Let’s talk about sugar
Welcome to the September No Sugar More Sleep challenge! If you missed it, here is where you will be entering your daily points for the challenge. The form is very simple to use, and you might win some sweet prizes at the end of the challenge! Also, please use the Facebook group for questions, inspirational posts, or creative recipes you are trying out! If you are unsure about something, someone else likely is as well, so ask away.
Why are we focusing on sugar in this challenge? Sugar has gained mass attention in the media in the last couple years, and health officials around the globe are speaking out. The World Health Organization recommends adult and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake. The American Heart Association recommends limiting to 6-9 tsp per day. To put that in context, there are almost 10 teaspoons of added sugar in one can of pop!
For some people, sugar might be soothing and calming, a pick-me-up when energy is low, a “guilty pleasure”, or just part of daily routine and something you never really thought much about. As part of the challenge we also want to avoid sweeteners. Some people have success cutting their sugar intake by swapping in, say diet soda for regular. But keeping very sweet tastes in your food routine means that your palate adapts to this frequency and level of sweetness. You’re still always expecting everything to be super-sweet and you’re disappointed when it isn’t.
For this challenge, sugars we are concerned about include any kind of refined sugar, syrups, and other caloric sweeteners. Added sugar allows for foods to be sweet of course, however it also add calories while offering virtually no nutrition.
On an ingredient label, sugar may appear under many names. Some of the most common ones include cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, raw sugar and crystal solids. Sugars are also found in ingredients like brown sugar, honey, maple syrup and brown rice syrup.
Common Sources of Added Sugars
- Sugary beverages (soda, fruit punch, sweet coffee and energy drinks)
- Sugary cereal
- Candy and chocolates
- Flavored yogurt
- Baked goods such as cakes, pastries and cookies
Added sugars can hide in some surprising places, such as:
- Whole-grain cereals and granola
- Instant oatmeal
- Frozen foods
- Granola bars, protein bars and cereal bars
- Pasta sauce
- Dried fruit, canned fruit, applesauce and fruit juices
- Baby food
- Barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressing and other condiments
The first step in reducing your added sugar intake takes place in the grocery store. Scan labels for added sugar and, instead, fill your shopping cart with healthier options. You also can reduce added sugar intake at home by cooking from scratch. By making your own granola, pasta sauce and condiments and serving homemade baked treats, you are in control of the ingredients used.
Don’t be mistaken, we don’t want you to eliminate carbs. Your body does need nutrient-rich carbs to function properly. These include things like dairy, fruit, whole grains, and legumes. You are better off having high fibre legumes, vitamin C rich potatoes at a meal, or adding berries for antioxidants to your breakfast. Fuelling yourself with nutrient rich foods will satisfy your body in a way refined sugar can’t.
Make a healthy relationship with food the overall focus instead of focusing on the fact that you are depriving yourself of sugar. Encourage positive associations with foods by playing up their good qualities
Best of luck and happy eating!
Emilie and Robyn