Sugar, is it dangerous? Part 2 of 4 (so I don't overwhelm anyone)

Sugar...we know that's it hiding everywhere (see previous blog post about sugar, search "sugar"), but does it matter?

Yes. It really does.

In fact it drives ME CRAZY when people try to shove sugar down others.

Do I want a piece of birthday cake? No. "You should really just have one piece..." Should I?

If someone is trying to reduce their sugar intake you should support that person in any and everyway possible- because it's SO difficult to cut back on sugar and SO beneficial. The peer pressure we put on others to consume CRAPPY food shocks me. In 50 years we could be looking at it the same way as pressuring people to smoke cigarettes. When someone tells me that they are cutting out sugar I give them the same support and encouragement as someone telling me they have quit smoking. So don't pay attention to food pushers if you know you're making the right decision. AND IF YOU'RE A "FOOD PUSHER" YOU NEED TO LAY OFF.

So whats wrong with sugar? In a little bit I'll address the sugar from whole fruits (which are absolutely okay with me, but juice is on my NO list).  We are going to go over 8 reasons why you may want to rethink that sweetened latte, but this post only has 4. I think fewer shorter reads is better than 1 extremely long one!

4 (of 8) Reasons why your morning latte, donut, whole grain cereal, or sweetened yogurt could be affecting your health

1. It's robbing your savings account.

  • Your nutrient savings account to be exact. Tired all the time? Looking for something to get rid of that "dragging" feeling? When people ask me what they can do differently because they're tired all the time, my first response is- stop eating added sugar. When you drink a sweetened beverage, a flavored yogurt or pasta with sauce (that has added sugar)...what happens? Your body wants to use that sugar as "fuel" to produce energy...but it takes A LOT of tools (nutrients) to break down that sugar as fuel. If the sugar doesn't come "prepackaged" with those tools (nutrients) then it has to find them somewhere (your nutrient savings account),  depleting your stores. That is one of the differences between the doughnut and the apple. The (WHOLE FRUIT) APPLE comes with everything it needs. It's naturally packed with B-vitamins and minerals for your body to use the sugar from it as FUEL. The donut does NOT. It only provides sugar...and that sugar wants to be used as fuel. So what does it do? It "robs" your B vitamin and mineral storage tanks...resulting in fatigue. The juice from that apple also DOES NOT provide all the materials to access that fuel from the apples- robbing your tanks. Whole, natural fruits are great...processed foods from fruits are NOT (juice, packaged items advertising "sweetened with fruit juice"). This is where the term "empty calories" come from. These sugars provide calories, but nothing to help them break down and be used as fuel.

 

  • Take away...
    • A lot of B-vitamins are required for carbohydrate and sugar metabolism. The more sugar you eat, the more B vitamins you need. Mother nature is SO great, she packaged whole foods with the B vitamins they need to metabolize and break down. If you eat whole foods (not in a package, bag, box) you don't have to worry about this. When you eat carnage (carbohydrate rich garbage) or foods with added sugar you do need to worry (cereals, granola bars, juice, soda, sweets). Tired? Stop eating so much sugar and carbage.

2. It's affecting your immune system.

  • Sick all the time? Want to give you and your families immune systems a boost? You guessed it, CUT BACK ON SUGAR. Why is this? For several reasons...
    • Eating or drinking too much sugar can limit your immune system cells that attack bacteria. YES, consuming too much sugar can potentially not allow your immune system to work the way it wants (1).
    • 1 teaspoon of sugar could potentially impact your immune for up to 5 hours!
  • The FIRST thing I talk to people about when they ask me to "help them not get sick this winter" is their diet. You can't eat sugar all the time and expect to be well. I don't just mean cookies and ice cream- there is sugar hiding in everything that comes in a bag/package/box.
    • Zesty low fat italian dressing (1 teaspoon per 2 Tablespoons)
    • Organic, low sodium tomato soup (6 teaspoons per can)
    • Whole grain "protein" cheerios (4 teaspoons per 1 1/4 cup)
  • Side note- there is NO way you can eat cold cereal everyday and stay under the recommended sugar intake

 

3. It has a large impact on your cardiovascular system.

  • Remember the original visual from PART 1 that talked about limiting sugar? That's from The American Heart Association (AHA). Yup. The people who are making nutrition recommendations to reduce cardiovascular disease have pretty strict guidelines when it comes to sugar intake. That's because it's now widely noted that excess sugar can increase your overall risk for heart disease.  In fact they recommend that you limit added sugar to <5% of your total calories, that's MORE restrictive than their recommendations for saturated fat.
  • Their recommendations include:
    • No more than 6 teaspoons/day for females and no more than 9teaspoons/day for males

How does sugar effect your heart? For several reasons, but we don't even know all of them yet. Here are a few:

  • It may affect the pumping mechanism of the heart, increasing your risk for heart failure (2)
  • Are you skinny? Doesn't matter. One study showed that consuming excess sugar can increase your risk for cardiac issues EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT OVERWEIGHT (3)

The AHA came out with these sugar recommendations because of a large study that showed an increased risk of death from cardiovascular issues with excess sugar consumption (4).

