Love sugar? So do we, hence our café picture but, sadly, less is more. Well, maybe not sadly…Anyway, if you follow our blog you know that we like to mix it up and write about healthy eating, our nonprofit partners and, of course, the beautiful natural and eco brands that we carry. Today on the blog we talk about sugar. Why? Well, it turns out a few of us here at Modern Kids Design decided to challenge ourselves with an intention for February to reduce our sugar intake. We did it and thought we’d share some insights and info we learned along the way.
Research indicates that it is always a good idea to include things we like in our diet, simply because we like it; apparently, it’s just good “self-care” to do so. It is when we over do it that things get tricky and our health is affected. In the case of sugar, processed sugars can make us want to eat more, it can mess with our energy levels, and can even disturb our hormones. If one of your goals this year is to live a healthier life, you too may want to consider reducing your processed sugar intake. Here is what we found out.
Rooting Out the Bad Sugars
There are some clear sugar culprits that often top the “bad sugar” list. It’s no surprise that soda is universally considered a no-no by those trying to cut out the sweet stuff. Candies and baked goods are also frequent culprits. Thankfully, there are some pretty sweet alternatives. To start reducing your sugar intake, you’ll need to read labels. Opt for items with fewer grams of sugar when possible and look out for added sugars hidden under a variety of names. You probably know to skip the high fructose corn syrup but what about these other bad guys? Here are things to look out for…
Sneaky Sugar Additives:
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Golden syrup
- Malt syrup
- Maltose (lots of sneaky -ose endings!)
- And more! Always check the grams of sugar in an item to see if added sugars are hidden under another name.
Some places you might not think to look for sugar include:
- Spaghetti sauce
- Flavored yogurts
- Salad dressings, marinades, and sauces
- Bread and tortillas
- Granola bars
- Nut milks
- Flavored waters
- Coconut water
- Packaged savory meals
When possible, consider making your own sauces, dressings, and marinades so you can control the amount of sugar that goes in. Otherwise, look for alternative products with fewer grams of sugar or products that derive their sweetness from natural sugars.
Adding in Natural Sugars
If you still need some sweetness in your life, have no fear. Mother Earth produces many great sweet treats. Add some to smoothies or switch out processed sugars with natural sugars for a new treat that’s just a tad healthier.
For smoothies, use plain yogurt if a flavored yogurt is called for. Sweeten with berries, dates, honey, or agave. Try to use less sweetener every time and let your body adjust slowly.
If you need a little sugar in your coffee, consider replacing it with a raw sugar (a healthier yet delicious option) or slowly reducing the amount. You’ll find that your tastebuds will slowly acclimate. Similarly, opting for less sugary items will eventually reduce your sugar craving and make sugary items taste too sweet.
If you’re a baker, it is possible to lessen the amount of sugar that goes into your yummy treats. An added benefit? Reducing sugar often brings out the other flavors! That means your brownies will be more chocolaty and your blueberry muffins will be tarter. Not every recipe can have it’s sugar reduced, though, so look for recipes that call for sweet alternatives to sugar, like cakes made with applesauce.
A Healthier You, But With Less Processed Sugar
Now, in most cases, no one advocates cutting sugar cold-turkey. Doing so could lessen your chances for success. Rather, by making it an intention, you’re creating the opportunity to make a conscious decision every day regarding your sugar intake. Some days, you may end up consuming a bit more sugar—and that’s ok. Making the intention and doing your best to reduce your processed sugar intake is part of forming a positive habit. Attempting to cut all sugar out at once may backfire and leave you feeling like you failed. Approaching it slowly can show you how strong you are and provide you with opportunities to keep improving your diet.
If you’d like more information on sugar, check out SugarScience.org, an informative site from the University of California, San Francisco.
We hope you’re enjoying our healthy eating series. Let us know what you think and if you have any suggestions for future posts. Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org And, if you haven’t done so already, check out our book Foodies! Your Guide to Healthy Living. As always, thanks for reading!