Posts Tagged ‘American Heart Association’

I am posting this in honor of a client of mine who is working to tame her sugar cravings– she is not alone.

More and more research is showing that sugar can be an addiction and triggers the reward center in your brain in a powerful way.  Some even think its toxic (read this interesting New York Times article). That said, I think a little dark chocolate can be a beautiful (and healthy) thing. From my perspective, moderation is key and choosing a best option or healthier substitution can be easier than you think.

Whether you are a candy junkie or just can’t say no to those office cookies, here are a few tips to decrease the sugar cravings.

  • Avoid or cut down on the white stuff (foods with simple sugars and not much else).

This seems obvious but the more you cut the straight sugar out of your food choices the easier it will be to resist it next time.   This means try your coffee/tea without two heaping mounds of sugar or avoid the white flour cupcake or breakfast muffin.
Replace with: Fresh Fruit!  Nature’s candy which is more often than not has fiber to help slow down the sugar breakdown. Try whole wheat  versions of that baked good, ideally make with less sugar.  If you must add a sweetener, try a sugar that has a few (very few) minerals too (like brown sugar, molasses or maple syrup) and often have a more robust taste which enables you to need less.

  • Eat regularly and eat right.

Often times our sugar cravings are just are body telling us we are hungry and want a quick fix of glucose.  Try and eat regularly, at least a little fiber, fat and protein every 3-4 hours. By eating the right foods (whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit, lean protein) your body will feel full and is won’t be screaming for instant sugar energy.
Try snacks such as: 2 tablespoons of hummus with a cut up carrot or two or some whole wheat pita. Yogurt and berries.  2 tablespoons of almond butter and 4-6 apple slices.

  • Manage the other S’s….Sleep and Stress.

Studies have shown that sleep deprived people make poorer food choices (hello, I need instant energy because my body is so tired) and gain more weight than folks who get enough Zzzz’s. Additionally, stress is another trigger for your body to want simple sugars to get through what must be a survival crisis.

Enhance your lifestyle: Aim for at least 6-8 hours a night. Maybe your after dinner “treat” is getting to bed earlier. Find new ways to cope with stress.  Breathing techniques, a brisk walk or other form of exercise or having a good laugh all help relieve stress. Finally a medical reason to watch funny YouTube videos at work!

  • Track down Triggers

Work with yourself or a profession to identify what triggers you have around food and especially sweets.  Do you “take care” of yourself with sugar because you really want a hug?  Learn to get in touch with your true body cues of hunger with intuitive or mindful eating.

Practice Mindful eating by: slowing down when you eat, asking yourself if you are really hungry, taking 5 minutes between impulse and action.

You truly can have a sweet life with less sugar– which of these tips will you try today?


Watch my video here about sugar for the American Heart Association (AHA) or read more about sugar on the AHA website.

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Earlier in the week I was invited by my local American Heart Association (AHA) to film a short 1 minute “Nutrition Tip” on a health topic of my choice for the general public.  I chose “sugar” not only because it’s Trick-O-Treat time but also because I wanted to address the “sneaky sugars” that we consume in our drinks.  Well, we all know that soda has a ton of sugar, but did you know that coffee drinks often have heaps full of sugar (and Saturated Fat) and even those drinks with a “health halo” like Vitamin Water and Snapple Ice Tea can also have a whole days worth.  The AHA recommends that women get no more than 6 teaspoons (24g) of added sugar a day (added meaning the natural sugars in your carrots etc don’t count) and for men the recommendation is 9 teaspoons (36g) a day. To find out how many teaspoons are in your drinks or other sneaky sources like spaghetti sauce, salad dressing or sliced bread, divide the number of grams on the nutrition label by 4 (eg 32g of sugar on the label = 8 tsp)

The breakdown of the sugar content in the beverages I chose for my video (see below) was as follows:

20 oz Coke (1 Serving) = 65 g Sugar or 16 tsp (240kcals)
13.7 oz Starbucks Frappucino (~2 Servings) = 54g Sugar or 13.5 tsp (340kcal)
20 oz Vitamin Water (2.5 servings) = 32.5g Sugar or 8 tsp (125 kcal)
17.5 ozSnapple Ice Tea = 30g or 8 tsp (120 kcal)
(The Snapple Tea was labeled Green Tea“Metabolism” flavor, how ironic since you are getting on those added sugar which are empty calories, you are better of with just green tea- which incidentally does help boost your metabolism)

Better choices?
TAP WATER! (Keep those plastic bottles out of the landfill plus it’s free and safe- often more regulated than water you can buy)
Sparkling Water- try one with a hint of lime/lemon if your
Unsweetened Ice Tea ( I used “Teas’ Tea” brand for my shoot) or Hot Tea
Or if you must….Diet Soda (but I don’t trust those artificial sugars- will discuss in a future post along with HFCS and Agave stay tuned!)

Here is the video as part of a AHA Start! Eating Healthy Initiative:

Also….since we are heading into Halloween, here is a bit of info on those candies you might be seeing in your kid’s bag or around the office…..Go ahead and have some as a special treat but remember moderation and eat more veggies next week to counter balance!

• Serving: Fun-size bar
• Calories: 80
• Fat: 4 grams, Sugar 7g

Hershey’s Milk Chocolate snack-size bar
• Serving: 1 .49-ounce bar
• Calories: 67
• Fat: 4 grams

Tootsie Rolls
• Serving: 6 pieces
• Calories: 140
• Fat: 1g grams, Sugar 22 g
Skittles Original Bite Size Candies
• Serving: Fun-size bag
• Calories: 80
• Fat: 0.7 grams, Sugar 30g

• Serving: Fun-size bag
• Calories: 73
• Fat: 3 grams, Sugar 10g

• Serving: Fun-size bar
• Calories: 100
• Fat: 4 grams, Sugar 10g

Tootsie Roll Pop
• Calories: 60
• Fat: 0 grams, Sugar 10g

Starburst Fruit Chews
• Serving: 2 pieces
• Calories: 40
• Fat: 0.8 grams, Sugars 6g

Brach’s Candy Corn
• Serving: 22 pieces
• Calories: 140
• Fat: 0 grams, Sugar 22g


Nutrition information for candies obtained from livestrong.com and a few similar sites which give nutrition info

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