What better way to kick off summer full of popsicles, ice cream and graduation cakes than to stop all sugar?? OK, that is a bit much. Rather, let’s talk about sneaky ADDED Sugar in our diets and how to avoid it. If I could have my clients do ONE thing to help their health and manage weight it would be stop the added sugar.
The AHA (American Heart Association) limits the average sugar intake for men 38 grams and women 25 grams per day. Most Americans consume well over half of that a day and it creates health drama in our bods. According to Harvard Health, “The effects of added sugar intake — higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease are all linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke”. Not to mention when we eat sugar and DON’T use it for energy, it is STORED. Often in adipose tissue in your belly, just in case you need energy for later. So if weight gain around the middle is a concern, this is a great first step. A peer reviewed article is linked here for more detail:
The sugar trauma doesn’t stop there…74% of processed packaged foods are infused with sugar or sugar substitutes. Sometimes it isn’t even called sugar, it has 65 (and counting) different names on labels so often we don’t even know we are having sugar! Food companies add in sugar so it tastes better and our dopamine receptors are like “NOM NOM for us!” and we reach for more. Good for those food companies but not so much for our bodies.
WEEK 1 Challenge: AVOID products that have high amounts of added sugar or sugar alternatives by checking your labels of anything with a barcode. As a general rule, foods with less than 5% added sugar make a good choice. Foods with more than 20% added sugars should be avoided. It is unrealistic to think you will consume zero sugar for a week, try to keep below the 38 gm for men and 25 gm for women. Fruit, honey, maple syrup and molasses are natural forms of sugar and are acceptable this week! Monk fruit and Stevia are more natural sweeteners as well but use at a minimum this week.
AVOID these common sneaky sugar names on your labels:
- Syrup sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose).
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Cane sugar or juice
- Invert sugar, brown sugar, malt sugar
- Rice syrup
- Corn sweetener
Challenge for the WEEK 1 (RECAP):
- CHECK LABELS! Anything with a Barcode is suspect so check INGREDIENTS labels. Notice if there is sugar or sugar substitutes and make a note for next time you make a trip to the store to make a swap for a better option. Examples of labels are at the bottom of this post.
- Salad Dressings, condiments, sauces, yogurt, juices, kombucha, granola and cereal are among the biggest sources of hidden added sugar.
- Note, this is a goal for the summer that just starts here, I don’t expect you to throw away all sneaky sugar foods. It’s a process, This week we live and learn!
- Learn sneaky sugar names for when you are buying food and “Vote” with your dollars (See above).
- Avoid Sugar laden bevvies – Believe it or not, half of added sugar in the Standard American Diet comes from drinks. Drop Soda, lemonade, sports drinks and creamers with high amounts of sugar this week.
- Stop all artificial sweeteners such as Sweet N’ Low and Equal. Honey, maple syrup, Stevia and monk fruit are all good options. If you want to go BIG for the week, try to cut out all sweeteners to see how you do!
- Say NO to dessert this week. No cakes, ice creams or strawberry shortcakes. Fruit and dark chocolate are the “go to” for the week! If you are having crazy sweet dreams, try some banana NICE cream – frozen bananas in a food processor until smooth and add a dollop of almond butter!
- Notice sugar cravings – Some people actually have detox symptoms like irritability or intense cravings for sugar. If that happens, drinks plenty of water, eat lots of veggies and healthy fats to support the detox. You can do it!
- Is anyone wondering about alcohol? I would avoid the spiked seltzers and ginger beer this week. Try vodka or tequila and club with some fresh lime, less sugar and actually my favorite adult bevvie!
DM me on IG @tessajenkinsyoga with photos and let me know how it goes!! If you haven’t signed up for the monthly newsletter you can sign up below to stay in touch with the latest information on the wellness challenge direct to your inbox!
I wish you luck and I believe in you!!!