The Cost of Sugar

Did you know there is sugar in almost every product you buy? I’m not talking about the naturally occurring fructose in fruits. I’m referring to the added sugar in our foods. Next time you go shopping, grab an item of the shelf and read the food label. You might be surprised how much sugar you’re consuming on a regular basis.

Whether you are aware of your sugar intake or not, there are millions of Americans who are not. Sugar is found in almost everything and too much sugar can lead to metabolic diseases, weight gain, and obesity. Food companies are loading foods with sugar and people are consuming it in large quantities, whether they are aware or not.

According to Judy Corliss at Harvard Health, “Over the course of the 15-year study on added sugar and heart disease, participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease as those whose diets included less than 10% added sugar. Overall, the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index (a measure of weight)”.  In short, the odds of dying from heart disease increase based on the percentage of sugar in your diet and this was true regardless of sex, age, activity level, and body-mass. Sugar is empty calories with no nutritional value, but evidently lethal as well.

Americans have been overconsuming sugar from some of their favorite food sources for years with no understanding of the impact on their bodies. Sources like sodas, energy drinks, and sport drinks are the biggest culprits, but according to the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, you can add candy, cakes, cookies, cereals, pies and cobblers, bakery items (sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts), fruit drinks, and desserts to the list.

The biggest hidden issue is the added sugar in foods like ketchup, cottage cheese, yogurt, protein bars and granola! Sugar is added to the foods to make it pleasing to our taste buds, but that means getting more sugar than you realize.  Also be very aware of the “no sugar” or “sugar free” items on the shelves. There are often artificial or other sweeteners added to make that "low sugar"  food even more palatable to us.  These sweeteners may not show up in the calorie or  carbohydrate section, but they are on the ingredient list. Know that in terms of added sugars, while the FDA does recognize sugar in its many forms (brown, white granulated, raw, and invert), as well as honey, lactose, sucrose, dextrose, and fructose it DOES NOT recognize cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, crystal dextrose, glucose, liquid fructose, sugar cane juice, and fruit nectar. 

The next time you read a food label and you’re considering what you are putting into your body, read the ingredient section carefully. According to the ChooseMyPlate.gov, these are ingredients found in many processed foods that we should be aware of:

  •        anhydrous dextrose
  •        brown sugar
  •        confectioner's powdered sugar
  •        corn syrup
  •        corn syrup solids
  •        high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  •        malt syrup
  •        maltose
  •        maple syrup
  •        molasses
  •        nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  •        pancake syrup

The American Heart Association suggests that women take in no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar, while men should take in no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories). To put that in perspective, a 12-ounce can of regular soda contains about 9 teaspoons of sugar, so drinking even one a day would put all women and most men over the daily limit.  Please note that FRUCTOSE in fruit is NOT on this list and fruit has many health benefits.

If you attended our January Wellness nights, you will know that reading labels is important. Awareness is key.  Choose those labels with the fewest ingredients and eat as much from the outside of the grocery store as possible!

Black Bean Mash (Or Black Beans on Toast with Avocado & Tomato)

Adapted from Vegan for Everybody

This makes a great breakfast, lunch or snack!  Paulo likes to eat just the mash with a side of brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz cherry tomatoes, quartered

  • 2 cups black beans (rinse and drain if using canned beans)

  • Pinch of pepper

  • 1/2-1  tsp chili powder, (I prefer Penzey's Chili 3000!)

  • 1/4 cup boiling water

  • 1/2 tsp lime zest, plus 1 tbl lime juice

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped

Method

  • Place beans, boiling water, lime zest and juice, pinch of pepper, chili powder and cilantro in a bowl.  Mash with potato masher until coarse puree, leaving some whole beans intact.
  • Toast bread and spread mashed bean mixture evenly on toast.  Top with tomatoes and avocado ! 

