What’s the biggest thing to avoid during the holidays? (No, it’s not your family)
The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar per day. Stop and think about that for a minute. That’s sugar you put in coffee and tea, and the sugars in pasta, granola bars and yogurt. That’s an extra 285 calories per day that health experts say is way too much. In a year, that means you’re consuming about 66 pounds of added sugar every year.
According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) daily and men should get a max of 9 teaspoons (150 calories).
Those of greater risk of sugar overdose are children and teens. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting total intake of discretionary calories, including added sugars and fats, to 5% – 15% per day. However, children and adolescents in America get about 16% of their total caloric intake from added sugars alone.
Children and teens are particularly at risk. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting total intake of discretionary calories, including both added sugars and fats, to 5% –15% per day. Yet children and adolescents in America obtain about 16% of their total caloric intake from added sugars alone.
According to an article published by SugarScience™, “Using brain-scanning technology, scientists at the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse were among the first to show that sugar causes changes in people’s’ brains similar to those in people addicted to drugs such as cocaine and alcohol. These changes are linked to a heightened craving for more sugar. This important evidence has set off a flood of research on the potentially addictive properties of sugar.”
When reading labels watch out for any of these names in the first few ingredients or those products that have more than 4 total grams of sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Brown rice syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Malt syrup
How do we overcome the cravings of sugar?
Protein: Eating protein is one way to curb those sugar cravings. High-protein foods digest more slowly than those high in sugars, and they keep you feeling full for longer. Foods rich in protein include lean chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, and beans.
Fiber: Fiber also helps keep you full, plus it gives you more energy than sugar. High-fiber foods don’t raise your blood sugar, so there’s no hungry ‘crash’ afterwards. Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Quick tip: slice up yellow and red peppers, or carrots and celery for a snacks to munch on during the day and avoid the vending machine. Spreading some peanut butter on an apple is also a sweet treat that is rich in protein and fiber. Avoid fruit cups since those can be filled with extra sugar in the syrup.
Spices: Adding natural sweeteners like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
Multivitamins: Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse. Taking a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, vitamin D3, vitamin B3 and magnesium can help improve the ability to control blood sugar.
Sleep: When you are tired, your body uses sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion. So, getting enough sleep will help regulate the sugars you crave.
Exercise: Believe it or not, the more you exercise the better you feel and want to live a healthier lifestyle. Walking, running, bike riding and swimming are great ways to get in shape. Start out slowly by exercising for 20 minutes a few days a week, then work up to longer workouts five times a week.
Water: Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are really just thirsty. Drinking water can promote weight loss, flushes out toxins, increases our energy and relieves fatigue.
Here’s to a happy and HEALTHY New Year!