Kick the Sugar Habit this Summer!
Warm weather is upon us and many unhealthy summer food choices are tempting us as we celebrate with barbecues, pool parties, weddings and vacations. One of the biggest offenders in most summer dishes is sugar. There are so many reasons to avoid the sweetened foods that are so common in the grocery store this time of year. In fact, did you know that sugar causes nearly 60 negative side effects every time you ingest it?
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, a board-certified nutrition specialist, nationally known author and expert on weight loss and nutrition, offers the following
Ten ways we can cut back on our sugar intake:
• Don’t add it to foods. This is the easiest and most basic way to immediately reduce the amount of sugar you are eating. Biggest targets: cereal, coffee and tea.
• Don’t be fooled by “healthy sugar” disguises. Brown sugar, turbinado sugar, raw sugar… it’s all pretty much the same thing far as your body is concerned!
• Make a real effort to eliminate or reduce processed carbohydrates. Most processed carbs—breads, bagels, and most pastas and snacks—are loaded with flour and other ingredients that convert to sugar in the body almost as fast as pure glucose. The sugar gets stored as triglycerides, which is a fancy way of saying fat!
• Watch out for fat-free snacks. One of the biggest myths is that if a food is fat-free it doesn’t make you fat. Fat-free does not mean calorie-free, and most fat-free snacks are loaded with sugar.
• Shop for color. The more your grocery basket looks like a cornucopia of color, the better. It usually means you are getting more fresh vegetables and low-glycemic fruits such as berries and cherries.
• Become a food detective. You can’t reduce sugar if you don’t know where it is, so start reading labels.
• Beware of artificial sweeteners (Nutri-sweet, aspartame, Splenda, etc.). Unfortunately, they can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. They can deplete the bodies’ stores of chromium, a nutrient crucial for blood-sugar metabolism.
• Do the math. Look at the label where it says “total sugars” and divide the number of grams by four. That is the number of teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting.
• Limit fruit. Fruit has sugar, but it also has fiber and good nutrients. Just don’t overdo it. For weight loss purposes, eat two servings a day and try to make most of them low glycemic, such as berries.
• Eliminate fruit juice. It’s a pure sugar hit with none of the fiber and fewer of the nutrients found in the fruit itself.
Stevia is a great zero-calorie alternative to sugar. Our pharmacy carries several different brands and flavors that you can use to sweeten your drinks and in recipes.
Eat less sugar this summer, and sweeten your health for years to come!
By JoAnna Brown, Longevity Health Center Pharmacy