Sugar Sugar...Honey Honey
M & Ms
Those are some of my absolute favorite things. Know what they all have in common? SUGAR!
Know what isn't good when you are focusing on fitness and nutrition? SUGAR!
So, why is sugar so bad? Well, the science behind sugar can be a little complicated and confusing. And I'm not a nutritionist--but even if I were, I like my food advice to be simple. So to get simple with you, everyone is eating way too much sugar. Way too much! And it's making us fat. Think about it. People continually eat low-fat, "diet" foods yet the obesity epidemic keeps rising. Why is that? A lot of experts think that over consumption of sugar is a big culprit.
Should you reduce your sugar intake? Probably. Do you tend to feel "baseline crappy?" Does your mood shift and your energy spike and drop rapidly? What do you have to lose by trying to reduce your sugar consumption? Why not just try it as an experiment and see how you feel?
Most people average 2 pounds of sugar per week. Holy Shit.
How much should you eat? About 6-9 teaspoons per day.
So here are my suggestions and what worked for me.
1. Don't change a thing for a few days. Just track your intake and your moods at various times of day. Note (yes--write it down) when you feel sluggish and when you feel energetic. I bet you'll start to see a pattern. Also note the times you find yourself reaching for a sugary snack.
2. Take a week and start to cut back on the obviously sugary things. Cut out pop (soda for all you non-Ohioans), juice, candy, table sugar in your coffee, etc. Stay away from artificial sweeteners too! They trick your body into thinking it's eating sugar anyway and your body responds just like it does when you actually have the real stuff.
3. Now carefully look at the rest of your diet. 6-9 teaspoons of sugar is essentially 2 small pieces of fruit per day. Now, as I said before, I like things simple. And I don't like super-restrictive eating plans because they set you up to fail. With that in mind, I would just be careful with the fruit. And dairy is generally OK as long as it doesn't have added sugars. So get plain yogurt and milk or a milk alternative that is unsweetened (like almond milk).
4. Cut back on refined carbohydrates like white rice, white bread, prepared foods like bagels and donuts and packaged snacks. Those are empty calories. Replace them with brown rice, whole wheat bread, etc. Again, write stuff down and pay attention to how you feel. I will warn you--this can be hard. I experienced severe mood swings the first week and I was incredibly cranky (ask my husband!).
5. Look for hidden sugar in foods like ketchup, BBQ sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Come up with a plan for when you notice that sugar attacks strike--take a walk, call me, hop on your Facebook challenge group to vent, have a low-sugar snack ready (raw almonds are great for this!). And I know right now you are probably thinking that these suggestions sound lame and gimmicky--and maybe they are, but staying away from sugar is something that takes planning and practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And slowly you will figure out what you feel like normally and how much sugar you can tolerate.
If you like this and want more common sense nutrition, consider joining a challenge group with me where we will combine fitness with simple eating to get your best results ever! And feel free to share and pin this "cheat sheet" to get you started!