Easter is upon us. Traditionally, baskets of chocolate bunnies, Peeps, and jelly beans come with it. Go ahead, have a little holiday fun, it won’t harm you for the long run; however, there is more sugar coming your way and it’s disguised better than any candy laden egg hidden for an Easter Egg Hunt.
Sugar is everywhere in our food system. Moderate amounts keep life sweet; too much can make your health hit a sour note. Tracking your actual sugar intake for several days, or even several meals, may produce results that surprise you, but they can be very motivating as well. Keeping close tabs on what you typically ingest leads to better, more-informed food choices in the end. The more you know, the better you do.
Sugar Math Facts to Keep in Mind
4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
Sugar is noted in grams on the Nutrition Facts panel on labels. Keep in mind the figure includes fructose and lactose, naturally occurring in fruit and milk, in addition to any corn syrup, refined sugar, etc. that’s been added to the product.
Familiarize yourself with the wide range of ingredients that increase the sugar gram count on labels. Research their pros and cons. Fruits, vegetables, honey, and other natural foods come with pretty good upsides like antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, anti-inflammatory agents, etc. even though they show up in that sugar number we are trying to lower. Processed or man-made sugars and sweeteners have little good to offer us and can make us more likely to hold on to that desire for sweetness in the long run.
Ingredients to keep you eye on: maltose, molasses, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, brown sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, honey, sucrose, raw sugar, honey, lactose, and the list goes on from there.
Beware condiments, sauces, and dressings. For example, 1 tablespoon of store-bought barbecue sauce on your grilled chicken may only add 35 calories, but it can also contain 8 grams of sugar equal to 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar.
Read the label of seemingly healthier options too. You might be skipping the soda pop and reaching for a vitamin water instead without knowing your ‘water’ has 32 grams of sugar equivalent to a whopping 8 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Yep, it’s not necessarily a healthy choice either.
What is the recommended daily allowance of sugar intake per day?
That’s a difficult thing to pinpoint. The type of sugar grams and where they come from determines how your body metabolizes them. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow, but choosing naturally occurring sugars over processed sugars is always a better choice for your body…
“Too much sugar can also contribute to heart disease, warns the Cleveland Clinic. A diet high in sugar contributes to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which raise the risk of heart disease. Any sugar consumed, that is not immediately used for energy, is converted into triglycerides. High triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease. To reduce the risk of disease, women should eat no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. Men should limit intake to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons a day. Children should also keep sugar intake to 6 grams or less per day. Those with known health problems may need to go even lower. – from LiveStrong.com
What About Natural Sweetener?
Natural sweeteners are sugar substitutes that are often promoted as healthier options than processed table sugar or other sugar substitutes. But even these so-called natural sweeteners often undergo processing and refining, including agave nectar.
Among the natural sweeteners that the FDA recognizes as being generally safe for consumption are fruit juices and nectars, honey, molasses, and maple syrup. – from MayoClinic.com
I took a closer look at my eating habits and discovered I’ve been making light of some serious amounts of sugar in my weekly breakfast choices.
- Coffee with a little cream and a spoonful of sugar
- assorted fresh fruit and occasionally fruit juice
- yogurt that had a shocking number of sugar grams
- whole grain bread toasted with peanut butter that -surprise- contained sugar
- or, whole grain bread toasted with sliced banana and honey
- oatmeal with fresh or dried fruit depending on season
- grapefruit with honey during citrus season
- seemingly innocent quality granola cereal that proved to have sugar from more than just the dried fruit it contained
The first thing to go was the coffee. Frankly, that was mostly a caffeine thing, but I also figured those cream and sugar grams would be better spent on something that had vitamins and minerals too. I drink water almost exclusively now. I’ve never been a big juice fan. Sweet tea weather is going to come hopping around the corner soon, so I’m looking into alternatives. I’d appreciate any suggestions you have to share.
Next, I traded our usual peanut butter for an organic version without all the extra ingredients -just peanuts and a little salt, thank you very much. I’m reading labels and making better choices regarding morning regulars (whole grains, fruit, yogurt) and swapping some out for proteins (scrambled eggs, omelettes, frittatas). It’s a process. I’m learning. I’m also having a little fun putting together some breakfast menus to share soon.
A blessed and happy Easter to you & yours!
Sweet tooth raging out of control? Here’s how to tame those sugar cravings…
Lower your daily sugar intake and live a healthier life. Here are 23 simple ways to cut down on sugary sweets…
A few more for tips…
For those who really like to do their homework:
Questions: How have you tamed the sugar beast in your home? What are some of your favorite ways to replace sugars and carbs with proteins for breakfast?
You can leave a comment at the bottom of this post’s page here…
Fed & Fit Friday is a Friday blog series dedicated to developing healthy lifestyle habits and awareness.