4. Its promoting your addiction to sugar.

  • Sugar cravings? They are NO JOKE. Sugar can cause a surge in dopamine in the "reward" center of your brain. This can cause a viscous circle of cravings. Find someone who loves their sweets and/or soda and ask them to give it all up cold turkey. I bet they only last a couple days, it really is difficult.

When you eat sugar (even when its hidden) several times a day, everyday, it creates a steady flow of pleasure hormones being released and a constant increase in blood glucose. This is an addictive feeling. The amount of sugar that our body was naturally meant to handle should be coming from a piece of fruit, NOT a piece of pie or cup of soda. This is why it's difficult for people to "get off" sugar, it's a huge adjustment for their body. This is one of the reasons why I offer a sugar support group, where we complete the 21 Day Sugar Detox together with daily support. Check out more information HERE.

 

Even if you think you don't "eat any sugar," you probably do. Buy anything in a package, box or bag and there's probably some hidden sugar. Most items that advertise "low-fat" or "low-sodium" are fixed up with some hidden sugar to make them taste better.

For example, Amys Kitchen makes an Organic, Low in Sodium, Tomato Soup.

Turn it around and check out the nutrition facts label...

There are 13g of sugar per serving, with 2 servings per can.

I think most people can eat the entire can, so 26g of sugar PER CAN! That's 6 teaspoons of sugar per can of Organic Low Sodium Tomato soup.

How much does the AHA recommend to limit our intake before increasing our risk of cardiovascular disease?

6 teaspoons.

One can of tomato soup and you're at your limit.

Stay tuned for part 3 of 4 of the sugar series! In the mean time cut back on your packaged/processed goods and reduce your sugar intake!

 

 

 

Meal Prep on The 21DSD!

Do you meal prep? My week is a disaster for 2 reasons if I don't.

1. I don't eat as well as I know I should. This creates a chain of events...making poor choices, feeling worse, throwing a pity party  for myself...

2. It cost more money. If I don't bring my lunch and/or snacks I'm probably going to eat out ($$), or run to the store and get things that are conveinenet that I normally would not have purchased ($$).

So what do I do to prevent this? I spend at least 2-3 hours setting myself up for success. Considering how much better meal preparation allows me to eat, and how much money it saves, its actually worth the few hours. Not to mention the HEALTH BENEFITS. I also know and understand that people are stressed for time. I get it. I have a baby, a house, work more than full time and try to get some workouts in...BUT MEAL PREP IS A PRIORITY. Its just something thats on my "to-do list," like laundry...but its so much more rewarding. This week I'm preparing to start The 21 Day Sugar Detox with some fellow coaches, so things are a little more strict than normal. Im really excited because I think I need a "refresh" from this past month of summer parties, BBQs and treats. Next month I'll post a non-21DSD meal prep session, but its not too different. Here are my steps to "prepare for food prep."

  • Check out what you have
    • This may also involve considering whats coming that week from your farmers market, CSA, etc. if you don't already have it in your possession
    • I look in my freezer, fridge and cupboards to get an idea of what I need to use up
    • I know that this week I have a TON of veggies to use (overload from my garden and from my CSA box this past week)
    • I also know that I have fresh ginger and a bag of sesame seeds that I got on sale randomly last week
    • DON'T get discouraged if you're new to eating whole foods/paleo/allergen free, I have a lot of things in my kitchen that I never thought I would. Sometimes when I would look at recipes everything would seem so odd/expensive, but once you "get going" your pantry builds up! Rarely are you ever buying those "expensive" ingredients.

