Sugar can get the best of us. It is lurking in some many items that we often do not even consider. Even the so called “healthy” choices. I was raised during the era of low fat everything. Taking away the fat simply resulted in more sugar being added to processed foods. It only makes sense really – if an item is removed it has to be replaced with something else. Enter more of those deadly little crystals. Oddly enough sugar can be insidious because it really does not appear to be that high in calories so it’s difficult to see the harm in it. A teaspoon of the sweet stuff only has about 17 calories and it’s easy to dismiss it as not being a bit deal.
However, throw a few of those in your coffee, enjoy a few cookies and grab a yogurt for a snack and you are probably over your daily allowance. The American Heart Association recommends about 6 teaspoons a day at most for women and 9 for men. It’s amazing, but a flavored Greek Yogurt typically only has about 160 calories, but almost 20 grams of sugar. Who thinks of a yogurt as a dessert instead of a snack? I know I don’t, but maybe I should. There are books written on detoxing from the powerful pull of the sweet stuff so it’s obviously not an effect we are imagining. Those out of control cravings are not merely in our heads but in fact a sign that something is lacking in our diets.
According to NaturopathyWorks.com, deficiencies of several essential vitamins and minerals may cause the body to crave sweets. If the body is lacking chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or tryptophan, an unusual affinity to sweets can occur. Adjusting your regular diet to include higher quantities of chicken, beef, poultry, broccoli, nuts and fresh fruits may lessen the cravings for sweets. Food quality matters because if you are eating foods that are depleted you are no closer to reaching your goal. Make sure your beef is grass fed and that your chicken is organic and/or pasture raised if possible.
Easier said that done right? I also disagree a bit about the fresh fruit because as much as it is a wonderful choice certain fruits are very high in fructose and will cause your body’s insulin to spike as well. I certainly would say to keep it in your diet, but watch how much you are consuming. It’s important to be vigilant because sugar also pops up unexpectedly in foods like salad dressing, sauces, ketchup, cereals and all sorts of drinks. It’s enough to make your head spin! In fact below is a list of foods that I assembled that where it is important to check out the grams of sugar when you are looking at the nutrition facts:
- Processed Carbs (basically anything white and doughy)
- Baked Goods
- Protein Bars
- Barbecue Sauce
- Salad Dressing or Condiments (especially low-fat or non-fat)
- Frozen Fruit
- Alternative Milk Sources (Soy, Almond, Rice, Hemp or Coconut)
- Hot or Cold Cereal
- Nut Butter
- Soft Drinks
- Wine & Cocktails
Also the more sugar we have the more we crave. After the holidays last year I was definitely on the rampage of eating more sweets. The extra cocktails plus the cookies and desserts had me craving more and more sugar. I did not make a big decision to cut out the excess as a New Year’s resolution, but I wanted to get back to my normal eating habits after all the indulgences. So I decided to cut out a little bit of the extra here and there. It not only helped me look better, but I was amazed that I felt better overall too. My usual headaches were few and far between and since I did not really make any other changes I had to credit the reduction in sweets.
Below are a few of my top suggestions for trimming the sugar in your diet:
Make the switch to Stevia – Stevia is all natural sweetener with no added calories. It’s a great substitute for sugar or artificial sweeteners. I add it to yogurt, plain oatmeal or coffee once in a while if I’m in the mood for a sweeter taste.
Knock out soda – An average can of soda has about 39 grams of sugar, but the diet alternatives are not a good choice either. Sucralose and other additives have proven to increase your cravings for sweets so that’s not an option. Try water or unsweetened seltzer with lemon and lime wedges or natural sodas like Blue Sky or Zevia which contain Stevia.
Add the fat – If you are enjoying chocolate make sure it is a high percentage of cacao (70% or higher) and enjoy a few nuts too if you are having it as a snack. I love Kind Bars because they are sweet without being too high in sugar.
Watch Your fruit Intake – I love it and it’s healthy but keep your consumption moderate. Berries and kiwi are very good choices that are lower on the glycemic index.
Beware of hidden sugar – Read the labels of your salad dressings, sauces, alternative milks, cereals, yogurts, and nut butters. You’d be surprised by what you find out!
Switch to less refined carbs – Sweet potatoes, quinoa or natural breads are better than bagels, rolls or donuts.
Question of the Day: How much sugar do you think you consume on average?