We’re entering the Sugar Season.
It begins at Halloween, continues through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, and might not end until perhaps Valentines Day.
Candy. Pies. Cakes. Cookies.
Sugar, in all its forms.
What’s a wanna-be healthy eater to do?
Make a plan.
What’s Wrong with Sugar?
Americans are eating and drinking too much added sugar, which is sugar or syrup added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared.
Sugar also contributes to inflammation in the body. And uncontrolled or chronic inflammation plays a role in nearly every major disease, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
Added sugars, which most often are refined sugars, go by many names on ingredient labels. Raw sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup head the list. Plus, there’s corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, and sucrose.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that we should keep our intake of added sugars to less than 10% of our total daily calories. So with a 2,000 daily calorie diet (if we want to keep our weight consistent), no more than 200 calories should come from added sugars. Read labels, and you’ll find that it adds up quickly.
The leading sources of added sugars in the U.S. diet are sugar-sweetened beverages, grain-based desserts like cakes and cookies, candy, and dairy desserts like ice cream.
Sugars also occur naturally in milk and fruit, but our bodies process fruit sugars differently than refined sugars.
Strategies to Avoid Sugar
With the holidays approaching, some planning and pro-active thinking can help keep you from getting off track with your healthy eating patterns.
- Don’t go to the party hungry. Eat veggie sticks or lean meats before going to the event, so you’ll head off some temptation.
- Drink water instead of sodas, fruit juices and alcohol. Or, match them 1:1. For every soda, juice, or alcoholic beverage you have at a party or holiday dinner, drink a large glass of water too.
- Create healthy-eating support systems for yourself, perhaps by limiting the number of high-calorie, sweet and carb-dense recipes you see online and in magazines.
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods, and read all labels to see where the sugar is hiding.
- Tempted anyway? See if you can distract yourself for 5 minutes with a different activity, to see if the urge for that sweet something passes.
What have you found that works for you? It’s your turn. Comment below with your best idea for reducing your sugar intake overall, or avoiding it during the holidays.
Welcome! I’m Amy, an integrative health coach, offering grace and space for a healthier you. This article is Step 24 in the “31 Steps to a Healthier You” series. You can access all posts in the series here. And I hope you’ll want to stick around for a while. If so, please subscribe at this link so you’ll get updates.