 

Vegan Udon Noodle Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 package buckwheat Udon Noodles
  • 1 thumb ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 scallions, white and green, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut in to bite size pieces
  • 1 cup each carrot and red peppers, cut into match stick size pieces
  • ½ cup frozen edamame
  • 1 cup sliced shitaki mushrooms
  • 1 TBL sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Tamari sauce
  • 1 TBL thai chili sauce (or to taste)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  •  

Method

  • Place a large saucepan on a medium heat and add sesame oil. When hot, throw in the garlic, ginger, scallions, carrots, red peppers, edamame and broccoli and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add in the mushrooms and saute for about another 2 minutes, not allowing mushrooms to lose their texture.
  • Next, add Tamari sauce, chili garlic sauce and vegetable stock.  Bring the soup to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, cook udon noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse.
  • Add the noodles to your soup and serve up with a handful of chopped cilantro in each bowl!

 

Life is Good in Your 50s!

As 2018 rolled in, I began to reflect on how good life can be when you are in your 50’s and 60’s!  We as women generally have more time to devote to our personal care.  If you have had children and are not an emptynester, (and I am not!) chances are your children are old enough to do most of their self-care, drive to their sport or music practices and help out with chores around the house.  That opens up time that we had spent earlier in our life, caring for pre-school and elementary school children.  Even if you work a full time job (and I do!) you can take more time before and after work to do the things you could not do when you were getting children up and fixing their meals.  If you have never had children, chances are your career is established and you can negotiate time for self-care.  The 50’s and 60’s truly ARE the decade to dedicate time to ourselves.  We are wiser, have more free time and ready to prioritize ourselves.

For this New Year, my list of goals hasn't changed much, but I am making them more specific. I am still going to focus on my distance running by picking two half marathons to train for. I will focus on strength training 3-4 days per week with a four-week program set out each month.  I am going to set aside time to practice my meditation and mindfulness daily.  And I am going to continue to grow my knowledge in our plant based eating through reading, research and following the example of several leaders in this field. 

I would love to have you join me in this challenge for 2018.  Remember to make SMART GOALS:

Specific.  Specific refers to what you are going to do.  Use action words such as exercise, eat, and coordinate.  Think about why you are choosing this particular goal.  A good idea of a SPECIFIC goal is: I am going to walk 3 miles in 45 minutes by March 1st.

Measurable.  If you can measure it, you can’t manage it.  Choose a goal with measurable progress.  You may have a long-term goal, but have smaller measurable steps along the way.  For example, if you want to run a 6-mile race in the spring, you should set your training program to build your mileage each week.  

Achievable.  Set goals that are achievable for YOU and you only.  Your friend may want to run a marathon in May.  This may not be important or attainable for you.  You may need to set a goal of running a 5k in March.

Realistic.  This does not mean easy.  It means Do-able.  Set the bar high enough to feel satisfied when you attain your goal, but not so high that the thought of your goal is overwhelming.  For example, rather than setting a goal not to eat sweets all month, it may be more realistic to set a goal to eat only one sweet per week.

Timely.  Set a time frame for your goal.  Next week, next month, by spring.  Putting a clear target in front of you gives you something to work toward and allows you start on it right away.  Remember though, if your time is more than a few weeks in the distance, set interim goals to get you there.

 I would love to hear from you about your goals for YOU in 2018. Good luck and let me know how I can help.

 

10 Steps Towards Better Self-Care

     Recently I posted 10 steps toward self-care for 10 straight days on social media.  I think these are important to remember, especially at this time of year when we over-schedule ourselves, attend more parties, the kids are home from school and we generally have less time for ourselves than normal. Think about them and see if they make sense in your life.

1.    Take time to laugh daily.

2.    Drink more water.

3.    Eat healthy foods.  Don’t skimp on veggies & fruits.

4.    Meditate or find alone time every daily.   Take a moment to notice your breath.

5.    Give more, but don’t be afraid to say no.

6.    Get up and move every hour.

7.    Be wary of those you allow in your personal space.

8.    Get to sleep on time.

9.    Exercise Daily.

               10.   Take time to be grateful.