It's sweet but sure ain't a treat.
It's considered a treat.
And on average, Americans consume about 152 pounds of it yearly! (3lbs per week)
You guessed it -it's SUGAR!
Sugar naturally occurs in carbohydrates such as fruits, veggies, grains and dairy etc. And while carbs get a bad wrap, eating whole foods that contain natural sugar is totally fine - in moderation (as with all things). When sugar is consumed through whole foods your body gets access to essential minerals, fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, protein and calcium from dairy foods.
Ok, so then why all the fuss about sugar when whole food carbohydrates host a ton of benefits?
Well, it's not whole foods that we're as concerned with - it's ADDED SUGAR.
Manufactured sugar is added to food to increase flavor and shelf life.
It wreaks havoc on your body and internal organs.
And it is lurking around in so many of our common foods.
Common foods with a lot of added sugar are: kids cereals and cereal in general, bread, flavored yogurts, drinks, and a lot of "alternative foods" that are vegan or dairy-free friendly. Remember, just because it might say its healthy doesn't mean it is!
Too much added sugar is connected to tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, chronic inflammation, learning and memory issues, high triglycerides, to increased LDL and decreased HDL.
So, what is a healthy amount of added sugar intake per day?
Well, the more accurate answer would be zero. There is no nutritional need or benefit that comes with added sugar. But let's face it - that's not realistic. From a young age, we've been taught to reach for "quick fixes" for stress, pain and boredom i.e cookies, pastries, donuts, excess alcohol, cigarettes, etc etc. But how the media has groomed us to numb and dull our pain to addictive, life-shortening stuff is a whole other topic for another email). The answer to the question from the American Heart Association is no more than 6 tsp (24 grams) of added sugar per day for women and 9 tsp (36 grams) of added sugar per day for men.
So, you know why it's bad and that you need to quit cold turkey right? But then, what about your "2x a day, after lunch and after work iced latte? Some people do very well with cutting things out completely from the beginning. Most others need time and small behavior adjustments weekly to implement a lifestyle change.
Here are a few tips...
1. Begin with reading the nutritional labels of common foods you eat. Getting familiar with what's in your food (specifically the added sugar content) will help you understand what type of fuel you're putting in your body.
2. Track your eating habits for 3 days (keep a food journal or use a tracking app). Let's face it - tracking food sounds horrendous and it is! But you don't need to do it forever. You need to just get a basic understanding of your eating pattern.
3. Slowly begin to decrease your sugar level daily. Instead of having 2 iced lattes a day, have 1.5 lattes a day. And if needed, add some extra veggies or protein to the meal you have before your drink to fill you up so you don't want to guzzle down that drink.
4. Spend more time in the perimeter of the grocery store longer than the internal part of the grocery. The perimeter holds the whole foods and the inner parts of the grocery store have all the pretty, shiny boxes of processed carbs and foods that are just waiting to get your attention and begin your addiction.
For FL members, if you would like some more guided nutrition advice and tactics to cut down the sugar - make sure to book your check-ins with your designated coach! You know where to find us!
- Functional Lifestyles