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How To Kick The Sugar Habit

By Lynn Langway From Life & Beauty Weekly  [1]

Trying to cut down on sugar? Maybe you’ve heard all the health warnings from doctors and government officials, or maybe you’re trying to look better in your swimsuit.

Whatever the reason, you’re on the right track — Americans are still eating and drinking two or three times the amount of sugar recommended for optimal health. Scientific studies have linked sugar overloads to obesity and health concerns including diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease, stroke, pancreatic cancer and cognitive decline.

Sugar, which can fuel the brain and temporarily boost energy, occurs naturally in many nutritious fruits, vegetables and dairy products. But it also gets added to a number of foods we may eat every day. The American Heart Association[2] advises women consume no more than 100 calories’ worth of added sugars per day, which comes out to about six teaspoons. But we often get more of the sweet stuff than we realize; manufacturers inject different forms of sweeteners to heighten taste and improve texture in a surprising variety of products.

To gain more control over your own sugar cravings — and your family’s — try these health tips from registered dietician Elisa Zied[3], mother of two and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips.

Learn Label Language

Sugar takes many forms, but all of them work in the same way on your body. And even if you skip dessert and take your coffee black, you may still be eating extra sugar in items like pasta sauce, ketchup, salad dressings and frozen dinners without realizing it.

When you shop, check labels closely for things like corn syrup, honey, molasses and nectar, as well as words in the “ose” family: sucrose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, maltose and glucose. The higher up these words appear on the ingredient list, the higher the sugar content. (Check what’s in your family’s favorite foods at the USDA Database[4].)

Be Skeptical of “Health” Foods

Don’t assume that products touted as “low-calorie” or “fat-free” are good for you: To make them more palatable, many manufacturers compensate by boosting their sugar content. For instance, one particular brand of “light” whole-wheat bread boasts that it has just 45 calories a slice, but if you look at the ingredient list, you’ll see it contains not only high fructose corn syrup, but also honey, molasses, brown sugar and sucralose — hardly a dietary bargain! Watch the labels and choose fresh foods as often as possible.

Do Sugar Swaps

When sugar cravings hit, satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier substitutes. For instance, top oatmeal with half a baked apple instead of brown sugar, and freeze banana slices or grapes for a sweet snack[5].

If you’re baking cookies or cakes for the family, use unsweetened applesauce to replace some of the sugar in the recipe. And when you serve ice cream, spoon a small portion into the bowls and then top them with lots of fresh berries.

Serve Better Beverages

Sweetened beverages — including fruit drinks — are the No. 1 source of added sugar in our diets. Just a 12-ounce can of regular soda packs 8 teaspoons of sugar, or 130 calories, while adding no nutrients[6]. Stock your fridge with healthier options, such as water or seltzer with a squeeze of lime, or a blueberry-banana smoothie straight from your blender.

Leave Yourself Some Wiggle Room

It’s okay to indulge in an occasional sweet treat as long as you’re watching your total calories and filling up with lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins. “Sometimes it’s okay to have something simply because you want it and it tastes good,” says Zied — whether that means a glass of low-fat chocolate milk for your kids or an ice pop on a hot summer day for you.

Lynn Langway[7] is a former editor at Newsweek and Ladies’ Home Journal who writes about health and teaches journalism at NYU. Follow her on Twitter: @travelcentricny. She is a frequent contributor to Life & Beauty Weekly[8].

Copyright 2013 Studio One Networks. All rights reserved.

References

  1. ^ Life & Beauty Weekly (lifeandbeautyweekly.com)
  2. ^ The American Heart Association (www.heart.org)
  3. ^ Elisa Zied (elisazied.com)
  4. ^ USDA Database (ndb.nal.usda.gov)
  5. ^ sweet snack (www.lifeandbeautyweekly.com)
  6. ^ nutrients (www.lifeandbeautyweekly.com)
  7. ^ Lynn Langway (www.lynnlangway.com)
  8. ^ Life & Beauty Weekly (www.lifeandbeautyweekly.com)

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Comments

  1. Reply

    Health Diet Tips To Keep Myself Skinny And Healthy? I am 115lbs and I am 13. I was wondering if anyone had any health tips to keep myself healthy.

    I was looking into this diet where I would start with eating protein and gradually work my way into eating my fruits and vegetables. Does anyone know what this diet is called?

    (Please, No comments with additude. Any other comments will be appreciated. Thanks so much!)
    Also, I don’t want to be on a diet plan (Such as Weight Watchers). Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • July 9, 2013
      Reply

      Water

      View Comment
  2. Reply

    What Are Your Best Tips To Live A Healthy Life? Health tips in any area would be great. Especially what foods to eat, fitness tips, avoiding colds or being sick, and being happier.

    Sorry it’s so broad, but I just wanted some really good tips or secrets, or anything. Thanks!

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • July 9, 2013
      Reply

      One has to be happy, not worry about everything little thing that goes wrong, think of others who have life a lot worse or the ones who are gone who whould like to swich with you, but most importantly, you must cleanse your body of toxins and take suppliments.

      View Comment
  3. Reply

    What Are Some Basic Tips To Give To Kids About Staying Healthy? I’m trying to teach my 6 year old nephew how to stay healthy. I need tips from eating right, to being active and maintaining hygiene. Any health tips you expect a 6 yr old kid to understand.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • July 9, 2013
      Reply

      You should tell them to eat lots of smaller meals and to eat slowly so that their bodies are more able to recognize when they are full. Also its important to drink lots of water and fruit juice rather than soda. Try and encourage him to stay away from junk food and eat fruit or something healthy when he wants a snack. Also teach him to be active, that playing sports and running around is good for you as well as fun. Also teach him the basics of hygiene like showering daily and brushing his teeth 3 times a day. Try and make it all fun for him though, as kids respond more to things that they find enjoyable.

      View Comment
  4. Reply

    I’m Trying To Loose Weight, What Are Some Health Tips? I’m making a modeling portfolio, and I know I need to be slimmer. What are some health tips, such as eating veggies, and colors to dress in the make you look slimmer? What is skinny for height 5’8″? I am Indian (India) & German and I have blue eyes.

    View Comment
      • HealthNut
      • July 9, 2013
      Reply

      Unfortunately there are no easy ways to permanently lose weight and most people who lose weight regain it all.

      A vegetarian or vegan diet for the rest of your life might perhaps be a good option as very few vegetarians or vegans are overweight.

      If you want a life changing permanent weight loss you need to follow a maintenance diet for the rest of your life after you reach your target weight with one of the many diets you can choose from.

      You can see further details in a web search for “how to lose weight and keep it off”.

      View Comment

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