  

  • Make a list of what you're going to eat this week
    • This is really keeping in mind what you have already, you don't want anything to go to waste
    • This is as complicated as you make it- I don't like complicated so I keep it pretty simple
    • I make a list of veggies (salads, sides) that I can prep ahead, protein (eggs, chicken for lunches and some main courses for dinner) and snacks or "extras"
    • Snacks can be things prepped or easy grab and go items (sometimes I grab a piece of chicken as a snack), changing your mindset of "snacking" works wonders. I'm prepping some extra snacks this week because of The 21 Day Sugar Detox
    • Check out this weeks list....
img_9187-0.jpg

I know I have eggs. I also know I have a busy week and probably won't have time to make my lovely fried eggies, so Im going to cook them all ahead of time. Plan is to steam 1 dozen and then make egg muffins from the other dozen-

BREAKFAST ✔️

I also know I need protein for my salads and veggies Im prepping for lunch- chicken breasts and salsa in crockpot, hard boiled eggs, canned tuna... I'm going to make the mason jar salads last because I can throw all my leftover veggies In them. Here are the ones I made last week-   

LUNCH ✔️

Dinner? Im going to have a few different options (21DSD are from The 21 Day Sugar Detox Guidebook)-

  • Shepard's Pie 21DSD style (I need to use up that frozen cauliflower, and I already have carrots)
  • Beef and Broccoli  21DSD style (I already have broccoli and ginger)
  • Burgers on cabbage leaves (always fast and easy...maybe I should make ketchup and mayo)
  • Cucumber salad (I have SO MANY cucumbers...this would work with burgers or lunch
  • Asian style meatballs with ground turkey

I checked out the ingredients of each recipe to see what i would still need from the store...I tried to pick out items that I wouldn't need much more for.

DINNER ✔️

Snacks...check out this fruit basket, I just need some green apples and green tipped bananas to go with this grapefruit (fruits allowed on the detox). The lemons and limes will be used for some recipes and IN MY WATER. I love citrus in my water. I also have pumpkin seeds, almonds, walnuts, shredded coconut and sunflower seeds to make a trail mix.

SNACKS ✔️ 

And...Im making Lemon Vanilla Meltaways from The 21 Day Sugar Detox Guidebook. Because Im awesome.

NOT SWEET TREATS ✔️ 

  • Make your grocery list and STICK TO IT. Unless you see something that is an amazing deal, you need to stick to your list.

My list.

Its SUPER short this week because I have SO many veggies waiting for me. I also already have a lot of paleo staples- coconut oil, coconut butter, nuts, seeds, etc.    Sooo...that gives me breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for at least 4 days. It will probably last me 5-6 days, because I'll probably have an "off plan" meal or two at some point. Stay tuned these next few weeks! Ill try and post about my own 21DSD and recipes/meals that Im eating.

I'll also try to share more about food prep, I know I've been getting some messages and questions about it.

Happy meal planning!

Sugar is a complicated word. Part 1 of 4.

What is sugar?

As an Registered Dietitian, that's a loaded question to ask me, not one I'm really sure I can even give a good answer to. An apple has sugar, so does your soda or juice box...as well as that ketchup and hamburger bun. So whats the difference? Does it even matter?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "sugar" as:

a : a sweet crystallizable material that consists wholly or essentially of sucrose, is colorless or white when pure tending to brown when less refined, is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms, and is important as a source of dietary carbohydrate and as a sweetener and preservative of other foods
b : any of various water-soluble compounds that vary widely in sweetness, include the monosaccharides and oligosaccharides, and typically are optically active

What a terrible definition. Sorry Merriam-Webster, but sugar is SO, SO much more; and I have to disagree with "is important as a source of dietary carbohydrate..."

There are various types of sugar, derived from different sources (fruit, corn, beets, sugarcane, etc.). Sugar is really a generalized name for sweet, short chain, soluble carbohydrates. There are other types of carbohydrates, like fiber, but sugar is one that has been getting a lot of attention. There are a lot of reasons why- lets look at some of them.

Does it matter if you eat some of the doughnut or the entire apple? They both have sugar. Does it really make a difference?

You bet it does.

There are two types of sugar- naturally occurring and added. Naturally occurring sugars are found in whole, unprocessed foods. Some examples are milk (lactose), fruit, and some vegetables. Added sugars are "added" to processed foods and drinks while they are being made, manufactures can add natural sugars (fructose, honey) and/or processed sugars (high fructose corn syrup). The sugar you add at home to coffee, baked goods, etc is also considered "added sugar."

Sugars are added for a variety of reasons. They can improve the flavor (duh), color and texture of foods as well as preventing some things from spoiling. The major one is FLAVOR. Have you ever had PLAIN yogurt? What did you think? Check out the yogurt section (which is almost as large as the cereal section) and look at all the SWEETENED yogurts. Some have as much (if not more) sugar as a candy bar. This helps companies SELL MORE (grocery manufacturers always want to sell more, it is a business), they are not trying to make you healthier. I repeat: grocery manufacturers are not trying to make you healthier, they are trying to sell you more.

