If somebody challenged you to go sugar free for thirty days, could you do it? As a supporter of all things sweet, I am one of the millions who consume about 150 pounds of sugar each year. So it’s not a matter of saying I could. The truth is, I probably should. Excessive sugar consumption leads to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
But according to scientists, it’s not sugar, itself, that has health experts concerned. Instead, it’s the way it’s processed that moves it to the naughty corner. “The type of sugar that is often added to processed foods is high-fructose corn syrup, which is the food industry’s favored sweetener for everything from soft drinks to breads, sauces, snacks and salad dressings,” Anahad O’Connor says. “It contains the same components as table sugar – glucose and fructose – but in slightly different proportions.” Whereas sugar contains equal parts of glucose and fructose, high-fructose corn syrup pumps up the fructose, and that’s where we get hooked.
If you are ready to kick your sugar habit, here are four ways to start.
1.Cook at home.
Sugar is added to most packaged foods. For example, an individual package of instant oatmeal has up to 12 grams of sugar. So, the best way to control your sugar intake is to cook meals at home. Try experimenting with unsweetened applesauce or natural sweeteners as alternatives in baking.
Related link: Honor good nutrition by eating healthy
2. Drink water.
By staying hydrated, you reduce the chances of hitting the fountain drinks during that mid-afternoon slump. “Adequate water intake may quell your appetite, boost your metabolism, and combat bloating,” health writer Kelsey Kloss says. Studies found that the average woman can lose a pound per week just by switching from soda to water.
Related link: How to coddle your kidneys and stay healthy
3. Read labels.
According to the American Heart Association, no more than half of a person’s discretionary calorie allowance should be used on added sugars. On average that equates to six teaspoons or 25 grams for women and nine teaspoons or 36 grams for men. New packaging laws require companies to post the amount of sugar in their products. It is often posted in grams and under different terms like molasses, corn syrup, and fruit juice concentrate. Just remember that one teaspoon of sugar equals four grams.
4. Make your trigger foods, sometimes foods.
If you know you can’t stop with just one Nutter Butter, it’s time to get them out of your house. Then introduce healthier options that can be equally satisfying to the sweet tooth. “Our staff relies on quick snacks they can eat while on the go,” Glenn Matthews, executive director of Carmel Mountain Rehabilitation and Healthcare says. “We love our chocolate chip cookies, but we also think it’s important to offer healthy snacks that boost energy and build immunity so our staff can continue to provide the best care for our residents.”
If you want to start the summer season off on a healthy note, take the sugar-free challenge. The results will be sweet.
This article was originally published by Orange County Register. It has been republished here with permission.