You’re addicted. Many hear the word “addicted” and think of drugs. Unfortunately, a majority of folks are (unknowingly) addicted to a substance in every home…, sugar! Most children won’t eat anything unless it has a sweet flavor. Ever wonder why they refuse food or a tantrum ensues? As an example, most processed (pre-packaged) foods are laden with sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) or other sugars. It’s cheaper and easier for the processed food industry to add flavor to the, already, less nutrient dense product.
Sugar isn’t just the white granulated product you use when baking but comes in many forms to “please the palate”. Sugar is the main reason for obesity in our country. A common source of refined sugar that contributes to weight gain and illness are items such as bread, pasta and white rice (just to name a few). You see, fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does.
I encourage you to start keeping a log of how many grams of sugar you eat in a day or a week to start. Read the labels of products you are buying and jot down the number of grams of sugar in a serving. Understand a serving size is often ignored so be mindful of the serving size which is stated at the top of the nutrition label. The way it works is 4 grams of sugar is = 1 teaspoon. If you are a woman consuming more than 24 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day or a man consuming more than 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of sugar a day, you may need to make changes and start to cut back.
To find out if you’re addicted to sugar, try to go without sugar for 1 week (NONE WHAT-SO-EVER) and see how you feel. If you feel the cravings are just too much to take, make note of the urgency and start to ween off the amount of sugar you consume.
To start minimizing the amount of sugar intake, I recommend:
- Taking inventory of beverages. Soda and juice are the biggest culprits. If eliminating completely is too drastic of a change, drink less and less each day until you are down to zero. Replace with water.
- Snacks – Be aware of food groups that add to the sugar load like crackers, yogurt, or anything advertised as “fat free” or “low fat”. If you are hankering for a crunch with a little sweetness, a terrific snack is sliced cucumber with hummus.
- Breakfast – Notice how much sugar is in commercial cereals. A nice alternative to commercial cereal is warm oatmeal with added berries and nuts or pick an organic cereal with little sugar. A protein source for breakfast is another option like a quick scrambled egg.
- Lunch and Dinner –
- Meat/fish with a vegetable and if meat or fish isn’t something you like, a “good” carb like brown rice or quinoa with a vegetable. You will be surprised at how filling and satisfying food is when not monopolized by bread or pasta.
- Soup is wonderful for when you don’t have time to prepare a meal but be sure to select an organic product or make a big pot and portion it out into freezer-friendly containers.
- Salad! Full of nutrients and colorful to boot!
- Smoothies made with non-dairy milk, organic plain yogurt, some veggies and a little fruit is a perfect fill-in when you need to be somewhere and have little time at home.