Back to sugar.

What are some other names for sugar that you can look for on the ingredient list?

I know there are A TON! Even "healthy" foods can have sugar hidden in them! Check out these snacks that are marketed as healthy ALL THE TIME. Have you seen them? The 100 Calorie Packs?

This is the Ritz Snack Mix variety...

Look at the ingredient list, how many sources of added sugar do you spot?

Enriched Flour, Niacin (as Niacinamide), Reduced Iron, Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Folate) Vitamin B12, Whole Wheat, Soybean (Glycine Soja) Oil, Sugar, Corn Syrup SolidsMalted Barley Syrup, Salt, Whole Wheat Flour, Cottonseed Oil (Partially Hydrogenated*), Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate, Yeast), Cheddar Cheese (Made from Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Malted Barley Flour, Flavors (Natural), Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Spices (includes paprika), Dried Garlic, Monosodium Glutamate (Flavor Enhancer), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Dried Soy Sauce (Made from Soybeans, Wheat Salt), Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Tamarinds, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6, Folic Acid), Lactic, Acetic Acids, Vitamins & Minerals (Reduced Iron, Niacinamide), Thiamine Monohydrate (Vitamin B1) (Vitamin B1), Calcium Pantothenate (Vitamin B5)

I see THREE (plus some partially hydrogenated oil as a special treat). So even the foods you are told are "healthy" have added sugars. I know. Disappointing.

So what does all this mean? How much added sugar are you really eating?

To give a good visual, which I always love, the American Heart Association (AHA) has provided some guidelines when it comes to sugar. They recommend that females consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar and males 9 teaspoons to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic health issues. That seems like a lot, BUT it adds up quickly when consuming food products found on the grocery store shelves.

Sooooo what does that mean?

1 gram of sugar = 4 calories

4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar

That means that the following items HAVE 6-11 TEASPOONS PER SERVING! Your sugar limit is maxed out in just one beverage!

Even if you try and stay away from "sweet" foods, the teaspoons pile up quickly!

Let's walk through what most people would assume is a relatively healthy, low sugar day.

Breakfast:

1 1/2 C Honey Nut Whole Grain Cheerios (4 teas)

1 C Milk (3 teas*)

1 greek yogurt, fruit flavored (2 teas)

Snack: 

1 whole grain granola bar (3 teas)

Lunch:

Green Salad with grilled chicken (no sugar!)

2 Tb low fat vinaigrette (1 teas)

1 serving Kashi whole grain crackers (1teas)

Water to drink

Snack:

1 serving Pringles (1.5 teas)

3oz beef jerky (3 teas)

1 apple (2 teas*)

Dinner:

1.5 C whole grain pasta (1/2 teas)

1 C organic marina sauce with meat (3 teas)

1 C broccoli (NO SUGAR)

Water to drink

Late night snack:

1 C ice cream (because you were SO good today and didn't "eat that much sugar") (8 teas)

SUGAR TOTAL FOR THE DAY:

32 teaspoons! 

If you drink anything sweet you should knock that number UP! Our example meal plan was with drinking water ONLY. You don't eat ice cream? Then that numbers gets a little lower, but you may be eating other sources of added sugar instead.

I tallied both ADDED sugar and those naturally occurring because I think its good to keep an eye on your total sugar intake, BUT technically the AHA recommendations (6 or 9 teaspoons) is for ADDED. Those items on our list with a * are the naturally occurring ones, even if you subtract them (just the milk and apple)- you are still left with a total of 27 teaspoons!

SO WHY DOES ALL THIS MATTER? Why does the American Heart Association care about sugar?

Because there are long term health consequences to eating too much sugar, and as you can see from above MOST Americans are eating too much (even though they may not realize it). Sugar has an impact on our mental health, cardiovascular system, hormones, digestion and more.

Project for you- tally up your sugar for the next couple days. Look at the "grams of sugar" on the nutrition panel and add them for an entire day. Divide that number by 4 to see how many teaspoons you're consuming. If you want to see just your "added" sugar, then don't include whole fruits (in my opinion you should include juice in your tally- it's just concentrated sugar) and plain milk (yes there are some other small sources of naturally occurring sugar).

Do this and then stay tuned for my next post about the health consequences of sugar! 

 

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