Week 3: Become a Sugar Sleuth

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Welcome to week three of BlogHer's Inspiration to Fitness, 8 Weeks & 8 Life-Changing Ways to Upgrade Your Diet.

Katherine and I are very excited to be blogging every week to challenge you to make a positive change to your eating. If you missed week one and week two, there's plenty of time to get in on our healthy eating challenge. Just review our first week's post so you can know what to expect and you can incorporate week one's goal into your diet starting today.

This week's focus is on are cutting back on the amount of added sugars or sweeteners in your diet. Most women now get more than 300 calories or 22 teaspoons of sugar every day! That's disastrous for your diet because added sugars stimulate our desire for more sweets and stimulate our appetite, making it harder to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

We all know that candy, desserts, sodas and other foods are sugar-filled but there are plenty of other foods where sugar lurks that you may not expect; we call them sugar shockers. They include many hot and cold breakfast cereals, yogurt, cereal bars, spaghetti sauce, flavored milk and frozen waffles and even some types of bread.

The food industry used more than 20 different "names" to refer to refined sweeteners in their products. Some of the common names used include sugar, sucrose, dextrose, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and maltodextrin.

As part of the Inspiration to Fitness, we want you to become a sugar sleuth. Before you eat anything from a package, review the Nutrition Facts panel to see how much sugar the food or beverage contains. Your goal is to keep your daily total amount of added sweeteners to no more than 25 grams or six teaspoons, which equals 100 calories.


eating sugar

How to Lick Your Sweet Tooth?

If you love sweets, this will be a real challenge for you. But, if you can do it, you'll find that your cravings for sweets will diminish and that you'll be more satisfied (read: full) from the foods you're eating.

To accomplish this goal, you'll need to read the ingredient list on food labels for the types of added sugars that manufacturers use. The further these added sugars are to the top of the ingredient list and the more of them there are on the ingredient list, the more "sugars" are in the product. The Nutrition Facts panel includes both "natural" and "added" sugars as sugars so natural fruit sugars, or dairy sugars will make some products appear very high in sugars. If it's a naturally occurring sugars in a product like fructose in fruit and lactose in milk that's okay to enjoy.

Start by eliminating the obvious sources of added sugars that provide little or no nutritional value. These foods and beverages include soda and other sweetened beverages, candy, desserts. If you use table sugar in your coffee or tea, you'll have to start cutting back to meet your daily sugar limits.

While 100% fruit juices are rich in sugars, they are natural sugars that are provided from fruit, so those are okay to have in this challenge. Another sweet that's natural and part of this challenge are dried fruits. We personally use dates or prunes to satisfy a craving for something sweet. Remember, though, that each date or prune has about 25 calories so you can't go overboard with them.

If you have sweet foods that are your "trigger" foods, meaning you have a hard time limiting yourself when you eat it, then try not to bring the food home. You'll have plenty of opportunities to eat it (believe me!) that you don"t need to have trigger foods in your house. You want to keep sweets out of your kitchen, out of your desk drawer or anywhere that they're visible and easily accessible.


Where Most Added Sugars Come From?

Food or Beverage     % Contribution to Total Added Sugar Intake

Regular Soft Drinks      33%

Sugars and candy      16%

Cakes, cookies, pies      13%

Fruit drinks      10%

Dairy      8.5%
(Sweetened yogurt, ice cream)

Grain-based foods      6%
(Cinnamon toast, sweetened cereals)


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