Because sugar can cause inflammation throughout the body, and the empty calories that come from sugar cause weight gain over the years, we are told to stay away from sugar - eat less sugar! Eat a sugar-free diet! Cut back on added sugar! Sugar substitutes! etc. And sure, we all know this means to stay away from sweets like candy, cookies, cakes, desserts, and the list goes on. But how many of us actually think about the sugar we’re DRINKING?
A recent “Friday Freebie” at Kroger was this bottle of tea - just a small, 14 ounce, one serving bottle. It had 20 grams of sugar in it. TWENTY! There are approximately four grams of sugar in one teaspoon, and three teaspoons in a tablespoon, which means there are 1 2/3 tablespoons in that one serving of tea. Now that's pretty hard for most people to visualize, so I have included in the picture the amount of sugar in the tea measured out with measuring spoons. Most people wouldn't think of adding this much sugar to a bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee, etc, but if you were to drink this whole bottle of tea, it's what you'd be getting.
According to the American Heart Association, which has some pretty strict standards of 150 calories from sugar (37.5 g/9 tsp) for men and 100 calories from sugar (25g/6 tsp) for women, at five teaspoons of sugar in this bottle of tea, a woman who drank this tea would only be allowed one more teaspoon of added sugar that day, and a man who drank it would be allowed four more teaspoons of added sugar that day. The FDA’s proposed standards, which are similar to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines are a little more lenient and take your daily calorie intake into consideration. These guidelines state that we should be eating/drinking no more than 10% of our daily calories should come from added sugar. For example, a person eating a 2,000 calorie diet should get no more than 200 calories from added sugar. Using the “divide by four” rule, 200 calories equals 50 grams of sugar, and because there are four grams in one teaspoon, a person on a 2,000 calorie diet would be allowed no more than 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar a day. For a person on a 1,500 calorie a day intake, he or she would be allowed 150 calories from added sugar, 37.5 grams, and about 9 teaspoons (9.375 to be exact).
If a person never ate any added sugar, having a sugary beverage every day wouldn’t be a problem, but I doubt there are very few people like that. There are many ways we can cut down on the sugar we’re drinking - of course drinking water instead of sugary beverages would be most preferred, but quitting sugar cold turkey isn’t always easy. If soda is your go to, try cutting back on the number of sodas per day or week. Switching to diet and cutting back on the number is also an option, but diet soda is a topic for another day.....
If it’s sweetened coffee drinks that get you going, try brewing your coffee at home (if you don’t already), and adding Stevia instead of sugar and/or using low-fat or fat-free milk, or even coconut milk if you’re a coconut fan, instead of creamer. Same with tea - if you’re a sweet tea lover, try making it yourself and slowly cutting back on the amount of sugar you add until you’re able to cut all of the sugar out or make the switch to Stevia if you can’t stand the thought of drinking unsweetened tea.
Quite a few people drink fruit juice thinking they’re doing well for themselves because they’re getting serving of fruit. This unfortunately isn’t the case, as you don’t get the fiber you would by eating a whole piece of fruit, many of the nutrients are lost in the juicing process, and with the amount added sugar you’re getting, you might as well be drinking a soda. No sugar added juices are a better option if you MUST have a glass of juice, but eating a piece of fruit is always going to be the best option.
I’ve heard from a lot of people that they don’t like the taste of water, which always blows my mind, because water doesn’t really taste. I suppose it’s the lack of taste that they don’t like, so I would suggest adding fruit to infuse the water with natural flavors. I LOVE cucumber infused water, but really you can use just about any fruit. They even have neat infuser pitchers that keep the little bits of fruit from floating around in the water you drink - you get the flavor without the floaties!
I also love making fresh lemonade in the summer - just some fresh squeezed lemon juice and some Stevia make a wonderful refreshing beverage on a hot summer day!
Whatever food and drink choices you make throughout the day, just be aware of the sugar content, especially in what you’re drinking, and try to stay within the recommended intake for you. Make cuts and substitutions where you can, and remember, everything in moderation!
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A
I love chicken salad, and I used to love tuna salad, but after my first trip to the beach when I was six, I've since had a hard time eating fish. Although I eat it occasionally, I can't mentally stomach it most of the time, so I was very excited when I came across a recipe that used garbanzo beans instead of meat. The ingredients are the same as what I've traditionally used in chicken/tuna salad.
