It's January so most of us are recommitting to our health-related New Years resolutions. Right up there with visiting the gym more? Eat less sugar.
But it's harder than it sounds. If you’re embarking on a low-sugar 2018, here are 5 myths about sugar to school yourself on first.
Myth #1: You Don't Have a Sugar Problem
Fact: Sure, you enjoy a piece of candy every now and then, but you don’t battle a crazy sweet tooth. So you assume that your sugar intake is completely acceptable. Right?
Well, according to Health.gov, less than 10% of our daily calories should come from added sugars. That means around 50 grams of sugar per day, or half of what 75% of us are currently eating!
Think you fall in the other 25 percent? Consider this: if you had a blueberry yogurt for breakfast, you’re half way to maxing out your daily sugar intake. And you haven't even left the house!
Myth #2: Sugar is Easy to Spot
Fact: Most of us think desserts and soft drinks when considering sources of sugar. But it's the office vending machine isn't the only culprit for our sugar over-eating. There's sugar hiding in some pretty surprising places.
According to Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, and blogger at Dish on Fish, “Some of the biggest offenders are those that have been given a ‘healthy halo,’ like flavored yogurts, granola, energy bars, cereals, flavored applesauce, bread and spreads (like BBQ sauce or some nut butters). In order to determine how many added sugars a products contains, you’ll need to read the ingredients label. In addition to looking for the word ‘sugar,’ you also need to be on the lookout for sugar aliases, such as high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, corn sweetener, molasses, syrup, fruit juice concentrates and honey.”
If sugar appears within the first few ingredients on a food item's fact panel, put it back on the shelf. The higher up these sugars are, the more sugar the product contains," says Keliner. "However, in 2018, added sugars will appear on the food label as ‘Includes [x] g Added Sugars,’ which will make it easier for consumers to calculate their daily added sugar intake.”
Myth #3: You Should Focus on Avoiding Certain Foods
Fact: Instead of focusing on foods to remove from your diet, focus on adding to your current diet.
“The easiest way to keep added sugar intake low is to choose minimally processed whole foods, like vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, beans, nuts and seeds,” says Kleiner. “If a client wants to go ‘no-sugar,’ I typically recommend that they focus on eating a diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods and low in packaged or convenience foods. It may sound cliché, but think about it: A diet rich in whole, unprocessed foods is inherently going to be full of nutrient-dense foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole and ancient grains, seafood, beans, eggs, nuts and seeds. Simply put, I recommend following a Mediterranean-style diet if you want to avoid foods with added sugars.”
Myth #4: You Need to Cut Back on Fruit
Fact: The fruit bowl is safe.
“Yes, it’s true that fruit contains sugar, but that sugar is naturally-occurring fructose,” Kleiner says. “Fruit also contains a boatload of important nutrients, like dietary fiber, vitamins (like vitamin C), minerals (like potassium) and antioxidants. These nutrients confer health benefits, like reducing inflammation, boosting heart health and reducing the risk of chronic disease. I advise my clients to think beyond single food components (like sugar) and consider the whole package of nutrients that work synergistically to help promote good health.”
Myth #5: You Can't Ever Eat Dessert
Fact: Cutting back on excess sugar doesn’t mean you have to ignore your sweet tooth altogether.
But it's best to be proactive - like using an appetite suppressant supplement to lower the number of cravings you have throughout the day. Or, if your sweet tooth does come knocking, use a fiber-based supplement to fill you up faster, so you eat less. And a metabolism booster to flush it out of your system quicker, so you absorb fewer empty calories.