How’s The Ten Day Sugar Challenge Going? 7 Ways to Limit Added Sugars
Last week we challenged you to start a ten day sugar challenge. With added sugar in so many foods, and the holiday season’s abundance of high calorie sweet treats, it’s time to get a handle on your sugar habit!!
Not surprisingly, researchers suggest that kicking a sugar habit is much harder than kicking a salt habit (another ingredient we eat way too much of). Our brain is primed to value sweet because it signals that “energy calories” are coming. Unfortunately, we‘re not moving as much as our ancestors, so we don’t really need all those sugar-based energy calories. We also don’t cook as much now compared to prior generations, so we’re not in charge of measuring and controlling the amounts of sugar added to our meals and snack foods.
Most of us really have no sense of just how many calories in our diet come from sugar.
So the 10 day Sugar Challenge was meant to inspire you to read labels and identify amounts and sources of added sugars. The intention of the challenge was also to have you engage in a sugar swap out, finding ways to make foods and drinks taste good without so much added sugar, and to inspire you to consider preparing and cooking more of the foods you eat daily. If you make it then you control it is a mantra to live by when it comes to ingredient choices and the amounts you use in recipes.
The FDA has been working on new labeling guidelines as well as new, updated nutrition guidelines, and currently the newest recommendation is to eat no more than 10% of your daily calories, from added sugars. That includes sources like table sugar, brown sugar and jellies, as well as honey and agave. It does not include naturally-occurring sugars like those in fruit or unflavored milks.
Here are 7 ways to cut the sugar from your daily diet:
• Lose the sugary drinks including soda, juices, energy drinks, and flavored milks. Instead drink water, unsweetened tea and milks without added sugars.
• Do not stock sugary foods at home. You will not outsmart temptations and it is crucial to create a lower sugar environment at home.
• Delay the age of introduction of foods and drinks with added sugars. Kids do not need to drink soda or more than one cup of juice daily. Similar to the way we handle alcohol and cigarettes, we need to start realizing that drinks and foods with added sugars are not necessary in a child’s balanced diet and should be occasional treats.
• If it comes from a can-box-bag it probably has added sugar. Use this rule to become a “sugar detective” so you decipher labels and are clear on how to identify treat foods and drinks.
• Once you identify treats, decide how often they fit in your balanced, healthy diet. Save most treats for special celebrations. Adopt the new mantra, “If it’s a treat then it’s an occasional splurge.”
• Cook more at home and involve the family. If you control the amount of sugar added to meals and snacks you will be able to reduce amounts and swap out the sugar for healthier substitutes.
• Partner with others to support this low-sugar approach. Without imposing your personal sugar guidelines on others, you can let extended family, friends, teachers, your pediatrician, even co-workers know that you consider this an important family health issue and you’d like their support. You may find that some of these individuals have also been struggling with sugar overload and will appreciate signing on to your effort.
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