Food

Eat less sugar without giving up sweets.

I am a sugar-holic. I just can’t do it you guys!

Funny thing is, my kids usually eat a little something sweet each night after dinner, but I would bet that we eat less sugar than most families.

Why?

I don’t buy juice or soda.

Did you know that there is very little nutritional value in fruit juice? The juice that comes from the fruit is stripped and concentrated so much they sometimes actually fortify it with nutrients that you’d actually get if you’d just eat a piece of fruit! It’s pure sugar.

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A 12oz glass of apple juice, according to LIVESTRONG.com, has almost 40 grams of sugar?! That’s TEN TEASPOONS! It’s almost the same amount of sugar as a glass of soda. (P.S. You’d have to eat 6 apples to get that much juice).

Unless someone is sick, we drink water or almond milk around here.

 

I buy full-fat dairy products when I buy them.

Low fat dairy products contain more sugar (and a slew of added chemicals) to make them taste better.

 

I check ingredients.

Have you checked your “healthy” cereals. They are usually loaded with sugar. Remember 4 grams =1 tsp.

There is 2 1/4 tsp. sugar  in a serving of Honey Nut Cheerios and almost 3 tsp in my favorite Lucky Charms.

Pasta sauces? Soups? Yep, they add sugar. Take a look the next time you shop.

 

I bake things myself.

I often the cut the sugar in recipes in half or substitute with healthy alternatives.

I don’t use Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame (Equal) or Saccharin (Sweet n’ Low). These are pretty much given a thumbs down everywhere.

Stevia & Xylitol (click the link for WebMd’s take on their safety) are generally healthy, natural, don’t spike blood sugar, and are low in calories. Do your research. Too much Xylitol can upset your stomach. If you’re pregnant, be careful. I’m not telling you to eat the entire bag!

My current favorite stevia blend (I hate the way it tastes by itself.)  is Sweet Leaf Sugar Leaf.

I also buy this brand of Xylitol.

Honey, in your body, acts much like sugar – but it has so many health benefits, I’ll often use it in recipes. Plus – you can use 2/3 cup of honey per cup of sugar in a recipe.

 

We try to limit sweets to after dinner.

This one can be easier said than done. I know my kids can get candy in school sometimes. I occasionally lack willpower too. It’s unavoidable. But, in general, delayed gratification is helpful. Knowing that we are going to have a little treat after dinner usually helps us from to eat less junk food during the day.

 

We eat nutrient dense meals.

My kids know that they should have produce with each meal. It’s kind of a rule around here. We aim for a protein, a healthy carb, and a fruit of vegetable when we eat. I’m also “that” mom. Except for special occasions (or sometimes if they ask), I don’t usually put candy in their school lunches. When you add up all of the hidden sugar sources (a piece of candy here, a juice box there), the sugar starts to pile up. We try to offset the sweets we do eat with healthy meals.

 

So, you might have to adjust your lifestyle a little, but looking at the ingredients list on your favorite products is a huge eye-opener. Practice getting into your kitchen a little. Many foods can be made very quickly and easily at home. They taste better and are much healthier. Look for lower sugar alternatives to the things you’re already buying – but please, avoid chemical artificial sweeteners. They’re linked to all kinds of health issues and disease. And of course, a little delayed gratification goes a long way.

I have a sweet tooth that I’m reluctant to give up. We are human. But, I believe that with some adjustments, a little moderation, and a diet otherwise full of healthy foods and nutrients, we can have the best of both worlds.

 

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