I loveee sweets. Chocolate, cookies, cake, you name it. Unfortunately, as much as I may love something sweet, I know that sweets certainly don't love me. Sugar is the number one culprit of obesity in North America. Everyone is so worried about the fat content in food, which of course needs to be watched, but fat is not the problem. Our bodies recognize fat for what it is, and can then digest it. Sugar is another story. Initially, we get a burst of energy from sugar due to the fact that as soon as its consumed it hits your bloodstream. This in turn increases your insulin production, which causes your blood sugar levels to drop. When this happens your energy levels tend to drop as well, which usually causes you to crave sugar again. This is very hard on your bodies hormones and can often lead to diseases like diabetes. There's a documentary Fed Up which was released this May. Its a real eye opener when it comes to food. Over 80% of packaged/processed food has added sugar. "Healthy" items like pasta sauces, whole wheat bread, and salad dressings are full of sugar. Here's some food for thought : It will take a 110lb child 75 minutes of bike riding to burn off the sugar found in one soda (Source: www.fedupmovie.com) 75 minutes! And meanwhile we are all trying to increase physical activity, but if you're not eating a healthy diet full of clean options like whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, then you are consuming sugar without even knowing it, which takes an obscene amount of energy to burn off. Another disturbing statistic from the film? While 0 children in 1980 were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (otherwise known as adult-onset diabetes), 30+ years later, there are 57,638 kids with the disease. This documentary shows that there is a fight being waged against the sugar manufacturers and companies using sugar in their products, but it is an uphill battle. Soda manufacturers claim that their products are not harmful, yet excessive use can lead to obesity, diabetes, even cancer. These companies are being compared to the tobacco companies of the 70s and 80s who claimed their product wasn't harmful. We all know how that turned out... Sugar is extremely addictive. Why do you think we crave sweets? A study conducted by Connecticut College proved that sugar is just as addictive as cocaine in lab rats! “Our research supports the theory that high-fat/high-sugar foods stimulate the brain in the same way that drugs do,” [neuroscientist Joseph] Schroeder said. “It may explain why some people can’t resist these foods despite the fact that they know they are bad for them.”… So what can we do? Especially those of us who need a little sugar fix every now and then? Well, there are healthier ways to enjoy sweets and it is possible to avoid added sugars, it just takes a little work. First, here are some ways to avoid unnecessary sugar intake. 1. Prepare meals at home: Yes, it takes extra effort but it is much better for yourself and your family in the long run. A good idea for a busy lifestyle is to take Sunday evenings as prep nights. You can make homemade spaghetti, peel and chop veggies that you will use for cooking during the week, make casseroles and freeze them, make healthy snacks like homemade muffins or granola bars. Every little thing counts. Just don't forget to check out the labels of sauces and things you are using which could be full of sugar. 2. Eat more fruits and veggies Fruits do contain sugar, but in its natural form. Choosing a bowl of raspberries over a chocolate bar is always the better choice. If you are craving chocolate opt for dark which is full of antioxidants and usually has a lower sugar content. 3. Exercise As weird as it may sound, exercise can help reduce food cravings. Exercise releases feel good endorphins, and sweating it out at the gym 3-4 times a week may help you say no to that doughnut and go for a healthier option instead. 4. Drink Water Water is your number one tool in kicking the sugar habit. It hydrates your body and refreshes your system, unlike juices and sodas which can leave you feeling sluggish. Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and cut back on unneeded sugary drinks. Remember juices are not healthy, even orange juice is full of sugar! One small glass may pack 6 tsp of sugar! So keep that in mind when choosing beverages. 5. Shop Smart Try to avoid prepackaged foods, this can be hard especially if you have your favorites that your used to but its much healthier to make your own meals. Be sure to read the labels to ensure you're avoiding unnecessary sugar and salt. Even healthy items like yogurt can be full of sugar. Its much better to buy the full fat versions than fat free, as sugar is often used to alter the taste. Buying fresh ingredients is so much healthier, after awhile you will never walk down the frozen food aisle! Top Sugar Alternatives: 1. Stevia Stevia is a plant whose leaves have a naturally sweet taste. It is calorie free and won't increase your blood sugar levels. It's much sweeter than sugar so you don't need as much. 2. Honey Raw honey is your best option. It still contains sugar but has medicinal properties making it fight allergies and help heal colds. It contains many minerals and vitamins. Using honey in your coffee instead of sugar is a good start. 3. Maple Syrup Pure maple syrup is a great sugar alternative. Like honey, it still contains sugar, but in its natural form. Be sure to buy pure maple syrup and not a "syrup" style condiment. Again, it contains many vitamins but should be used sparingly. 4. Molasses Full of many vitamins;copper, iron, calcium and manganese just to name a few. Great to use in cooking sauces, and baked beans recipes. So there you go! I've signed up at www.fedupmovie.com to join their sugar free for ten days challenge. Will you? If so please leave a comment! I will do a post in a couple weeks about my experience! XO Jasmin
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