After challenging our team to drink more water and eat more veggies, this week our FIT4U challenge involved cutting out sugar. Think you could go an entire week with no sugar? It wasn’t easy. Everyone loves to grab a cookie at the bake sale or a donut in the breakroom, however, sugar has some dangerous side effects when you consume too much. Sugar is seen in a lot of products these days like pop, cereals, granolas, yogurt, candy, and other sweets. Since sugar is the main ingredient in so many products we consume, we’ve challenged our team to cut out sugary treats!
What are some dangers of sugar?
– Sugar can be harmful to your heart. Studies have shown an increase in heart disease among people who’s diets contain more than 25% sugar.
– Sugar can cause weight gain, especially around the belly. The excess calories are converted into fat and stored for later use.
– Sugar is addictive. Much like alcohol and smoking, people have been known to become addicted to sugar. One soda each day seems harmless but it could lead to an addiction without you even knowing.
– There’s an increased risk of diabetes. Insulin is sugar’s little chaperone to the cells, and when too much is consumed, or our insulin doesn’t work, our body revolts.
– You can have tooth decay due to the increase in sugar resting on your teeth for long periods of time.
Not All Sugar is Created Equal
Can sugar be good? Well, natural sugars are better for us than processed sugars, but what is a natural sugar? Natural sugars are found in fruits, honey and vegetables because they’re bundled with fluid, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. For example, one cup of cherries contains about 17 grams of sugar and a cup of chopped carrots has 6 grams, but both are so full of good stuff that it would be practicing bad nutrition to banish them. “Bad” sugar, on the other hand, is the type not added by Mother Nature, the refined stuff that sweetens sodas, candy, and baked goods. The average American eats 22 teaspoons of “bad” sugar each day, which is the equivalent of a 4-pound sack every 20 days!
Artificial sweeteners are substances that are used instead of table sugar to sweeten foods and beverages. Since artificial sweeteners are sweeter than table sugar, smaller amounts are needed to create the same level of sweetness. The problem is that artificial sweeteners can trick your body into thinking that it’s going to receive sugar (calories), but when the sugar doesn’t come, your body continues to signal that it needs more, which results in carb cravings and over eating. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners stimulate appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and produce a variety of metabolic dysfunctions that promote fat storage and weight gain.
How to Cut Back On Sugar
The best way to cut back on sugar is to do it gradually. Try a few days with no sweets. Then try a few more days, and work your way up to an entire week. This is difficult for most people so you can try substituting your sweet cravings for other things.
– Avoid sugary drinks.
– Read labels. Sugar has some alternative names so watch out for those (dextrose, cane juice, corn sweetener, fructose). The grams listed don’t distinguish between naturally occurring (“good”) and added (“bad”) sugar.
– Avoid low-fat items because the fat is usually replaced with sugar and salt.
– Replace sugary candies and sweets with fruits.
– Eat more fiber rich foods to keep you fuller longer and keep those cravings in check.
– Exercise. Even a 20 minute walk each day can help reduce the stress and cravings you may have.
Here are some table sugar substitutes
Congratulations to this week’s winners!
The week 1 secret challenge winner was Terri, and she won a jeans day for the Coopersville staff.