carbs since they're composed of just one sugar molecule. The label on a can of Pepsi reads 41 grams of carbs and 41 grams of sugar. This means that every single carbohydrate comes from sugar. The label on a package of plain oatmeal will read 18 grams of carbs and only one gram of sugar. Almost all of the carbs in oatmeal are made up of long chains of sugar molecules called "complex" carbs. Oatmeal, along with sweet potatoes, wheat bread, rice, and corn, is a complex carb, also known as a starch.
We have so many sweet foods available that it is hard not to eat too much sugar. Too much sugar (which often comes with too much fat) can cause you to gain weight. Any excess calories will lead to overweight and sugar is one of the easiest things to eat in excess. We need to learn moderation.
"Sweet Tricks" conjures images of delightful surprises and clever strategies, often related to sugary treats and their consumption. it's finding alternative sources of sweetness, practicing portion control, or discovering mindful indulgence, "Sweet Tricks" embodies the art of navigating the world of sweets while maintaining a balanced and mindful approach to our overall well-being. Let's find out nine of them.
Pick low-sugar produce
If you’re aiming to eat less sugar overall, pick the fruits and veggies with the lowest sugar load like lemons, limes, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, mushrooms, green beans, and zucchini. Essentially all veggies are low in sugar. To compare, 1 cup of raspberries contains 5 grams of sugar, 1 cup of black beans contains less than 1 gram of sugar, and a medium red potato contains less than 3 grams of sugar. Keep in mind, low sugar intake doesn’t necessarily mean low carbohydrate.
Know your portions
Following a low-sugar diet requires some diligence in knowing how much you should be eating. In general, most people should consume 2 fruits (or 2 cups) and at least 3 cups of veggies per day. On average 1 serving of fruit contains 15 grams of sugar. Ideally, try to space out your servings so that you aren’t getting a big sugar rush all at once.
Eat whole and fresh
Limit fruit juices and dried fruit if you are watching your sugar intake. Generally speaking, just 4 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) of 100% fruit juice and ¼ cup of unsweetened dried fruit is equivalent to 1 piece or 1 cup of fresh, whole fruit.
Learn the label lingo
The food label doesn’t differentiate between added and natural sugars (though it may in the future), instead, it lumps them all together. To get natural sugar sources check the ingredient list to know if there are any added sugars in the product. Sugar lurks behind these words in the ingredient list: molasses, organic cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, malt sugar, corn syrup, honey, syrup, and words ending in “ose” dextrose, lactose, maltose, fructose, glucose, sucrose.
Looking for the lowest sugar foods? Check the nutrition label to see which product is lowest in sugar. Don’t be fooled by “low sugar” or “diet foods” as they are often packed with artificial sugars, which is another blog for another day. Bottom line: eat real “natural” convenience foods lowest in added sugar.
Maintaining awareness of your sugar intake is crucial, and using tools like MyFitnessPal can be incredibly helpful. By diligently logging your food in this app, you gain insights into your sugar consumption and progress. This practice helps you become fully aware of how quickly sugars can add up, allowing you to make informed choices that align with your goals.
Logging your meals not only helps you stay accountable but also empowers you to take control of your dietary habits. With accurate tracking, you're better equipped to make adjustments and maintain a balanced and mindful approach to your sugar intake.
Set boundaries on the sweet tooth
Do you have a mean sweet tooth? Set limits on when and how you’re going to enjoy your sweets. Maybe you have ice cream once per week or possibly you’ll include a dark chocolate square after dinner nightly? Setting boundaries around what sweet treats are worth the indulgence, when is appropriate to enjoy them, and how much you can enjoy them will keep you from reaching into the office candy jar out of habit.
Lower it gradually
The approach of "lower it gradually" encourages a methodical and sustainable way of making changes. Instead of abruptly cutting out something, like sugar, this approach involves reducing your intake over time. If you're accustomed to consuming sugary treats after both lunch and dinner, begin by scaling back to having them after just one meal a day.
Clean out the pantry
If you find yourself constantly tempted by unhealthy foods in your kitchen, it might be time for a pantry detox. Take a proactive step by removing those tempting items from your shelves. Instead of keeping a carton of ice cream in the house, choose to enjoy an ice cream sundae outside.
Keep your hand out of the Snickers bag and Live Life Fitter! Resisting the urge to indulge in unhealthy snacks is a key part of maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Avoid mindless snacking by consciously keeping your hand out of the Snickers bag or any other tempting treat.
By delving into the world of sugar facts, we uncover the potential impacts of excessive sugar consumption on our well-being. These insights empower us to make informed choices during seasons of celebration and abundance, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The "Sweet Tricks" offered within this discussion provide valuable tools for navigating the tempting allure of sugary delights, enabling us to enjoy them in moderation and balance. Ultimately, arming ourselves with knowledge about facts about sugar equips us with the awareness needed to savor the sweetness of life while staying on the path to holistic health.
Can I use alternative sweeteners as a replacement for sugar?
Yes, alternatives like stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit can be used in moderation. However, be aware of their aftertastes and effects on your body.
Are complex carbs a healthier option than simple sugars?
Yes, complex carbs found in whole foods like oatmeal and sweet potatoes provide sustained energy and essential nutrients. They're preferable to simple sugars found in candies and sugary drinks.
Can I completely eliminate sugar from my diet?
While cutting out added sugars is beneficial, it's not necessary to eliminate them entirely. Moderation and awareness are key. Focus on whole foods and natural sources of sweetness.
How do these "Sweet Tricks" impact weight management goals?
The tricks help you enjoy treats in a controlled manner, preventing overindulgence. They also encourage finding balance, making it easier to manage your weight.
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