After draining and rinsing the two cans of garbanzo beans, I used a muddler (typically used for drinks) to mash the beans. You could also put them in a food processor, but I wanted to make sure I had plenty of chunks and was afraid of turning the beans into mush.
After I reached a consistency I was happy with, I added 1/4 cup olive oil mayo, 2 Tbsp dill relish, and a 1 Tbsp yellow mustard. The original recipe did not call for mustard, but I wanted it to taste as close to the chicken/tuna salad I've made in the past, so I added it.
After mixing these ingredients in, I felt like it needed to be a little creamier, so I added about 1 Tbsp more mayo. I also chopped up 2 stalks of celery, and although the original recipe called for red onion, but I prefer green, so I chopped and added about 1/4 cup.
After thoroughly mixing the last two ingredients, I refrigerated it for a few hours to let the flavors soak in. I heaped a spoonful onto a piece of sourdough bread and topped with some power greens (spinach, kale, mizuna, and chard). It definitely provided the flavor and texture I was craving without having to deal with my mental hangup of eating meat.
You could serve this as a sandwich, as a snack with crackers, or over a bed of greens of your choice. The original recipe from fullofbeans.us was a vegan recipe, and you can make the recipe vegan by using some form of vegan mayo or vegan mayo substitute. As the garbanzo bean salad sits in the fridge for a day or two, it may become dry, and I would suggest adding a touch more mayo, about a half a tablespoonful at a time. If you're not a fan of mustard, you could leave that out, and you can add any spices that sound tasty to you! It's a great recipe to play around with and make it your own, and however you choose to prepare and serve this garbanzo bean salad, I hope you enjoy!
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A
It always surprises me how little some people know about what they put in their mouths, what they’re fueling their bodies with. What I find even more cringe worthy is when people DON’T CARE what they’re putting into their bodies.
It can be so overwhelming with ‘organic,’ ‘natural,’ 'no high fructose corn syrup,’ etc. plastered all over our food labels. Are any of these actually important? If so, which is most important? I will write more in depth posts about these topics in the future, but for now I just want to focus on basic information about fuel sources.
Whole foods. Perhaps you’ve read or heard about eating 'whole foods.’ The phrase 'whole foods’ refers to foods that have not been processed. Now there are different degrees of processed food, so this can be tricky.
A minimally processed whole food is a food you pick off a tree/bush/plant or out of the ground or a food that has only been processed enough to preserve its freshness (i.e. pasteurization of milk, flash freezing fruits/vegetables). Examples include: apples, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, beets, oranges, nuts, legumes, meat, milk, etc. These foods are typically found around the perimeter of the grocery store, and they are the foods you want to choose as your first options. Minimally processed foods often become further processed once you get them home and start cooking with them, so it is of course best to eat them in their minimally processed state when possible.
The second degree of food processing refers to processed food ingredients that are not eaten alone (usually) but rather are ingredients (as previously stated) of prepared foods. Examples include vegetable oil, margarine, and artificial sweeteners.
Highly processed foods are foods made from a combination of minimally processed foods and processed food ingredients. These foods, as well as processed food ingredients, are typically found in the center isles, frozen section, and the bakery section of grocery stores. Examples of highly processed foods include frozen pizzas and TV dinners, cookies, crackers, bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, hot dogs, lunch meats, and the list goes on and on and on.
Eating more minimally processed foods and fewer processed food ingredients and highly processed foods will provide more substantial nutrition by supplying more nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fewer calories. Making any drastic change in your life can be hard, and this includes your eating habits. If you typically eat mostly highly processed foods, I would advise a gradual increase in whole food consumption so as not to get discouraged. Some first steps could be eating an apple instead of applesauce or canned fruit, slicing a whole chicken to use for sandwiches rather than buying lunch meat or hot dogs, and having a handful of nuts for a snack instead of a granola bar.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when planning a healthy menu, but one easy, surefire way to get more nutrients and fewer calories is to choose whole foods. So my challenge to you today is to swap one highly processed food you were planning to eat today with a whole food!
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A