Is Sugar Really Bad for You?
There's so much buzz around sugar. So naturally since I have a major sweet tooth and an autoimmune disease that can be triggered by foods, I decided to look into this more. I'm going to start with the bad news because once we get this out of the way; I'm going to show you how to still be satisfied without all the sugar.
The Sugar Rundown
Basically sugar is not something you want to consume to much of for various reasons. According to Harvard Medical School, sugar is one of the greatest threats to cardiovascular disease. It can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, depression, fatty liver disease and even gut issues. Eating too much sugar can also curb the immune system. This can last a few hours after that sugar overload. This means you are more likely to get sick when you have just consumed a bunch of sugar and then exposed to germs. Hello, can we say a child's birthday party is the perfect example of this...a bunch of sugared up kids full of germs. The next day or so your child ends up sick.
How Much Sugar Should you Consume?
So how much sugar is too much? It's hard to say a number that is just right for everyone but the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than about 9 teaspoons. That is close to the amount in one 12oz can of soda. Women should only have about 6 teaspoons a day. Children ages 2-18 should have no more than 6 teaspoons as well.
What about Natural Sugars?
One thing to note is that natural sugars found in grains, fruits and veggies are not what we are talking about here. Plant foods have high amounts of fiber, minerals and antioxidants. These sugars are digested slowly and offer steady supplies of energy to your cells.
Let's talk about hidden sugars. Have you seen how many foods are hidden with sugar? There are so many condiments, salad dressings, yogurts, cereals, lunch meats breads and even bars that say they are healthy full of sugar. That seems to be how we end up consuming too much sugar.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake with Long Term Success
So I have completely cut out sugar a few times for small amounts of time and it's completely doable. One example of this would be something like the Whole 30 plan but in this blog I'm going to tell you more about reducing your sugar. I'm completely for eliminations and I do believe in them because I have personally seen them work on various family members, including myself. When you want to have a reset they are great. This is more about a long term solution for your overall health. Let's start by saying you are completely worth it and making these changes may be hard at first but in the long run you will definitely not regret it. Also, I usually fall off the horse as they say during the holidays so come February I'm ready to get back on track.
Here are a few steps we take to reduce sugar in our home and especially after the holidays.
First I begin to overhaul my grocery list. I stay on the outsides of the store as much as I can. My cart gets full of fruits and veggies. I try to incorporate them into every meal. My kids and I tried a 100 fruits and veggies challenge one time and it stuck, so every so often we do it again. We try 100 different varieties and keep an ongoing list. The more full you are on healthy foods, the easier it is to say no to the sugary foods. Meal planning really helps with this and keeps us on track. I love to cook a healthy, delicious meal that satisfies my family.
I try to operate on an 80/20 plan. Eighty percent of the time I eat healthy, real foods. I try to eat the least amount of processed foods I can and twenty percent of the time I indulge. This usually looks like my week days being where I try to not have as much sugar and then on the weekends if I want to indulge; I go for it.
I find alternatives for my sweet tooth. Some of my favorites are Larabars, nuts, smoothies, tea, NingXia Red and Zyng, homemade granola, a handful of chocolate chips, a few chocolate covered almonds or dark chocolate. I love Lily's chocolate.
I have also found the more hydrated I am, the less I crave sugar. I love to put Young Living Peppermint Vitality Oil in my water to help curb my appetite. Actually I use hydration a lot to avoid eating more sugar. Here's a whole blog post I did on this!
Lastly, I have truly found it's a mindset thing. That's why unless necessary for health concerns with my autoimmune or in the past when I was nursing babies, I do not like to completely restrict myself. That can cause a backfire or even give you stress. I have found that when I decide to take care of myself and intentionally think about my food choices, it's easier to make the right choice. When I find myself wanting to make the choice full of sugar, I ask myself if there is some thing else I can eat that will make me feel better or am I even hungry. This thought process helps my mindset.
So, what about you? What tips do you have? Do you have a sweet tooth?